Surrounded by the Lord

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2 NIV

I love this verse. After rediscovering it several years ago, I personalized it and made it part of my early morning prayer each day. Before even getting out of bed, I gave the Lord my day and placed my times in his hands. Then along with a few basic requests, I added, “And Lord, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so surround me with your peace and your protection.”

Sometimes the thought of being surrounded brings up negative images, but that’s certainly not the case here. Not for me—not when it’s the Lord doing the surrounding.

I suppose if someone didn’t love the Lord or was trying to run or hide from him, it would be a frightening prospect to be surrounded by the Almighty. But for those who know and love him and look to him for help, great comfort lies in the precious knowledge of his surrounding presence and care.

The image of mountains, so strong and protective, surrounding a little town paints the perfect picture of what the Lord does for us, his people. The Lord stands guard, ever watchful, ever ready to protect and guide. He provides majesty and beauty, adventure and stability. He keeps us nestled in his peace as we look to him.

Each day let’s picture ourselves surrounded by the Lord. Let’s relax in his care. Let’s snuggle down into that place of peace he has reserved for us. Let’s fix our eyes on him. Let’s be surrounded by his peace.

“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.” Psalm 121 NIV

*When have you felt supernaturally surrounded by God’s peace?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by It’s No Game, Creative Commons License

A Tactic of the Enemy: An Opportune Time

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13 NIV

Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Savior, was well-acquainted with temptation during his days here on earth. Scripture tells us that immediately after Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit sent him into the desert where he was tempted by Satan for forty days (Mark 1:9-13.)

The gospels of Matthew and Luke show how the devil tried different tactics to cause the perfect Son of God to stumble and sin, but the enemy had no success. Jesus stood strong, using the Word of God as a shield and weapon against the devil’s schemes.

Satan lost the battle in the desert. As the above verse in Luke points out, he left Jesus—at least for the moment. He had plans though. Plans to attack again at an opportune time. And he did.

One of those times happened just after Jesus told his disciples he would suffer and be killed and then rise again on the third day (Mark 8:31-33.) When Peter tried to rebuke Jesus for speaking of such an unthinkable thing, Jesus recognized this as another temptation—another of the enemy’s attempts to cause him to stumble.

Satan must have thought Jesus would be more vulnerable as the time drew nearer for him to face death. Definitely, an opportune time to attack again. Combine that with the appeal of one of Jesus’ close friends, and he had the perfect opportunity indeed. But Jesus stood strong once again. “‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said.’” (Mark 8:33) He was ready to resist. Ready for Satan’s attacks during opportune moments.

Are we ready to resist when the enemy comes at us during times when we’re vulnerable or caught unaware?

What do our opportune times look like? Our opportune moments could come when we’re exhausted or sick or worried. They might happen when we experience either failure or success or when we’re on the cusp of a new venture or ministry (like Jesus’ temptation in the desert.) We’re especially vulnerable when we’ve neglected time in the Word or in prayer—when we’ve allowed ourselves to grow distant from Jesus or have become complacent in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be alert to Satan’s tactics. He will wait for an opportune time, and then he’ll be there, ready to tempt us. Will we be ready to resist?

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8 NIV

*What can you do to be ready for Satan’s attacks?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani, Creative Commons License

Vital Behind-the-Scenes Forces We Need

“. . . your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV

Work. Labor. Endurance. What images do these words bring to mind? We’re not talking marshmallows and kittens here. We’re talking rolled-up sleeves, sweat, and long-distance runs. We’re talking effort and strength.

Tasks and qualities like these that take strength and determination won’t happen by accident, will they? Behind-the-scenes forces such as planning, preparation, and prayer all play a role in carrying out our tasks, achieving our goals, or running the race life has placed before us.

In considering the scripture above, let’s look at the Thessalonian believers to whom the apostle Paul was writing. In spite of the severe suffering they faced (1 Thes. 1:6), they were at work serving God.

Notice the behind-the-scenes activity that Paul mentioned was present in their lives. How was their work produced? By faith. What prompted their labor? Love. What inspired their endurance? Hope. Hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s consider for a moment the behind-the-scenes forces present in our own lives. Among the many influences at work in us personally, is faith playing a key role in the work we do—whether our day-to-day work or our service to God? Is love the motive, the impetus behind our labor? Is hope spurring us on, helping us to endure so we can finish strong?

Let’s learn from the Thessalonian believers and make certain that faith, love, and hope are playing vital behind-the-scenes roles in our work and in our lives. Remember, it won’t happen by accident.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” Ephesians 3:16 NIV

*What can we do to strengthen one or more of these behind-the-scene forces in our lives?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Matt Trostle, Creative Commons License

Hungry For More: Ice Cream and God’s Word

Maybe just another bite. That’s what I often think as I’m standing at my kitchen counter eating ice cream straight out of the carton. I usually limit myself to three bites (or one if I’m trying to drop a pound or two), but sometimes it tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for just a little more. Just another bite to satisfy that craving.

I’ve found myself feeling that way as I close my Bible before too. As I start to put it away, I feel compelled to open it again for just another taste. I’m hungry for more. I need just another bite to satisfy my craving for God’s life-giving words.

Maybe it’s because my selected reading was kind of short for that day. Or maybe my spirit is searching for direction about something. But maybe the Word just tastes so darn good, I’ve gotta go in for a little more.

Whatever the reason, I follow the impulse to read a little more. I’m so glad I don’t have to limit myself to three bites of the Word like I do with my ice cream indulgences. In fact, the more I indulge in the Word, the better. And you know what? When I’m hungry for more, God always serves up a heaping portion of satisfaction. And I must say, it tastes awfully good!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103 NIV

*What part of the Bible have you been reading lately?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, comes out today. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)  Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by Mark BonicaCreative Commons License

Encouragement and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride, I’d love to start 2022 wedding planning off by offering you encouragement and wisdom straight from the Word of God. I’ve discovered over the course of my life that there is no better wisdom or encouragement to be found than what we find in the Bible.

You’ll be celebrating a wedding this year (or next perhaps)—and the demands of life may get a little overwhelming as you’re in prep mode. My prayer is that the following scriptures will provide the refreshment, encouragement, and wisdom you need to see you through to the big day and beyond. And if you’re hungry and thirsty for more after you read these, why not read a passage from the Bible each day. God is sure to provide just what you need!

Be blessed, MOB, as you drink in these precious life-giving words from the Word of God! (All scripture is taken from the NIV or NIV84 unless otherwise noted.)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

“. . .‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you . . .’” 1 Chronicles 28:20

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

“. . . ‘Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.’” Deuteronomy 33:12

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12

“ . . . wisdom is found in those who take advice.” Proverbs 13:10

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 124:8

“ . . . serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way…” 2 Thessalonians 3:16

*You might also like to read Spirit and Soul Refreshment for the Mother of the Bride and A Prayer for Weary Mothers of the Bride.

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*Flickr photo by charamelodyCreative Commons License