God Won’t Let You Fight Alone

It’s easy to talk about trusting God when things in our lives are going well. It’s harder to recognize His presence when it feels like life is falling apart all around us. In times like that, we need reminders that God will not abandon us in our fights and that He will fight for us.

Several weeks ago, we talked about claiming God’s promises. There’s quite a few made in the pages of our Bibles, and that post only covered His promise to give the holy spirit, to be friends with those who love Him, and to hear when we call on Him. And even after adding another post about the promises in Psalm 91 we just barely scratched the surface of this topic.

One of the promises in Psalm 91 is about God’s protection in the midst of trials. Sometimes He doesn’t take us out of a dangerous or uncomfortable situation, but rather brings us through it. God doesn’t intend to coddle us. He wants us to be thriving and growing and overcoming. He knows we need a shelter and provides that, but He also wants to give us courage to keep going as well.God Won't Let You Fight Alone | marissabaker.wordpress.com

He Won’t Let You Down

When Moses addressed the Israelites before appointing Joshua as his successor, he reminded them that their human leader isn’t really the one who takes care of them. The Lord God is the one who fights for them and who they must obey. He then shares a promise from God:

Be strong and courageous. Don’t be afraid or scared of them; for Yahweh your God himself is who goes with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you. (Deut. 31:6, WEB)

Later, the Lord personally reiterates this promise to Joshua (Josh. 1:5). And we know the promise extends beyond Joshua and the Israelites because the writer of Hebrews tells us we can be emboldened by the Lord’s promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5, KJV).

Though “leave” and “fail” seem quite different in English, the Greek word used in Hebrews is actually a perfect translation for the Hebrew word used in Deuteronomy. Both words mean “to let sink,” as if you’d been holding something up and then let it go (H7503, raphah and G447, aniemi). In modern terminology, we would say that God promises not to let you down. Continue reading

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In The Secret Place: The Promises of Psalm 91

Last week we talked about claiming promises from God. But we didn’t talk about the verses that got me started on that study. Psalm 91 is packed full of promises that are clearly meant to include the reader. There isn’t even a writer credited, so there’s no clear historical context, and the psalm is addressed to all who make the Lord their God. There’s nothing to distract from the fact that this psalm was written for everyone who’s in a relationship with God, including you as a Christian today.In The Secret Place: The Promises of Psalm 91 | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Claiming Relationship With God

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of Yahweh, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” (Ps. 91:1-2, WEB)

The psalm begins with a promise to those who remain, inhabit, and abide (H3427, yashab) in the hiding place or shelter (H5643 sether) of the Most High God. They will “stay permanently” (Strong’s H3885 lun) in the shadowing protection (H6738 tsel) of El Shaddai.

Because of that promise, we get the only “I” statement from this psalm’s writer. They claim the Lord as “my God” and say they will have confidence in Him (H982 baach). And they demonstrate that trust by making Him their refuge, shelter (H4268 machaseh) and defensive stronghold (H4684 matsud). That’s something we can do as well.

Stripping Fear of Power

This psalm contains truly incredible promises of protection in the midst of trials. We’d probably prefer it if God’s protection meant we didn’t have to go through trials. But to be delivered “from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence,” there must be someone trying to trap you or a pestilence threatening your life (Ps. 91:3, WEB). And if “A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand,” then you must be in a location where people are perishing right and left (Ps. 91:7, KJV). Continue reading

Claiming God’s Promises

Not every single word in the Bible applies directly to each person reading it. It’s all inspired by God and we can learn from it, of course, but not everything applies to everyone directly. For example, some cleanliness laws in the Old Testament were gender specific and some prophecies were delivered to a specific person or group (like the dream warning Nebuchadnezzar he would become like an animal for 7 years).

But we can take this observation too far. We might make the mistake of thinking that because warnings to follow God alone were delivered to ancient Israel they don’t apply to us today. Yet the New Testament confirms we still need to make a choice between darkness and light (Deut. 30:15-20; 1 John 1:5-2:6). This type of thinking can also block us from accepting encouraging promises as well.

Have you ever read one of God’s promises and thought, “That sounds wonderful, but it can’t really apply to me?” I’m sure many of us have. For me personally, I struggle with believing God will answer my prayers the way He promises too (mostly I feel like my prayers for other people aren’t effective). But does that mean God’s promise to hear when we call doesn’t apply to me? Of course not. And I’ve even seen some examples of His direct responses to my prayers. My doubts and anxieties don’t cancel His promises. But they can block me from recognizing or accepting His work with, in, and for me.Claiming God's Promises | marissabaker.wordpress.com

God’s Presence In You

The Holy Spirit is one thing God promises to new believers. Jesus told His disciples the Father would give them the Holy Spirit after He left and we see that promise fulfilled quite spectacularly in Acts 2. As the narrative continues, a pattern emerges where believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit when they covenant with God at baptism. And it’s made clear that this promise isn’t just for the people of that time. Continue reading

Letting God Define You

How do you define yourself? We all finish our “I am __” statements in different ways. We can go with something fairly basic, such as “I am a writer/sister/Christian.” That’s often how we introduce ourselves to people. But there are also less flattering “I am” statements that we tell ourselves. “I am anxious; I am too fat/skinny/unhealthy; I am a sinner not good enough for God.” Or sometimes we go with more positive self-affirmations: “I am a good friend; I am confident in using my gifts; I am a redeemed and forgiven child of God.”

