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Posts Tagged ‘wilderness’

The past few weeks have brought story after story of heartbreak and pain for many of my friends and family. Brokenness, loss,  relapse, destructive choices have caused heavy hearts, fear, even despair.

In my years of walking the heights and depths of prodigal wilderness, God’s Word has been a refuge, a haven, a place of courage and hope.  These are some the passages that have infused my heart and mind with peace and gratitude in even the darkest days.  May they do the same for you.

Jeremiah 24:6,7:  My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.  I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.  They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

Jeremiah 31:16,17:  This is what the Lord says:  Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded.  They will return from the land of the enemy.  So there is hope for your descendants.  Your children will return to their own land.

Isaiah 54:13:  All your children will be taught by the lord, and great will be their peace.

Isaiah 59:21:  As for me, this is my covenant with them.  My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of descendants from this time on and forever, says the Lord.

Job 42:12:  The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.

Philippians 1:6:  Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Romans 2:4:  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance.

A blessing for you from Psalm 20:  May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.  May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God.  May the Lord grant all your requests.

Psalm 21:6:  Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

Deuteronomy 31:8:   The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.

Colossians 3:12-13:  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

James 1:5:  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,  who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Hebrews 4:16:  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I Thessalonians 5:18:  In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 34:5-7:  For those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.  The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Psalm 34:18-19:  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Isaiah 60:22:  I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly.

What about you?  How has God encouraged you in a wilderness journey?

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I’m on the road again, and once again a Redbud Writer has provided a guest post for me.  Margaret Philbrick shares from her journey.

“Can God set a table in the wilderness?”  Psalm 78:19

10 years.  Not really that long when compared to 40 years of Israelites wandering in the wilderness.  But when you’re in your 40’s and 10 years is one quarter of your lifetime, it seems like a long time to be wandering in the wilderness, looking for a home.

Our church, Church of the Resurrection, www.churchrez.org, lost our building when we left the Episcopal Church in 1993.  We met in schools, gyms, even tents.  We became fluid, agile, adaptable to a freedom in the Holy Spirit which can come when we release ourselves from the tangible things of the earth.  Our fellowship grew.  People liked meeting in a school with our money going to ministry and not into a building.

But a few of us longed for a home… so we started driving the suburbs, scouring for empty warehouses or affordable vacant land.  After years of looking, we found the perfect spot, a 22-acre parcel in the midst of a picturesque neighborhood with a large pond, giant trees and an open, flat area to build our church upon.

It seemed like a no-brainer

I was given the task of leading this effort which in the beginning seemed like a “no-brainer.”  Who would not want a beautiful new church in the middle of their well-thought- out cul-de-sacs and country roads?

After 18 months of planning, thousands of dollars of exploration and endless hours of prayer, the County Board voted against our project.  The neighbors didn’t want it and they fought us with a vehemence befitting a mother Saber Tooth Tiger protecting her cubs, even to the point of spitting upon and swearing at members of our church in public hearings.

The end result of our hopeful journey was one of disappointment and pain.  Something I believed in as God’s will for our faithful, loving community vanished in a 30-second vote.  I will never forget how, moments before the vote, as we all sat there holding our breath, one of our pastors turned to me and said, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

“She’s not dead, only sleeping.”

We thought about suing the County and held a tearful meeting in our home, calling upon many church leaders to share what we should do next.  A wise woman shared Luke 8:52 in which Jesus responds to the death of Jairus’ daughter, “She’s not dead, only sleeping.”  We didn’t file a lawsuit and I clung to this verse in the coming years of waiting on God for the next step.

God sets a table in the wilderness by the giving of his word through his faithful people.  As we seek him for His way with our lives, we pray and wait.  In the waiting he comes.  Sometimes in dreams and visions, but so often he comes with the still, small voice of his word.  How many times have you heard just the right verse given to you for a particular challenge you are facing and you say to yourself, “That just can’t be a coincidence?”  It isn’t.  The important step of obedience is our listening and looking for it.

The wise woman was right.  Our church building project was asleep for a time, but the Lord, as only he can do, awakened us to a building that is so much better than the piece of land we thought was “perfect.”  Last night we rode our bikes over to look at it under construction.  Pressing our sweaty faces against the glass we saw steel beams being put in place and staircases ascending.  We hope to move in by the end of this year and we will be inviting people from the neighborhood, who cast us out.

Psalm 23:5  “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies, you anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.”

 

Margaret Philpbrick identifies herself as “author, gardener, teacher.”  You can read more about her and from her at www.margaretphilbrick.com and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/margaret.philbrick.9.

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