Fall Down or You Will Fall Down

A single little leaf freely fluttered to the ground. I picked it up. It had fallen from a tree. As I examined the leaf, a realization dropped into my mind. Let me share it with you.

Fall down, or you will fall down.”

Let’s explore the meaning of this leaf message together.

The first “fall down” can refer to worship and humility.

Psalm 95:6 says, Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” When we worship God, we lift Him up. We focus upon God – not ourselves. We take a lower position while elevating Him as Lord of all. We surrender to Him as we fall down.

When we give the Lord this place of honor, we allow our lives to be more about Him and less about us. Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility is the fear of the LORD.” This type of fear refers to a reverential fear or a feeling of awe. This is worship.

I Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.” When we fall down in humility, God picks us up. Isaiah 29:19 tells us, “The humble will increase their joy in the LORD.”

May we follow the example of the angels in Revelation 7:11-12. “All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’”

We now move to the second “fall down”. In this case, it can be a description of moral descent – falling into sin when yielding to temptation.

Psalm 25:9 says, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” Falling before the Lord in humility will keep us from falling into sin.

Matthew 26:41 encourages us to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Paul says in Ephesians 6:10, “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” Finding strength in the Lord will help us not fall into sin.

I John 2:1 says, My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” The leaf I held in my hand could not be reattached to the tree from which it had fallen. However, if we fall because of sin, there is forgiveness and restoration for us.

Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” This verse warns us, “Fall down, or you will fall down.”

Joseph Prince has said, “I am falling out of love with sin and falling in love with God.” He sets an example of how to not fall into sin by falling down in humility.

Philippians 2:9-11 says, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Paul says in Ephesians 3:14 NLT, “I fall to my knees and pray to the Father.” May we follow Paul’s example and fall in prayer so we do not fall into sin!

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God’s Hand and Your Hand


I look at my hands. Two appendages – one at the end of each arm. Five fingers on each hand. I am right-handed. Some people are left-handed. I am handy at some things – at other things, I’m not so handy.

What about the hand of God? What has God previously done with His hands? Is He still using His hands today? Scripture will help answer these questions.

 I am He; I am the first, and I am the last.
My own hand laid the foundations of the earth,
and My right hand spread out the heavens;
Isaiah 48:12-13
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim t
he work of His hands.
Psalm 19:1

God has had His hand in everything since the beginning of time. God used His mighty hands to form things. He formed the mountains and deserts and seas. He also formed you and me.

But it was because the LORD loved you
and kept the oath He swore to your ancestors
that He brought you out with a mighty hand
and redeemed you from the land of slavery,
from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 7:8

God extended His helpful hand to Moses as he led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. I can imagine God placing one hand on Moses’ shoulder. With a finger on His other hand, He pointed the direction He wanted Moses to take His people. God’s hand was a hand of leadership that led with love.

Your arm is endowed with power;
Your hand is strong, Your right hand exalted.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
loving devotion and truth go before You.

Psalm 89:13-14
with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,
His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:12

The Psalms give us wonderful references to the righteous right hand of God. I can envision the Psalmist snapping a couple of spiritual photos that portray the Lord. He might begin with a picture of God’s powerful arm. Then he might zoom in the camera’s life lens to get a closeup of God’s hand.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them,
He was taken up into heaven
and
He sat at the right hand of God.
Mark 16:19
Exalted to the right hand of God, He (Jesus)
has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit
and has poured out what you now see and hear.
Acts 2:33

I think more than a handshake took place when Father and Son were reunited in heaven. I can see God the Father wiggling His strong finger to beckon Jesus to Him. Actually, God probably was waving His whole hand and arm when motioning for Jesus to sit beside Him. Now Jesus is seated at His Father’s right hand, a place of honor. Today, He hands us the help of the Holy Spirit.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands
Isaiah 49:16
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

God wants to hold our hands. He desires to get very personal. We cannot get away from His hands because He has imprinted us upon His hands. It is hard for me to comprehend how large His hands must be if He has all of us in His hands. At the same time, He holds our hands individually to show each of us our unique path. My hand is small. His hand is huge. Yet, He places my hand in His hand.

This reminds me of the American spiritual He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. God’s hands are strong enough to hold the whole world and yet sensitive enough to hold a little tiny baby.

Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay,
You are the potter;
we are all the work of
Your hand.
Isaiah 64:8
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

God’s hands created our hands for a purpose. However, we do not have to accomplish this task alone. In When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson says, ““Revival is a true move of God’s hand. . . . When God moves in revival power, people look on, not as critics, but as people in great need of God. Being in a place of great need enables a person to detect when God is doing something new.” May we become aware of our need for God’s hand in our lives!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand,
that
He may lift you up in due time.
I Peter 5:6

My Reader, do more than read scriptures relating to God’s hand. May you recognize the hand of God at work in you. I encourage you, don’t miss the current move of His hand. Let God’s hand give you a hand.

In a Fog

As I awoke this morning, I rubbed my eyes hoping to see better. It didn’t help. I was still unable to see across the street as I looked out the window. Yup! It was foggy.

Fog is like a thick cloud of tiny water droplets near the earth’s surface. It obscures our visibility. Fog appears when air is cooled to its dew point – where it can no longer hold all the water vapor it contains. Fog most often appears in the fall. This is because the nights are getting longer and the air masses are beginning to cool. The moisture of the land and water surfaces that were warmed during summer now evaporate excess water into the atmosphere.

This is the scientific explanation for fog. However, we can also experience a spiritual fog. A spiritual fog occurs when something obscures and confuses a situation we encounter. We may feel overwhelmed or bewildered. We may become fearful or anxious. We are not able to think clearly.

My surroundings appeared to be in a haze this morning. I could not see clearly. Little by little, the fog dissipated as the sun burned away the excess atmospheric vapor. Spiritual fog also disappears when we let the Son shine in our lives. Jesus says in John 9:5, “I am the light of the world.”

If I had needed to drive to an appointment this morning, it would have been difficult to know where to go or turn. I have encountered similar situations spiritually.

Physically and spiritually, there are GPS devices available. While driving a car, we have access to a Global Positioning System. An automated voice will tell us where to go. While traveling the spiritual journey of life, we have God’s Promises in Scripture. If we do not know where to turn spiritually, we can listen for the guidance of God’s voice. Psalm 119:105 declares, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”

In his book Intercessory Prayer, Dutch Sheets writes about the inability of unbelievers to understand the gospel. II Corinthians 4:3 says, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” If something is veiled, it is hidden. We can describe a veil as a type of fog because it can prevent clarity – physically and spiritually. We can say that unbelievers are wrapped up in a spiritual fog. They are unable to see the truth of the good news of Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:4 goes on to say that unbelievers experience mind blindedness because they cannot see the light of the gospel. No Sonshine visible! Then in II Corinthians 4:6, Paul says that God “made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” Now there is Sonshine!

The veil of mind blindedness no longer exists when the Son burns through the mind’s fogginess. Psalm 119:130 says, “The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”

My Reader, do you feel like there is a spiritual fog preventing you from understanding and obtaining all God has for you? Be assured, there is no fog too dense for the Son of God to penetrate. John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I echo the words of Paul in Ephesians 1:18 NLT, “I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called.” May we remember God is light; in Him there is no darkness at allaccording to I John 1:5.

Trust and Entrust

According to Wikipedia, trust is defined as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.

Where do I put my trust? Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (I cross horses and chariots off my list of where to put my trust.) Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans.(I won’t put all my trust in other people either.) Proverbs 3:5 says,Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” (I can’t even trust myself!)

Having deleted these items from my list, I choose to trust the Lord. Nahum 1:7 informs me that “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:7 declares, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.” Jesus says in John 14:1 NLT, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.”

Biblical studies point out that the meaning of trust involves more than faith. Trust has a broader perspective that includes reliance on the strength, ability and truth of God and nothing else.

I proclaim with David in Psalm 31:14, “But I trust in you, LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’”

In addition to trust, there is the concept of entrust. Wikipedia defines entrust as “to assign the responsibility for doing something to someone.”

Trusting God is something I choose to do. Then God entrusts me with the responsibility of doing things for Him.

In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus instructs, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It amazes me that God will entrust me with the task of sharing His Word with others.  God cares about those who have not yet come to have a personal relationship with Him.  He trusts me to be faithful to tell them of His love.  God entrust me with the responsibility of telling them of His plan for salvation. Our pastor, Robert Reeves, recently said, “God is changing one person at a time by one person at a time.”    

