Ascending the Seventh Step

Psalm 126
When the LORD restored the fortunes
of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Our mouths were filled
with laughter then,
and our tongues with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things
for them.”
The LORD had done great things for us;
we were joyful.
Restore our fortunes, LORD,
like watercourses in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with shouts of joy.
Though one goes along weeping,
carrying the bag of seed,
he will surely come back with shouts of joy,
carrying his sheaves.

When the Israelites had been held captive in Babylon for 7 decades, Cyrus came to rule and issued a decree. The captives should return to their own country, rebuild their city and temple (Isaiah 44:28), and not only that but they should leave with gifts. This was nothing less than the outstretched arm of Jehovah! The LORD had indeed restored their fortunes. Verse 1 says, “We were like those who dream”. The word dream can be rendered as being restored to health. The verse would then go something like this, It was such a wonderful restoration! As an unexpected comfort after intense pain; or the recovery of health after a very long and tedious sickness. I like that. Are you praying for your health to be restored or for someone else you know? Praise our God and Savior! He is indeed a God of wonders! His beauty is stunning, His love is unending, His mercy is bountiful, His power is unmatched, and His presence is craved. Come Lord Jesus and make our joy complete!

Has the Lord done great things for you? Do you speak to your heart when it is tempted to live in what the senses reveal and demand that it rejoice in the Lord instead? Praise you Lord that You give us hope and a future! We are nothing without You. We have nothing if not for You. You are our all in all (Col. 3:11). You have indeed done a merciful work on our behalf – remember us again Lord in our hour of need! Verse 4 reads, “Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses (streams) in the Negev!” The word Negev is a Hebrew word meaning south; based on a word meaning to be dry. Do you feel spiritually dry? Overflow our lives with Your goodness Lord! May it be like a river bursting with water from a fresh rain that can do nothing more but breach its banks! In Your name Jesus.

Are you in a season of hurting for yourself or someone else and have been flooded by tears? Indeed, there is a healing that comes through tears. However, let’s not just shed tears! “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.” Sow the Word (declare Scripture) through your tears. Jesus explained in Luke 8:11 that the seed is the Word of God. The promise is that if we sow in tears we will reap with shouts of joy! We will reap a harvest indeed. We must not grow weary in doing good for it is not for us to know when the harvest will come. Continue sowing the Word to your heart, soul, mind, and spirit sweet DIVA. Jesus also speaks in Luke 8:12-15 of those who will not have a harvest. Those that weep but do not sow are ones 1) the Devil has taken the Word from their heart, 2) departed from the Word because of severe testing, and 3) choked by the issues of life. Let it not be so Lord that we, through the anguish of our souls, are unable to sow the Word!! Stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders and empower your saints with boldness to pray, speak, sow, and lead!! Hallelujah and Amen!! Thank you Lord that Your word says, “Those that sow seed are happy beside abundant waters” (Isaiah 32:20)!

Remember to memorize or read 15 times Psalm 126! Are you in?

In His grace,
Amanda

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The Lord Surrounds His People

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Psalm 125
Israel’s Stability

Those who trust in the LORD are
Like Mount Zion.
It cannot be shaken;
it remains forever.
Jerusalem – the mountains
surround her.
And the LORD surrounds
His people,
both now and forever.
The scepter of the wicked
will not remain
over the land allotted
to the righteous,
so that the righteous will not apply
their hands to injustice.
Do what is good, LORD, to the good,
to those whose hearts are upright.
But as for those who turn aside
to crooked ways,
the LORD will banish them
with the evildoers.
Peace be with Israel.

Not many days ago I was honored to meet and spend time with a sister in Christ. Her sincerity and convictions regarding the direction of her life in Christ was inspiring. During one of our conversations she spoke of the Israel of God. New Testament believers are part of the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) we are grafted in (Romans 11:17), and we are the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:27-29). Hallelujah! We who trust in Him, will be like Mount Zion-never shaken. Although we suffer through trials, pain, and uncertainties we WILL stand firm on the sure foundation which is the Lord and not…..be….moved.

The scepter (a symbol of rule) of the wicked cannot coexist with the presence of God. Amen!! Israel (and you and I) knew that the Lord had promised never to permit the wicked to prevail over the righteous. Hold steadfast to Elohim Shomri (God our Protector) knowing that NOTHING gets through to us that He has not allowed. He is ours and we are His.

Remember to memorize or read over the verse 15 times. You can do it! I would be encouraged today to hear your testimonies of the wonders of God this past week. Big or small – don’t be shy!

Peace be with you. Shalom.
Amanda

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The 5th Step Has Plenty of Room to Spread Your Wings

Psalm 124

If the LORD had not been
on our side –
let Israel say-
If the LORD had not been
on our side
when people attacked us,
they would have
swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have
engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept
over us,
the raging waters would have swept
us away.
Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn
by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
from the hunter’s net;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Have a glorious day today DIVAs! In rain or in shine it is a blessing from the Lord, Hallelujah!

