Be near to the brokenhearted.

Psalm 147:3-5 (NIV)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147:3-5 (MSG)
He heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds. He counts the stars and assigns each a name. Our Lord is great, with limitless strength; we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does.
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“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [healing their pain and comforting their sorrow]. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by their names. Great is our [majestic and mighty] Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is inexhaustible [infinite, boundless].” -AMPLIFIED

Yesterday our world was rocked once again by another senseless act of hate. France, a land rich with history and beauty, was targeted; in order to create havoc and chaos. Many people died senselessly. Many families were affected, losing loved ones. The country of France is living in a state of shock and unbelief at this very moment. Our world has been impacted once again by an extreme attack from the Enemy.

The Psalmist, in Psalm 147, reminds us that God Almighty is near to the brokenhearted; in fact binding up their wounds. Here in the text we find two groups; the patient and the physician. The patient’s need is that they are brokenhearted; the physician’s remedy is the binding up of their wounds, healing their pain and comforting their very sorrow. Psalm 34:18 reminds us of this truth, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.” (MSG)

Charles Spurgeon reminds us of God’s loving mercy with these words: “Behold, the Most High has to do with the sick and the sorry, with the wretched and the wounded! He walks the hospitals as the good Physician! His deep sympathy with mourners is a special mark of his goodness. Few will associate with the despondent, but Jehovah chooses their company, and abides with them till he has healed them by his comforts. He deigns to handle and heal broken hearts: he himself lays on the ointment of grace, and the soft bandages of love, and thus binds up the bleeding wounds of those convinced of sin. This is compassion like a God.” (Treasury of David)

We may wonder about the reference to the number and names of the stars in this passage, but I would remind you of the vastness of this universe. God knows every one of those stars; is it too difficult to think that He would know each of us personally and the hurts, needs and desires that we have? He is a personal God. What breaks our hearts breaks His too. The Creator of this vast Universe is quite capable of doing surgery on a broken heart.

The Psalmist goes on to give praise where praise is due. “Our Lord is great. Nothing is impossible with His overwhelming power. He is loving, compassionate, and wise beyond all measure.” -(Voice) God’s understanding is infinite, His compassion boundless, His wisdom beyond measure, and nothing is impossible with Him. Do you not think that He is the most capable person to handle our broken heartedness?

Pain is difficult, but God is good. He will heal the broken hearts if we allow Him to. He can restore hope. He will bring us to a place of comfort and peace, even in our brokenness. Hold on to the promises of God and trust Him.

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” -Romans 8:31-39 (MSG)

My Prayer:
Lord, heal the broken hearts today. Bring comfort and peace, as only you can. Help your children to hold on to your promises and protect us from the Enemy. Help us to be ministering hands; bringing words of comfort and encouragement to those who are hurting. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

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Like a tree…

Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV)
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Psalm 92:12-15 (MSG)
“Good people will prosper like palm trees, Grow tall like Lebanon cedars; transplanted to God’s courtyard, They’ll grow tall in the presence of God, lithe and green, virile still in old age.” Such witnesses to upright God! My Mountain, my huge, holy Mountain!”
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“The righteous will flourish like the date palm [long-lived, upright and useful]; They will grow like a cedar in Lebanon [majestic and stable]. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. [Growing in grace] they will still thrive and bear fruit and prosper in old age; They will flourish and be vital and fresh [rich in trust and love and contentment]; [They are living memorials] to declare that the Lord is upright and faithful [to His promises]; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” -AMPLIFIED

The comparison of a righteous person and a tree can be found more than once in Scripture. It is a metaphor pointing to the need for the child of God to be rooted deeply, to be standing tall, to be fed well and to be fruiting bountifully; all for the glory of God.

Jeremiah pointedly tells us exactly what this tree should be like; “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” -Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

David understood the need to stay close to his source. He trusted in the mercies of the Lord. When faced with desperate situations, David was still able to say, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.” -Psalm 52:8 (NIV) Notice; in the midst of being persecuted, despised, hunted down and accused, David was still flourishing. God’s unfailing love allowed David to find perfect peace in the midst of the storm.