In addition to entrusting me with His people, He also entrusts me with gifts that will enable me to fulfill His command. Ephesians 4:11 NLT says, “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.”

I Corinthians 12:8-11 is a list of spiritual gifts God gives to help us. “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

Romans 12:6-8 says, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”

I trust God to equip me to do what He has entrusted to me. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.”

I will not be afraid to reach out to those He has entrusted to me because of II Timothy 1:7 NLT. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

God says in Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” I can be strong because I trust God. I can also trust the Lord to be with me no matter what I encounter. Psalm 37:5 NLT says, “Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust Him, and He will help you.” I can trust the words of Philippians 4:13 NLT, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”

Today I have been thinking about whom I trust. I have also thought about what is entailed with being entrusted with a specific responsibility. I come to the conclusion of Psalm 13:5, “I trust in Your (God’s) unfailing love.”

No Idol Worship nor Idle Worship


As I study the Ten Commandments in
Exodus 20:1-17, I focus upon the first two commandments. To state them concisely, God is saying: 1) You shall have no other gods before Me. 2)You shall not make idols.
Jesus summarizes these first commandments in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

According to Halley’s Bible Handbook, “Reverence for God is the basis of the Ten Commandments.
 . . . Idolatry is absolutely forbidden.” Worship God. No idols allowed.

Worship can be defined simply as a feeling or expression of reverence and adoration towards God. This is God’s request in the first two commandments.

John Piper says, “True worship is a valuing or a treasuring of God above all things.”

When reading the book of Exodus, we become aware that Moses was on the mountain a long time getting instructions from the Lord. The Israelites became impatient. In Exodus 32 , the people asked Aaron to make an idol. He complied and made a golden calf from their jewelry. They made sacrifices on an altar in front of the calf and had a festival. Oh-oh! Here is an idol. Here is idol worship.

When God’s people broke His commandments, it broke God’s heart.

We criticize the Israelites for worshiping idols, but are we any different? Think about it.

To what do you give priority in your life?
Whom do you most want to please?
What thoughts consume your mind?

Your answers may help you discover if you have any idols in your life. All of us are capable of creating idols. Before we realize it, we worship the idols we create.

Delesslyn A. Kennebrew  writes, “True worship, in other words, is defined by the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. True worship is a matter of the heart expressed through a lifestyle of holiness. Thus, if your lifestyle does not express the beauty of holiness through an extravagant or exaggerated love for God, and you do not live in extreme or excessive submission to God, then I invite you to make worship a non-negotiable priority in your life.”

Idol worship is still a reality today. What about idle worship?

Let me give an example to explain what I consider idle worship. If a car engine is idling, it is running but not moving. If we are engaging in idle worship, we are singing and saying the right words but we are not moving closer into God’s presence.

Psalm 47:1-2, 7-8 NKJV declares, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout unto God with the voice of triumph! For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth. . . . For God is the King of all the earth, sing praises with understanding. God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.”

While reading or singing these words, are we sincerely moving into God’s presence? Or, are we only going through the motions of clapping our hands without any sense of triumph in our hearts? We must be careful. It is easy to worship idly.

It is possible to recognize God as God while our attitude is not pleasing to Him. We are guilty of idle worship when we worship only with our mouths and not with our hearts, souls and minds.

Idle worship is unproductive worship. It has no influence upon our lives. However, Psalm 103:2 tells us toPraise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

We must not give place to idol worship or idle worship.

God declares in Isaiah 45:6, “There is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other.” So, let us “Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due His name. Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” as declared in Psalm 29:1-2.

Hebrews 12:28 says, Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (my emphasis)

No idol worship. No idle worship. Only God worship.

What Do You Think?



What do you think? (someone may be asking for your opinion)
What’s on your mind? (someone may want to know what is concerning you)

These may sound like simple questions requiring simple answers. However, I challenge you to think deeply before you answer.

Let us think about numerous scriptures regarding our thoughts and God’s thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. . . . ‘So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.’”
If we want our thoughts to be aligned with the Lord’s thoughts, we may want to make a few changes in our thought life.

Why are our thoughts contradictory to the Lord’s thoughts?
I Corinthians 2:14&16 answers, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
We must not tell the Lord what to do since we have only limited knowledge. May our thoughts agree spiritually with the Lord – not just be opinions originating in human understanding.

