Shelter from the Storms

Life can deliver some pretty horrendous ‘storms’.  Storms of nature can often be survived, by taking shelter inside or under sturdy structures that will not succumb to the powerful forces of nature.

Psalm 55:1  Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!  For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.  (NKJV)

The storms and troubles that beset us as humans can be many, and we might flounder and seek guidance from wrong sources.  When we are overwhelmed by the ‘stuff’ of our lives and we feel we have nowhere to run to, or anyone to turn to, let us remember that God can and does offer us complete spiritual and emotional safety and protection.  To receive this we need to welcome Him into our lives and trust Him.  We need to cover ourselves with His armour each and every day, giving thanks for all that we have – family, friends, homes and work. 

I am lax at times, in doing this – but as my day struggles to begin I quickly realize that I have allowed myself to become distracted with a myriad of  routines that quickly devour the peace of each day, if I allow them to.

I then quietly settle my thinking and focus on donning the helmet of salvation; the breastplate of righteousness and the belt of truth.  I ‘place’ the shoes of the gospel of peace on my feet and pick up the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit, take a deep breath and THEN begin my day again; this time with right thinking and with God’s purpose.  (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Prayer:  Father God, in our efforts to be good and faithful, we sometimes get caught in the deluge of lifes’ storms.  Help us to seek and find the right shelter; discern best help as well as, the safest place to be that we might be protected from all that is not of You.  In Jesus Name. Amen

Patricia Day


In The Midst Of Wolves

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus had no hesitation in sending his disciples out into a hostile environment.

What did He want us to know when he warned his disciples?

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Matthew 16:10

Jesus certainly didn’t expect his disciples to be devoured. They had a message to deliver. A story to ensure. A ministry to perform. A hope to offer.  A mission to complete.

Jesus knew exactly what He was doing when He commissioned His disciples to witness of the truth. He knew his disciples would meet snarling, angry adversaries. He knew. Yet, Jesus sent them anyway. He forewarned them and instructed them to be “wise as serpents”. Serpents, snakes. They are cautious and careful. They know how to hide in crevices when danger comes their way. They know how to settle in and wait till the time is right, then strike quickly and move on.

Serpents are considered deceitful, and full of guile–as was the serpent in the Garden of Eden. From that day on, the LORD condemned them to slither on the ground and eat the dust of man. Serpents have the power to instill fear in the hearts of man and woman. They have the intuition to confound. Yet, serpents, according to Jesus, are wise. Though His disciples were to be as wise as serpents, Jesus instructed them to be “harmless as doves”–or guileless, innocent…without leaving poisonous venom behind. Without the deceit of their adversaries. Innocent. Pure. Sacrificial. Filled with truth.

A dove is one of the most docile of birds.

Once when my son was a teenager, he took me out to an apple tree to show me a mother dove sitting on her nest of eggs. As he pulled back the leaves, she sat there. Undisturbed. Seemingly fearless. Perhaps her bravery was because she was protecting her own. I do not know. But when I read how Jesus instructed us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, this picture of the mother dove comes to mind.

Of course we could have harmed her. We could have knocked her out of her nest and crushed her eggs. But she simply stared at us. Her heart may have been beating a mile a minute, but we were not privy to her fear…she seemed harmless and she treated us as harmless. Perhaps she was as wise as a serpent. To have left her nest, it could have been the certain demise for her young. She was willing to take the fall, be sacrificed if need be, to protect and care for her own.

As we witness and go about our Judeas, Jerusalems, and uttermost parts of the earth, we might remember well the fearlessness of that mother dove. As Christians we have our LORD’s might and truth to protect us “in the midst of wolves”. We dare not leave the nest and let our adversaries destroy our young. We must sit in the face of peril. We must stare it down if need be. Then if we are destroyed, we will have fought the good fight and died without shame as a legacy for those who come after us.

PRAYER: Lord, give us Your wisdom to listen before we speak and act. To think before we write. Let us be ever mindful to do no harm as we walk in the world of adversaries who hate You.  Give us courage wherein You call us to go out into the midst of wolves.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

Set Free

He could not sleep.  He had no solutions.  He felt overcome with anguish and brokenness.  He did all he knew to do.  Ideas eluded him as much as sleep.  His mind was tired.  His body was exhausted.  He felt as though every fiber of his being was being pulled in a dozen directions.  He felt like the walls were closing in around him, the ceiling pressing down upon him.

“Out of my distress I called upon the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free and in a large place.” Psalm 118:5

Sometimes it is out of complete and utter exhaustion we come to the point of crying out to the Lord.  Sometimes we are so comfortable doing things our way that the Lord introduces specific difficulties which we cannot handle.  We have problems we cannot solve.  We have questions we cannot answer.  Our body, soul, and spirit are simply empty.  When we reach this point, we turn to God and let Him know we need Him.  We cannot deal with life another moment without His divine intervention.  The mountain is too high.  The water is too deep.  We feel smothered, closed in and surrounded by our trials.  Out of that distress, we cry out to the Lord.

He answers us and sets us free from the bondage of self-sufficiency and stress.  He puts us in a spacious place where we can breathe again.

