Category Archives: God’s power

A Mighty Fortress

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A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevaling. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; his craft and power are great, and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he; The Lord of Hosts, his name, from age to age the same, and he must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth; the Spirit and the gifts are ours, thru him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; the body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still; his kingdom is forever.

by Martin Luther

question and answer

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The Question:

I’m only a man. Who am I
That I should approach your throne?
What hope is there that you will listen
to me, God of power unknown?

I have a case to bring before you
Of my many sorrows and woes
There’s much that my mortal mind can’t comprehend
your works and ways I don’t know.

How I long for days of old 
When your Spirit lightened my way.
When darkness seemed not dark to me
Your presence drove all shadows away.

I remember the time when blessing you gave and
Your friendship, it guarded my thoughts
I had many companions, honor and fame;
Whatever I wanted, I bought.

My path was not rough, smooth as butter it seemed;
Profits and joy did abound.
I lived as a king, gave help to the poor;
For righteousness I was renown.

But yet you’ve afflicted; I don’t understand
why you’ve chosen this test for me.
I’ve followed your ways, Lord, and done what you’ve asked.
Not given my ways to deceit.

Search me, now, my Sovereign, consider my ways.
And see if what I speak is right.
If you find me guilty then judge me as such
Rise up then in all of your might.

 

 The Answer:

Now listen to me and dress like I man
If you are as that which you say.
Its my turn to question. As if you would know
The answers or my power could sway.

You bring only counsel from your mind and thoughts
But knowledge you have not just yet.
Stand. Give me the answers to what I now ask.
Its what I demand and will get.

Where were you on that day when your world was made?
Were you there as I measured and set
Each planet in orbit? The foundation for earth?
I knew not it was a duet!

Do stars sing your glory? Do waves know your voice?
Does morning arise at your call?
Have you ever walked in the depths of the sea?
Did you form the sun as a ball?

Tell me if you know where the darkness comes from
Or the storehouses of rain and hail?
Can you manage storms with your voice alone?
The stars… can you count them at all?

When young ones cry to Almighty for help
Do you answer? You mortal man?
Do you shut the jaw of the lion so strong
To protect the innocent lamb?

The horses great might was not given by you.
The eagle won’t soar on command.
The ox or the ostrich don’t beckon your call
You, whose days are merely a span!

So who are you that you find fault with me?
The God who controls all I made.
Who argues against me and stands on that day?
Answer me, if you find a way.

 

 The Response:

Behold, now in silence I shut up my mouth.
I have spoken.  And that I abhor.
I’ll give you no answer. I have none you see.
I proceed with this trial no more.

 

The Challenge:

No, dress like a man. Stand now in this trial.
You accuse me: You’ll stand till the end.
You put me as wrong? Condemn my decrees?
Let’s see what witness you send.

Is your arm as God’s?  Your voice as the thunder?
Can you judge the wicked and proud?
Can you grant that your hand will save you from death?
If so, Then I’ll listen to what you allow.

I made the behemoth, the first of creation
With powerful strength as a tree.
The turbulent waters do not frighten Him.
Can you rope him? Will he follow you free?

Or Leviathan? Can you fish him out from the sea?
And play with him as with a bird?
Can you tame him? Make him as a pet for your girls?
Will he speak to you with soft words?

You dare not!  In your weakness, as mortal you know that
Even the thought is absurd.
You would not go fishing with hopes him to catch,
For you fear him, as worms fear a bird.

 

The Confession:

Behold I now know that you are my God.
Though I’d heard of you, this now I see.
Your ways are not thwarted, your purposes fast.
My complaint cannot change your decree.

 I’ve uttered in foolishness, that which I don’t know.
I despise now this trial I brought.
I repent of my pride, I despise who I am – as you’ve shown me
And now I’ve been taught.

Have mercy on me. In my weakness I bow
Before you, the Creator of all
As a creature.  Abase. In dust and ashes.
Aware of my stature so small.

 

The Conclusion:

Stand, o man, created and called
by me in my power alone.
I know of your weakness and that you can’t know
All the wonders of which you’ve been shown.

I don’t judge for your weakness but forgive as you bow
Humbly now, hiding your face.
Stand in my presence, welcome and loved
And I will restore to your place.

The glory you once knew on days long ago
You’ll receive again on this earth.
In your trial you were faithful. Through it you endured.
And trusting, my name didn’t curse.

I’ll bless you and give you much more than you know,
Inheritance so great you will have.
Then soon, trial is over and with Me you’ll be.
Blessed eternally. Rest. Peace. At last.

