There Is Rest In God’s Presence

Exo 33:14
14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

I hate driving in downtown Atlanta. It has a lot of one way streets. Take a wrong turn, and you could be wandering through the maze of streets for what seems like forever.

I used to get sick at the thought of going there, panicked because I didn’t know where I was going. But THEN God said “Let there be GPS”, and it was good! All of a sudden, I had someone with me who knew exactly where to go and when to turn, and this machine gave me true rest. Why? Because I was no longer alone and trying to figure it all out by myself.

So much of our stress in life is caused by being in situations where we have no control and no idea how things will turn out. The unknown freaks us out more than we consciously acknowledge. Imagine knowing that someone else who knows the future and also knows where you are to go and what you are to do accompanies you everywhere. They may sit in the driver’s seat silently while you whine and cry, but they still get you where you need to be, and later you realize you made a fuss unnecessarily.

How much of our life do we spend as if God is our Co-pilot, when in reality, He should be the one flying the plane? If I ride in the car with my husband and I don’t know how to get where we’re going, that doesn’t freak me out. I trust that he is capable of getting me where I am going. Why don’t I do that with God?

One day, I hope I evolve to the point where I am not worrying about my clothes or food or bills, but enjoy the here and now with which He has blessed me. I want to be able to rest in His presence right now, where I am. I want to be able to let go of my tight grip on my demands for the future, which essentially leaves my hands too full to receive the blessings of today. However, I can only do this if I remember He is always with me.

Penny Haynes

Remembering What He Has Done For Us

Psa 86:13
13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Isa 43:25
25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

I don’t know about you, but in the everyday busy-ness of life, I forget exactly where I came from, and what Jesus did for me, as well as what He saved me from. Reading this scripture took me back to my salvation, at age 19, where I came to a cross in the road in my search for God. I had searched in Taoism, Buddhism, my ancestors’ religion – Judaism, and atheism. I searched everywhere except Christianity, because as a Jew, that was the worst thing I could do. Better a Buddhist than a Christian according to my family; becoming a Christian is basically the worst betrayal a Jew can do.

But although I gained an understanding of God’s omnipresence through Taoism, it wasn’t until I read the New Testament that I discovered a personal God that seemed to understand me. The writings of Paul were logical and expressed the truth regarding one of my pet peeves – a Jew is not one with a circumcision of the body, but a circumcision of the heart. I knew “Jews” who didn’t even believe in God, much less the Bible, and yet culturally and religiously I was encouraged to be Jewish because there were so few of us. Their argument never even included a reference to a relationship with God – it was like He didn’t even matter.

Before I came to Christ, I was lost, a sinner who would have to pay for her sins and spend eternity in hell. I was struggling with personal issues that Paul described in detail in Romans 7 – the bad things I didn’t want to do, those were the things I did, and the good things I wanted to do, I couldn’t. How could a man who lived 2000 years before read my thoughts and know me better than myself? Years of counselling couldn’t do for me what Paul did when he cried “Who shall deliver me from this wretched body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ!” He described my struggle, echoed my cry for help, and then gave me the answer. That convinced me that Christianity was the answer to my problems, struggles and quest for knowledge about God.

Today, I think about the 102 degree weather, and how hot I am sitting in this parked motorhome, but I rarely remember that my eternal destiny was going to be much worse than this before I gave my life to Jesus. I forget who I was and how I was, and from what misery I was rescued. And the loneliness – the horrible feeling that I was completely alone in this world – is gone forever. Even when I don’t see or feel Him, I know He is there.

And I have the hope of eternal life in heaven with Him now. No matter what else happens, my future is secure, and my past, present and future sins are paid for – all because Jesus paid for my sins by his voluntary death on the cross, and because I have responded to this gift of love by entrusting every area of my life to Him.

Thank You, Lord for reminding me of your great salvation so rich and free, and of the hell from which you rescued me. I love You, Lord.

Penny Haynes

He Is Faithful That Promised

He [is] faithful that promised.– Hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?– Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.– The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
Heb 10: 23.– Nu 23: 19.– Mt 24: 35.– Is 40: 8

Regardless of where you are or what you are going through, God hasn’t changed, nor has He moved. His promises remain true, because His powers have not lessened in any way. He is still everywhere at all times, all-knowing in every situation. Your problem has not caught Him off-guard, and He isn’t stumped about your issue.

He is still good, faithful and wise. His character hasn’t changed. He is eternally the same. He is trustworthy, even though we sometimes cannot tell what He is doing or why. This is what I must remember when Satan tries to discourage me from believing and trusting Him, and encourages me to base my feelings and thoughts on what I do (or do not) see.

Penny Haynes

Try Again

Luk 5:5
5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Here you are, having tried everything in your power to fix your situation, without apparent success. You are tired of trying, discouraged to the point of depression, and questioning everything you ever thought you knew about you, your situation, and God. You are worried about what tomorrow will bring since you weren’t able to fix things today.

Then God says, “Try again.”

“Really?”, you say incredulously. “Have You not seen what I have just gone through? I have done everything I know how to do. My body is exhausted from toiling, my mind is empty from analyzing all the angles, my head hurts, and my spirit is depleted. You want me to do what?”

