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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Three keys to following Jesus

In my walk with Jesus as a believer, I have realised three keys to following Jesus. These are:

  1. recognising the grace of GOD in my life, 
  2. having a hopeful attitude in life, and 
  3. being aware my perspective toward others must be to put others first.

These are the three keys to my life today, as a follower of Jesus.

Grace of GOD

I have been overwhelmed at the amount of grace GOD has provided as I adjust to the death of my husband. The LORD has upheld me and my teenage son, and others in the family. He has made us stronger than one could ever imagine; we are detached from emotionalism or self pity, wise beyond our experience in how to allow ourselves to grieve without being swamped by the grief, and have been dowsed in the prayer of many others. His grace has been enormous.


Recently, I became particularly aware of His grace through His lifting of some of it.

In the last month, I have been extremely busy with work to do. I have had to focus and have had less time than previously to process all the thoughts, spiritual questions, and paperwork which has arisen with Alan’s passing and my being the sole executor of his estate. When the work arose I thought, “Well, the LORD must think I can manage.”

As I engaged in my responsibilities, I continued to spend time with the LORD, but regrettably less, as I had so much taking up my time. Then I became aware that I was reacting with irritation or impatience as I had been before Alan became ill… part of my flesh which was then burnt away, I thought, through his illness and passing. But here it was again, and I didn’t like it.

I did have confirmation through a faithful and courageous sister in the LORD who spoke to me, gently, that I was not showing thoughtfulness as I might otherwise show. Her word to me was confirmation of what I was already sensing: I need the grace of GOD to live, breathe and move forward in life.

The Lesson: Never underestimate the power and range of God’s grace, and never underestimate its importance and value. 

Hopeful attitude

I made a decision when my husband died to trust the LORD, even though I’d lost my husband.

No matter what happens in life, the sovereignty of GOD will carry us when we allow it.

The Lesson: Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart….”

Putting others first

I am a diligent worker, responsible, reliable, organised. That’s all good, but sometimes I get tunnel vision. I am told that I am a loving and a kind person. However, there are plenty of times I can confess to allowing the need to get a job done to take priority over my love toward others. 

Something happened to me during the weeks and months of Alan’s hospitalisation… I relaxed about the “to do’s” in my life. Everything was put aside to engage with Alan, and with the LORD, to secure Alan’s recovery. After Alan passed away, this translated to the care of family and friends in their grieving as well.

By nature I’m pragmatic. While I don’t want to lose the qualities that enable me to get a job done, I don’t want to forfeit the nature I’ve acquired more recently to put the needs of others before the need to get a job done.

The Lesson: God gives us enough hours to do the things that need to be done. We don’t need to lose sensitivity and patience in the process of fulfilling our responsibilities. My nature does not need to be dictated by how much I have to do.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

We always have a choice

We always have a choice

What we think or how we act upon our thoughts is up to us. We do not have to be a victim to our emotions or our judgments. Rather, what we choose to put our attention to is our way forward…

Emotion is powerful, and sometimes deceptive. When we recognise a pattern in our behaviour, where our emotional reaction to powerful feelings of anger, fear or annoyance tipping into judgementalism — either against ourselves or someone else which brings about chaos, we need to break the cycle. We need to address the emotion; but we do so with consideration and care. It is not by reacting or even responding (which tends to be a more gentle way of taking action than a knee-jerk reaction), but by making a conscious choice to pray, contemplate, meditate, reflect… anything but react to our emotions. For whatever circumstances may come our way, it is our emotional response which is of our own making and of our own choice. Never do we have no choice, never.

How can I say “never”?

I am coming on pretty strongly… How can I say “never respond by feeling”? What about love, passion, enthusiasm? Ah, I am not saying we must avoid all feeling but I am saying it is important we are not driven by our feelings. Feelings are intense and momentary. We can enjoy feeling. But they are often lacking in the fruit of the Spirit — acting in competition to it in fact.

We always have a choice

Choice comes when we allow our Father Yehovah to renew our minds.

This morning I was thinking about my husband who died just four months ago. I was going down a line of “What if we’d made different medical choices?” and I realised quickly the futility of that line of thought.

I am not avoiding reality by doing so, but rather choosing what I allow my mind to dwell on. I can catch myself thinking life-giving thoughts or catch myself thinking hopelessness and despair. I catch and release by conscious choice, not by the power of emotion.