How does God define you? Scripture reminds us in several passages that our “I am” is not as reliable as God’s “you are” (see 1 Sam. 16:7, Is. 55:8-9 and Jer. 17:9-10). He knows us better than we know ourselves and He can give us insight into His perspective. If we ask, He’ll reveal things about ourselves to us directly as well as through His word.

Some of the “you are” statements God makes about people are critical, such as when He describes all humans as sinner under a death penalty or rebukes Israel for their rebellion (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Is. 1:18-25). But while part of God’s perspective on us involves seeing our faults, that’s not all He sees. For those in relationship with Him, His “you are” statements are overwhelmingly positive. There’s certainly a place for acknowledging our sins, abhorring ourselves, and repenting as Job did (Job 42:5-6). But we’re not to stay downcast. God wants us to have a realistic view of ourselves, and He values us far too highly for this view to not involve some incredibly positive things.Letting God Define You | marissabaker.wordpress.com

You Are Of Value

Aren’t five sparrows sold for two assaria coins? Not one of them is forgotten by God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore don’t be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6-7, WEB)

Our God cares even when a sparrow dies. But we’re not just another animal crawling around the earth that gets a moment of attention from Him. We’re valued highly — so highly that the Father and Son think you’re worth the price of Jesus’ life. And They thought that even before you were saved (Rom. 5:6-8). Continue reading

Songs by Mood

marissabaker.wordpress.comLast week, I learned that Neurowear launched a set of headphone about a year ago that scans your brainwaves and matches music on your iPod to your mood. As border-line creepy as that sounds to me, it’s just the next step from websites like Moodstream and Musicovery that play music based on whether you’re feeling happy, sad, calm, dark, lively, inspired, positive, creative, or pretty much any other mood you like.

I have genres or playlists that I’ll turn to for different moods, but I also have specific songs that I like to play for specific feelings. Is this just me? Or do you have a song you play every time you’re sad? A favorite song to match a happy mood? What about songs that help you deal with anger?

Angry

You know that feeling when you’re angry and you know you shouldn’t be, but you still need to do something with those feelings? That’s when I sing these songs. I feel much better afterwards and it means I’m not taking out my anger on anyone else, so they’re happy (although I have been told it’s creepy to witness).

No Good Deed — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Mordred’s Lullaby — Heather Dale

Blown Away — Carrie Underwood

Sad

These songs are like a pat on the back or a hug when I need reassurance. I listen to them when I’m feeling down and want to move out of that mood.

Everything is Fine — Josh Turner

Little Miss — Sugarland

You Are Loved — Josh Groban

Sub-category for when I’m discouraged about being single:

As Fast As I Could — Josh Turner

Melancholy

These songs are for sadness that I want to enjoy. It’s the “sad is happy for deep people” feeling rather than being sad for a reason that makes you not want to be sad any more.

Wine After Whiskey — Carrie Underwood

September — Daughtry

Katie — Celtic Thunder /Colm Keegan (which I’m afraid there’s no video for, but you can hear a clip)

Inspired

These are the songs I play when I want to feel like I’m fearless and I can do anything.

Defying Gravity — from Wicked (Idina Menzel)

Wide Open — Jason Aldean

I Stand — Idina Menzel

Happy

I was trying to think up songs for this category, and my sister said, “Don’t you sing One Direction when you’re happy?” As embarrassing as that may be,  yes I do. I’ve whittled it down to just one song from them, though.

What Makes You Beautiful — One Direction

Nil Se’n La — Celtic Woman

Hopeful

Since “Waiting For Superman” didn’t quite fit in with the happy or the melancholy songs, I’ve added this category.

Waiting For Superman — Daughtry

Wedding Day — Casting Crowns

This Is The Moment — from Jekyll and Hyde (Robert Cuccioli)

Peaceful

I play these songs when I want to relax and I’m trying to encourage a peaceful feeling. They’re usually the first songs I play, then I move on to a playlist of related songs and artists. Or I listen to instrumental music with dolphins.

Hero — Il Divo

So She Dances — Josh Groban

Worshipful

These are my favorite stand-in-awe of God songs.

Blessed Be Your Name — Robin Mark

Who Am I — Casting Crowns

In Christ Alone — Keith and Kristyn Getty

Jeremiah 29:11-13

These verses from Jeremiah are some of my favorite encouraging passages in the Bible.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. (Jer 29:11-13)

I don’t usually quote the NIV, but I do like the way it phrases verse eleven: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Even when we’re not sure what our own plans are for the future, we are assured that God has good things in store for us. He wants to see us succeed.

Since I graduated from college last year, my life hasn’t been going exactly like I planed. I’d intended to apply to several different grad schools and be back in school this fall, but for some reason I decided not to. Or rather, I didn’t decide exactly what to do and so nothing really got done.

I couldn’t (and still can’t) decide if I want to commit the next six years or so to an English Lit PhD program, try to get  a 3-4 year MFA in Creative Writing, or finally pursue my interest in type psychology. I’m not going to commit to or spend money on a program until I know which one I want. If I want any of them …

The other reason I find these verses in Jeremiah so encouraging are because of the promise that God will be there when we call on Him. He doesn’t hide from people who long for a relationship with Him.

For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart. (Jer. 24:6-7)

When we give our hearts to God, He promises that He will help us even — especially — when we don’t know what to do on our own. All-knowing, all-powerful, He is the ultimate source of strength and encouragement. And we can rest assured that He will make “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Jeremiah 29:11