Brace Yourself!

Brace yourself! This is the phrase that we use to prepare ourselves for some impending negative event. It may be physically holding on to something in preparation for jolting or even a collision. It could even relate to preparing yourself for news that may move you emotionally.

As bracing yourself may seem to work in the physical world, it does not work in the spiritual. However, what will work is if the Lord braces you.

1 The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion; (Psalm 20:1-2)

In this time of distress for David, he is looking for the Lord to send him help and strength. The strength he is seeking is comfort and to be held up. Another meaning for the word strength would be to brace. David is not bracing himself for the trial that he faces, but he is asking the Lord to brace him.

When I think of the Lord bracing us for trials, I picture a parent with a child. Imagine a small child in the arms of a father as they face a frightening experience like a thunderstorm. With each flash and bang of the storm, the child buries their head in the father’s chest as the father tightly braces the child. The father’s embrace may not be able to stop the storm, but it does bring security and strength to the child.

As we face the storms of life, God wants to brace us for them. He may not choose to remove the storm, but with his tender embrace, he will provide us the comfort and strength that we need.

Thankfully his loving embrace in these times is based on his mercy and grace. Because of this, we can always count on the father to be there for us. As you face storms in life, bury your head into the chest of your heavenly father and experience his strong loving embrace.

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Did God Forget Me? (Psalm 9:12)

When people forget about you and your needs, it is a hurtful experience. It conveys the absence of love and concern. There are times in our lives when we face trials and difficulties and it appears as if God has forgotten us. We pray and ask for deliverance, but nothing happens. Has God forgotten us?

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble. (Psalm 9:12)

God has not forgotten you. His love and concern has not been set aside and your life and its concerns have not been mislaid or lost. God has heard your cry, he knows the problems that you face and the heaviness in your heart that you carry because of it.

So, why doesn’t he answer? Why doesn’t he deliver? But he has and he will. God has heard your prayers and is providing the grace that you need. Many of learn the grace and truth go hand-in-hand. It seems that you cannot have the one without the other. God I want you exposed to truth concerning him and buy the truth he will be able to exercise grace in your life. Paul experienced this and wrote about it. God’s grace was sufficient for him because of his reliance on the truth of the power of Christ.

Until your actual deliverance comes, expose yourself to the word of God: read it, listen to the testimony of others, attend church services and listen to the preaching of God‘s word and God will begin working his grace in your life.

How long must you rely on this grace until the deliverance comes cannot be known. Remember as God works in the details of your life, he is also working in the lives of others. He wants to use grace in your life to shine as a light to the lost. He also may be working in the lives of others to bring them to repentance before he moves his hand in judgment or chastening. Until then, you must wait on him. Thankfully because of his grace, you will be able to endure.

…he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.

Not Good to Wrestle

It was a number of years ago when my beautiful and fruitful garden was being destroyed by an intruding groundhog. In an effort to rid myself of the varmint, I bought a muskrat trap and set it in the garden. It was not long until I received a distressful phone call from my wife informing me that a “kitty cat”was caught in the trap. I quickly drove home from the office to attempt springing the cat from the trap and setting it free. However as I tried to get close enough to open the trap, the cat fought vigorously and kept me from setting it free. I eventually removed its strength by covering it with a blanket and then released the trap. He eventually ran free. As I pondered what happened, I ask myself, “I wonder how many times I am like this cat: fighting God because I think he is trying to do some unwanted thing in my life when he is really only trying to help me?

Jacob, who later became Israel, was like that. (Gen. 32:25) He schemed and plotted all of his life-that was until he was all alone and ready to face Esau. God was not going to allow Jacob to continue in his way. He confronted him and physically wrestled him from progressing forward until he recognized his weakness and inability. Man’s pride never allows him to yield so God had to break Jacob. He did this by touching him in the thigh which was his greatest place of strength. He did not break him to make him a failure, he broke him in order to make him a victor.

Jacob went from wrestling against God to clinging to him and asking him for a blessing. By asking for a blessing, he revealed his dependence on God and no longer in himself. He gain the strength of a prince with God by being broken as a man.

We too can be like Jacob. Situations in life that we find ourselves fighting against may be the instruments God is using to break us of our own strength and self-reliance. It would be best that we go to God with these situations and then yield ourselves to him for the work that he wants to accomplish. Whether the problems go away or remain, we—like Jacob—will receive God‘s blessing.

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)

The Shepherd Leads to Restore

Did you ever get in your car to go somewhere only to recognize that you had taken the wrong route and out of habit started driving to work? The route back on track is quite simple for a trip like this. However, if you were taking an extended trip and missed a turn some 25 miles back, the way to get back on track would be more difficult and time consuming.

Sometimes, we find ourselves turned away from God. Depending on how long we are in that state before recognizing or desiring to return will affect the route back to God and how long it will take. Regardless of whatever the situation, if you are turned away from God, the shepherd will provide leadership to restore you.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)

The way back to the lord will vary slightly from person to person, but the shepherd will guide you back in the same basic manner.

First, the shepherd will lead you to recognize that you are away from him. This may seem basic, but it is not. It is the Lord who gives repentance and when he reveals to you that you have drifted or turned from him, he is doing a mighty work in your life that only he can do. (2 Timothy 2:25)

It is at this point that you must yield to him and if you do, he will continue to lead you on and his leading will bring you to see the stumbling blocks that you have allowed into your life. He will point out things such as people, places, entertainment or indulgences that are keeping you from victory and experiencing the joy that he has for you. By the power and leading of the shepherd, he will lead you to remove those obstacles.

