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

A Trustworthy Problem Solver

“But I will send you the Counselor – the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will tell you all about me.” (John 15:26, NLT)

Going through a whole lot of “stuff?” Stuff that you can’t tell others about, not even fellow believers? I have found that if you tell non-believers some of your “stuff”, they will look at you like you should be better off because you are a SO-CALLED Christian. Likewise, if you tell some fellow believers about your “stuff”, they will look at you like you should be doing better because, after all, you ARE a Christian. In short, sometimes we can find that there are very few people who truly know how to be there for us during trying times and circumstances.

However, I am glad that I know someone who is always there:  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  If only we had the humility to go to Him as quickly as we go to another person.  You see, He not only comforts; He speaks to our hearts, comforts us and gives us the solution.  He is able to do this because He is omnipotent, meaning He has supreme power with no limitations.  He is omniscient, meaning that He is all-knowing. He has the answer to our “stuff” because He knew us and our “stuff” before the “stuff” became “stuff” in our lives.   He is omnipresent – everywhere at all times.  One day to him is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.  He already knows when and how we will overcome our “stuff” because He is the only one who knows our future.  The answer He gives will be right and will deliver because He IS the Spirit of Truth.  And not only is He everywhere, He is ALWAYS there.  He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us.  He reminds us in Psalm 23 that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us.  He reminds us in Psalm 23 that goodness and mercy WILL follow us ALL the days of our lives.

A question we must address in our hearts individually is, am I – are you – humble enough to boldly go to throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace in our time of need?

 

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Thank you for visiting my blog.  I pray the words God gives me blesses and speaks to your heart! -Jessica

 

 

 

Forgiveness – Pay it Forward

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled by others and became slaves to many wicked desires and evil pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy. We hated others, and they hated us. But then God our Savior showed us his kindness and love. He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did.  He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life.
(Titus 3:3-7 NLT)

Forgiveness . . . the releasing of another from the bondage of our wrath, disapproval, future torment . . .  the wiping clean of the slate for a wrong done to us . . . .

forgive1

Forgiveness . . . the refusal to take any sort of vengeance or revenge or vindicate ourselves in our way at all because we have let the matter go . . . .

forgive2

We have had such a wonderful example this sort of mercy, compassion, forgiveness, kindness and love.  We have a great example of the importance of not waiting for someone to do good things before we show compassion, forgiveness, mercy.  That example is the Lord, if we truly believe what the Word says.

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Life is filled with transitions, trials and tribulations.  During those transitions . . . during the trials . . . during the tribulations we will be offended and hurt, often on purpose, by others.  We all have people in our lives that aggravate and agitate us, sometimes beyond our human ability to remain godly.  We ourselves will offend and hurt others.  But a healthy cycle of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, kindness, grace . . . one to another . . . sure would make lift a bit sweeter.

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I want to be better about doing my part.  How about you?

 

Have a great day!

 

 

 

 

Winning at Being Winsome!

 

I am really enjoying the daily challenges and prompts  posted on by The Daily Post.  Today’s prompt was to use the word winsome.  I looked it up and Merriam Webster says the definition is as follows:

1generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence

(a winsome smile)

2cheerfullighthearted

Immediately, I felt a spiritual challenge and prompting probably because (a) I love words, (b) I love The Word and (c) I most of the time like analyzing things, including myself.  Soooo, I looked in the mirror and I asked myself, “Jessica, do you have a winsome attitude?  Do people want to know more about Christ because of how you carry yourself?  When speaking with others, do you focus more on your (or their) problems than you do the provision of the Lord?  Do you engage people, with childlike charm and innocence, when speaking about Christ?”

As I thought of what it meant to be “winsome,” the following scriptures came to mind and each had a special meaning to me in consideration of the topic, and mostly, the current state of my heart.  Rather than write what each meant to me, I leave it to you and the Holy Spirit to converse about the verses and how they relate to the word winsome, if He leads you to.

  • A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13
  • All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15
  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22
  • Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.  Proverbs 25:11
  • Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.  Proverbs 25:20
  • Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.  Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. Galatians 6:1-6
  • Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23
  • You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:22-27
  • These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Even as I ask myself these questions, I know that the Bible even bears out that we will at times be sad, brokenhearted or pressed, among other things.  So, I will hurry up and say that I think it’s unrealistic for me to think that I, or any other believer for that matter, will always be lighthearted or cheerful.  But it’s encouraging to know that at those times we all have God, and should have some fellow believers, that will walk with us and lift us up.

  • But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. Psalm 3:3
  •  Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

(NOTE:  Scriptures are from various versions.  My personal study habits are to start with KJV and use resources to find the meaning of key words.  When I read, I usually just read NIV.  When I teach or write, I will at times use other versions that are in more everyday language, but that do not deflect from the meaning.  There are many different study methods.  That’s generally mine.)

Blessings to each of you who visit this blog, and much thanks to The Daily Post for the inspiration and challenge to be creative! – Jessica

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/winsome/”>Winsome</a&gt;