Paul encourages the Colossians that they too should be deeply rooted and built up in Christ. He says, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin], having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude.” -Colossians 2:6-7 (AMP)

The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 92 that the righteous will be like a palm, tall and straight, flourishing even in the dry desert with roots that run deep. In fact, the righteous will grow like the cedar of Lebanon, majestic and noble. With mighty spreading branches where others can seek shelter. Notice where these two magnificent trees are planted; “planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.”

Take note of the fact that these trees, healthy because they are near their source continue to bear fruit in their old age. As long as you are rooted and grounded into the Source you will bear good fruit. No matter how old or young you are God can use you as long as you have a willing, obedient spirit.

I wonder if we have been taking this growing business seriously. It is only by keeping our eyes on the Lord that we will be unshakable. (Psalm 16:8) Are we taking the time to be rooted and grounded? Are we truly growing roots that are strong and deep preparing us for the storms that lie ahead?

My Prayer:
Lord, I want to be like that well-watered tree; with roots that run deep. I want to have branches that spread wide and are strong; giving shelter to others in need. I really want to bear much fruit, because I know that is pleasing to you. I definitely do not want to be a dead branch without any fruit; for I know that then I will be cut off. You are the Vine, Lord, as I seek to spend more time with you allow your strength and power to flow through me and make me into the majestic tree that you have always intended me to be. Lord, You are me Source!

In the face of persecution rejoice and be glad.

Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 5:10-12 (MSG)
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
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“Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are those who are persecuted for doing that which is morally right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever]. “Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil things against you because of [your association with] Me. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” -AMPLIFIED

Persecution is the act of harassing, ill-treatment, oppressive behavior and even death because of ones beliefs. Here in the book of Matthew we find Jesus saying to the crowds, blessed or happy are those who are persecuted for doing what is right. I am sure we are all asking ourselves, how could anyone be happy in being persecuted? Yet, in the face of persecution one finds oneself driven closer to the Almighty, deeper into God’s Kingdom.

Kingdom living will involve persecution, Jesus said as much. We have not experienced a whole lot of it in America, but times are changing. This country was birthed with the idea that every man should be able to worship God as he or she saw fit, but that freedom is slowly being taken away from each us. Belief in God is being taken out of the equation, out of our schools, government and even our homes. Where will we, as the children of God, stand in the midst of these changes?

The Apostle Peter reminds us that we should not be surprised when fiery trials come our way, for they are a testing of our faith. “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (MSG)

Verse 13 in the NIV actually tells us that we should, “…rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” Rejoice in suffering; exactly what Jesus has told us to do. “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”

How can we rejoice in the midst of persecution? We can do so by focusing on what is truly lasting, our reward in Heaven. This World is quickly passing away, but those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord will live forever! “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” -1 John 2:17 (NIV)

We may face difficult persecution, but Jesus faced them also; even unto death. Remember, this world is not our home, we are just pilgrims passing through. Keep your eyes on the Savior, rejoice in being able to participate in His sufferings and be glad that you have an eternal home waiting where there will be no more tears, sorrow, or pain. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to be strong in the face of persecution. Help me to pray for those who face it on a daily basis. I know that difficult times are to be expected, for I do not belong to this World; you have called me out. Allow your Holy Spirit to remind me to rejoice and be glad in every situation, for great is my reward in Heaven. I will keep forward and up; for my redemption draws near!

We may be hard pressed, but do not be discouraged.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.

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 “We are pressured in every way [hedged in], but not crushed; perplexed [unsure of finding a way out], but not driven to despair; hunted down and persecuted, but not deserted [to stand alone]; struck down, but never destroyed.” -AMPLIFIED

Paul tells the Corinthians, “We may be pressured on every side, surrounded, even battered by many troubles, but (and it is a big BUT) we are not crushed. We may be perplexed, bewildered and even befuddled; yet even so we are not driven to despair. There may be times when we are even persecuted, terrorized or bullied for what we believe in; yet God will never abandon us. Even if it comes to the point where we are struck down we will not be eternally destroyed.” Hallelujah!

