Ladies’ Devotions . . .

As we seek to devote ourselves to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His Word, let us ponder the words of Jesus as Martha beseeched him to have her sister, who was sitting at the feet of Jesus hearing his words, help her serve their guests, of which He was one. This is Jesus’ response:

“Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which
shall not be taken away from her.”   Luke 10: 42

Let us also take note lest our earthly labors keep us from sitting at the feet of Jesus through daily devotions to Him.

BLOSSOMS FROM SCRIPTURES

Blossom 14: Does the World Rob You of Your Peace?

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14: 27

Have you ever gotten stressed over the fanaticism of this present world — their demands, their philosophy of life, their political views, and their hatred of all things Christian, even the true and living God Himself? Does it unnerve you disturbing you and taking away your joy? Perhaps, you even have fear, dreading what lies ahead. Surely, this world is becoming more and more insecure getting further and further away from the realities of life adopting more and more devilish and foolish ways. Indeed, the landscape gets muddier and muddier.

At times, these situations trouble our souls to the extent that we lose our peace, even questioning our Lord. We do not understand how things got the way they have become. We ask where common sense went, and why man’s mind dreams up these wicked and perverse ways and ideas. Surely, the ways of God are not desired or practiced, and are even shunned. Like Isaiah, we cry out “Woe is Me!”

Another reality grips our soul. It is easy to look at others and place blame solely upon them, but the Holy Spirit always causes us to examine ourselves lest self-righteousness rises up in us. This is a good thing, yet our peace toddles back and forth at the thought of it. Scripture asserts “that judgment must begin at the house of God. . . .” I Peter 4: 17

In all reality, for the child of God, it is the inner peace for which we search. Our own thoughts can cause our peace to flee as we become insecure of our own faith. Truly, by now, you desire to get alone with God and just pour out you heart before Him. This is the leading of the Holy Spirit drawing you to come before the throne of Grace. We all need that, and what a blessing it is! As God communes with our hearts, our peace is restored, and we realize this too, has been a trial, an affliction, greatly needed to teach us the statutes of God.

The world has been alienated from its Creator since the fall of Adam. That reality will always be, so let us be comforted with what God has given to His people – peace and peace of mind. Jesus said, “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. “ John 14: 27

 

Blossom 13: Reflection: Are You Faithful In That Which Is Least?

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much . . . .” Luke 16; 10

Do you consider some works for the Lord not as important as others, therefore, you are not as motivated to put any effort toward them? Unfortunately, it is often the case. We all have our favorites and certain desires that motivate us. Most likely, we do not consider the words of scripture above, and do not ponder the reality that Christ cares. Scripture testifies that Christ put great emphasis on the word least as stated in the following passages:

“. . .there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11: 11)
(speaking of a grain of mustard seed) Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree . . . (Matthew 13: 32)
Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. “ (Matthew 25: 40)
“ If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? (Luke 12: 26)

So often, we feel inadequate to do anything of substance for the Lord. Some of us want to be sure that what we do is of the Lord and not of ourselves lest we boast. It becomes so apparent that the spiritual life is completely of the Lord. First, we are regenerated by the working of the Holy Spirit to even be called “sons of God”. Then we feed upon the milk of God’s Word until the Holy Spirit feeds us stronger meat. It is He that makes us aware of service to our Lord. First, we are told by the apostle Paul in Romans, to present our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your [our] reasonable service.” Rom.12:1)

We are told in Ephesians that it is “With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Ephesians 6: 7) There are many ways that we are led of the Lord to serve Him, mostly unexplored. However, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to think upon serving our Lord.

In Matthew 11: 11, Christ tells us that the least of us can be greater even than John the Baptist. Most of us would not want to compete with his great work, but the fact that Christ would say that the least of us could do even greater is inspiring! Then in Matthew 13: 32, Christ teaches us about the lowly, tiny mustard seed that grows into a very large tree where birds can lodge. That is great encouragement to serve our Lord, even the least of us who feel untalented and unable. Again, in Matthew 25: 40, Christ tells us that what we do for the “least of His brethren”, we have done it unto Him! Consider that. We may not know when we do this as we are merely helping out, but Christ does. Again, all glory to the enabling Holy Spirit. In Luke 12: 26, Christ exhorts us that if we can not serve Him in the least, then we should not bother to try to serve in a greater capacity for, perhaps, we seek our glory and not His.

As we examine ourselves in light of the above verses, let us consider, not only the service alone, but our faithfulness in the least of these services. Christ teaches us that if we are not faithful in the least, we will not be faithful in much. Serving the Lord should not require a salary or payment or even praise. Certainly, that would be an incentive to serve, but rather let us seek the Lord to give us service and to motivate us to serve. Truly, there are numerous ways of serving. Let us not only be ready to serve and maybe that without realizing it, but desire to be faithful in all, even the least.

May it be our supreme desire that God receive all the glory for great things He hath done!

Blossom 12: Reflection: Do You See Your Nothingness Without Christ?

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing .” John 15: 5

Sometimes, we feel downhearted and outright worthless not knowing why we have such feelings. We have expectations that we believe will achieve our happiness; however, in spite of everything, these desires simply do not materialize. Though we have enjoyed a fair amount of confidence and success in former things, our experience is now different. What has changed, and what happened to our dreams? We sigh out of a cast down countenance losing hope that all will be to our satisfaction one day. We even question whether or not we will eventually find happiness. We haven’t minded being independent and able to do things for ourselves. As Christians, we simply do not understand why this change has come upon us.

In our fading hope, we pick up the Bible and feebly ask God to minister to us. We flip though the pages, and then we land upon this verse and read. “I am the vine, ye are the branches. . . .” Okay, we say, that sounds good. We are glad Christ is the vine, but we do not fully understand the “branch” part, at least, not for the moment. We read on, “. . . He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit . . . .” The word “abideth” seems to have meaning to us, yet it is not fully developed in our minds. We completely do not focus on “fruits” as that does not seem to have any spiritual significance to us, at least, not yet. We read on, “. . .for without me ye can do nothing”! At first, we feel disappointed as nothing seems to be ministering to us. We do, however, rationalize that this is the Word of God, and we ought to read it often. We almost put away the Bible, but our consciences are bothered. Perhaps, we reason that we need to read more of John 15, so we decide to read a few more verses focusing on verses four and six, as well as verse five. We notice that the word “abide” is used again, but this time it seems like a command, “Abide in me. . . “ and “I in you. . . .” (verse 4) We begin to get interested and read on, “. . . As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; . . . .” The faithful and enabling Holy Spirit gives us understanding that it is Christ in us who is our strength and our ability and that without Him, we truly can do nothing. That blesses our souls, and we are delighted that we are not alone, but Christ abides in us. Though our understanding is simplistic now, we feel confident that we will grow in the understanding of an abiding Christ. After all, “. . . Christ in you, the hope of glory”! Colossians 1: 27

We do have an understanding that Christ’s work in us is much greater than anything we can do for ourselves. It is a relief to know that our Savior is our completeness for He does bring peace and pleasure. We learn that our confidence is in Him and not in ourselves. We also realize that it was Christ’s love for us that took away the satisfaction in ourselves and our works. This truly is the love of Christ who works all things in us for His glory and His pleasure.

