Comfort My People

2 Corinthians 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Reassure – Console – Encourage – Relieve – Ease – Comfort. Praise be to our Father of compassion.  Praise be to our God – the God of all comfort.  He comforts us . . . through his Comforter sent to come along side us, be with us, never leave us and in fact – indwell us.  He comforts as no one else can.  But sometimes that’s just what we say when no one else will.  His word says he comforts us so that we can comfort others.

You may ask what it is you have to offer, and honestly I have no idea. But what I’m certain of is that we’ve all been comforted in one way or another.  However, he’s comforted you and me – that’s the comfort we have to offer others.

Have you grieved and been comforted? That’s what you have to offer.

Have you had an addiction and been delivered? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Have you prayed for something, believed you would receive it and then in fact received it? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Have you been down and someone simply said, “I love you” or gave you a hug and it uplifted your day? That’s the comfort you have to offer.

Praise be to God that he’s comforted us in so many ways. Today, let’s try to comfort someone else with the same comfort we have received.

©2009, Jessica Lynn Sifuentes Devotionals or Something Like it, “Comfort My People”

photo courtesy of turnbacktogod.com

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A Real Kind of Father – My Protector and Provider

Provider

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Protector/Shield

Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me like a dread champion; Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, With an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten.

Just a note:  Josh McDowell has a teaching series for youth in which he challenges them (and adults as you’re teaching it) to Count on God’s Protection and Provision after you have stood for what is right or made a right choice even though it doesn’t make you very popular, etc.  The idea is that we should not be deceived into believing that because we trust in God we’re all of a sudden going to be transported to never-never land and spend all day figuring out what our “happy” thoughts are.  Rather we will go through trials, heartache, pain, etc.  But through it all, God has promised us never to leave us or forsake us.  We can be confident of his protection and provision – we just have to know enough about Him to not expect it to be NECESSARILY what we expect it to be.  Look for His movement in all situations. He is there.

(c)2005, Jessica Sifuentes, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, “A Real Kind of Father.”

My Father – My Provider

Psalm 78:23 Yet He had commanded the clouds above, And opened the doors of heaven, 24 Had rained down manna on them to eat, And given them of the bread of heaven. 25 Men ate angels’ food; He sent them food to the full. 26 He caused an east wind to blow in the heavens; And by His power He brought in the south wind. 27 He also rained meat on them like the dust, Feathered fowl like the sand of the seas; 28 And He let them fall in the midst of their camp, All around their dwellings. 29 So they ate and were well filled, For He gave them their own desire.

Who provided for you when you were a child?  Who did you trust for your clothing, food, shelter?  Was it your father? For me it was my mom.  I remember having some hard times, but what I don’t remember is ever doubting that my mom would provide my clothing, food, shelter, etc.  She fed and clothed me and paid the rent regardless of how I acted.  Had her provision for me been dependent on my being obedient all the time, I would probably have been homeless, naked and hungry! 

My Father is the same way.  I remember struggling to raise three children by myself – there were hard times.  But my Father never, ever let me down.  My Father always managed to guide me towards the job that would pay me enough to take care of my family.   And also there were times when the paychecks didn’t stretch far enough – but My Dad would send someone by to help at just the right time.  He provided everything I needed for me and my children.  He even comforted me in times when I thought I’d quit.  He was and is my provider.  And like my mom, he didn’t do it based on my obedience (though my obedience to my Mom and my Father were important).  He did it because He is faithful and providing is what He does for His children.  Don’t believe me?  Try Him for yourself.  Also, read the entirety of Psalm 78.  Another good one is Psalm 107.

Have a great day!  Love Jessica

(c)2005, Jessica Lynn Sifuentes, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, “A Real Kind of Father”

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

My Father – My Strength and Shield!

Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy.  The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.  Psalm 28:1-9  

(NOTES:  Per the One Year Chronological Bible (p. 545), this psalm is also thought by some to be during the time period of David’s son, Absalom’s, rebellion. Per the Complete Word Study of the Old Testament – Shield is sometimes used figuratively in Hebrew for Protector:  from The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament )

Do you know why I call these devotionals “A Real Kind of Father?”  It’s because for me it is so comforting to recall and meditate on God, as Father.  I’ve heard many girls who had good fathers talk about their fathers’ attributes.  Their fathers protected them, provided for them, listened to them, and avenged them – among other things.  Their fathers could always be counted on – a hero in their daughters’ eyes.  Can you remember a father (or mother or other authority figure who may have raised you) ever acting as a shield for you – protecting you from some harm even if it was by keeping certain things away from you? 

Well, that’s one of the ways our Father wants us to know Him.  He’s so much more, but He is also our protector.  Those girls trusted their fathers, and our Father can be trusted.  He certainly shields us from certain things.  Can you think of anything He has shielded you from?  While I admit I have the human tendency to focus on the things that he didn’t shield me from when I thought He should have, I can think of many, many things He did shield me from.  And as I grow daily in the Word and in knowledge of who He truly is, I find that the things that I thought I shouldn’t have had to go through had purpose and shaped me for ministries in ways that I truly cannot see (and could not see) at the time they were happening.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Selah!