In verse 7 of 2 Corinthians 4 Paul makes reference to the fact that we are simply “jars of clay”. The reason we are just simple unadorned jars of clay is for this purpose; “That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” If you have ever seen a potter using a potting wheel you can appreciate the pressing on every side analogy; even the striking down part.

When a pot is formed on the wheel there is a beating of sorts that happens. The clay is slapped onto the wheel, poked and prodded, pinched, squeezed, and at times knocked down and started completely over. After the piece has been molded into the desired shape it is then placed into a kiln where it is heated and baked to hardness. This allows the completed piece to be useable. This may appear to the outside observer as a very violent, messy process. When completed though, and if it has been done correctly, the potter ends up with a very beautiful, useful piece.

We are those jars of clay in the hands of the Master Potter. At times as we are being formed there will be pressure, pinching, prodding and squeezing. Those times can be uncomfortable and no, we do not tend to enjoy them, but there is a purpose. God has a plan for each of our lives and His desire is to make us and form us into the wonderful vessel that He knows that we can be. It takes much work and at times we may need to be knocked down and completely formed over. We may be knocked down, but we will not be knocked out; remember, God has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives.

The key is living daily for Christ and not for “self”. Sometimes that requires dying to self. Consider Paul’s message to the Galatians, “II have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

Do not become discouraged in the forming process; for our God is in the transforming business. His desire is to bring each of us to a place that brings glory to Him. Sometimes that involves pain, but He will never crush or destroy us. He only wants the best for each of us.

My Prayer:

Master Potter, sometimes the poking, prodding, pinching and squeezing hurts. I want to have the right attitude Lord; I want to be what you want me to be. Help me to be thankful even in those difficult times Lord. Help me to become that jar of clay that is not only useful, but beautiful to you. Have your way in my life as I keep my eyes and heart focused on you.

Hold fast to the promises of God.

Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23 (MSG)
Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.
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“Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word].” -AMPLIFIED

The writer of Hebrews tells us to hold tightly, keep a firm grip or as the King James says, hold fast to our hope. To hold fast is, to bind to, attach to, or to unite with. It can also mean to cling to with the purpose of never letting go. The Greek word is katecho which literally means “to hold down”; it speaks of having a firm grip, mastering that which is held.

Hold tight, without wavering, to the hope and promises that we profess. Do not let go of them; do not be swayed by the distractions of this World. Furthermore, do not give in to the temptations of the Enemy; whose greatest desire is to confuse and befuddle us, which, in turn, will cause us to stumble and fall.

Paul reminded the Corinthians of the need to be alert and the urgency to stand firm. “Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” -1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (MSG)

Paul also encouraged the Colossians with these words, “Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” -Colossians 1:9-12 (MSG)

The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God is trustworthy and faithful. In fact, He is the Ultimate Promise Keeper! He has never made a promise that was ever broken. He can be trusted to do what He has said and His promises are absolutely certain to be carried on to completion because He cannot lie. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” -Hebrews 6:17-18 (MSG)

God always keeps His Word, folks. Has He made you a promise? Than He will keep it. Hold strong to His promises, do not lose hope, trust that in His time and in His way His promises will come to pass. Nothing, nothing at all is impossible for Him and He cannot lie; so if He has made a promise to you than you can know, without a shadow of a doubt, that it will happen; God is faithful!

“We have a hope that is based on the trustworthy promises of God. Our future is secure. God has always proven Himself to be as good as His word.” -D C Egner

My Prayer:
Lord, I am holding fast to you and all of your promises. I see throughout Your Word that Your promises hold true; You have kept them every one. I know and have experienced your faithfulness in my life before and I choose to believe that You will always come through; even if it may be at the last minute of a situation. I will trust You, Lord. There are times that the Enemy tries to sway me, times that he tries to deceive me and times that he lies to me; help me to keep my eyes on you, my ears listening for your still small voice and my heart in tune with you. Lord, you are my ultimate Promise Keeper; I am holding on to you!