As the years go by, and we grow in the Lord, our minds reflect upon what was learned in John 15, but this time it is more spiritually understood. Indeed, we have learned through experience how wonderful to know that we are nothing without Christ. He is our everything. He is the vine from which we, branches bear fruit. The sap is the Holy Spirit within us teaching us dependence on Christ and growing us in Him. Through many trials and afflictions, we have learned that without Christ our works are no works; that is, our works without Christ bear no fruit. As we are enabled by the Holy Spirit, we eagerly desire the meat of God’s Word.

Blossom 11: Reflection: Do You Pray “God Be Merciful To Me A Sinner?” Luke 18: 13b

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18: 13

There are times when life seems so good and problems seem not to exist. We go happily on our merry way, and then, everything changes. The bottom drops out, and we are in great delusion. We can hardly believe our present estate. Woe is me, we cry out. Where are you, God? What happened?

We were happy doing the things we loved, not realizing that these very things kept God out of our sight. We thought on Him less and less and gave Him little of our time. Then, our thoughts begin to consume us; thoughts that caused us to examine ourselves whether or not we are really saved. Our many sins rise to the surface, so that we cannot escape these disturbing thoughts. Then, it gets really personal, “God be merciful to me a sinner”!

As God’s mercy unfolds and shines light into our souls exposing sins upon sins, we bow our heads in deep shame and in fear – fear of God’s judgment upon such sinners. To be without Christ is not a reality we want to experience. Rather, we want God’s forgiveness and His marvelous mercy to be upon us. As we ponder Christ’s death on the cross purging the sins of His people, our heads hang even lower and great sorrow enters our hearts. Again, it gets deeply personal. Did Christ die for me, we ask ourselves? Do I really know Him, or more importantly, does He know me? After all, the apostle Paul taught us in his second epistle to the Corinthians, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith . . . ..” (II Corinthians 13: 5) It is needful that we examine our faith and to know without a doubt that if we are saved it is by God’s grace alone for Scriptures teaches us that “Salvation is of the Lord”. (Jonah 2:9) It is not of works as testified in Scripture, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2: 8-9) The Publican had no works of which to boast, yet, he cried out to Holy God for mercy. He hung his head in shame knowing he was not worthy that God should grant him repentance. He had no hope in and of himself; thus; he cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Truly, it is God who leads a sinner to repentance as Scripture testifies, “. . . the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” (Romans 2: 4b) Christ said of this publican, that he “went down to his house justified” (Luke 13: 14), unlike the self-righteous Pharisee! What a relief to know that the work is of God and not of ourselves, or no one would be saved!
Sadly though, too often we are like the Pharisees believing our good works give proof that we are saved. Unfortunately, there we rest until one day God visits us with His chastening hand exposing out self-righteous sins. Again, we are in utter disbelief wondering why the chastening. What have we done? Have we not regularly attended church and often read and study God’s Word and conversed with others about the faith? Why, then, we implore of God are we so afflicted? Could it be, dear children, that we have become complacent and, perhaps, even presumptuous? The Psalmist himself declared, “Who can understand his error? Then, he cried out, “. . . Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” (Ps. 19: 12) This should be a daily plea for all of God’s children. We must realize that our enemies, Satan, the world, and yes, our own selves, are constantly nagging us and causing us to turn away to the enticements of the world, and to doubt whether or not we are of the Lord. Again, our impoverished souls cry out , “God be merciful to me a sinner.”!

None of us in Christ like the chastening hand of God upon our souls, but we must reckon that it is, indeed, needed as we are so prone to wander. Again, Scripture testifies that “. . .no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” (Heb. 12: 11) It is the fruit of righteousness received of Jesus Christ that is worked in us, not like the haughty self– righteousness of the Pharisees. Then , our pleas is, “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. . . .” (Ps. 19: 13) Again, the enabling Holy Spirit brings us to humbly ask, “Let the words of my mouth, and the mediation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Ps. 19: 14)

Did you notice the “peaceable fruit of righteousness” in verse eleven of Hebrews twelve? Is that not what all we Christians want in our lives—peace, but the fruit of peace that is of the righteousness of Christ? That is real and lasting peace which brings unspeakable joy to the souls of God’s saints. Let us realize that this chastening of our Lord is necessary to work these fruits of the Spirit in us. It is not for punishment, but for our growing “up into Him in all things.” (Ephesians 4: 15) In addition, The apostle Peter said, “but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . . “ (II Peter 3: 18) These chastenings of our Lord bring about that growth we need, but we so often do not recognize the lack of it in our souls until His chastening brings about the teaching of it. “Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.” (Ps. 25: 4)

It is out of His marvelous grace and His plenteous mercy that He would exercise us by His chastening arm. Thus, may we always be like the humble publican pleading, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

 

Blossom 10:

Are You Comforted That All Things Work Together For Your Good?

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love
God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8: 28

Does life get hard for you sometimes? Are you afflicted with things you can not change? Do your trials seem long and impossible to overcome? You are not alone. This is often the case with God’s people. We wonder why such afflictions have come our way when we feel sincere about our faith in the true and living God. We do try to resolve our problems but to no avail, and we wonder why such trials have come our way. The Psalmist says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous . . . .”  Ps. 34:19a

Indeed, it is depressing going through so much affliction often feeling like God is far away. Yet, the Psalmist claims. “ . . . that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” Ps. 119: 75b When we are able to accept our affliction coming from God’s faithfulness, the pain lessens. The Holy Spirit quickens to us that “Before I was afflicted I went astray . . . .” Ps. 119: 67 That certainly gives pause to our moaning as we remember our own sinfulness. In addition, the Psalmist says, “It is good that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Ps. 119: 71

As we ponder these things, we desire to be comforted in the proclamations made by the Psalmist. We often find it hard to rest in these truths as our afflictions are sometimes very hard and seem impossible to recover from; yet, our desire is to believe God’s Word and to be comforted by it. Let us consider the above verse that we may indeed be comforted.