(c)2018,REV – Devotionals or Something Like it, “A Real Father”

Photo by David Castillo Dominici, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My Father – The Lifter of My Head!

Psalm 3:3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

Imagine that you’re really down because of a bad circumstance or a difficult person.  You feel bent over, cast down, bowed down.  You run to your father and you pour out your heart to him.  You trust him.  You know he has the wisdom.  You know that he will hold you, let you cry, comfort you and speak words that will strengthen you and do all that’s in his power to help turn your situation around.  That’s a father.

Now consider these things:  who or what has your head bowed down today?  Who or what has the capacity to drive you to bowed-down-headed-ness?  Who or what brings you down? 

God is here.  He wants you to come to Him as you would your earthly comforter.  He is our Father and He loves us so very much.  No matter what you’re going through – no matter who or what has the ability to bring your spirit down (or more accurately who are what  you allow to bring your spirit down) – God is a shield for you, and me.  No matter how dark it may look – how impossible the situation or person may seem – God will lift your head.  He is a real kind of Father.  He will not only hold you, let you cry, comfort you and speak words that will strengthen you; He will do something about your circumstances in ways you can never imagine.  He is God.  Will you trust Him as your Father today?

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that you are my Father.  Thank you that you’re a Father to all of us.  Lord I pray that as circumstances of life come our way that press us downward, that your Spirit would compel us to run to you to find comfort and shelter.   You are glorious, and you are our glory and the lifter of our heads.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

©2018, Rev – Devotionals Or Something Like It, “A Real Kind of Father”

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – Photo by Gualberto107.

It’s the Lord’s Battle, Not Mine!

And there came out against them Zerah the Ethiopian with an host of a thousand thousand, and three hundred chariots; and came unto Mareshah. Then Asa went out against him, and they set the battle in array in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.  So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. 2 Chronicles 14:9-12 KJV

Once an Ethiopian named Zerah attacked Judah with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots. They advanced to the city of Mareshah, so Asa deployed his armies for battle in the valley north of Mareshah. Then Asa cried out to the LORD his God, “O LORD, no one but you can help the powerless against the mighty! Help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in you alone. It is in your name that we have come against this vast horde. O LORD, you are our God; do not let mere men prevail against you!” So the LORD defeated the Ethiopians in the presence of Asa and the army of Judah, and the enemy fled. 2 Chronicles 14:9-12 NLT

 

On this Monday morning, let us remember that we’re not fighting against the Amalekites, Hitites or even Zerah the Ethiopian. However, we do face Ignorantites, Arroganites, Idontlikeyoufornoreasonites, Illites, Brokeites, Stressedites and all kinds of problems that will make us feel like we’re being pursued by an Ethiopian with a million-man army.  In other words, we do have troubles, circumstances, problems and such in life that can do either one of two things:  defeat us or push us into increased reliance and trust in the Lord.  Personally, when trouble and circumstances have me feeling like I’m in an Iraqi war, I look to the Word of God and let His Holy Spirit speak to my heart and my situation.  As such, there are things in Asa’s prayer that I find comforting when I’m facing an overwhelming circumstance.

First, I like that Asa acknowledged his own powerlessness over the situation.  That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything, because for sure Asa’s army went out to face the enemies.  What’s important for me in this is that he was in a situation that was overwhelming and with the natural eye it looked like he was going to be defeated. Second, Asa acknowledged that he was putting his trust in God alone and not in the strength of his army or the speed of his horses.  Third, Asa reminds himself that God is . . . well, He’s God.  He IS.  In His is-ness, He’s all powerful, all- knowing and He loves the socks off His people and defends them to the utmost.  Fourth, Asa saw himself as completely a part of God, so much so that he saw any possible defeat as God being defeated.  Finally, I see and understand that God responds to faith.  He definitely responded to Asa’s faith.  [I have to make a note here because with all the different teaching that’s around, I need you to know that I am not suggesting that an answer of “no” means you don’t have enough faith]

I try to take heart in every circumstance and remember that God is with me and He is on my side.  It’s all throughout His Word, and He doesn’t lie!  Be blessed!

©2018 – The Heart of the Matter, Devotionals or Something Like It, “God is On Your Side”

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – “Battles Word Shows Armed Conflict And Affray” by Stuart Miles

Your Problem is Big – Your God is Bigger!

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17

What do you see that has you stressed?  What do you see that has you scared?  What problem are you fixated on?  It looks big doesn’t it?  It looks unconquerable, right? You have no clue how to get out of it, when it’s going to end and, most of all, if you’ll be all right whenever it’s over and however it ends.  I have been there.

I have learned some things from those times in my life though.  Thank you Jesus.

