Making it a Well

“ Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee…. Who passing through the valley of Baca, (sorrow/weeping) make it a well.” Psalm 84:5-6

WELL: A source from which something may be drawn as needed; a deep hole or pit sunk into the earth to reach a supply of water, oil, gas….

WOW.

Oh Lord, I would not wish, before or since, to go through this valley. I would not wish for anyone else to go through this valley. Nevertheless, I thank you for going through it with me. I am grateful for the friendship we have forged in the process. I am deeply appreciative that you have helped me transform this valley into a well. I will forever be able to draw upon its lessons, wisdom and insight. It will give me guidance, strength and comfort, for the rest of my life, whenever I need it. You truly do make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) and work all things into something good and useful for those that love you. (Romans 8:28) It wasn’t wasted. You have helped me make it a well!

Making a well is a choice. We have to choose to seek Him while walking through the valley. He is ready and willing to meet us there and teach us there. He is willing to be our Savior and our strength, our God and our friend.

“The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him. He will make known to them his covenant.“ Psalm 25:14

When you walk through a valley, how will you choose to handle it?

A song comes to mind that my mom use to sing. It’s a song written by Dottie Rambo called “Thank You For the Valley”

Verse 1
Thank You For The Valley Writer: Dottie Rambo
THANK YOU FOR THE VALLEY I WALKED THROUGH TODAY
THE DARKER THE VALLEY THE MORE I LEARN TO PRAY
I FOUND YOU WHERE THE LILY’S WERE BLOOMING BY THE WAY
AND I THANK YOU FOR THE VALLEY I WALKED THROUGH TODAY
Chorus
THANK YOU FOR EV’RY HILL I’VE CLIMBED
FOR EV’RY TIME THE SUN DIDN’T SHINE
THANK YOU FOR EV’RY LONELY NIGHT
I PRAYED ‘TIL I KNEW EV’RY THING WAS ALRIGHT

AND I THANK YOU FOR THE VALLEY I WALKED THROUGH TODAY
Verse 2
LIFE CAN’T BE ALL SUNSHINE OR THE FLOWERS WOULD DIE
THE RIVERS WOULD BE DESERT, ALL BARREN AND DRY
LIFE CAN’T BE ALL BLESSINGS OR THERE’D BE NO NEED TO PRAY SO I THANK YOU FOR THE VALLEY I WALKED THROUGH TODAY
Chorus
THANK YOU FOR EV’RY HILL I’VE CLIMBED
FOR EV’RY TIME THE SUN DIDN’T SHINE
THANK YOU FOR EV’RY LONELY NIGHT
I PRAYED ‘TIL I KNEW EV’RY THING WAS ALRIGHT
AND I THANK YOU FOR THE VALLEY I WALKED THROUGH TODAY
© 1966 Bridge Building Music/BMI (Adm. By CapitolCMGPublishing.com) Licensing: http://www.CapitolCMGLicensing.com

Prayer: Father please meet me in the valley and help me to always choose to make it a well.

Waiting

I was reminded today as I read my devotional, that while we often pray and wait on God to work in our circumstances, he too waits on us!

We must not lose hope! God is working to bring things about and waiting for just the right moment to bring blessing and victory in our lives. He never loses his hope in us and we should never doubt his faithfulness and love for us.

When things don’t work out the way you expect and hope they will, it is easy to get discouraged and lose your faith, but God is still working in our midst and on our behalf. His thoughts are higher than ours. He knows what is needed…. in our lives and our faith and walk with him and he knows what is needed in the lives of those we pray for. Trust him. He has and is waiting patiently for mankind, we should trust him and wait on him.

Reading the Directions

Have you ever tried to put something complicated together without reading the directions?

The Bible is meant to be a manual. ie; instructions, directions The Bible was not meant to be a book of laws. On the contrary! It is the Good News. It is the directions to this life we find ourselves in.

Anything you purchase comes with instructions that show you how to operate the item to achieve its full potential and purpose. The instructions are meant to help you assemble and use it in a way that won’t injure you or damage it.

The Bible holds the secrets (the wisdom/truth) to success, purpose, joy, peace, love, and treasure. Yes treasure. The treasure is eternity with the God of the universe, the Lord of hosts, the God of love.

The Bible is a love letter from God to his children. It holds the wisdom he wants to pass down to us, so that we don’t get lost and hurt by sin and the enemy that seeks to destroy us. As any parent would write a letter to their child, hoping to give them the best advice possible for a great life and tell them how loved they are, that is what the Bible is. It’s a letter from the Creator, the great I Am, God, and if we choose, our Savior and our friend.

