Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Encouragement and Hope

One phrase stood out to me today in these two verses:

May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself
and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us
eternal encouragement and good hope by grace,
encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

What an appropriate prayer for every person on my prayer list!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Shield, My Refuge, My Secret Place

I am praying through a prayer of St. Patrick, one phrase at a time, and today's phrase was “Christ as a shield, overshadow me.” This was just what I needed to pray today: I've been anxious and simply not peaceful for a few days.

Then I opened A Heart that Hopes in God by Catherine Martin and the next segment was "The Secret Place in the Trial." This reading brought me to Psalm 31:8, which told me that my heavenly Father won't hand me over to the enemy but He has set my feet in a "spacious place." I meditated on that for awhile and I could see that when anxiousness is a cage, the Lord has a far more spacious refuge for me. I looked up a suggested cross-reference and found Job 36:16: "Indeed He lured you from the jaws of distress to a spacious and unconfined place." I pictured worry as a dragon with jaws open to devour me, and the Lord as my Shining Knight rescuing me.
Another verse in the reading was Psalm 46:1, which reminded me of my refuge and strength, my "helper who is always found in times of trouble" and I realized that He is always found, but only if I look.

Catherine Martin quoted F.B. Meyer's description of the secret place as "the royal withdrawing room." Last week I watched a travel program where I saw the interior of a Georgian house in Dublin. The tour guide said that the term "Drawing Room" came from "Withdrawing Room," and it was the place where the family would withdraw after a meal. I thought of the spiritual nourishment the Lord gives me each day, and how He invites me to withdraw from the hustle and bustle of life to enjoy His presence.

Next I read a few pages of Ruth Myers' 31 Days of Prayer, where I found this beautiful prayer:

Strengthen and renew me through Your Word, keeping me from sin--
so that time after time I may know the refreshment that comes from Your presence.
Next my daily reading in Psalms brought me to Psalm 68. Verse 35 says
"God, You are awe-inspiring in Your sanctuaries.
The God of Israel gives power and strength to His people. May God be praised!"

In the sanctuary--the refuge, the secret place--I meet the awesome Lord, and He provides power and strength.

Lord, how I need Your shielding today--shielding from anxiousness and worry especially.
Forgive me Lord for sometimes looking at myself and my troubles instead of my refuge.
Lord, Your presence is my shield and my refuge today. As my kids get up from their naps and our household activities continue, keep me resting in Your secret place.