First of all, we are told that “. . . all things work together for good to them that love God . . . .” That’s what stumps us, “that love God”. We believe in our hearts that we love God, so why aren’t all things working for our good? Perhaps, it is how we define “for good.” Most of us think that means an end to our trial rather than considering the “good” is for our souls; that is, for our spiritual growth. Remember the Psalmist said that it is good for us to be afflicted that we might learn God’s statutes; that is, to learn about Him and our faith and grow in His grace. There is, indeed, much learning for the people of God, and it takes a lifetime! We begin our communing with God in His Word. He teaches us His statutes, and in His time we grow in them giving God more of the glory due unto Him.

Now, I know that most of us want an end to our affliction, and we do not want to believe it is only for our spiritual good. We live physically upon this earth, and we experience physically the trials. It is natural for us to want an end to them and that quickly. We believe we would give God glory knowing He can end our trial, so why does it seem to take so long? Before we know it, we begin to doubt God and our own faith. At times, we feel we can not make it through the trial. It seems more than we can bear. Indeed, it is a trial of our faith! The apostle Paul asserted, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” I Cor. 4: 17-18 That is the “good” for which all things work together.

Surely, it is God’s will that all things indeed work for our good, our spiritual good, that is.. That does not mean that God is not concerned with our life physically. The truth is that our physical life benefits from the spiritual lessons we learn from our afflictions. God does end the affliction as the Psalmist who proclaimed that, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous . . . .” also proclaimed in the same verse, “. . . But the Lord delivereth him out of them ALL”.

It is a temptation for us not to trust the Lord through the trial, but He promises that “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to BEAR it.” I Cor. 10: 13  It is God Who sent the affliction in the first place. Surely He intends to deliver us. We are the stubborn ones, and He usually is our last resort. It is not until we have exhausted all our attempts to solve our problem that we are enlightened that only He can deliver us. When we cry out to Him, He hears!

Though all things do work together for our spiritual good of which our physical well-being also benefits, let us not pass over the words, “to them who are called according to his purpose.” Most tread very carefully over the word “called” as we fear a particular faith that does not include everyone, but what does the Bible say? It is sufficient to explain these narrow words in other passages of scripture, like verse thirty of chapter eight of Romans, “Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called. . . .” All in Christ are called.

We read in Revelation 4: 11, that “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” How often do we think upon God’s pleasure. That, too, we should think upon. He sends the afflictions for His pleasure that His people will grow in the knowledge of Him and His marvelous grace. Sometimes, I think, we put God in the mold of our own thinking, and what He is to be, rather that reading the Scriptures to define with clarity who He is, and what His works are, and what gives Him pleasure. He has shown over and over again His love for His people. After all, God sent His own Son to die in our place when He had no sin!

That being said, what about His purpose? Is it simply for His purpose alone, or is there a greater mystery to it all? There is, indeed, much mystery in God’s Word, which takes much study and leading of the Holy Spirit to understand. However, we have a Shepherd who watches over us and leads us into green pastures that we may spiritually feed upon the nourishment of God’s Holy Word. What a privilege we have in Christ. This is a part of the “all things” working together for our good—our spiritual good. “. . . Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Ps. 35: 27

 

BLOSSOMS FROM SCRIPTURE

Blossom 1: When Your Strength Fails, God’s Does Not

Psalm 39

“ 1   I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. 

2 I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. 

3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, 4 Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”

           On those occasions when sin besets you and gets you down, you need consoling and encouragement. Psalm 39 ministers that to such a soul. David said in this psalm that he would take heed of his ways, that he should not sin with his tongue. Surely, the tongue is a great instrument of sin when it is not bridled! This writer knows that for a certainty, and, oh, the cries to contain it that others are not hurt by its sharpness, and yet strength fails to do so. David said he “was dumb with silence” and he held his peace from even doing good. Yes, he was sorrowful (v. 2).  His heart burned from within as a known sin burdened his soul. Can the tongue speak any good, perhaps, you ask? Of course, David appealed to God’s mercy with his bridled tongue and said, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.” (v. 4)
It is human nature to not want to know our end, but it is good for the soul to remember that life on earth is like the picture David paints of it in Psalm 103: 15-16: “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”  It is to show our frailty that we not take life so for granted. We are frail physically as we are appointed “once to die” (Hebrews 9: 27), and we are also frail in our souls. We need daily spiritual nourishment to ward off all the attacks of our enemies: Satan, the world, and our flesh!

“5  Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand breadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.  

  6  Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.    

  7  And now, Lord, what wait I for: my hope is in thee.    

  8  Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish.

  9  I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.    

10  Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.    

11  When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. “

              It is good for our soul to admit its frailty. In the presence of God, we are nothing as our “best state is altogether vanity” (v. 5)  before Him. We are so prone to thinking so highly of ourselves that we leave God out of the picture! The Psalmist states that, “surely every man walketh in a vain shew.” (v. 6)  Like David, our spiritual man recognizes and accepts our nothingness without Christ. Our spiritual man is not interested in popularity with the world and gaining riches. Rather, our plea is, “And now, Lord, what wait I for?  My hope is in thee.”  (v. 7)  Though our strength fails, for we are frail, the Lord is not! The Lord delivers and the Lord removes His stroke that chastens and destroys; and the Lord rebukes and corrects our spiritual man whose sin consumes our spiritual beauty. Thus we admit that we and all mankind is vanity!

“12 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all fathers were.  O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.”

          Only the soul taught by God is humbled to admit his vanity and nothingness. He knows he is a sinner and always prone to sin and wandering from the flock, but he also sees Jesus, his Savior and Guide throughout all of life! This is the prayer of the soul that desires to walk spiritually and not in his sins: “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength before I go hence, and be no more.” (v. 12—13) Thus, the soul recovers strength to walk before his Lord daily; that is, acknowledging Him and His Lordship over him and walk through the blessed garden of His Word to feed upon the spiritual blossoms found there by the guidance of the Holy Spirit seeking God’s will daily that He works within him a spirit of love and remembrance towards Him. Thus, the soul’s daily walk becomes an humble walk before God and always wants God’s glory to been seen, and the flesh never to have the preeminence! A spirit-filled soul reckons that without God, he can do nothing for his own strength fails him !

May God guide you, dear reader, in desiring to walk spiritually and to walk through the blessed garden of His Word to feed upon the spiritual blossoms found there by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

                                                        

                                Blossom 2: When Your Heart Cries, God Hears

                                                            Psalm 61

1 “Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer.”
Does your soul cry in agony carrying a burden much too heavy? Do you tire of the burden that afflicts your soul? Do you want and need relief? Do you lift up your heart unto God like the psalmist who cried out, “Hear my cry, O God: attend unto my prayer.” (Psalm 61: 1) Do you wonder if He heard, and whether or not He will “attend unto” your prayer, or do you feel your affliction is despised by Him? Yet, in spite of all, led by the “treasure within”, you hope in His mercy and you cry out even harder, and as the psalmist again proclaimed, “. . . He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, He heard”! (Psalm 22: 24)

2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock  that is higher than I.
3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings.
Selah.”

