Tuesday, February 28, 2006

#35 "Where Can You Be Safe?"

February 28, 2006
"David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam." (1 Samuel 22:1) and "David and his men were far back in the cave." (1 Samuel 24: 3) There are also many references to Psalm 57 which David wrote while hiding in one of these caves.

"Where can you be safe?" This headline on the front page of today's Detroit News stood out boldly. The story was about a man who went on a shooting rampage at a Detroit area church on Sunday morning. Ironically I had been reading David's words in Psalm 57 about the place that he found "safe" when he had to flee and hide from Saul. Safety. Is there such a thing to be found when the world seems to be spinning out of control? I believe that David found just such a place and it really had nothing to do with the stone walls of the cave in which he was hiding.

In this cave, David found safety "in the shadow of [His] wings" (Psalm 57:1). This image comes from the animal world, comparing God's protective care to that of a bird with its young. We can take refuge in the Lord like chicks taking refuge under their mother hen's wings. There is rest in that shadow according to Psalm 91. The stone walls of the cave hid David from Saul but taking refuge in God's love and faithfulness hid his soul in a quiet and restful place. It kept out panic, confusion and fear. The cave kept the storm outside; trust in God kept the storm from raging in his spirit. Who or what are you hiding from?

David had no one else to turn to for his safety but God. From that cave he cried out for mercy from the One he knew would hear and answer him. He knew that if God didn't intervene and help him, no one could. God will often take us to the end of our ropes where we have done all that we can and our only hope is Him. And actually that's a great place to be because when the answer comes we will unequivocally and with such certainty know that the answer came from God and no one or nothing else. He alone gets the honor and glory for our deliverance. And isn't that what He's been after all along?

The cave was never a passive place to just sit and hide. David was active in the hiding place. He prayed, he praised and he worked his faith. Fervent prayer came from his lips. "Have mercy on me, oh God. Have mercy on me." "I cry out to God Most High." I don't imagine that these words were void of noise and emotion. When we are truly scared, hopeless and being pursued we CRY OUT to God. We pray earnestly from the depths of our beings. But we should also praise. One of my favorite hymns comes from David's words in Psalm 57: "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth." From the dark and cold cave of fear and aloneness David remembered God's greatness. He made sure to focus on the awesomeness of God and not on the size of the enemy that was pursuing him. He also worked his faith by taking a stand. He said that his heart was "steadfast." To be steadfast is to be firm, immovable, fixed in place, not subject to change. He set his face like flint (see Isaiah 50:7) and stood his ground (see Ephesians 6:13). Nothing..no enemy...no fear could move him from his safety net of faith in God. Are you hiding in your cave shaking and quaking from fear or are you praying bold prayers, praising your God and setting your heart steadfast on who you know your Deliverer is?

I've got a couple of enemies pursuing me today. And I'm sure that you do too. If you are growing at all in your walk with God and moving into new levels of service for Him you will face the enemy. New levels....new devils! If you are any threat at all to the kingdom of darkness, you will be pursued. Guaranteed! But those enemies drop powerless behind you when you pray, praise and set your heart steadfastly to trust in God. Run to your cave...your hiding place. Your loving "Abba, Daddy" wants you to crawl into His lap. He wants to place His loving arms around you and keep you safe. There is no safer place than in His arms. Can you believe that the same God that was with David in the cave is in your cave with you right now? And He will stay with you "until the disaster has passed." (Psalm 57:1) David was so sure of his deliverance that he spoke of praising God for his enemy's demise before it even happened. "Call those things that are not as though they are" (Romans 4:17 and Isaiah 42:9).

I'm choosing to spend my days hiding with my God. Armed with the truth that is in my Bible, His word to me. The walls of my cave are made from the knowledge of all the times that He has delivered me in the past and my steadfast resolve to trust Him for my future. No enemy can penetrate those walls. I am safe today. I am in my Daddy's arms and all is well. How about you?

Donna Schultz

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

#34 Do You See Grapes or Giants?

