God watches over you.

Isaiah 31 begins with the admonition to put our trust in God alone. Don’t trust in Egyptians or Americans or your boss or your favorite sports team. They will fail you. They are mere humans.

“You are in for trouble if you go to Egypt for help, or if you depend on an army of chariots or a powerful cavalry. Instead you should depend on and trust the holy Lord God of Israel.”
Isaiah 31:1 CEV

We’ve seen throughout Isaiah the encouragement to trust God! Why? Because as verse 2 reminds us: God does what He says. He keeps His promises.

And then there’s this:

“I, the Lord All-Powerful, will protect Jerusalem like a mother bird circling over her nest.”
Isaiah 31:5 CEV

One translation says “like a huge eagle…”

God has a special place in His heart for Jerusalem and its people. And for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, we are those people, included in that group, thanks to His “grafting us in” via the cross and the empty tomb! So, we can say that God has a special place in His heart for you and me. And like an eagle or a mother bird, He will watch over us and protect us!

I’m reminded of this beautiful Psalm:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalms 121:1‭-‬8 NIV

He is watching over you today! He sees your hopes, dreams, challenges and struggles. He will lead you to straight paths, meadows of rest and streams of living water.

He loves you and is proud of you. You can trust Him. We can trust Him together.

©️ 2019 Rich Ronald.

Isaiah 26

Since returning from another amazing trip to Israel a few weeks ago, I thought it would be good to once again read through the prophet Isaiah. It’s so rich with visions of hope for the children of God and, yes, warnings about the future.

Today’s passages are filled with great promises!

“The Lord gives perfect peace to those whose faith is firm. So always trust the Lord because he is forever our mighty rock.”
Isaiah 26:3‭-‬4 CEV
You see that? “Perfect peace.” Ah… “Mighty Rock!”

Then there’s this encouraging word to persevere:

“People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.”
Isaiah 26:4-5 MSG

Two times he says “keep at it.” We must keep our minds set on God and our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). How many misunderstandings would we avoid if we kept our minds on the things that matter most to God instead of those things that matter most to us?

For those facing trials, there’s this:

“Our Lord, you always do right, and you make the path smooth for those who obey you. You are the one we trust to bring about justice; above all else we want your name to be honored.”
Isaiah 26:7‭-‬8 CEV

Finally, can this be our prayer?

“Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want.”
Isaiah 26:8 MSG

Can we be content in God alone? I believe when we seek Him with all our heart, we’ll always find His peace. Even today.

Drenched in Unity.

… like standing under a waterfall on a hot summer day!

How wonderful, how beautiful, when brothers and sisters get along! It’s like costly anointing oil flowing down head and beard, flowing down Aaron’s beard, flowing down the collar of his priestly robes. It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon flowing down the slopes of Zion. Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.
Psalm 133:1-3 MSG

The psalmist paints such a beautiful picture here. One time I was anointed with oil like that. It wasn’t just a dab. No, the anointing oil was poured on my head and it flowed down all over my face. It was one of the most stunningly weird and amazing experiences of my spiritual journey! The fragrance, the fluidity, the beautiful mess. It dripped into my hands; I rubbed it all over my face.

I felt very loved and completely absorbed and surrounded by God at that moment. It was like standing under a waterfall on a hot day! Thirst quenching. Spirit filling. Life giving.

It’s that same feeling that God seeks for His children when they walk together in unity and in peace. That’s because, with believers, the unity is not just for this month or this year, it’s for all eternity!

I’m sure He weeps for us and with us when there is discord between two people, or two groups. Especially in a marriage or a family or a community or even a church body. Sadly, I think busted relationships is what the devil specializes in. If he can break up a father and a son, or a pastor and a church, or one part of the community and the other part, the enemy’s on his way to completely destroying all that Jesus came to achieve. Peace. Harmony. Love. Care. Oneness among believers.

Take heart, Jesus prayed for us:  “I want all of them to be one with each other, just as I am one with you and you are one with me. I also want them to be one with us. Then the people of this world will believe that you sent me.” (John 17:21 CEV)

So whenever there is a lack of harmony or unity, our call is to do everything we can do to get back to the wonder and beauty of getting along with others. “Then the people of this world will believe that God sent Jesus.”

Submit to Jesus first. Give up your selfish ways. Put others’ needs before yours. Do all you can to disappoint the devil and glorify God. Work through misunderstandings. Be at peace.

Then you’ll be ready for the refreshing waterfall of His love, His grace, His anointing! Drench yourself in His unity. It’s where we find His blessings. It’s ready for you to enjoy!

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.

Light. Life. Jesus.

Jesus is the Light. He shines in the darkness. He brings Life!

Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus the Messiah. There is something very powerful and yet peaceful when His name is spoken in reverence and worship. His very name conquers fear. His very name lights our way when we feel trapped or alone or lost or consumed with darkness.

Remember when you were a kid and you were afraid of the dark? Maybe, like me, you had to have a light on in your bedroom at night. What was it about the light being on? It shined brightly in the darkness, didn’t it? It showed us that there was nothing else in the room, nothing would harm us or hurt us. The light was a comfort, wasn’t it?

Jesus said in John 8: “I am light to the world and those who embrace me will experience life-giving light, and they will never walk in darkness.” John 8:12 (Passion)

Light is not only a comfort, but it brings life! Like the sun on the leaves of a plant, Jesus, the light of the world, brings life!