Ah, you sigh, but my heart is yet overwhelmed; yet, like the psalmist, “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61: 2) Yea, “. . . in the time of trouble . . . he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5) You rejoice in your soul, for it is the “rock that is higher than” you that comforts your soul. You gladly confess that “. . . thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31: 3) The soul now confidently proclaims as the as the psalmist, “. . . thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy”; thus, “I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” (Psalm 61: 3-4

5 “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear that name.
Thou wilt prolong the king’s life: and his years as many generations.”

Now, the soul is assured that indeed his prayer was heard for he says, “For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.” (v.5) What is that heritage you ask? It is that of “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; . . . .” (Psalm 103: 3 – 5) King David, himself, was promised prolonged life. (v. 6)

7 “He shall abide before Good for ever” O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.. 8 So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.”

As King David, the soul desires to abide before his God forever, and leaning upon the Spirit’s work in his life, the soul humbly bows as the psalmist proclaims, “O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him [me]. So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.” ( v. 7 – 8)

May you, dear reader, enjoy the comfort that God does indeed hear our prayers for the psalmist proclaimed, “In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.” (Psalm 86: 7)

        Blossom 3 : When You Are Helpless, God is a Present Help

Psalm 121

1 “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.:”
Do you feel exasperated and helpless when things seem to go wrong? Have your plans failed you? Perhaps, you’ve always been self-sufficient, never needing a lot of help. In fact, you are always the one others have come to for help and advice. So, now, you are in a quandary. What’s wrong you ask yourself? Why do I feel so helpless . . . and yes, afraid? Afraid of what you ponder? You can’t even explain what you really feel, and from whence it came. You are truly in a dilemma for which you have no answer. Perhaps, you convince yourself that it will just go away – “so just hang in there” you tell your soul. Truly, you are perplexed, but pride keeps you from the Throne of Grace. That, dear Reader, is something to fear.

2 “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. 4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.”

Had it not been for the mercy of the Lord, dear Saint of God, your soul would sink in despair, deep into the miry pit. It is He who lifts you up and gives you utterance to call upon Him. “In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me”! (Psalm 120:1) “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings”! (Psalm 40: 2) Now joyfully you say, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.” (Ps. 121: 1) You boldly confess, “My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” (v.2) Now your soul experiences the comfort that the “God of all comfort” bestows upon you. When we are down, He does His marvelous works in our soul enabling us to see our sin that stood in the way of our communion with the Sovereign God. He grants us repentance, and we now know with assurance that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9) Thus, we understand that “He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber”! (v.3) You now pause and reflect upon such grace. Surely you are comforted, “Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” (v. 4)

5 “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.” 6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. 8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.”

Oh, soul, are you still weary? Does your comfort fade? Do you feel as the Psalmist, “Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” Have you forgotten that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Ps. 46:1) “The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore”! (Ps. 121: 5 – 8)

Be comforted, dear one, for it is the Lord who is always faithful. Remember, it is always of Him, and never of us. May we be ever humble before our Sovereign Lord, and may “we . . . commit the keeping of their {our} souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” (I Peter 4: 19) May peace be with you in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Blossom 4: When Cast Down, God Forsakes Not

Psalm 43

1 “Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.”

It easy for our souls to feel cast down when all around us is at enmity not only with us, but more importantly with God. As we who desire to walk in the counsels of God among such, our soul often feels cast down. Yet, like the psalmist who pleads to God to deliver him from deceitful and unjust men, we also plead for our soul to be delivered. The injustice and deceitfulness of the ungodly is a threat to the comfort of our soul. Rather than experiencing the joy we have in Christ, we feel the affliction of a cast down soul. The trial against our soul makes us feel lonely and without spiritual companionship, as an ungodly nation mocks all that is godly. Oh, who shall deliver us, we plea?

2 “For thou art the God of my strength : why dost thou cast me off? Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Though we know quite well that God is the strength of our soul, such trial often consumes us that we have doubt in trusting Him, complaining and asking why we feel cast off by our God. Thus, we mourn because “the oppression of the enemy” causes us to doubt, and our soul plunges deeper into despair. Indeed, the spiritual walk has many perplexities that we don’t understand. We desire to walk godly and to worship the true and living God, but so often our soul plunges to new depths, and there seems so little hope. We become discouraged and wonder why we cannot be faithful to our Lord trusting Him in these things.

3 “ O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.”

Our Creator is faithful in that He never leaves us to walk the spiritual walk in our own strength, rather He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit who is the strength of our soul who guides and directs us to desire and to do His will. What a merciful, gracious Creator we have who knows our frame and pities us. “ . . . He remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103: 14) It is He who also sends out His light and His truth to lead us to all things holy and pleasing in His sight! Blessed be the true and living God who doeth all things well!

4 ”Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.”

As a surprise to us, our soul seems to rise up to renewed strength. Having felt so weak spiritually, we are enabled to see the hand of the Lord who by His mercy and grace touched our soul renewing its strength. What a blessing that is to us. We felt so overpowered in our distress and had very little hope of achieving anything spiritually; yet, God in His marvelous mercy sends us comfort beyond our expectation. As the Holy Spirit ministers to our soul, we are humbled by such mercy. What a God we have who cares for our soul forgiving our doubts and lack of faith in Him. This experience often repeats itself as we are growing in grace -growth that will take a lifetime! The affliction shows us that God is our exceeding joy and we joyfully praise Him!

5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? And why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

Having witnessed our soul uplifted by God, we now have hope in Him and praise Him for it was He who counseled our soul and brought it peace. It seems so amazing to us, that we ask our soul why it was cast down and why it was disquieted? All seems so well now. By His grace we are able to recognize and appreciate that God is, indeed, the health of our countenance and our God. All glory to Him!

Blossom 5: When All Seems In Chaos, The Lord Reigns
Psalm 93

1 “The Lord Reigneth, he is clothed with majesty: the Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved.”