#34 Do You See Grapes or Giants?
"These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the desert, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (Numbers 26: 63-65)

When Israel was counted in the wilderness of Sinai, months after leaving Egypt, there were 603,550 men twenty years or older who were able to serve in Israel's army. After almost 40 years of wilderness wanderings only three of these original men were left, Moses, Joshua and Caleb. No one who had been in Egypt or at Sinai were there. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience to God's command. He took God's place in word and deed when he said, "..must WE bring you water out of this rock?" (Numbers 20:10) and when he struck the rock instead of speaking to it as the Lord commanded. (Numbers 20:11) Only Caleb and Joshua would enter the promised land. It is a sad thought that out of all of these men, only two would enter. What made them so special? I believe there are three answers to that question.

The nation of Israel was at the border of the Promised Land. Their future was right in front of them. God's promise was about to be fulfilled. They had only to possess it. Twelve men were sent to check out the land. Twelve sets of eyes saw the same land and the same people, but they didn't all tell the same story. The differences must have been in the men themselves.

Joshua and Caleb remembered. All twelve saw the men who looked like giants but these two remembered the Red Sea. They remembered the manna from heaven. They remembered all of the things God had done for them. They remembered God's provisions, faithfulness, works and promises. All the other ten saw was the problem. They forgot what God did to Pharoah. Caleb and Joshua gave an evaluation prompted by faith in God..not fear. They knew what God had done in the past and had faith that He was more than able to handle their future according to what He had promised. Can you look back over the years and recall all that God has done for you? All the times that He has brought you out of a problem? Can you remember His provision, His protection, His saving grace and mercy? Can you remember where you were when He laid His loving hand on you? Are you looking at the problem or the faithfulness of God?

They saw the grapes, not the giants. The Bible tells us that a single cluster of grapes was so large that it took two men to carry them on a pole between them. This was quite a prosperous land. It was truly the land of milk and honey that was promised by God! An unknown source tells the story of a shoe salesman who was sent to a remote part of the country. When he arrived, he was dismayed because everyone went around barefoot. So he wired the company, "No prospect for sales. People don't wear shoes here." Later another salesman went to the same territory. He too immediately sent word to the home office. But his telegram read, "Great potential! People don't wear shoes here!" It's all in your perspective. Giants are simply a matter of perspective. Fear shows us how small we are compared to those giants. Faith shows us how small the giants are compared to God!

Caleb had confidence in God, not himself. In Numbers 13:30 he said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." He knew that God would be with them. He saw the land as "exceedingly good." As long as the Lord was pleased with them, he knew that God would lead them into the land and give it to them. He told the people not to be afraid because they would "swallow them up." The enemy's protection was gone..."but the Lord is with us." (see Numbers 14: 7-9) His eyes were on his God! The others were too scared of the giants they saw in the land that they were supposed to possess, and they did not have enough faith and belief in God to conquer and defeat these giants. As a result, they lost out on the biggest blessing of their entire life.

Are you seeing the grapes or the giants? Have you found the promises of God in your Bible and are you speaking them out of your mouth, meditating on them and standing on them for your victory? Or are you staring at the giant and trembling before him? Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus, the Truth or on the giant father of lies? Are you leaving God out of the equation and trying to fight your giant in your own strength? No wonder you feel like a grasshopper.

They weren't afraid to be in the minority. Only Joshua and Caleb were ready to trust God and enter in to conquer the land in the power of God. They were also willing to take the heat for their belief. In Numbers 14:10 the Bible says that the whole assembly talked about stoning them. The others saw themselves as "grasshoppers." Joshua and Caleb saw themselves as mighty in the power of God. They stood alone in the face of fierce opposition from their own people. They took their stand and did not waver.

There are always those around us who don't have faith and are not convinced that we will ever get the victory. When we are truly trusting God, many times we will be in the minority. People will try to convince us that we cannot live victoriously in Christ and that our problem is too big. Remember that Israel lost it's only chance to enter the Promised Land because of fear and doubt and unbelief. Don't let anyone sway you from what you are believing for. Believe God. "Let God be true, and every man a liar." (Romans 3:4)

God's answer to the question of why Joshua and Caleb were the only ones to enter the Promised Land is given in Numbers 32:12 and again in Deuteronomy 1:36 in reference to Caleb. The Lord says, "..for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly." To wholly follow means "to close the gap." It is a phrase used by hunters to refer to their closing the gap between themselves and their prey. It refers to the fact that Caleb and Joshua were committed to keeping the distance between themselves and the Lord at a minimum. They stuck close to Him like glue. They remembered His faithfulness, they trusted Him for their future, they saw grapes, not giants and they were willing to stand alone.