When I dwell on the Lord, and dwell on his presence, my spirit soars and I am able to handle whatever circumstances may come. This is how I got through my husband’s illness and death; I will not abandon a good and proven strategy to be overtaken by negativity, futility and frustration.

I can choose how I spend my day, my life. I can choose joy and peace — and I do. I allow the Lord to draw me to His truths, and as I do, He shows me the pathway of clarity, peace and discovery. Sometimes these discoveries will be exciting and sometimes they will be painful. But when I dwell in His presence, and choose to abide in thoughts of hope and life, those areas which are painful will come in due course, but with the covering of His timing and the presence of His Spirit.

That is choosing life. And it is the Way I encourage us all to take.

Scriptures to dwell upon


Philippians 2:9-11 says, “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

When we think about Jesus, our minds are taken to a wide open place full of goodness and away from the narrow view of ourselves.

Jesus brings reality and he brings life, all the more abundantly when we abide in Him and allow our thoughts to reflect the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faith, patience and self control…. “Against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Finally, we can make our thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and tear down that death-inciting force which attempts to poison our lives by poisoning our thoughts. In principle, we can take any thought, pinpoint it and literally peg it down, tell it to stay and turn our backs on it, leaving it forever.

Of course the bedrock of all of this comment is Romans 12:1-2. We must be surrendered and allow the LORD to renew our minds if we are to overcome, to grow, and to be the persons GOD has created us to be. How we think leads to how we behave. Let us be filled with the Spirit, with renewed minds of Jesus.

Let us all walk on water

Dwell, abide, be still… These words surround us, draw us toward the presence of GOD. His presence allows us to be above the storm and to walk on water rather than be swamped by it. It is our choice. It is our responsibility. It is our hope.

…. forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on… (Philippians 3:13) This is perhaps my favourite scripture, because it allows me to move forward in Him, regardless of what has already gone before.

Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Words Matter: they define our thinking

What matters is matter

In physics, matter is that which is concrete, tangible, evident.

Although our words seem intangible, yet words matter — and are matter. In reality, our words make truth, create truth. That which is spoken can all the more become reality, simply in the speaking. 

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with GOD and the Word was GOD.” John 1:1 and “In the beginning GOD created…” Genesis 1:1

Imagine this: The Word spoke and the earth, the universe, all points in between and surrounding, came into being. That is powerful. The intangible became tangible, simply by being spoken into reality.

And so I come to my first point which is this: What we say — and even that which we think whether we speak it or not — matters. Jesus said if we even lust after a woman we have committed sin in our hearts…

Align our thoughts and our words to GOD

Our thinking needs to be aligned with GOD or we create a reality that is less than optimal. 

The first step to aligning our thinking with GOD is to recognise we have a choice in what we think; there is fleshly thinking and there is surrendered thinking. This is what Paul was referring to when he wrote about the renewing of our minds in Romans chapter 12:2

“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…” 

Where we stumble in our thoughts and words

To begin then, let’s recognise — let’s agree — that we always have a choice. We do not have to be victim to our thoughts or our words. That is negative emotion creeping in, blocking our peace, our submission to the Father and our relationship to the Holy Spirit. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit…” (Ephesians 4:30)

Choice

What we choose to think, what we choose to say, can be GOD-given and GOD-centred, or me-centred and flesh-centred. 

Choose life… and that more abundantly. Let’s begin with our words and our thoughts.

Proposed action

Meditate on this principle and if you “get it” great! If not, keep meditating until you do. Try going to the scriptures, using Bible Gateway online to look up “thoughts”, “word”, “speaking” and the like. What does GOD say to you, directly and/or through His Word, to bring you to a fuller understanding of the power of our words and our thoughts in our lives?

“Be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)

These aren’t just instructions or commands. Rather, these are promises that are possible when we trust the Word, lean not on our own understanding, but allow our minds to be renewed by the Lord Jesus so that we catch all his meaning…. and our lives are transformed into his likeness.

Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Recovery from Loss and Facing Times Ahead

Green shoots of Recovery from Loss

When you have completed a typical task that requires concentration and mental agility, when you’ve done it to your usual standard and you look over it and say, “Oh, that’s alright!” you then might realise you didn’t think of your lost loved one, or feel any weight of distraction in the doing of the task. You recognise, “Ah, I must be recovering.”

That’s what happened to me in May and I’ve been doing alright since. I’d say I”m in recovery mode.

Recovery

Just as recovery from illness can take time, even when the the actual illness is behind you, so too can recovery from grief take time.