Have your ever felt that all in your world is utter chaos? It seems as though nothing brings peace. You have a sinking feeling that just will not go away. Like Isaiah you moan, “Woe is me! For I am undone . . . . ” (Is. 6: 5) You are not unique and alone in such a feeling . Many of us in the faith often feel the same way. Some express it, and others moan alone. No matter, whichever it is, it is an affliction that our gracious Lord out of His goodness has brought our way that we might grow in our understanding of His statues, one of which is,“The Lord reigneth” , therefore, “. . .let the earth rejoice”!(Ps. 97: 1)

Because He reigns, He broadens our world that we might experience the trials that grow us in the faith. We learn that, “he is clothed with majesty.” You might ask why that is important in growing in the faith. Read what David said to the congregation when they gave offerings to build the house of God: “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.” (I Chron. 29: 11) Growing in the faith is to recognize God’s greatness and His majesty that we might give Him the praise of which He alone is worthy. We must learn to exalt Him, and not ourselves! “I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty.” (Ps. 145: 5)
David also said as he gave blessing to the Lord: “Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.” ( Chron. 29:12) It is so important for us to know who we worship. After God has revealed His son in us, we must learn about our God. He reigns, He is clothed with majesty -”Honour and majesty are before him “ (Ps. 96: 6) and He is clothed with strength of which we greatly benefit. “. . . Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.” (Ps. 96: 1)

In a world that seems to be falling apart, we need strength to face the trials of life and strength that is greater than our own. The Psalmist declares that “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Ps. 28: 7) Truly, this statute is important for us to learn. When we realize how comforting it is to rely upon the Lord’s strength rather than our own, the trials lessen and are easier to bear. “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” (Ps. 71: 16) As we grow in the knowledge of God and increase in our understanding of who He is and who we are, we learn that without Him, we are likely to fail. Scripture testifies that “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” (Ps. 73: 26). It seems we spend our life learning all that God will teach us never arriving to full knowledge of Him until we see Him face to face. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (I Cor. 13: 12)

Do not be disheartened that the road of spiritual understanding is long and full of trials and afflictions. The apostle Paul told the Colossians that his desire for them was that they “. . . might be filled with the knowledge of his [God’s} will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” and that they “might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, . . . and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1: 9-10) Furthermore, Paul shared with the Philippians his own testimony in the walk of faith “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” (Phil. 3: 10) We have greater understanding of our Lord’s suffering for us when we experience affliction in our own lives. That’s a good thing for us in our spiritual walk.
The Lord girded himself with the clothing of His majesty and the clothing of His strength. Thus, the world is established that it does not move for the Lord God reigns, and His power is over all His creation. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

2 “Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.”

With a world full of changes, many of which are not good, it is comforting to know that the Lord’s throne is everlasting, established before the world began. Though change in our personal lives often brings about distress and challenges to our spiritual walk, these new avenues of change can also bring about a closer walk with God and a greater dependence upon Him. Herein, we greatly rejoice because we learn that though change comes throughout our earthly life, it is the testimony of Scripture that God does not change. That is good news for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our stability. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13: 8) In addition, it is pleasant to know that our God is everlasting, reigning over heaven and earth as He designed before the world ever was. “And, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.” (Hebrews 1: 10) Yea, Lord, “. . .thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.” (Hebrews 1: 12) God’s unchangeable love for His elect is also everlasting!

3 “The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.”

When devastating floods come wiping out homes and towns, we mourn and have great fear. The waves of water show forth their power inflicting great pains of destruction. Indeed, the flood waters have lifted up their voices disturbing once peaceful lives. Though man’s determination to recover brings about minimal comfort, our tendency is to put trust in the works of man rather than in the sovereign God who does all things after the counsel of His own will. (Eph. 1: 11) Many of us will recover, yet, there are other kinds of floods which also bring about affliction. These are the trials that floods our souls. These are the waters that lift up their voices to devastate and hurt our souls to destroy our peace and our hope in the living Lord. If it were not for the marvelous grace of the merciful, reigning God , we would indeed have no hope and no peace, but it is His great pleasure to restore and make new for His suffering sheep. “Behold what manner of love, the Father hath bestowed on us. . . . ” (1 John 3: 1)

4 The Lord on high is mightier that the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.”

Though the “noise of many waters” and the “mighty waves of the sea” frighten us, God is mightier and greater. We might ask, who is this “Lord strong and mighty?” (Ps. 24: 8) Who is this “Lord on high”? It is through the many trials and afflictions of our spiritual walk that we come to understand just Who is the Mighty One and the Lord on high. Yes, we think we know our God. He is our Savior and Lord. He is the everlasting One and the Bright and Morning Star, but do we really know Him in an everyday spiritual walk?
What “noise of many waters” afflict our souls? King David said, “Consider mine enemies; for they are many . . . .” (Ps. 25: 19)  Indeed, we have many enemies who desire the destruction of our souls—Satan, the world, and even ourselves. These afflictions come by way of a fallen countenance, a feeling of self-pity, a feeling of loneliness, a feeling of fear, and many more depressing feelings, all to disturb our spiritual walk and to cast doubt upon our very salvation. Even our God sends waves of affliction to our soul that we might learn His statues. “I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.” (Ps. 119: 75) David also cried out, “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afficted me with all thy waves.” (Ps. 88: 7)
If it were not for the “Lord on high”, we would have great fear and would despair of the noises and the waves of afflictions, but our God delivers us out of them all. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” (Ps. 34: 19) Indeed, God’s mercy is great! “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever . . . . “(Ps. 89:1) The Lord on high is “mighty in battle.” (Ps. 24: 8) King David proclaimed, “Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.” (Ps. 89: 13) Oh, how blessed it is to have such a God who watches over His sheep with such tender care. We are kept in His love and in His mighty arms. Surely, our souls come to breathe out , “What time I am afraid, I will trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 56:3) Again, our souls breathe that “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27: 1)

5 “Thy testimonies are very sure: holiness becometh thine house, O Lord, for ever.”