I have learned that it is at that very moment, when I am in the midst of distress, when I am facing a “larger than life” problem, it is at those times I need to recalibrate, so to speak. I can call upon the Lord and do just like this servant and say to the Lord, I’ve got a problem, and it’s real.  (What the servant saw was reality.  It made him scared, but it only made him scared because he saw the true vastness of the problem. He wasn’t making stuff up.) And yep, I know the Lord already knows the problem; but me personally, I need to verbalize it because (a) it helps me face my fear and (b) it makes me make a conscious decision to invite God into the situation.  It makes me say to myself and the Lord, I want to have eyes to see you in this; I want eyes to see this from your perspective Lord!  And without fail He allows the Holy Spirit to guide me into all the truth.  I finally see that this problem, while big, is NOT, and NEVER WILL BE bigger, than my God.  This problem, while it temporary immobilized me because I was scared; it did not render my God powerless.  My God is almighty and all powerful, He is my dread champion (Jeremiah 20:11).  At that moment, when he opens my eyes, I know without a doubt, I’m gonna win!

Thank you Lord for always meeting me right where I am.

(c) 2015, The Heart of the Matter Ministries, Devotionals or Something Like It, “The Battle of the Mind”

photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net: “Hooded Person” by Ambro

Battle of the Mind

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…

Sometimes we are stressed out because of what we imagine or speculate is going on, when in reality were we to seek the truth of the situation, what we imagine really is just that – speculation, rooted in our own perceptions, fears, demonic influence or the imagined opinion of others about ourselves or our situation.

We have the POWER to confront false imaginations.  First we have to identify them. We have to ask, “Is this just how I feel or is this what is actually going on?”  Do you have a healthy self-confidence, a bold God-confidence? If so, ask God to search your heart and lead you in the right way and reveal the absolute truth to us.  You see, sometimes it’s not what others think, but what we imagine or speculate they think, with no basis in any real truth!  Second, after we identify them, we call them what they are – lies.  Third, we replace those imaginations with spiritual truth and actual facts.

(c) 2015, (Rev. 2018) The Heart of the Matter Ministries, Devotionals or Something Like It, “The Battle of the Mind”
(image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net – Photo by atibodyphoto)

A Prayer for Our Children

Father, in Jesus Name, I thank you for another morning, another day … new mercies! I thank you for the relationship we have in you and the security that comes with that. I thank you that you are a very present help and that you will never leave us nor forsake us. This morning I pray for our children. Father, I pray for the bondage that some of our our children are under. Father only you can deliver from certain things, and as for us who are parents, help us to remember through your Holy Spirit, that some things only come about by prayer and fasting. I plead your blood over every life that needs to be set free from from ties that easily bind. If it’s people that are being a bad influence and not leading them in the right way, let your Holy Spirit saturate our children and speak deeply in their hearts in a way that would be undeniable that this person – these people are not for them but in reality are against them. Then Lord I pray for the “those” people that are in the lives of our children. I pray that they would come to the knowledge of who you are and that their lives would turn around. Forgive me Father for times when I get so into the “war” that I forget that the people I don’t want my loved ones around need you too. Have mercy Lord. I pray for the success of our children. No matter what path some may have taken, there are some that, early in life when we drug them to church, you have given gifts and have a special calling on their lives and those gifts and callings are irrevocable. Help us who are interceding to remember that one day is as a thousand years to you Lord. You don’t operate off of our earthly timetable. Everything you have decreed in the heavens for our loved ones will come to pass. We pray that you allow us to live to see it, but even if we don’t, we trust you that all that you have in store for our loved ones, for our children, for those we fathered and those we bore, it will come to pass. Help any parent that’s watching destruction in their children’s lives to not sink in fear and discouragement, but to remember to keep loving on the children. Love covers a multitude of sin. We have authority by virtue of our relationship with you Lord to come before your thrown to find grace and mercy to help in times of need. We are indeed more than conquerors through Christ who loves us and whether our children fully realize it or not, so are they. In Jesus Name. Amen!

Imitators of Christ!

Ephesians 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

What an awesome command!  We all have heroes and people we look up to.  We all have people we admire and want to pattern our lives after.  But our ultimate goal in life is to pattern our lives after Christ.  We are dearly loved by Him.  We are His children.

If you are a parent, you know there are times when you can look at your child and see yourself.  (Because we’re human, sometimes we see the bad part of as well as the good!)  God wants people to see Him when they see us.  It’s an awesome task!  It’s one that we can carry out, but it requires that we give up selfishness and that we look out for the interests of others, rather than just or own.

The most blessed part of it is all we have to really do is surrender to Him.  We are to hide our lives in Christ and let His love shine through our hearts.  If we strive to be like Him we will often fail.  But when we surrender in order for Him to come to the forefront and we allow His Spirit to flow through us, we succeed – and oh what a success it is.

We must decrease so that he will increase!  Let’s surrender and succeed today!

©2009, Jessica Lynn Sifuentes, Devotionals or Something Like it, “That’s Love” (Rev. 2018)