There is hope for us.
II Corinthians 5:17 NLT, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
This includes a new thought pattern.

The conclusion of I Corinthians 2:16 says, “But we have the mind of Christ.
What a wonderful promise for us when we become new creations in Christ!

Romans 12:2 NLT warns, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Psalm 139 makes a good comparison of God’s thoughts and our thoughts.
In verse 2 David says to the Lord, “You perceive my thoughts from afar.
God knows all our thoughts whether or not we express them.
In verse 17, David declares, “How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast are the sum of them!
Do you grasp the magnitude and majesty of God’s thoughts?
In verse 23, David cries out, “Search me, o God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
If we allow God to scrutinize our thoughts, we must be ready to make the adjustments He suggests.

How do we change the way we think?
In
II Corinthians 10:5, Paul says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We need to cast down the imaginations in our human thoughts and capture them for Christ. Our imaginations are composed of images we create from the “what ifs” that invade our minds.

Paul warns in II Corinthians 10:7 that too often “You are looking at things as they are outwardly.
Remember
Romans 8:6 NLT, “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
We must allow the Holy Spirit to control our minds, wills, and emotions.
Colossians 3:2 tells us to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Paul gives good suggestions in Philippians 4:6-7.
Verse 6 says, “Be anxious for nothing.
Not worrying about anything is a new way of thinking!
Verse 7 begins, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension
That means we still can’t understand it!
Verse 7 ends, “(God’s peace) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God’s peace protects our minds from negative thoughts and imaginations.

Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.
Yes, this is my goal.

I began by asking, “What do you think?”
Now I ask you, “What does God think?”

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.
God wants to share His thoughts if we will think about Him and ask for Him to reveal His thoughts.

I also asked, “What is on your mind?”
I conclude by asking, “What is on God’s mind?”

Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Then He will tell you what’s on His mind.

Psalm 139:17, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them!
God’s thoughts  are the thoughts I want to think! His thoughts are what I want to be on my mind!

In Anxious for Nothing, Max Lucado says, “Think about what you think about.” His advice is confirmed by Proverbs 4:23 NCV, “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.

 

 

Watching the Tides with God


While in Maine this summer, I
watched the rise and fall of the ocean’s tide. The statistics for one of the days we were in Maine were as follows. High tide was listed at 12:26 AM and 12:49 PM while low tide was 6:43 AM and 6:56 PM. The morning high tide was 11.3 feet and in the evening it was 10.9 feet. The morning low tide was 0.2 feet and the evening low was 0.7 feet. The times and heights varied slightly from day to day, but the tide faithfully rose and fell twice every 24 hours. We could count on it.

The ocean’s tides reflect the rising and falling of the sea’s level with respect to land. These ocean motions are caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon. I am not a scientist who fully understands it, but it is fascinating.

Becoming aware of the predictability of tide changes, caused me to think about God’s faithfulness. When He created the earth, He fashioned the waters to rise and fall. Through the tides, He displays His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

I like Sarah Young’s words in Jesus Always. (for July 30) Hear Jesus speak, “Beloved, My compassions never fail. They are new every morning. So you can begin each day confidently, knowing that My vast reservoir of blessings is full to the brim. . . . I want you to drink deeply from My fountain of limitless love and unfailing compassion. . . . I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. I have promised to give you Peace that can displace the trouble and fear in your heart. If you become weary in waiting, remember that I also wait that I may be gracious to you and mercy on you. I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.”  

I have underlined phrases that we can apply to the ocean’s tides. “Every morning” speaks of the dependable timing of the tides. The “vast reservoir of blessings” can be a symbol of the ocean. We “drink deeply from Jesus’ fountain” during the “timing” of the high tide that “displaces” the visible land of low tide. God does not “hold back” the ocean’s movements – and neither does He hold back His involvement in our lives.

Sarah Young applies the Lord’s faithfulness to His answering our prayers. Although it may appear that the Lord is holding back His response, He is not. He simply waits for the correct time – just like the tide times.

The tides of the ocean come in and go out. Similarly, our lives have ups and downs. We experience both throughout the timetables of our lives. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Like we wait for the tide to come in, so must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayers.

Paul reminds us in Romans 1:21 NLT, “that God is able to do whatever He promises.” David declares in Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” The heavens, the skies, the tides – all exhibit God’s faithfulness.