All of God’s testimonies are sure; that is, unalterable and certain as God Himself is sure and unchangeable. With so many uncertainties in life, it is pleasant to know that “we have an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast . . . . “ ( Hebrews 6: 19) Our God steadfastly keeps our souls, and by His grace and the enablement of the Holy Spirit, we are able to trust in His testimonies. the Psalmist cries out that God’s “testimonies are wonderful “ . (Ps. 119: 129) They are like our God, righteous and everlasting.
God is holy and His throne is clothed in His holiness. God is forever and has no end and is to be praised in the “. . . mountain of his holiness.” (Ps. 48: 1) It is the beauty of His holiness that gave us the Son and salvation in Him. It is His holiness that teaches our souls to love His testimonies and that beckons us to Him. In His holiness we have understanding of His testimonies and of the spiritual walk . We are not without anything that would increase our spiritual wisdom and understanding of who He is. God keeps His word throughout all eternity and gives to His elect eternal life in His Son, Jesus Christ. We are to “rejoice in the Lordand to “give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Ps. 97: 12) Alas, let us “give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name” and “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Ps. 29: 2)

Blossom 6: Do You Struggle Not Loving the World?
I John 2: 15 – 16

“Love not the world, neither the things of the world. . . .” I John 2: 15 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes . . . is not of the Father, but is of the world.” I John 2: 16

All of us as God’s children have been guilty of loving the world and looking past this sin in our lives. As we grow in Christ and become more sensitive of our surroundings, we become more aware of our own behavior, and its demands upon us. Thus, it becomes a daily battle not to love the world and its enticements, and not to love them more than we love Christ. Because of our carnal nature, we reason that scripture states that “All things are lawful for me [us]. . . .” (I Cor. 10:23) , so that satisfies our concern in heaping up the many pleasures of the world. We seem to ignore the rest of the verse that continues to say , “. . . But all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (I Cor. 10:23) The apostle Paul adamantly proclaimed as the Holy Spirit enabled him, “. . . But I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Cor. 6: 12) As true children of God, we must also consider the rest of the I John scripture that states “ . . . If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world.” (I John 2: 15-16) Do we, as children of God ignore these passages, too?
Let us further examine “All things are lawful. . .”, and ask ourselves if we want that freedom to excuse our lust of worldly things and companionships. Is it that we find comfort in theses words of Scripture, so much so, that we do not look for any contradiction. Perhaps, we do not understand the word, “expedient” as Scripture reads on, “. . . all things are not expedient: . . . but all things edify not.” The Noah Webster Dictionary of 1828 defines expedient as “ fit, suitable, proper, or profitable.” It also defines edify as “to instruct and improve the mind (in faith and holiness), and to build.” Moreover, we might not feel a need for these things, so those Scriptures do not minister to us, at least, not yet. In addition, we are so prone to make many excuses for our spiritual lack that the expediency of not lusting after the world is hazy to us. We do not realize how our soul hungers for that which is expedient and edifying to our spiritual well-being. It is especially in our youth that the world glitters, and that youthfulness is not yet exercised in these matters, but it is for sure, the merciful, gracious Lord has great patience and will give the spiritual food that we, at any level of our spiritual growth, can best handle, and that will be, in His time. Thus, as the Psalmist so often pleaded, “Teach me Lord.” Not only will He teach us, but He surely will convict us and will enable us to desire obedience to His Word– love not the world!

The word love is a powerful word. It draws people together. It defines our religious beliefs as the greatest love is to die for another as Christ did for His people. Love as defined by the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary means, “An affection of the mind excited by beauty and worth of any kind, or by the qualities of an object which communicate pleasure, sensual or intellectual.” Webster goes on to state that the “. . . love of God is the first duty of man.” With this definition in mind, let us assume that to love and delight ourselves with great pleasure in the world is to love the world more than God. Truly to delight in the pleasure of loving God more than the things of the world is true faith; that is, putting aside anything that would give us more pleasure than God and His Word. Therefore, let us not be deceived, but always examining our heart before the Lord as “. . . He knoweth the secrets of the heart.” (Ps. 44: 21) As with the apostle Paul, without the enablement of the Holy Spirit, none of us could “live godly in this present world.”

Blossom 7: Reflection: Do You Seek God First?
Matthew 6: 33—34

33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

These were the words of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, spoken to the disciples on the mountain side where the multitudes were gathered. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” He said. These words were not for the disciples alone, but for all ages of Christ’s people. Though comforting, it is a command to be thought upon soberly. Most of us would confess the difficulty in keeping it; that is, if we look solely upon ourselves to do so. Would Christ command us to do something impossible? Would He want us to find strength within ourselves, not needing Him for the accomplishment of it? Would that cause us to boast of our works and deny Christ His glory? Jesus spoke in verse 25 that they were to “take no thought” for their lives and their needs. He assured them that the Father already knew what their needs were. (v. 32) Christ knew that their real need, like ours, was spiritual. They, like us, needed to realize that “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2: 13) Christ was asserting that their spiritual needs were of greater importance, and that their sufficiency was not of themselves. The prophet Isaiah said “Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” (Is. 26: 12) This Christ wanted them to know, that it is He who would cause us to seek Him first!
Not only did Christ say to seek the kingdom of God first, but also to seek His righteousness. What does that mean to an elect child of God? It is important for us to realize that Christ is our righteousness! “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (I Cor. 1: 30) To seek righteousness is to seek Christ. “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Phil. 3: 9)

Again, to desire to seek Christ’s righteousness is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, that is in our spiritual man. Our cry out to be, Oh, Lord, work your righteousness in us to your glory!
After Christ gave the command to seek Him first, He spoke comfort to His hearers assuring them that all their sustenance of life would be supplied to them. Likewise, for us also. While God is merciful and gracious to supply our needs, it is not for us to seek after things to consume upon our lust. Let us examine our hearts that we receive according to our needs. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4: 3) Nevertheless, the apostle Paul said, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4: 19) Did you notice, “by Christ Jesus”? Indeed, Christ is our all in all. We need nothing more. His ministry, His death, His resurrection has supplied all our spiritual needs, for “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2: 20 ) Behold, What a Savior!

34 “ Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Christ continues to assure us that God’s care extends into the future. It is not for us to worry about. `Oh, if we could stop the “worry” that tries to work out tomorrow’s worries before we finish today’s. This reality takes so much of our joy away, and joy is a fruit of the Spirit. Jesus told His disciples in the gospel of John that “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15: 11) Such joy comforts our souls and brings peace in the midst of many worries. What a faithful Creator the saints in Christ have. To such, His grace is always sufficient!
Truthfully, tomorrow’s worries belong to tomorrow. We read in the epistle of James as he spoke to the brethren that they might say among themselves, “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:” (James 4: 13) That ‘s just like us making our plans for tomorrow. However, James continued with these words of wisdom:  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is

your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4: 14) Nevertheless, when those worries pound our being, it is not easy to look away and ponder things spiritually, but the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, gently nudges us to cast “ all our care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Pet.5: 7)
Jesus also said that today’s evil is sufficient enough for us to worry about. Why did He use the word evil you might wonder? Defined, evil can be wickedness, sinfulness, misfortune and many other things. Whichever it is in your life, it is sufficient to cause worry, and there is no need to take these worries into tomorrow. Surely, we would be weighed down beyond our strength to cope with them. Hence, it is by Christ’s strength that we are able to cope with today’s worries. Again, it is all of Him!
It is good for us to praise God and to always seek His counsel for that which causes us stress in life. Though our burdens cast us down, our Savior said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 29-30) Thus, the real blessing in seeking “the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first” is having Christ to carry our burdens and granting us His strength to be obedient to His commands that we may grow up into Him in all things. May God be glorified in all His wonderful works.