“To every thing there is a season and a time to everything under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Facing times ahead

Now my workload is increasing and I’m finding it requires an energy and mental agility I didn’t know I had it… and I don’t quite. But that is the LORD nudging me forward. That is all part of His goodness.

The LORD always knows what’s in store in our lives, even though we may not. Paul says in 2 Timothy that there will always be persecution. And so, as many of our societies today are celebrating evil and denigrating good, it is logical to think persecution is coming our way. 

What about Persecution

Any believer may be hit by persecution without much warning. This can be a direct blow to us, or to a loved one. We pray for protection — may the glory of the LORD be our rear guard — but we also acknowledge the reality of attack and seek the strengthening of our faith.

I believe we all need to be ready for changing circumstances, some of which may cause us grief: loss of status, loss of employment, or even loss of a loved one.

Know this: with Persecution comes help

“You will keep you in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Whatever may come, He prepares us. Whatever may come, we will recover. If our life is taken, those left behind will recover. Just as persecution is part of the believer’s walk, so too is recovery. 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name. Hallelujah! Such is the best way forward: praise!

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Power of GOD in Ephesians

How closely have you looked at Ephesians lately?

The power of God is encapsulated in Ephesians. Have you had a taste lately?

I was reading it through recently and paused after chapter 3, so overwhelmed and amazed at the promises therein….

“that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body,” and “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:6a, 16)

Yes, it is the letter that winds up in chapter 6 teaching us about spiritual warfare. But even before that chapter, it is rich in the promises of the power of GOD to all who believe and are children, followers of Jesus. All the power of the promises to Israel, all of the power of the resurrection of Jesus, all of the power of those who believe are expressed in Ephesians, open to gentiles as well as Jews.

I urge you

Study it. Digest it. Allow it to cover your soul and capture your spirit. Trust it. The Word of the Lord is rich and powerful… Allow it to embrace you and you will grow exponentially. This is what each of us needs — to grow into the likeness of our saviour and lord, Jesus, Yeshua Messiah. Today, why not begin with Ephesians…..

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Shaking off the Dust of Condemnation

No Condemnation

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1)

This verse is key to our ministry. How? Without the condemnation of those who despise the Jesus in us, we are free to express our faith without looking over our shoulders, thwarting the evil expressed through others. This is vital.

Jesus said of those who do not accept the gospel, we are to shake the dust off our feet. Why? Because that dust is condemnation which seeks — and often does — weaken us.

We are not to carry a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) but how can we do that when we are battling the rejection and sorrow of those who reject us, reject Jesus in us, reject and condemn us? It is impossible to placate a spirit of condemnation. We must walk away, walk toward freedom, and accept that some will not accept us as we are and so we must leave them to their own opinion and sadly, to their own condemnation. 

Victory for Christ lies in leaving behind all that is not Christ. It may be family, it may be hopes and dreams. But the promise of freedom is sure. 

Freedom

Freedom is walking toward Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Freedom is not doing, having or getting what we want. It is not our will but GOD’s will in us that brings us freedom, for there is no gain in receiving merely what we want, but there is much freedom and victory in yielding our will to GOD’s and receiving His deliverance from self. Free will is not my will; it is freedom from my will. Hallelujah!

Salvation is not only for eternity in heaven. It is freedom from fear, in the here and now, freedom from the condemnation and rejection of others. Walk away. It’s alright in God’s eyes that we “give up and leave to Him” the salvation of others. In fact, it is His command. 

In Matthew 10:14, speaking to his disciples Jesus says, “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet.”

He knew rejection hurts, and to that he said, just shake it off!

Love but Leave

Love others. Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek: Yes. But shake off the dust from those who will not accept the gospel in you. Love from a distance. Your ministry will survive. In fact, it will thrive without the condemnation that often brings with it self-doubt and a deterioration of the confidence so needed to walk the walk of GOD. 

Trust GOD in all circumstances

Release those who reject you. Walk away. Test and see what the LORD will bring instead.

In Jesus’ name, I pray we all are able to do this. Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Equality in Marriage – from Hosea

A verse reveals GOD’s equality in marriage

There are so many verses that create controversy between man and woman over equality, submission and the like.

I’m going to dwell at Hosea 2:16 today, just for a moment. This is for your reflection and consideration.

Hosea 2:16 says, ““And it shall be, in that day,” says the LORD, “that you will call Me My Husband and no longer call Me My Master.””