Parts of the Bible, like Genesis and Job, are said to be over 3400 years old. Revelation is said to be about 1900 years old. What should it say to people today, that it is still around and still changing lives? It’s real. It is the holy, inspired Word of God.

If you want to know how to live your life to its best and fullest potential, if you want to know the secrets to living a fulfilling life and an even better after life, it’s in this book.

Find out for yourself….by reading the directions.

What Blessing is He Offering?

The blessing God offered required their trust in his faithfulness.

In Exodus 16 we find the Israelites in the wilderness just a few short months after God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He had parted the sea so that they walked on dry ground and then the waters had rushed in and drowned the Egyptians. Now two months later their supplies are running thin and they are hungry. They began to complain and even had the audacity to say they would have been better off dying in Egypt! God heard their grumbling and gave them meat (quail) at night and bread (manna) in the morning, every day for 40 years. The only requirement was that they only gather what they needed for that day. They were not to take more and try to save it for the next day.

The blessing God offered required their trust in his faithfulness.

God then introduced a completely new concept. A day of rest. He wanted to bless them with a day off from work. The Israelites had been working slaves for 430 years in Egypt. The idea of having a day off was unheard of. God wanted to bless them and give them time to rest and reflect on all the blessings he had given them. God told them to gather their food on the sixth day like always, but told them that it would be enough for two days and would not spoil. They were to rest and not gather food on the seventh day. This blessing required them to trust that he would supply their needs during that day of rest.

There is a lot of meaning that can be taught from this chapter and the principles in it, but I am not going to get into that today. I want to focus on the big picture instead of all the implications in the details.

How many times has God had a blessing for us, but in order to receive the blessing, it required faith and trust on our part?

I challenge each of us to examine our lives and see where God has offered a blessing but we weren’t willing to trust him for it.

We as people haven’t changed much since the days of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. God shows his faithfulness and love and helps us out of our bondage. After a little time passes, we are faced with another problem and many times, instead of trusting that God will help us, we complain and doubt.

In scripture we see this scenario over and over again. Each time God shows his faithfulness and comes to their aid.

Just as people have not changed, neither has God! He is still faithful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

How many times does he have to prove his faithfulness before we will have the faith to trust him and expect his faithfulness?

The good news is, that how ever many times it takes, that is how many times he will be there, showing us his faithfulness. What is his agenda? “Then you shall KNOW that I am the Lord YOUR God.” Exodus 16:8

What blessing is he offering you that requires you to trust his faithfulness?

What Does Love Feel Like?

God loves us even though he knows we won’t love him back as perfectly as he loves us.

Exodus 13:17 “When pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

God knew even after he rescued them from slavery that they would easily forget, get scared and turn to go right back into bondage. He knew they would not be faithful and love him the way he loved them, but he loved them anyway and he made accommodations along the way to remind them of his love and faithfulness and guide them to the promised land.

Exodus 13:21-22 “He went before them day by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

He loves us even though he knows we are not going to love him back in the same way and be faithful.

What is love? The Bible tells us that love is patient and kind and that it always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

What this verse is saying is that love is faithful and forgiving when the other person doesn’t love them back in the same way; when they don’t deserve it. THAT is love.

We see God’s love played out many times in Scripture. He loves Adam and Eve even when they are unfaithful and they don’t deserve it. He loves the Israelites even after they are unfaithful and don’t deserve it. He loves Abraham and Sarah when they are unfaithful and don’t deserve it. He loves David after he is unfaithful and doesn’t deserve it. I could go on and on, but I’ll just mention one more example. The most beautiful example of love ever recorded. Jesus.

Mankind at its worst is evil, depraved, selfish, perverted, ego centric, prideful, hateful, lying, cowardly and completely unfaithful to God over and over again.

In the privacy of your own mind, picture Jesus in the garden before he is arrested. He’s kneeling and praying. You stand before him and every sin you have ever committed is played out in front of him like a movie. Think about the things you have done that you are most ashamed of, that you don’t want anyone to know about. There they are in front of him. He sees them and his flesh is crying out in dread of the humiliation and excruciating death that is before him. He looks at you and your sin and then says, nevertheless, and his emotions mind and body submit to the overwhelming love of God that is in him and he willingly lays down his life in love for you and for me.

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42-42

He loves us even though he knows we won’t love him back as perfectly as he loves us. He loves us even though we are not a faithful bride.

There truly is no feeling like being loved so wholly and completely.