Blossom 8: Reflection: Do You Believe God Answers Prayer?

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11: 24

What things do you desire? Do you desire riches, worldly love, friendship with the world, and to have “what’s out there”? Are your desires of a lustful nature, selfish, and lacking consideration for others? Do you desire evil upon your enemies and upon those who seem not to care about you? Dear ones, ponder that such desires are of the nature of the old man. James said in his epistle “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4: 2-3) These things must be considered when you go before our Lord to make requests for the things you desire. The Psalmist declares that, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. But verily God hath heard me. . . .” (Psalm 66: 18)

Furthermore, when asking God to increase your riches, consider whether or nor it is a real need, or a desire for more of the world’s goods for your own pleasure and enjoyment. Certainly, you can reason that riches are a blessing from God because it eliminates suffering and hardship. The Psalmist said that “ . . . If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” (Psalm 62: 10b) In addition, Proverbs states that “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall . . . .” (Proverbs 11: 28) Obviously, you must consider your motives when asking riches of the Lord.

By the same token, is your desire for the love and friendship of the world so strong, that you labor day and night beseeching the Lord to grant your request.? Though the Scripture teaches “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I John 2: 15) , you reason that these verses do not apply to you because your love for God is sincere and stronger than loving the world. You may also rationalize that pursuing the world’s love and friendship is excusable, and “what’s out there “ is not harmful to your spiritual life and well-being, even though you seem never to “fit in” with them. Dear ones, for your own comfort, consider the words of our Lord who said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15: 18-19)

On the other hand, when you feel frustrated and let down by others, does your anger and disappointment cause you to desire God’s vengeance upon them, that you pray imprecatory prayer? Is this the correct way to pray for them? Perhaps, you need to consider these words of Jesus, “But I say unto , Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use and persecute you.” (Matthew 5: 44) Should those who disappoint you be your brethren, consider what James said in his epistle, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. “ (James 5: 16) In addition, Jesus said, “ . . . When ye stand praying, forgive, if you have ought against any . . . .” (Mark 11: 25) Ponder it, dear ones.

Surely, by now you wonder what and how should you pray that your prayers are answered. Christ said, “What things soever ye desire, when you pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” (Mark 11:24)  What did He mean?
The apostle John said, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (I John 5: 14-15) It is important not to miss the words, “according to his will” as that is the path to answered prayer. It is also necessary to consider the words of James, “ Ye ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss.” (James 4: 3)  Be comforted, dear ones, that it is indeed the Father’s will to answer your prayers, but examine what you are asking of Him. Do you ask amiss; that is, do you ask for things not necessary and truly not needed, but things you want? Such prayers will surely bring disappointment. In addition, do you not consider the will of the Father, but only your will? This, perhaps, is confusing to you casting down your countenance because your comfort is in “if you ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:14) Did Christ say anything? Indeed, He did, but consider “according to his will”. Scripture itself explains and defines scripture; that is, scripture testifies the meaning of other like scripture. We must consider God’s will in making our petitions before Him. Surely, if we are truly born of Him, we would want His will to be done in our lives. He knows the way through the wilderness of this world for He designed it, and He has designed each of our lives and the way wherein we each should walk. It is reasonable that we would want to ask according to His will. The Holy Spirit would impress that desire upon our hearts; thus, our prayers become “according to His will.”  This is not natural in us, but is taught of the Holy Spirit.

It is, indeed, a true reality that we do not know the paths that God has designed for us, therefore, it is His will that we make petitions before Him. It is not for Him that we ask, but for us and our spiritual walking. Prayer communicates with God what is in our hearts, of which Christ said the Father knows before you ask; thus, it is for our learning and growing in Christ. We learn through this communication called prayer about our God, and that it is an avenue that strengthens and builds our faith. Rather than leaning on man to meet our needs, we grow and learn that God meets our needs even “exceedingly above all that we ask or think”. (Ephesians 3: 20) Thus, our confidence in our Lord grows and matures.

When we have real needs and suffer from the lack of necessities, God would have us make our plea before Him. It is not His will that we should lack anything for sustenance in our daily physical lives for it is written “. . . that ye may have lack of nothing.”                 (I Thessalonians 4: 12) It is when we become complacent that our petitions often go astray, and we forget how to address the heavenly Father, but our spiritual needs are His most concern for us, and He will surely meet that need through trials and afflictions!
All in all, we are to make our petitions before Him, and His promise is to fulfill our desires. He will give us the desires of our heart that we might ask according to His will and not ours when His will is more important than our will. “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” (Psalm 37: 4)

Blossom 9: Do You Abide in the Vine?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. . . . .for without me ye can do nothing..” John 14: 4, 5

Years ago, I was ministered to with these very words. It was a down time for me, and I reached out to the pastor’s wife who wasted no time coming personally to me and shared the above words with me. As a Christian, I had never been taught that I was insufficient to live the Christian life in and of myself. It was a relief to hear the words “. . .without me you can do nothing.”

But what does that really mean, you might ask?  Though I thought at the time I comprehended it all, it has taken a lifetime to learn the many truths in this scripture. Many times, the Lord brought these words to me and created within me a hunger to experience the depth of them, and only He can reveal the depths of them.
Jesus said, “Abide in me . . . .” What did He mean, “abide in me”? How can we abide in Him? Is it through His Word? Is it through worship? Is it through prayer? Surely, it is all of these things, but where is the power to do them faithfully? Abide means “to rest, to remain, to continue”. Jesus showed us how when He followed these words with, “. . .and I in you.” What does that mean?

Christ said, He would “pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter that He may abide with you forever.” (John 14: 16) The apostle Paul said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (I Corinthians 3: 16) Was this not the “. . . I in you” that Christ was referring to; that is, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter? Again in II Corinthians 6:16, the apostle Paul reiterated that “. . .ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be by people.” Thus, let us be comforted that the Comforter dwells within us that we are enabled by His marvelous grace to abide in Him; that is, the spiritual man. Let us never forget that while we remain in our sinful flesh here on earth, it is the spiritual man of whom Christ abides within. That is why Christ said “. . . without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15: 4) Surely, we have all experienced as Christians the effects of our carnal man, the old nature in which we can admit that without Christ we can do nothing spiritually.