I don’t like close places.  I’m not claustrophobic, but I don’t like small spaces all that much.  I like it when elevator doors open.  I want to drive in front of an eighteen-wheeler and not behind it.  I cringe when aisles in stores are cluttered with stock waiting to be placed on shelves.  I love to drive in wide-open spaces of Oklahoma.  I love to see horizons far away, to look down from Mt. Scott and stare at the vast lakes, ponds, roads, and distant mountain peaks.  Spaciousness.  It’s so liberating.

I can understand how David felt in his struggle in this Psalm.  When God frees us from the burdens we carry, it indeed feels like He has placed us in a large spacious place.  We can finally breathe, deep cleansing breaths.  It’s then I am compelled to praise Him for His glory, for His presence, for His power, and His grace which sets us upon His solid rock of mercy and compassion.

Are you feeling crushed?  Distressed?  Pressured by the world’s demands?  Take a walk, or ride.  Find your open space…lie on the ground and stare into the sky through tree branches.  Thank God for His freedom and deliverance.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

Take Captive Your Thoughts

As I write these words, my thoughts dance from the keyboard to the television, to what I did today, to what I plan to do tomorrow.  It is hard to keep my focus on one thing.  No matter what I’m doing, there is always something else popping into my mind.  It absolutely amazes me when I ask my husband what he’s thinking and he says, “Nothing.”  How can one not think?  I can’t stop my thinking lest I sleep and even then my pre-bedtime thinking bleeds over into dreams. 

James writes, “…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (3:8-9.)

Thoughts are equally, if not more, difficult to corral.  For instance, we can see people and think they are hateful, yet we would rarely, if ever, go up and tell them they are hateful.  We may think people we talk to are jealous, but we wouldn’t say it to their faces.  A boss, a co-worker, a sales-clerk, a customer, a waitress, a husband, a teacher, a student.  When we interact with people we all face situations in which our emotions can rule our thinking.  To me, it seems harder to tame one’s thoughts than one’s tongue.  What must we do to tame our tongue?  Consider our own condition, our own sin, our own weaknesses.

“I said, “I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.  I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good;  And my sorrow was stirred up.  My heart was hot within me; While I was musing, the fire burned.  Then I spoke with my tongue: LORD, make me to know my end.  And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.”  Psalm 39:1-5 NKJ

“We guard our ways”…we consider what we do, we pause, we contemplate and weigh the consequences of our words.  We recognize our own flaws and weaknesses and do not think ourselves greater than another.  When we do this, we refrain from speaking rashly, or impulsively. We control our emotions.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-6

We have the power.  In Christ we have power through His Holy Spirit.  It’s “divine power” to destroy strongholds–things that wrestle with our thoughts and devotion.  We cannot know what we really will say and do in a particular situation.  We may know what we’d like to say, what we’d prefer to do–yet, still fail to control ourselves.  We need to yield our pride and emotions, and self-sufficiency into the hands of God.  We need to keep our minds on Jesus and His presence in our lives.  We need to obey our Lord and “fret not” for He is with us.

The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are a mere breath. {11)…When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.{16). Psalm 94

PRAYER:  Delight our souls, O Lord.  Fill our hearts with your consolations.  Help us recognize our constant need of Thee, dear Father.  Take captive our thoughts and replace them with thoughts of You alone, so we do not sin against You.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011

In Hours of Darkness

My granddaughters and I stood in awe as we left the steak-house one evening last week.  Against a backdrop of ominous black clouds, an enormous full moon hung in our Oklahoma sky.  I longed for a camera with a shutter speed fast enough to capture its beauty and splendor.  Instead, I took a deep breath and watched as the ebony clouds slowly but surely passed across its face and painted it shades of grey.  Soon it was gone–hidden behind a blanket of charcoal.  I was sad to see it disappear but could not forget the light it left inside my heart.  I felt a bit tinier, but a lot more secure.  So great is the expanse of our world, yet so much greater is the Creator who holds it all together, who turns us on our axis.  There’s peace in knowing that, don’t you think?  After all, Solomon assured us:

 “The Lord has said that He would dwell in the thick darkness.” II Chr. 6:1

Darkness has a way of conjuring up evil imagery–and understandably so, since so many crimes are committed in the dark.  But God made his promise to be in the midst of darkness.  He never leaves His own.  When darkness covers our reason, understanding and view, God stands everpresent with sheltering arms and strong hands of protection.  When shadows dance across our path and obscure our vision of where to go and how to move, we can still depend on the still voice behind our right ear directing our steps.

“Listen in silence before Me…” God instructs. (Isaiah 41) “Fear not…for I am with you; For I the Lord your God hold your right hand:  I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you.  Fear not; I will help you.  I will open rivers on the bare heights.  I will make the wilderness a pool of water.”

Isn’t it amazing?  Each new day brings light to our darkest abyss.  Even in our darkest night the moon still glows.  Oh, maybe not on our specific spot, but somewhere in the world its light reflects God’s glory and heavenly handiwork–His omnipresent character.  In our darkest hour God dwells in the thickness of its cover and the shadows of our uncertainty and fear.

PRAYER:  Lord, thank you for Your ever-present help in days and hours of confusion.  Thank you for Your steadfast power and majesty.  Thank you for Your Word to guide us, and Your Spirit Who comforts and reminds us You are ever-faithful to us.  Amen.

© Hariette Petersen, SelahV Today, 2011