“He left the splendor of heaven, knowing his destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha, there to lay down his life for me. If that isn’t love, then the ocean is dry, there are no stars in the sky and the sparrow can’t fly. If that isn’t love then heaven is a myth. There’s no feeling like this!” “If That Isn’t Love” by Dottie Rambo

I love that sweet simple song. There is an old video of Dottie playing the guitar and helping Michael English sing it. The video is poor quality but it is still my favorite rendition of the song. To me, the emotion in his voice captures a glimpse of the love of Jesus and maybe the emotion of David singing his psalms to the Lord. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Close your eyes and listen with your heart.

Nothing Is Wasted

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, this month shall be for you the beginning of months. It should be the first month of the year for you.” Exodus 12:1-2

In Exodus chapter 12 we find the Israelites have been in slavery for 430 years. Moses and Aaron have been asking Pharaoh to let them go and God has brought many plagues upon Egypt. In verses one and two of chapter 12 the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron and declares a new beginning in the midst of their slavery.

If you haven’t read Exodus chapter 12, I urge you to do so. It is a beautiful story of God‘s redemption of the Israelites and a foreshadow of what Jesus would do for all of us.

“ Then they shall take some of the blood (from the lamb) and put it on the two door posts and lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They should eat the flesh of the lamb that night roasted on the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” Ex. 12:7-8

Leaven is another word for yeast. If you take flour and water, knead it well and leave it in a cool place for a long time, the dough will rise. This process will speed up if you save a little dough each time you bake it, to add to your next batch. This reserve is called a ‘starter.’ It is a good way to preserve yeast that makes good bread. Once the yeast gets into the new lump, it spreads throughout the lump.

So, we can see that yeast bread involves a lot of work and reliance on our past bread making. Making unleavened bread is much easier: once the flour and water are mixed, the bread is ready to bake in a short time. There is no ‘starter’ from yesterday, so unleavened bread has no past. It is a new beginning!

“In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste.“ Exodus 12:11

The symbolism of the unleavened bread and the people being dressed and ready and eating in haste is extraordinary! Every single detail has meaning and purpose. God is definitely in the details. Nothing is wasted.

When I read the Old Testament I am always blown away by the things God does and how much he loves and forgives over and over again. He always keeps his promises. Many times it seems to take longer than we expect, but he is always working and the result is redemption!

Scripture assures my hope and teaches me to be patient and wait on the Lord. It encourages me to look at the little details in my own life and try to find the truth and lessons that are tucked in to them. Nothing is wasted.

Prayer: Lord thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for Jesus! Please make me strong and my heart take courage as I wait for you to work out the details of my life. Please help me see the truths and lessons tucked into those details.

The Secret to Success

This morning I was reading about when Peter and Jesus walked on the water. It’s found in Matthew 14. Peter actually walked on the water to Jesus! How amazing that must have been. While he was focused on Jesus, his faith was strong enough to step out on the water. He kept looking at him and thinking about him and began to walk on it! When he stopped focusing on Jesus and began looking at the storm, fear came in and wrestled with his faith until it won. Fear took over and he began to sink. Then with the faith he had left, he cried out to Jesus, believing he would rescue him and of course Jesus did.

What a beautiful picture of what our Christian life looks like. Sometimes we are focused on the Lord and our faith is so strong! Sometimes when the troubles and trials come, we look around at our circumstances and fear enters in and steals our peace and we can begin to sink under the weight of our problems. This life in Christ can be exciting, powerful and amazing at times, but it also has its ups and downs. The Bible tells us the enemy is always watching for a way to defeat our faith. (1Peter 5:8)

The most beautiful part of this story is when he stretches out his hand and rescues Peter. He is also with us, ready to rescue us if we need him. He is there when we are focused on him and our faith is strong and he is there when we give in to fear. He is always there. He is always faithful.

A few years ago I was talking with my husband‘s grandmother. She was a prayer warrior and a woman of strong faith. I was gleaning her last bits of wisdom before she went on to be with the Lord. When I asked her what her secret was to having success in this difficult life of raising children, marriage and living a righteous life, she gave me this scripture;

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in you.

It’s so true! This is the secret to a victorious life! We see it played out in the story of Peter and Jesus on the water and we see it played out in our own lives every day.

Prayer: Lord God our faithful Father, thank you! Thank you for loving us and always being there for us. Please help us keep our mind stayed on you and who you are. Fill us with your peace that passes all human understanding, and is anchored in faith and trust in you. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Our Own Exodus Story

This Exodus that we see played out in scripture, is so intricate! There are so many layers to Gods plan and what it will accomplish.

It will touch the lives and hearts of the Israelites.

Exodus 6:7 “I will be your God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens…”

It will touch the lives and hearts of the Egyptians.

Exodus 7:5 “The Egyptian’s shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.