Chapter fifteen of the gospel of John begins with Christ asserting that He is “ . . . the true vine” and that the heavenly Father “ . . . is the husbandman.” It truly paints a true picture of the real Christian life. Christ is the vine and His children are the branches emanating out of the branch. The Father is the husbandman, that is, the gardener or the vine-dresser. The branches cannot do anything without the vine. They completely depend upon the strength and life of the vine. The life of the vine flows into the branches giving them life. As the physical vine has its life–sustaining sap within it, Christ, the spiritual vine gives forth sustenance for the spiritual life. The Father sends the Holy Spirit as the Enabler for the Christian to obey His commands. What mercy and grace is given by the Father to His chosen!

Without abiding in Christ, the branch cannot bear fruit. What is the fruit that the branch is to bear? Is it feeding the poor, or taking care of the sick, or giving money to charities, or showing kindness to neighbors, or showing outward love to others? All these things, the non-Christian world can do, so what are the fruits borne by the spiritual branches? Certainly, the branches can and do much of the above, but what does Scripture identify as fruit to be borne by the branches. Galatians 5: 22-23, states that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness , goodness, faith, meekness, temperance . . . .” How many of us can produce such fruit in and of ourselves? Some think they can do such, but if truly sincere in Christ they will come to the understanding that without Him, they “can do nothing”!

It is to be noted that the greatest of the spiritual fruits is love. Truly, love is desired by all. It is a motivating factor in all relationships, both Christian and non-Christian. Yes, there is that love of money that also must be acknowledged, but that love is not of the fruit of the spirit. Perhaps, you ask, what is the love that is a fruit of the Spirit? First and foremost, it is the love that “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and the love that “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22: 37, 39) Let us not forget that Jesus also said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13), and that He did for us! What a fruit love is, and if you are like me, you are thinking how could such a one as I produce such a fruit! This is the time when such redeemed sinners are glad for the words, “without me ye can do nothing.” It is, indeed, through Christ that we find our strength.

As we examine our love to God, we are told by the apostle John in his first epistle that “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4: 19) The apostle Paul said in his epistle to the church at Rome that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Thus, we are able to love God by the work of the Holy Ghost within us, and to experience His love for us, for indeed without Christ, we “can do nothing.” and to love the Triune God supremely is His work in us alone. All glory to the Triune God!

In addition to loving God supremely, Christ told us to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” The apostle, Peter, said, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (I Peter 1: 22) Again, if you are like me, you recognize your imperfection in loving others. Woe is me, we cry out, as such love for others seems to often evade us, yet the Apostle, Peter, told us how we obey this blessed truth, that it is “through the Spirit” that we do so, and that we do it “fervently”; that is, with enthusiasm and with intensity. Again, without Christ, it is impossible to bear such fruit!

There are other fruits of the branches to be borne, and again if you like me recognize that without Christ, you are insufficient to do so, humbly bow before the One who can work these in you, for truly if the fruit of love dwells within our spiritual man, then the other fruits of joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance will also be borne in us by that selfsame Spirit that dwells within us. Let us also be comforted by the words of the Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus, “for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . . That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3: 14, 16—19) He, indeed, is sufficient to bear these spiritual fruits within our spiritual man for He also said, “ . . . my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness”,  (II Corinthians 12: 9) and without Him we are indeed weak!  Blessed be the name of the Lord!

     Petals From the Golden Blossoms

       Petal 1 . . . .When you lack understanding, God enlightens . . . .

Psalm 18: 28

“For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”

There is this paradox that as we mature and grow in Christ, we begin to realize that we don’t have all spiritual understanding in scripture or in God’s dealings with us or in the spiritual walk itself. This is quite perplexing and discouraging at times. When God led me to the above verse, I rejoiced as it spoke volumes to me. I was glad that God would “enlighten my darkness.”! Surely, I mused to myself, there is much more to learn in this spiritual walk on earth than I have thus learned. I am reminded that scripture clearly states, “. . . lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3: 5-6) These are verses most of us know, but do we really, at least, do we really apply them to our hearts? If not, why not?
Like the Psalmist then, my prayer is that God will “deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.” If “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies” (Psalm 119: 124-125) that I might teach others. I pray, Lord, “light my candle” and “enlighten my darkness”! Then as my own darkness is enlightened, I realize that this growth in spiritual understanding and walking in the Spirit is not without humility for it is clearly stated in the book of Micah, “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (Micah 6 8) In addition, Jesus said in John 15: 5, that without Him, we can do nothing. That’s a humbling thought. What about my intellect and my own abilities some might ask? Do they not count? Are they not sufficient? The Son of God emphatically says, “Abide in me, and I in you. “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye except ye abide in me.” (John 15: 4)

Again, a searching, yet sincere soul asks, “how do we abide, and what is the fruit we are to bear? Galatians lists them as the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. All desirable, but often lacking outwardly in most of the godly. Galatians warns that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, yet we are to walk in the Spirit. Darkness clouds the mind with confusion. Yet God promises to enlighten the darkness. If we desire to live spiritually, then there is a desire to walk spiritually.

Petal 2 . . . When your soul is cast down, God is the health of your countenance . . . .

Psalm 42: 11

   “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? . .. For I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance. . . .”  

    There are days when the  soul is cast down, disquieted, and discouraged.   Children of God often find this puzzling as no reason is apparent .   Knowing with surety that God is the answer to an uplifted countenance, children of God still become perplexed, sinking deeper into disparagement wondering how their soul plowed to such depths.
At first, perhaps, there is an effort to try to ignore the fallen countenance, yet, to great dismay, the soul steadily sinks lower and lower.  Should God withhold His marvelous grace, the despairing soul would find no relief, but the God of all comfort ministers to the soul cast down and disparaged.   Scripture testifies that all of God’s people are tried this way, that it is a lesson of growing in grace, “. . . speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15)   In addition, the apostle Peter said, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ . . . .” (II Peter 3: 18)    Without trials, the soul does not experience the spiritual blessings intended for it. The Psalmist said, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.“ (Psalm 119: 71)
As the afflicted soul makes its journey through the trial of being cast down, it soon learns that it is God Who has brought the affliction often revealing unrecognized sin within which the scripture calls a “secret fault”.  Whether it is a lack of obedience to God’s commands, or a self-centered attitude, or an unwilling spirit to put God first in all things, it is the love of God that brings affliction to the soul that it might grow in His marvelous grace giving all glory to the all wise and merciful God.  Indeed, scripture testifies “that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me.”  (Psalm 119: 75)
It is such a comfort when God assures the soul,  that as the Psalmist proclaimed, ” . . . hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise Him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”  (Psalm 42: 11)  Thus, the uplifted soul, enabled by the Holy Spirit now has hope in God and praises Him for the affliction and the restoration. Truly, that is the desired outcome of the trial of a cast down soul.