Joshua and Caleb were willing to pay the price, fight the battles and win the victory that God had waiting for them. Victorious people are those who look at their giants through the eyes of faith and not fear. The eyes of belief, not doubt. "Doubt wrings it's hands and says, 'Oh, what shall we do?' Faith takes a new grip on its sword and says, 'Come on; let's go and conquer them.'" (internet source) Go out today and conquer your giant. Don't join the ten doubters who died in the wilderness. Go and take possession of your promised land!

Donna SchultzSavemom@aol.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

#33 Sound Your Trumpets

#33 Sound Your Trumpets
February 14, 2006
"When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies." (Numbers 10: 9)

Does God need to be reminded to help us and save us from our troubles? Is He sleeping or too distracted by other people's problems to remember us? Why was Israel commanded to blow the trumpets when going into battle? Didn't He know everything about His chosen people and what they were going to face? Let's take it even a step further and ask why we need to pray. The Bible tells us that our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Why blowthe trumpet? Why pray? I believe the answer to these two questions is the same. God wants us to acknowledge our total dependence on Him for the victory in battle and in the wars we face in our lives on a daily basis.

There is a war being fought in the heavenlies for our very lives. Satan wants to destroy our marriages. The family as we know it and as created by our Father in Heaven is under attack. He wants the souls of our children. The economic uncertainties in today's society scream to pull the bedrock of our security and finances out from under our feet. Sickness and disease are on the increase. The enemy wants us sick, broke, busted and disgusted!

The trumpets as "an ordinance forever" symbolized dependence on God. Similarly prayer, as a more articulate expression of that dependence, reminds God to bless His people. In II Chronicles 13:12-15, before the men of Judah went into battle they acknowledged, "God is with us; He is our leader." The priests blew their trumpets and the men of Judah raised their battle cry. They called God to their rescue. The Lord then routed their enemies and delivered them into their hands. Verse 18 tells us that "the men of Judah were victorious because they relied on the Lord, the God of their fathers." They didn't go out without first acknowledging the Lord of Hosts as their leader and victorious King.

Jesus said in John 15: 5, "apart from me you can do nothing." Nothing...no thing! The battles that you face today are impossible to win in your own way and in your own strength. They are not just random events. They are an all out assault on your lives by the devil. The sicker, the more broke, the more discouraged, the more messed up your family is, the more the devil does the happy dance. He knows that if he has victory he can render you useless and ineffective for the Kingdom of God. He sets the traps and takes people captive to do his will (II Timothy 2:26). And if you choose to go it alone, God will let you. He is a gentleman and will never force Himself on you. He waits patiently for you to sound the trumpet, pray the prayer and acknowledge Him as your source, your only Source. Not your mom, not your best friend, not your bank account, not your job title. No, "the one who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ." (II Corinthians 2:14)

I believe that one of the most beautiful prayers is the desperate cry of "HELP ME JESUS!" Or just the crying out of His wonderful name, Jesus!!! Nothing fancy, nothing long or eloquent. Just the utterance of His name coming from the deep recesses of your heart, acknowledging that you can do nothing without Him. Even if His name is just a whisper because your tears make it too hard to speak.

My friend, you have a battle to fight, a war to win. And if you don't have one today, you will soon. Put down the weapons of your own intellect and self-will and pick up your trumpet. Sound the trumpet...pray the prayer... acknowledge God.Ask Him to lead. Ask Him to go before you. Tell Him that you can't do it without Him. Don't wage war as the world does. Remember that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but are mighty IN GOD for the pulling down of strongholds." (II Corinthians 10:3-4) Did you notice the IN GOD part? Not in your brains. Not in your beauty. Not in your position. Not in your bank statement. Not in your cunning and craftiness.Not in your circle of friends. Not in your good works. IN GOD!! Your victory is in Christ, your All in All. He is the Mighty Victor, the King of Kings, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He loved you so much that He died on the cross for you. He loves you so much that He is also ready to fight the battle for you. He is just waiting for you to call His name and let Him know that you are depending on Him and Him alone.