We know that we are the bride of Christ, called so because of the references Jesus uses toward us as his bride. In Matthew 25, with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Jesus provides this familiar point of reference.

But in Hosea, we are spoken of as the bride of Almighty GOD. 

Of course, Hosea was the prophet called to marry a prostitute as a prophetic gesture to point to the compromise and prostitution of Israel against the LORD. Hosea suffered, to mark the LORD’s rejection by His chosen people.

But in this verse, we see how dearly He longs for relationship and that we do not need to fear Him in the sense of a slave to his master, but to embrace him as a wife does her husband.

This verse speaks to me of mutual love and devotion, not about submission, obedience or suppression.

Those husbands who love their wives as they do themselves (Ephesians 5:25; Mark 12:31) with respect, value and appreciation, do so in the way the Father loves us all. The marriage relationship should not be about who reigns, but about how love rains down upon us and nurtures us.

In that day we shall all call him My Husband. Oh for that day on earth to give such glimpses of peace and glory. Amen.

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Why does a Bible teacher teach?

My husband was a teacher of the Word of GOD. My son has a godparent who is also a teacher of the Word. What makes teachers tick? Why does a Bible teacher teach?

Background

When I met my husband Alan, he was 34. 

The LORD had told him when we first met to “take care of this woman” as I was newly arrived in England to study. As our friendship developed, Alan shared with me some things about his calling to teach. He had devoured Bible resources as well as the Word itself during undergraduate university days, often ignoring his courses of academic study (engineering) preferring to study GOD’s Word.

He wasn’t particularly diplomatic with people when I first met him, because the Word was his priority. But he loved the LORD and knew he was called to teach His Word. He met with opposition, and I suppose as a trained barrister, didn’t mind a good conversational scrap! I thought it was because he wasn’t great with people. But it would prove not his imperfect social skills — which GOD in him would later come to perfect — that held him back. What prevented his teaching from advancing at a relatively young age was his “unorthodox” perspective. He did not teach wrongly, for the call of a teacher is very strict and woe to any who misstep. 

James writes, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.” (James 3:1)

No compromise

No, Alan’s teaching has proved to be rock solid, though his thinking was often unconventional rather than neatly fitting into the Evangelical box. He looked at scripture: not at what was taught by others as convention but what was actually there. He made no common assumption, but rather challenged assumption to see what the Word said, no more no less. That attitude has always reminded me of the texts about maintaining the accuracy of the Bible text.

In Revelation 22:18-19, John writes, “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

What a Bible teacher teaches

Alan and other teachers may not always go with the flow of common interpretation of scripture or rely on Sunday School perspective. What Alan and others who are called to teach (which is not the same as preaching) is revelation of the Word of GOD, no more, no less. Their motivation is to make the Word more accessible to others and never to compromise

Something palatable can be dangerously close to something untrue; a called forth teacher will devote time and attention to every thought before sharing. Just as there were false prophets in times of the Jewish Covenant as we read in the Old Testament, so were there also false teachers in the New. 

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,” (2 Timothy 2:1)

Look for simple but deeply profound truths

A teacher of GOD’s Word will challenge, encourage, and convict those who have listening ears to hear. The teacher wants his audience to discover for themselves what mysteries are within the Word.

Never underestimate the depth of GOD’s Word or doubt the unveiling of new thought to our old minds. As Jesus said, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.” (Mark 2:21-22)

We need to be open to what GOD’s Word actually says, rather than what we think it says based upon sermons or Sunday School. We need to study to show ourselves approved and a good, godly teacher will enable us to do that.

Challenge yourself to read the Word

What is really there? Concepts exist in the Bible that are not actually stated. And some belief systems are built upon misconception and false assumption.

For example, did you know the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible? And nowhere does it say “God the son”? Did you know that the animals in the ark were not a single pair each of every animal type? There were 7 pairs of some and not of all. Why not all the same?

Did you know the single verse “wives submit to your own husbands” is followed by “husbands love your wives” followed by eight more verses outlining how men are to do that?

Do you know that every significant marker in Jesus’ calendar was preceded by Old Testament law and feasts?

Look for yourself… 

It is possible to learn, simply by reading the Bible. If you listen enough to how Alan teaches, you’ll catch how to read for profound truths and relationship for yourself. You can hear some teachings here: 

https://tmc-church.org.uk/preacher/tun-alan/

Or go to www.revelationtv.com and look up old Bible Study programmes where Alan is part of a group of three men, looking deeply into the Word of our God.