 

 © Emily Schankweiler 2009

fear not

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My child, do not be afraid. Every day of your life was ordered before you were even born. I was faithful then, to call you to me before you desired me, before you knew me, before you lived for me. I loved you first. There is no need now for you to be afraid in this storm.

What is the worst that could happen to you? Death? I am the God who is faithful to old age, even to death. A lack of answers of clarity? I am the God who knows all. No answer is hidden from me. Darkness? No direction visible to you? I am the God who leads the blind along unknown paths. Loneliness? I am the God who will never leave you. Pain beyond your ability to handle? I am the God who gives strength to the youth who are weak and faint. I am He who provides grace to the weary and help to the tired.

What is it you fear that I in my power am unable to provide? You could bring care after care to me until you have no more and still every care will find a balm in my healing and help. Every need is provided in me. I love you.

Do not doubt my care because my hand is pruning. Do not doubt my love as you feel the winter’s cold wind blow. You are precious to me and I will protect and care for you through every storm. Rejoice, sweet chosen, adopted and dearly loved child of mine, for through this trial and pain, you are seeing the benefit of years of plenty. Now, when it seems there is no fruit on your tree, you are learning that your roots do indeed go deep and this faith I called you to only a few short years ago, that faith is real. It is being tested even now and it is standing firm. Be encouraged, my child, I am producing growth. This trial is bringing endurance and the more you see my hand at work through the unknown, you will grow in faith and hope.

My Son, Jesus, who died to bring you to me, is praying for you right now. He is standing here saying “Father, forgive her weakness, forgive her lack of faith. Be satisfied in her struggle. Look to my payment and be satisfied.” And you know, child, I am fully and completely satisfied with that payment on your behalf.

So come to me, in your weakness, nakedness and need, confident in my affection and care for you. Even now, when you don’t know what to say, my Spirit is also praying for you. He is interceeding on your behalf, interpreting your tears and pain and carrying your woes before my throne of grace. So, child, cry. Cry out to me.

I loved David and I loved to see his dependence on my power as expressed so often through his tears. Cry, even when there seem to be no words. The Spirit of God is carrying those cries directly to me. They are not lost. I am listening and my arm has never been too short to save. Be confident, in the midst of this trial, of my unchanging faithful love to you.

The steadfast love I showed to your fathers, the guidance to Abraham, the protection to David, the redemption for Jonah, the transformation for Rahab, the love that did not forsake Naomi, that provided for Ruth, and that blessed Hannah…sweet child, I am that same God. And I offer those same things to you. I would delight and joy in you coming to me in hope and faith, not cowering in fear. Judgment is paid. Freedom is yours. Live there. Rejoice there. I will never forsake.

But when you feel forsaken, remember my promises. When you feel tempted beyond your strength to endure, remember I will empower you to stand firm against every attack of the evil one. Even Satan is under my control; there is no need to fear his attacks.

Rest. Rest in the storms, for I hold you safe. I never slumber and darkness does not blind me, as it does you. Don’t you see? I want you to be free, not bound by fear. This trial is producing sweet freedom as you are learning of my sovereign care and provision. Like I said to the shepherds the day I sent my son “do not fear.”. Like I told the disciples the day my Son left them and returned to Me… “do not fear.”

And now you join their ranks…the ranks of the weak and helpless of this world whom I have chosen and loved. “Do not fear.” “This trial was given to you as a gift from a hand of love. Though you do not understand the purpose of the gift you do know the hand. You have seen my care and love proved time and time again to you.

And now, sweet child though you do not understand why, take this gift of pain, suffering and confusion and accept it as a good thing given by a Father who loves you. At this time in your life, what you desire is not a good gift. That is why I have chosen this. Won’t you rest in my arms? I can see tomorrow.

This “mistake” will make sense one day. And even if I never choose to show you the reason why, don’t forget I am using this to bring glory to myself and draw others to see my power displayed in you! Is that not enough? My power at work in you? That is why I don’t wnat you to fear. I know what will come tomorrow. And it is good. Rest. Rejoice. Lean on me. I will never ever let you go.”

