Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“They looked to Him and were radiant; their faces shall never blush for shame or be confused. I (your name) cried, and the Lord heard me, and saved me out of all my troubles.”
Psalm 34: 5, 6
Again and again I have asked You
To robe me in splendor –
To spark my life with radiance
Until there burns within me
A soft unquenchable glow.
Now today as I read Your Word
Your answer to my longing is so direct:
‘They looked to Him and were radiant.’
Lord, the mystery is solved!
I must look steadfastly to You
For my radiance can only be
A shimmering reflection of Yours.”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Lord, I Keep Running Back To You
Today’s Study Text:
“If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, ‘I’m slipping, I’m falling,’ Your love, God, took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, You calmed me down and cheered me up.”
Psalm 94: 17, 18
The Message Bible
“Furnace of Affliction” – Part 23
“Unless The Lord”
“What God promises is that He always, always comes. He always shows up. He always saves. He always rescues. His timing is not ours. His methods are usually unconventional. But what we can know, what we can settle in our soul, is that He is faithful to come when we call.”
What event in my life has caused me to say, “If the Lord wasn’t with me, I don’t know what I would have done”?
How has God been a Refuge to me in times of trouble?
“Consider seriously how quickly people change, and how little trust is to be had in them; and cleave fast unto God, who changeth not.”
Teresa of Avila
“Our prayers will be most like the prayer of Christ if we do not ask God to show us what is going to be, or to make any particular thing happen, but only pray that we may be faithful in whatever happens.”
Several weeks ago as Jim was continuing to read his way through the book of Psalms, he began to read out loud. The words he read interested me as we had just begun our studies here in Transformation Garden on the “Furnace of Affliction.” I asked Jim to share with me the place of the particular passage and he said, “Psalm 94: 17, 18.” It’s interesting how easy it is with a book like Psalms to miss out on some of the passages in obscure portions of the Scripture, just like Psalm 94. It makes me want to dig even deeper into God’s Word for tucked within all the lines, we uncover nuggets of truth which shine brightly like golden pieces of gold.
In the King James Version, the words in Psalm 94 stand out like a lifeline. They are words that jog our memories to those times in our life when God fulfilled His promises!
“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence. When I said, ‘My foot slippeth; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.”
Psalm 94: 17, 18
I have to admit this wasn’t one of those texts that I had committed to memory years ago. But I’ll tell you, it’s on my memory list now! Possibly, as time has swiftly passed by and I’ve slid right by the half-way mark in my time on earth, I’ve come to realize that my days, no matter how difficult some have been, leave a record of God’s immense and unending faithfulness. For no matter how hot the furnace may have been, indeed I can say with the Psalmist, “Unless the Lord had been my help!” How about you? Do you know how you would have ever made it if God wasn’t there for you to lean on? To call out to? To dry the tears that rolled down your face? And how about those times, when like the Psalmist, you started to slip and lose your balance – wasn’t your heavenly Father there to catch you? However, it may be that today you feel that somewhere in your journey God has really let you down and now you don’t have the confidence to believe He even cares. Then for today, when your belief in God’s caring love is stretched thin, I’d like to share with you the words to one of my favorite Annie Johnson Flint poems, for when the fire is the hottest; the night is the darkest; and the pain the greatest; we can look to God, whose promises are sure:
What God Hath Promised
“God hath not promised
Skies always blue,
All our lives through;
God hath not promised
Sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow,
Peace without pain.
But God hath promised
Strength for the day,
Rest for the labor,
Light for the way,
Grace for the trials,
Help from above,
This is a God I can count on no matter what happens each day. And over the past few years, when I’ve found my pathway especially tough to traverse, as so many of you have, I’ve found that I frequently whisper, “What would I do if I didn’t have the Lord as my helper?” In their inspiring book, God Will Make A Way, authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend point out that, “one of the most powerful, though difficult, lessons we all need to learn on our spiritual pilgrimage is that even when bad things happen and we do not understand why, we can trust God to be present and working on our behalf.” And I’d like to add that we don’t have to worry that God will be upset at us for expressing how we really feel. He is the One that has told us to “call on Me,” in the first place.
No wonder the Psalmist could declare with such certainty, “If it hadn’t been for God, who knows where I would be.” I’ve shared with you, on many occasions, during the past nine years of devotional writing that I absolutely love gospel music. In fact, nearly every Friday evening I take time to cap off the week by going to some of my “bookmarked” favorites from You Tube.
There’s one song that has lifted my heart at times when life’s challenges become a “burden too heavy.” My particular favorite version of the old-time song, “The Lord Will Make A Way” is sung by the late Bishop G. E. Patterson and Rose Marie Rimson-Brown along with the church congregation that acts as a fantastic choir. Here are the words to this inspirational gospel melody:
“I know the Lord will make a way,
Yes, He will.
Oh, He’ll make a way for you
And He’ll lead you safely through
I know the Lord will make a way.
I have a Savior who I can tell all my troubles to,
When I’m burdened and I don’t know just what to do,
I go to God in secret prayer;
I just leave all my burdens there;
I know the Lord will make a way
yes, He will.”
It does my heart good to hear people singing this song who in their own lives have walked through the fire and come out saying, “I tried Him and I know He will make a way.” And I’d just like to make this observation, nearly 550,000 people had listened to this particular uplifting version of the gospel song, so I realize that trusting God to help us isn’t something that only happened when the Psalms were written. It is just as big a need here in the 21st century to say with the same boldness, “If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it.” In the words of Mary Nelson from her book, Grace For The Tough Times, “The next time you wonder if the Lord is really going to help you, just ask,” And to that I’ll say: “AMEN!”
“When you finally meet the One who made you, and examine the lifelines He has sent along the way, you will at last understand how every detail made sense in the swirling reality of life’s blessings and threats.”
The Grand Weaver
You Are My Refuge
“Yesterday my heart was storm-tossed.
High waves of agony threw me violently,
and I cried out to You for relief.
Today, Loving God, my rescuer, my refuge,
You have mercifully heard me,
gathered me to sweet moments of tranquility.
I savor this time and revel in its peace.
The agony has left me weak physically,
but (Your) strength of spirit satisfies
and excites me.
I have a taste of merciful and lovely calm
A gift I want to hold forever.
I am swelling with the exuberance of being alive.
A bud of our African violet has opened
since I began to write, and I hold it as a sign
that I too am opening to a gracious sampling
of Your great love and calm.
Today I call out my thanksgiving to You,
O Merciful God of Calm and Compassion.
You are my joy; You are my refuge.”
I’m Still Dancing
“Praying through Good Days and Bad”
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation – whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid.”
Psalm 27: 1
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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