Do you believe that? Let His light shine in you and on you to give you His life. As the dawning light of a new day chases away the darkness of night, the comfort and peace of Jesus can do the same thing in your life. There is nothing so dark that His light can’t shine through and bring calm.

Maybe you need His light to bring you comfort today? Ask Him to shine His light in your life. Ask Him to let His life drive the darkness out of your life! He loves you and He will do it.

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.

Raise a Hallelujah? Yes!

There is freedom in praise!

There’s a new song many churches are singing today during their worship services. It’s called “Raise a Hallelujah” by Bethel Music.

For some of us it’s easy to praise God and sing “Hallelujah,” right? You’re going on vacation. It’s summer. The bills are paid. The kids are behaving. Life is good.

But there are others (most of us?) who are just not feeling it. There is pain. There is disappointment. Life is one big slog each and every day. How do we sing in the middle of the storm? How do we even manage a smile when we are feeling defeated?

The answer is this: We can praise God by the power of the Holy Spirit who is in every Believer.

There’s something amazing that happens when we praise God… especially when we offer a praise to God when it’s hard to do so. And we don’t have to have a beautiful singing voice. It might be as simple as viewing an amazing sunset and exclaiming, “Wow, God!”

I believe praise releases God’s love and grace and power and provision in our lives. You may have heard the story of two disciples of Jesus. They were in prison, locked in chains, because they had been sharing the Good News. But they didn’t let shackles hold them back.

Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose. Acts 16: 25-26 (MSG)

There’s something about praise that sets us free. No matter what is holding you captive, bring it to the Lord in praise.

Let me encourage you to sing, to pray, to exclaim or even lament in the middle of your storm. Tell God how much you love Him. Tell God how much you trust Him.

And believe Him to bring you His freedom and His joy!

Raise a Hallelujah? Yes!

© Rich Ronald. 2019.

God Never Fails.

God will help you catch your breath.
You’ll find God right there.

God Never Fails. I’m pretty sure I’ve written that before. Maybe multiple times. But it’s worth repeating. Over and over again.

God never fails.

We fail, right?

Can I assure you, however, that for those who trust God and who follow Jesus that it’s okay to fail. I believe we all actually need to have at least one moment in our life, or multiple moments in our life, where we we fail… where we are broken… where we take all of the burdens we’ve been carrying and finally fall to our knees at the foot of the Cross and say, “Here, Jesus. I can’t do this anymore.” I believe we all need to get to that point where we stop kidding ourselves that we can be self-dependent and we fully cross the line to being dependent on God and God alone.

For me personally, I could share story after story where I was so broken that I just couldn’t carry the load any longer.  They include:

      • Each of the six times my employer at the time decided to change directions without me.
      • Too many times to count when parenting teenagers or adult children.
      • And the recent death of my Mom.

On each occasion, my knees couldn’t hit the floor quick enough. Did I fail or did my situation fail me? No matter. I couldn’t bear the weight alone.

The strongest people are those who fail… who acknowledge that they are weak and empty.

One of the greatest, strongest people of all time was Israel’s King David. He writes, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.”  Then, look at the word picture painted by the Message translation: “If you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath.” (Psalm 34:18 MSG). What an encouraging image!

Even when bad things happen to good people, God is there for you. Every time.

Perhaps your tending to a broken heart? Perhaps you’ve wondered where is the promised victory of the Christian life? In Luke 4 Jesus says the whole reason He came was to heal the brokenhearted, to release the captives and to bring sight to the blind. No matter what broke your heart, no matter what is holding you captive, no matter that you can’t seem to see your way out of your situation, can I assure you that Jesus came for you.

You may have failed, but you are not a failure! Take time, maybe even right now, to tell God that you need Him. Admit that you can’t carry this burden on your own. Tell Him that you’ll trust Him.

And then… do it. Lay your burden down and trust Him.  Cross that bridge and breathe in the air of a new found freedom and peace.  Jesus is waiting to help you catch your breath!

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019

So Good.

God is kind, but he’s not soft.

What is something that is “so good” you can’t live without it? You may recall the old ketchup TV ad that used a creative pun to promote their condiment as being “slowwww gooood.”

During the summer months some may have a favorite vacation spot that is “so good!” Others might find it to be an escape with a book or movie that is “so good.”

For the Believer, truly God is so, so good to us. He really is!

The Bible is full of promises of the goodness of God. But here’s the thing: God’s goodness does not depend on our goodness. Thanks to His grace, there  is nothing we have to do to earn His goodness.

Paul says it this way: But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do; God accepts sinners only because they have faith in Him. (Romans 4:5 MSG).

God also confirms His goodness through the writings of Solomon: God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. (Lamentations 3:25 MSG)

So, goodness comes to the faithful who wait, to those who seek.

Why is God good to us? Again from Paul:  God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness He takes us by the hand and leads us into a radical life change. (Romans 2:4 MSG)

That’s why He is good to us! It’s not just for the sake of our happiness or joy. No, God is good to us because He wants to see radical life change in us. He wants us to let Him guide us and lead us to true transformation!

And then, as we are inspired to grow, we can have an impact on those around us.  Think about it. If a group of people is inspired to accept God’s goodness, be led by Him, be more like Him, be transformed by Him, that group can collectively have a God-sized impact on the community in which they live. And that’s where God’s goodness get exciting!

You may be feeling like He is distant or ignoring you right now.  The key is to have the faith to believe, to passionately wait and to diligently seek.

You will see Him. And you will see that God is so, so good.

 

(c) Rich Ronald. 2019.