He even reaches the servants of the evil one…

Exodus 8:18–19 “ The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce the gnats, but they could not… then the magicians said to pharaoh, this is the finger of God…”

It says in later books of the Bible that other countries heard of the God of the Israelites and we’re afraid. (2 Chron. 20:29)

We must learn this Exodus story and hide its lessons in our hearts, so that our faith and our steadfastness do not fail in the midst of the trials we face in this life.

We each are living out our own exodus story. God is working in our lives to bring us out of the bondage we live in. What are you a slave to? Could it be image, greed, self gratification? (which can take many forms) Is it pride or hatred? In this 21st-century the list of sins people are slaves to is very long. God is still working in in our lives today, just as he did in biblical times. God is working in ways we may not understand or even see, to bring each of us to the place where we will know that he is the Lord our God. He is also working in the lives of others involved in our story so that they too, will learn that He is The Lord God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to be faithful to you. Help us to be strong in our hearts and take courage as we wait for you to lead us and free us! (Ps. 27:14)

Psalm 27:1-3 “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who will stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Emphasis On the Wrong Syllable

Have you ever tried to learn a new word? Maybe it’s another language or just a word you’ve never heard before? It’s quite possible in this situation you would miss pronounce the word by putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable.

Today we find ourselves in Exodus 3 & 4 where God commissions Moses. In chapter 3 God tells Moses in great detail exactly what he’s going to do for the Israelites. In chapter 4 Moses proceeds to tell God how unequipped he is and how God should choose someone else instead of him. Moses tells God that people won’t believe him, how he is slow of speech and is simply unfit for the job. He tells God he has chosen the wrong guy, as though the God of the universe can’t accomplish the things he wants to do, if Moses is a part of it. We find God‘s response to Moses in vs. 11.

Ex. 4:11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? “Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

In chapter 3 Moses listens to what God said He was going to do, but he was focusing on the wrong part of the story. Instead of focusing on what God was going to do, he was focusing on his own part of the story. It’s like Moses was putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. He got all the characters right but he was focusing and putting the emphasis on the wrong part of the word.

Let’s try something. Read this next sentence while putting the emphasis on the bolded part of the word… “He put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.” Now try it again this way… “He put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.” Isn’t that what we do sometimes in our life? All the characters were there, but we were focusing and putting the emphasis on the wrong part. Sometimes we look at our circumstances, our inabilities, the evil in the world, and we get distracted and stop focusing on the most important part. We must focus on God, on his ability, his power, sovereignty, holiness, and most of all, his great love for us.

In verses 14 through 17 it says that Gods anger is kindled at Moses’ response. I expect at this point that God will say, “Fine! If you don’t want to be part of this, I’ll choose someone else!” Isn’t that the way we would respond? I know I certainly would be tempted to respond that way. However God does not respond that way. God controls his anger and finds compassion for Moses and his insecurities and he graciously allows Aaron to assist Moses. He does this because he loves Moses and doesn’t want him to miss out on the miracle. He knows this miracle, this amazing event, will prove to Moses that it doesn’t matter what he brings to the table. The only thing that matters is that God is in it. God is looking for Moses to be obedient and trust him. That is all. God will do the rest.

Prayer: Dear God, we appreciate your love, grace and mercy towards us. Please help us each to trust you. Help us to keep our hearts, our minds and our eyes on you and not ourselves or our circumstances. Help us to trust you and follow you wherever you want to lead us.

Let’s focus on Him now as we listen to this song.

Remember Who Your With

“My own peace I give to you.” John 14:27

Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.

My mind goes to Matthew 8:23 where we find Jesus and the disciples on a boat in the middle of a storm. The disciples were looking at their circumstances, thinking only of their ability to handle the situation, as though they were on the boat alone. They did not factor in the reality that because Jesus was right in the boat with them, they were safe. They looked at the storm and panicked. They could have looked at Jesus and taken their cue from him. He was at peace in the midst of the storm. So at peace that he was sleeping right through it!

Today we don’t have the luxury of having Jesus in the flesh walking around with us, but we are not alone.

John 14:15-17 “If you love me and keep my commands I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot except him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

On that boat in the middle of a storm, Jesus’ physical body rested, because the Spirit of the living God was in him, and he knew that anything that happened, he was equipped to handle. When they woke him he said, “Why are you afraid? Oh you of little faith.” Matthew 8:26

Whatever situation we find ourselves in, the Spirit will be there to help us face it and he will walk through it with us. Accepting that – BELIEVING THAT, is where peace comes from.

Don’t look at where you are, look at who your with. Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.

Remember who you’re with!