So all, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

What is Worry?

What is Worry?

Worry is simply looking to the outcome rather than trusting in GOD.

Worry changes nothing but strives to give us a false sense of control. It is pointless and it is harmful, robbing us of the profound testimony of our faith in Jesus and those around us, of GOD’s assurance and of His peace. But we can overcome.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.”

Worry not. Fret not. We are looking in the wrong direction when we worry.  Look up, look out! Let us not look forward to the future as though we have an influence over it. Rather let us look up to GOD, look out to those we love, look into the Word of GOD which takes us to Him, then we shall continue to move forward in faith. 

“And the peace of GOD, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7) 

May this be so. Amen. Hallelujah!

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Preparing the Bride of Jesus Christ

Widows, Orphans and Psalm 35

Why GOD emphasises protection of Widows and Orphans

In His word, GOD emphasises protection of widows and orphans. Why?
Because they have lost their covering and they are more vulnerable in society as a result.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)

Covering

The concept of covering goes back centuries. Covering is that protection from harm that comes to children through their parents, particularly their fathers. Western society has lost this sense of covering and we witness much damage. Women without their father’s covering so often languish in bad relationships or promiscuity, because they have freedom without the wisdom that comes from a father’s care. Statistics reflect that boys without fathers have a significantly higher risk of engaging in criminal activity and generally score more poorly at school than those with fathers.

Virgins have their father’s covering. Children and wives have the father/husband. But only GOD covers those lacking husbands and fathers. And throughout his letters, Paul in particular draws attention to this.

“A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, is GOD in His holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5)

Fatherless

The loss of a father is profound. GOD knows this and offers provision today through His Church. It is also ingrained in Jewish culture, which goes back to Biblical times.

When vulnerable

Recently, I was reading Psalm 35. I tend to dwell inside the Psalms each morning to start my day. Psalm 35 is packed with protection and defence, asking GOD’s help and protection from those whom we have loved but who have turned against us:

“Fierce witnesses rise up; They ask me things that I do not know.

They reward me evil for good, to the sorrow of my soul.

But as for me, when they were sick,

My clothing was sackcloth; I humbled myself with fasting;

And my prayer would return to my own heart.

I paced about as though he were my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one who mourns for his mother.” (Psalm 35:11-14)

I realise that before I was widowed, with those who didn’t accept me, my husband covered me. Now, I must allow GOD to guide, protect and cover me against those who may wish to contend with me.

“Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; 

Fight against those who fight against me…. And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness

And of Your praise all the day long.” (Psalm 35:1, 28)

I’m choosing my battles more carefully than ever. Some battles arise that are not worth the effort, whilst others are essential to GOD’s witness.

Moving forward

Sadly, we will always encounter challenging circumstances and those who do not accept us. Nevertheless, GOD gives us the ability to be full of His grace toward all, without becoming victims. Prayer and the LORD cover us, though we may be fatherless or spouseless; we are never powerless, never without protection.

Offer help and comfort 

“They also opened their mouth wide against me, and said, “Aha, aha!

Our eyes have seen it.”

This You have seen, O LORD; do not keep silence.

O Lord, do not be far from me.

Stir up Yourself, and awake to my vindication,

To my cause, my GOD and my Lord.” (Psalm 35:21-23)

As we read scripture, we see others have come before us who have suffered unrighteous treatment and condemnation. We are not defenceless and have the LORD at our side. As we draw attention to GOD’s Word we find He has given us the words and thoughts to pray which will cover and deliver us.

Victory

“Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who rejoiced at my hurt; Let them be clothed with shame and dishonour…” (Psalm 35:26)

However, “Let the should for joy and be glad, who saviour my righteous cause” (Psalm 27a)

We pray for protection from enemy attack and for confusion over those forces which would seek our destruction. We celebrate those who give us support and praise GOD for them in our lives.

Resolution

“And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation.

All my bones shall say, “LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?” (Psalm 35:9-10)

The LORD offers us divine protection, covering, and delivers us from evil. Challenge and attack may come, to strengthen our faith and relationship with GOD. But in facing the challenges and trusting in the LORD, we grow stronger.

We can “trust in the shelter of Your wings” (Psalm 61:4) but for those times when we must persevere in a spiritual battle, He covers us and gives us the strength needed, whether we are fatherless, widowed, or simply walking our faith journey on our own.

“….Blessed are all those who wait for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18)