Donna Schultz


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

#32 Great Things Are In Store For You!

#32 Great Things Are In Store For You!
February 7, 2006
"How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you." (Psalm 31: 19a)

(Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture references are from the Holy Bible, New International Version)

God holds the wind, the waters, the snow and the hail in storehouses. But did you know that He has storehouses filled with things just for you? When something is stored, it is laid away or accumulated. It is a large quantity, supply or number of something stocked against a future time. When something is "in store", it is in readiness for use. God has a large quantity and supply laid away, accumulated, and ready to be used FOR YOU! Let's sneak a peek through the keyhole of His storehouse and see just what it is that is being stored for you.

In Psalm 31:19 we are told that God has great goodness stored up for those who fear Him. It can literally be translated, "How abundant are your blessings". Goodness is benevolence, mercy, pity, compassion and long-suffering toward us. God's goodness appears in two things..giving and forgiving. And we see in Psalm 23 that the same goodness and mercy "shall follow us all the days of our lives." God's goodness gives us unmerited favor that we don't deserve and His mercy withholds the punishment that we do deserve.

Proverbs 2:7 says that "He holds victory in store for the upright." Victory is the overcoming of an enemy. It is success in a struggle or endeavor against odds or difficulties. Whatever enemy you are facing today can't stand up to you because you have victory in Heaven's storehouse with your name on it. "No weapon formed against you shall prosper. (Isaiah 54: 17)

When Job said, "He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store," he was afraid before God because he didn't know what calamity would come next. But have no fear, because the truth is that God does have plans in store for you. Good plans. Jeremiah 29:11 says that God "knows the plans He has for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Your future is secure in the storehouse of your Heavenly Father.

You are "the righteousness of God in Christ," (1 Corinthians 1:30) and Proverbs 13:22 says that "a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous." Song of Songs 7:13 tells you that "every delicacy (choicest fruit), both new and old, are stored up for you." You have a store of luxurious, rare and pleasing gifts right alongside the wealth of sinners. Isaiah 45:3 says that "there are riches stored in secret places" for you. Riches are not necessarily referring to money just as prosperity doesn't always denote monetary riches. Riches and prosperity are wholeness in all areas of your life. Security, peace, quietness, wholeness in mind, body and spirit. Nothing missing...nothing broken.

Isaiah 33:6 says that God will be "a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge."
All that you need to know, all the wisdom that you need, is stored up for you. And James, chapter one tells you that you just need to ask and God will give you that wisdom generously without finding fault.

God promises to bestow all of these blessings "in the sight of men to those who take refuge in Him." (Psalm 31:19b) "He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psalm 23: 5) and David said that He "would have lost heart, unless He had believed that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." (Psalm 27:13 KJV) The things that God has in store for you are not just for Heaven...they are available right here...right now. God said it...that settles it! There certainly are things in store for a coming day of the Lord. A day in store for all the proud and lofty to be humbled (Isaiah 2:12). A crown of righteousness in store for all those who have longed for His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). And a day, "in store, reserved for the heavens and the earth unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:7 KJV) If you are having trouble trying to figure out why evil seems to have the victory and why the ungodly seem to be blessed....remember that there is a day in store where justice will prevail. It is in store, waiting for the right time, the appointed time. God said it....that settles it!

Deuteronomy 28:12 says that God has a storehouse of bounty. Bounty is something given generously and liberally. Bounty means rewards, extra allowances and again in the Middle English "bounte"...goodness. All of the goodness of God is in store for you right now....but how do you access it? Take refuge in Him (Psalm 31:19). Live uprightly and righteously (Proverbs 2:7, 13:22). Isaiah 33:6 says that "the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."

I hope that this glimpse into God's storehouse by His word has encouraged you to have hope in whatever situation you are facing today. God truly has given us all that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Perhaps knowing what God has in store for you will encourage you to press on in your difficulty, draw close in your brokenness, and walk through the fire, trusting in your God. It hurts...it's hard....it looks like there is no end or solution. The enemy and other people tell you that there's no way out. But God's word has just spoken the Truth. He has a storehouse full of goodness, victory, plans for your life, wisdom and knowledge and riches. For you. Yes, you! God said it....that settles it!

Donna Schultz