Shall we move to the 5th step and read/memorize Psalm 124? The repetition in verses 1-2 is for emphasis. These Old Testament saints had a keen awareness of the presence of their Lord and the repetition is a truth worth repeating. Would you admit and say the same? The verses from Psalm 94:18-19 might be your battle cry. “If I say, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your faithful love will support me, LORD. When I am filled with cares, Your comfort brings me joy.” Do you speak certainty like this to your heart regardless of its present condition? Do you demand your entire being to be in Truth even when it is tempted to believe the lie? Let it not be so! Claim Truth at all costs!

The cunning acts of the enemy often threaten to overwhelm us. In this Psalm “the flood,” “the torrent,” and “the raging waters” are likened to the results of the enemy’s tactics regarding your precious redeemed life. The word snare can be translated as calamities, plots, or a springed net.  The word broken can be translated as break in pieces, destroy, hurt, shatter and quench.  Do you sense you nearly succumb to the force of the enemy’s influence only to “flooded” with the awareness of God’s love and compassion instead?  Our Lord has indeed shattered or broke into pieces the plots and calamities the enemy has schemed regarding us!

The “setting of a hunter’s net suggests premeditation by the opposition, who lays in wait to capture God’s people”, as suggested by the Holman commentary. Do you recall from Psalm 91:3, that “He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net”? Come, Lord Jesus we welcome You to flood our hearts, mind, and soul to a new reality of who You are. Sweep us away under the shadow of Your wings. Our help is in no other name but Yours.

In His grace,
Amanda

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Freedom In The Lord From The 4th Step

The church I am privileged to attend held Resurrection services Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. This year we decided it would be a blessing for us to attend on Good Friday. The afternoon began with a tornado watch along with threats of a severe thunderstorm. My kids insisted we continue in our plans even though there were indications that the clouds would drop their rain any minute. During the drive, the sky lite up with the boldest lightening strikes I ever recall seeing. My mind immediately flew to Matthew 27:45 which tells us, “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land” as Jesus hung on the cross. My heart was thrilled sensing the Lord setting the scene of His story for anyone willing to enter. As we approached the church, lightening bolts stretched from the heavens to the ground and I loved it all the more! The bold lightening, the flooded streets, the driving wind – we were sure to be soaked! I dropped my kids off under the church’s covered entrance and found a spot in the packed parking lot. I realized that even with the umbrella, remaining dry would indeed be impossible. I removed my shoes and jacket and jogged barefoot through the parking lot and into the church. As I made my way, I was aware that the rain was cleansing and my bare feet ran with a newfound freedom. I felt as if I floated into the church. Do you remember the verse last week from Psalm 118:19? “Open the gates of righteousness for me; I will enter through them.” I recalled that verse as the gates (doors) swung open to the church that night and I entered in. How altogether lovely is our Savior, our King, our Door of the Sheep, our End of the Law, our Lamb of God, our Living Bread and Water, our Passover…our Beloved!

I assumed I would receive odd looks as I walked into the packed church with no shoes and with no intention of putting them back on!  Instead, I noticed the smiles of others as we shared an acknowledged moment of carefree freedom. A freedom in the Lord I have not experience in a while! The kind of freedom that comes when you don’t care that the clothes you are wearing are getting soaked from the rain – because you have been blessed.  The kind of freedom that comes from running barefoot in puddles and then entering a ‘proper’ place with no desire to even slip the shoes back on again, sensing a desire that others feel the same – because you have been blessed.  Praise God! Thank you Lord that when you beckon us to enter Your story we can’t help but get soaked to the bone by Your refreshing and it is impossible to remain untouched!

Psalm 123
I life my eyes to You,
The One enthroned in heaven.
Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand,
like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand,
so our eyes are on the LORD our God
until He shows us favor.
Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we’ve had more than enough contempt.
We’ve had more then enough
scorn from the arrogant
and contempt from the proud.

Eugene Peterson said, “We would very soon become contemptuous of a god whom we could figure out like a puzzle or learn to use like a tool. No, if God is worth our attention at all, he must be a God we can look up to – a God we must look up to. The moment we look up to God (and not over at him, or down on him) we are in the posture of servitude.” Can you also see how this can be applied as we lead a sacrificial life – placing others’ needs above our own?

I also find this interesting in light of our current bible study. In the Bait of Satan it reads, “A slave is one who has to serve, while a servant is one who lives to serve.” Are we Christians who serve with a resentful attitude? Do we “live as slaves to a law from which we have been set free?” Galatians 5:1 tells us “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” “Do we remain a slave in our hearts?” Do we “not realize we have been liberated to serve so we continue to fight for our own benefit” rather than the benefit of another?

“Like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand, so our eyes are on the LORD our God until He shows us favor.” Historically, a servant would watch the master’s hand intently for a gesture signifying approval. Do you have an expectancy as you lift your eyes in anticipation of His favor? The One enthroned on glorious praises bestows His favor on you because He loves you and because He knows the arrogant enemy of your soul has unleashed more than enough scorn and contempt.  Praise God! Hallelujah our Rescuer is omniscient and is a gracious Savior!

Let’s read/memorize Psalm 123 this week and move on to Psalm 124 next week. Thank you Lord in advance for our success! Do you have any experiences to share from last week? If so, share it in your ‘comment’!

In His grace,
Amanda

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