sleepless prayer

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Father I confess that I do not actively place my dependence on you like I should, though every moment is spent fully dependent on your hand over my life. It is the sweet, yet horrible moments like this, moments when I ask, but sleep doesn’t come, moments where there is nothing I can do to make that desire of my fundamental human need happen, moments of sheer and utter exhaustion of mind, body and will, in which I am once again reminded of you. You are the God who does not require sleep. You are the God who guards my life as I sleep, and who guards it when sleep doesn’t come. You watch over me and protect me as the swarm of fears and doubts loom overhead. Your helmet of salvation soothes my tired mind with the truth that I am safe in you and that there is no need to fear. When exhaustion results in emotional worry and tears, I am comforted with the truth that even in my weakness and struggle, that you never leave or forsake your beloved. When the sins and cares of the day robs my rest, you remind me that I am your spotless bride and your cherished, fully accepted child. When pain takes rest from me and keeps it at a distance, you remind me that the power which calmed the stormy sea can also calm the turmoil in my body. Thank you Father that you ordain moments like this, moments I would never choose, to once again turn my gaze to you, grasping for more of your grace. Oh how I need it…both tonight and as the dawn soon breaks. Teach me that what matters is not perfect health or restful sleep but rather a confident trust in your goodness. Your goodness desired that my sleeplesness would drive me not to frustration, fear and anxiety, but to you. I find a refuge in you. My mind, which never seems to cease its running, finds solace in your presence. And you promise strength for tomorrow. Strength for the day’s battle, empowered by you to endure. But greater than that, to rejoice. Father, grant me the grace to rejoice in what you have done for me, given me and promised to complete in me. Let that joy overshadow this sleepless weariness. I pray that I would rest in you, for you are fully satified. There is nothing I need to do, besides still my soul in you like a child at his mother’s breast. You comfort. You hear the prayers of your beloved. And you provide what is good. So I pray that you would, in mercy, grant my weary body a few hours of rest tonight which would counteract the many hours of sleepless regret and worry. And if sleep does not come, father, I pray you would grant me the grace to find my strength in you. Thank you that you love me. Thank you that you hear my cry. Thank you that you are powerful to save. I pray you would help me, yet again, as I look to you, my jehovah-jireh to provide in my need.

good stuff to be reminded of…

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Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 

Jeremiah 32:17,26-27  ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you….  The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the LORD forever, For in GOD the LORD, {we have} an everlasting Rock.

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Job 11:7-9 “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?  It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?  Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.

Chron. 6:14  “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven or on earth, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart,

Psalm 136:2  Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Hebrews 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

 

Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us. – Jerry Bridges

“Wisdom is the application or use of knowledge to devise the best ends, to be accomplished by the best means possible” – Bruce Ware

The wise man is not afraid of his inability, because he knows that Christ’s grace is sufficient. However, the wise man is afraid of the delusions of human strength, because those delusions will keep him from seeking the grace of Christ. The wise man can glory in weakness because he knows of the sufficiency of Christ. The wise man is approachable, able to be corrected. The wise man is humble, waking up every morning saying, “I am a person of great need. Thank you, Lord, that you are in my life. There’s hope for me.” – Paul Tripp

and character produces hope…

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Cry out to your Savior, oh, weary, torn soul.

Cling to the Healer who can make your life whole

For its through His comfort that life’s storms will cease

And weary, weak souls find a shelter and peace.

 

No evil can conquer your weary, tired mind

For God in his faithfulness only refines

He will not forsake you and evil won’t conquer

And after each trial you’ll find your faith stronger.

 

And if you’re too weak to cling any longer

You’re still held in the arms of your good, loving Father.

His Spirit interprets cries deeper than words

He soothes every sorrow, gives endurance and hope.

 

So look up to him, though overtaken by cares

Find tender compassion, deliverance from snares

Do not fear in terror, or dread Satan’s schemes

What you find torn down, your Savior redeems.

every day shattered lives are restored

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I saw this commercial the other day and was freshly reminded that God has the power to change lives.  He has changed mine so drastically. 

Remembering this gives me fresh hope to believe that God can change hopeless relationships, fix battered lives and make blind eyes see.  All to often, I lose hope, and fail to trust God to work. 

It was a reminder for me to not stop praying for that person who in my eyes is “too far gone”… God is not limited by our human understanding.  Trust Him, as the faithful God that worked a miracle in giving your blind eyes sight, that He can still work in the lives of those you may have given up on.. 

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t give up?  I sure am…

the resurrection

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Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection not in words alone but in every leaf at springtime.  Martin Luther

 

Our Savior’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.  John Locke

 

the entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection.  Billy Graham

 

Christianity in its very essence a resurrection religion.  The concept of the resurrection lies at its heart.  If you remove it, Christianity is destroyed.  John Stott

 

In the whole story of Jesus Christ, the most important event is the resurrection.  William Lyon Phelps

 

The resurrection of Christ is a fact.  BB Warfield

 

Prior to the resurrection, Jesus’ disciples were timid and fearful, even hiding when Jesus appeared to them.  Following the resurrection; however, they were all transformed into bold witnesses to what they had seen and heard,  even to the point of dying for their convictions

Had they not truly witnessed the risen Jesus they undoubtedly would have recanted of their teaching and opted for a simpler life free of suffering.  They certainly would have told the truth rather than dying for a lie.  Is it really plausible to assert that a group of scattered liars would remain loyal to one another and die for their lying in poverty and disgrace when riches and power could be obtained by their recanting?  Apart from the resurrection, is there any way to account for the transformation of Peter, a coward who denied even knowing Jesus before His crucifixion and resurrection, but afterwards became the fearless leader of the early church and was himself crucified upside down?  Mark Driscoll

 

It is impossible that the disciples could have persisted in affirming the truths they had narrated had not Jesus actually resurrected from the dead and had they not known this fact as certainly as they knew of any other fact.  Simon Greenleaf

 

 

 

the cliffs of insanity

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insanity21 

do you ever feel like God asks too much of you? 