The path, that the shepherd lead you back to himself, will bring you to resources for victory. Because truth brings victory and freedom, he will lead you to the truth that you need. You will find it in the Scriptures which may be revealed by friends and spiritual leaders. Evidence that you are following the shepherd towards truth will be when you are seeking truth from the Scriptures and attending services in the church. Truths from the word of God will usually encourage your faith and may instruct you as to what you may need to put off or put on in your spiritual life. (Ephesians 4:22-32; Romans 13:12; Colossians 3:8-14)

Another source of truth may come from spiritual music, which can minister to you and equip you with your worship and walk with the Lord. Your times of rejoicing in the Lord will be greater steps of progress on your way back. As your heart is lifted up in song, it is actually the shepherd interacting with you and lifting you up as he lead you along the path back to himself and to victory.

While you were fallen away from God, you hurt yourself and others. The Lord will lead you to repair the damaged relationships that your sin has caused. The shepherd is not only interested in delivering you from actions of sin: he also wants to restore you to himself and to others because he is concerned about relationship. It was his desire to have a relationship with you the caused him to seek you out and to lead you to trust his son. His desire and concern for relationships did not stop there. Relationships are vital to the Lord. The church, your family, your life as a child of God and your interactions with the world are all relationships that concerned him. The only way for those relationships to be right is for your relationship with him to be right and as a shepherd, he will restore you to that relationship by leading you to himself.

Remember, the steps back to him may be many or few, but they will involve recognizing your condition of being astray, removing stumbling blocks from your life, obtaining resources of truth for victory and repairing relationships.

Fruits of Righteousness (Philippians 1:11)


At one time, I was traveling each week to some point in the country for a speaking engagement. At first, my trips were ill prepared leaving me many times at a hotel without all of essentials that I needed. Eventually, I created a packing list. It was a listed all the items that I needed for traveling and the list remained in the suitcase. In the event that I traveled and discovered that I had a new need, I would add that item to the list. Eventually, I had the perfect list. All I needed to do was check and make sure that everything on the list was packed and if it was, I was set.

Some people try to use the same process in their spiritual lives. They have a list and it contains the “do’s” and “don’ts” for righteous living. In their minds, if they do the things on the “do” list and refrain from items on the “don’t” list, then they are spiritual. I really wish it were that easy, but it is not.

Being spiritual is when a person lives as God expects them to live. In other words, the actions of the person’s life will be righteous. The problem is that any action that may appear to be righteous can also be sinful. For example, is giving to the poor a spiritual or righteous action? It could be, but it also could be sinful. If a person gave because God led them to give, then the action would be spiritual or righteous. However, if the person gave so that they would be recognized, then the same action would be sinful.

Being spiritual cannot be reduced to a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”. Instead, the spiritual life of living as God expects and desires is accomplished by abiding or dwelling in Jesus. When we do this, Jesus lives his righteous life through us. This is know as grace living. Grace living is when God empowers us by living his life through us and the righteous actions of our lives then are really though Jesus Christ.

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:11)

Instead of trying to manufacture a righteous life, why not instead focus on abiding with Christ. As you do, he will enable you to live beyond your ability. If you don’t, you will experience so much frustration and failure, because without his empowerment, you can do nothing.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Propped Up (Psalm 37:23-24)



A number of years ago, my son came to me for help. It seemed that through a series of wrong decisions, he had found himself in a very poor state spiritually: sin seems to do that. Although I was greatly disappointed, I willfully stepped in to help. My support was not based on the severity of his situation, but instead on my love for him.   

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24

From this passage, we can see that good men, walking in the direction of the Lord, will fall and it is not of their own volition that they get back up and continue on for the Lord. They don’t get up: in fact it is the Lord who lifts them up and supports them to stand again.

You have seen card board cut outs of people, which contain a prop in the back to keep it standing. This item illustrates what the Lord does for us. When we can’t get up, he picks us up. When we cannot stand, he props us up. Whatever victory we get, it will not be based on our self will or determination. It will be based on the goodness of God and his support and strength in our lives.

When you fall, instead of trying harder, look to God for the support and strength you need. He will be there for you and do the work that only he can do.

As for my son, he too found strength that only God could bring to him. He stood him up, established his feet and has been guiding him to victory ever since.

Gird Up (1 Peter 1:13)


We tie up the turkey so that its appearance on the plate is more desirable. I tie up my tomato plants so that they have support in growing and I tie up the dog when I put him out to do his business so the that little bandit won’t run away. Why do we tie things up? We tie things up for their benefit or safety.

Spiritually speaking, we should do the same. The Scriptures admonished us to gird up our minds. 

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:13)

The reason we are told to do so is because it is at that point that we get and maintain the victory. If you control how you think, you will control your actions. The apostle Paul stated it another way.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Both passages involved reeling in the thoughts of your mind. Those which don’t belong we need to recognize and cast down and those which are right should remain and we should continually think on them. (Phil. 4:8)

With our mind girded, we should be on guard and watch. Sober and watch are used interchangeably and it is this task that guards our hearts and minds. Jesus admonished his disciples with the same message: keep my commandments.  

Spiritually speaking, God wants us to closely watch and guard the commandments in our hearts. Keep sake, keep hold, the keep (the strongest part of a castle), she’s a keeper are all terms describing the act of watching or guarding a possession. Since the term keep means to watch or guard, then God wants us to guard our hearts and minds and keeping the commandments is to keep the thoughts that should remain in it.  

If you wait to govern yourself at the action level, you experience much failure and frustration. What you should do is gird up the loins of our minds with the commandments of God. Remember, how you think determines how you act.