I was sitting at lunch on Sunday with a few friends and one guy mentioned this statement: “it just feels like God is asking for too much… holiness, sexual purity, hope despite circumstances, etc… its just too much.” 

My first thought was to remind him that if he compared his circumstances with all God has offered him through salvation, that he wouldn’t say such a thing.  But before I said a word, thankfully the Holy Spirit convicted me of often thinking and saying the exact same thing in my own life.  “God, ___ is too much.  Please stop.  Please take this away.  Enough already. Can’t we be done with this trial / lesson / etc?”

As I was thinking about this last night, my thoughts turned to the Princess Bride.  In this movie, is a section where Fezzik carries the princess and two others on his back as he climbs a rope up the cliffs of insanity.  They are dizzying and from a normal human’s perspective its “inconceivable” to think that someone could climb those cliffs.  Its an obstacle that can’t be overcome. 

I think of many situations in my life this way.  For this post, the obstacle of choice is finances.  I often find myself overwhelmed by the struggle, frustrated by my lack of self control in certain areas, and discouraged that I’m still fighting this battle and disheartened by additional unpaid days off work.  In my mind if I could just pull myself up by my bootstraps, then all would be fine.  I’d have millions in the bank, no struggles and happiness galore.  But thinking that is about as foolish as expecting the princess to climb the cliffs by herself.  Without the power of Fezzik, the giant, there is no way she would make it to the top of the cliff.  And the same is true in my life… without the power of the Holy Spirit to lead me and carry me, there is no hope for change in my life.  The cliffs really are insurmountable. 

Thankfully, the Bible has something to say about the cliffs in our lives and the power of God.

Mark 9:22-24 [the father of the child said] “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Romans 8:26 … the Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Matthew 6:32 But if God so clothes the grass of the field which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Nehemiah 9:19-20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.  Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. 

Psalm 9:10 for you, o LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it.

John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

I’m grateful that the power to make changes in my life is not up to me.  if it were, there would be no hope.   I can look back and see so many other insurmountable cliffs that now seem miniscule.  And because of God’s faithfulness, I know we’ll get over the current ones too.

fears, dreams and sleep

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God seems to be getting at the topic of fear in my heart lately…

I woke up a few minutes ago to the sound of my door creaking open and well, you know the feeling you get when someone is there?  yeah… that’s what woke me from my peaceful sleep just now (at 2 am).

Well, first i opened my eyes and just listened… i swear i heard breathing.  it gives me the shudders and shivers to even think of it now.

well, i turned on the light and no one was there.  so i got out of bed ready to pounce on the intruder using the delicate combination of a sleepy mind and brute strength (haha). all the doors were locked, my roommates are both peacefully snoozing and from what i can tell, no one else is here.

yet again, i find my first response to be one of fear.  it must have just been a creepy dream.  or some kind of attack.  But no matter what or who it was, God is the God who guards me while I sleep.  He is the one who protects me as I lie in my bed helpless to do anything.  He is the sustainer of my life against all forces of darkness.

Help me when I helpless lie,
when my conscience accuses me of sin,
when my mind is harassed by foreboding thoughts,
when my eyes are held awake by personal anxieties.

Show thyself to me as the God of all grace, love and power;
thou hast a balm for every wound,
a solace for all anguish,
a remedy for every pain,
a peace for all disquietude.

Permit me to commit myself to thee
awake or asleep.
A Puritan Prayer

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” Psalm 56:4

“My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts … but my heart is steadfast O God, my heart is steadfast!” Psalm 57:4,7

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23 :4

“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame, let not my enemies triumph over me.”  Psalm 25:1

“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.”  Psalm 31:7

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”  Psalm 34:17

“By day, the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night His song is with me, a prayer of God of my life.”  Psalm 42:8

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”  Psalm 46:1-3

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done  all to stand firm… in all circumstances, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end, keep alert with all perseverance.”  Ephesians 6:14,16-17

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  Philippians 4:8

“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  Matthew28:20