“Try again. There is a difference now. This time I will be with you. ”

You just stare at Him. “What can trying one more time accomplish?”, you think to yourself. But then you stop thinking and questioning and just look into the eyes of the One who has spoken the command. He has an authority about Him that seems to transcend knowledge. Maybe, just maybe, this time will be different.

The other times you have tried to do things your way and in your own timing. You didn’t do it in response to His Word to you. But He has spoken that now is the time. The question is will you believe Him now and try again?

“Yes, Lord, I will try again.”

Luk 5:6
6 And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking;

You stand in awe of what He has done for you this time. This was not the answer to your prayer – it goes far and above what you had hoped and imagined. Your portion is pressed down and running over.

Luk 5:8
8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus ‘knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

You look toward Jesus, but can’t look Him in the eye. All you can think of is your own questioning faith and how you blamed Him before for not blessing your efforts, instead of waiting for His Word for you to obey.

But Jesus knows your thoughts, and tells you not to fear, but invites you to follow Him, to go where He goes and do as He does. He calls you to walk alongside him and minister to others. He uses you faith and obedience to change the lives of others – all because you were willing to try again.

Penny Haynes

Trying To Be Nice To Myself

Sometimes I just need to be nice to myself. I need to treat myself like I would treat my daughter. I’ve always liked to do things for my daughter, buy nice things for her (if I could afford it), build her up and make her feel good about herself.  I need to do the same things for myself.

Today I bit the bullet and bought some very light shirts I could wear alone, or over tank tops, to work – because I am always so hot, and it is 94 degrees here.  I had to push myself to do it, and wouldn’t let myself spend much money.  Three $9 shirts at Walmart I could do, and a $12.50 shirt and $15.00 coverup online I could so. I AGONIZED, however, over the $27.00 cover.  It’s not that I don’t have the money now, it’s that I truly feel I DON’T DESERVE IT.

I don’t believe I deserve any nice clothes until I’m thin. Period. And I can’t seem to change that outlook. I see other overweight women, and they dress up nicely. I don’t know how they do it. Doesn’t it bother them that they are overweight? I marvel at them, and how they just go right on through life not being bothered by their weight.  They have the audacity to just keep on going, and dressing nice as well. This is a mystery to me.

I wish I was one of those women.  I want to look nicer, but I feel like people would say, “Who is she fooling?  No matter what she wears, she is still fat!”.  But I know that is just ME saying that, projecting it onto other people.

I think Queen Latifah is BEAUTIFUL. Why can’t I act and feel beautiful, too? What is messing up my mind so badly? Is it comments and actions from my past (family members saying what a shame, and boys either making fun of me or simply ignoring me) that I am replaying, or are these just my own thoughts and beliefs?

I don’t know what to do about it. I know I am giving in to the lies of the enemy, as well as the media’s shameless demand that everyone be just short of emaciated, but I can’t see beyond my WIDTH. I don’t have any answers today – just sharing how I am feeling. I’ll let you know if dressing nicer makes me feel any better…

Penny Haynes

The Answer To A Downcast Soul

Psa 42:1-11
1 … As the hart pants after the water brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day, Where is your God?
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul on me; for I had gone with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God with the voice of joy and praise, a multitude keeping the feast.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and moan within me? Hope in God; for I shall praise Him for the salvation of His face.
6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; therefore I will remember You from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermons, from mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; all Your waves and Your billows have gone over me.
8 The LORD will command His loving- kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, my prayer to the God of my life.
9 I will say to God my rock, Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the cruelty of the enemy? 10 As with a sword in my bones, my enemies shame me; while they say daily to me, Where is your God?
11 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why do you moan within me? Hope in God; for I still praise Him, the salvation of my face, and my God.

We have great cause to mourn for sin; but being cast down springs from unbelief and a rebellious will; we should therefore strive and pray against it.
Matthew Henry Commentary

Hope is the eager expectation of something good happening. Think about when you have a check coming in the mail; you look forward to it, excited about it’s arrival, although you don’t know what day it will arrive. You just believe the person who says they have sent it (have faith in what they promised) and hope to receive it sooner than later. You may have so much faith that you make a purchase on your credit card, planning on using the money that has been promised to you and for which you eagerly await,

The problem happens when someone in your life repeatedly says a check is coming, but they never send it. We lose our faith in that person’s word, and lose our hope. We may hear that the person paid someone else, but not us, and that can make us feel angry or envious.

Many of us are discouraged and angry because we hear of other people “getting checks” that we want, and we can’t force the person to send us the check. That is when we must think back on the character of the person sending the check. Is He normally faithful and keeps His promised? If so, we must believe the Word He has spoken to us, and continue to eagerly expect the promise’s fulfilment.

Therefore, the answer to a downcast soul is to
– bring to mind the times when you have experienced personally, or have heard of someone else experiencing, God’s goodness,
– remember the unchanging nature of God’s faithfulness, and
– eagerly expect to experience His goodness in your life again (put your hope in God).

Having this hope gives you the desire to seek after God.
If you seek him, you will find Him.
If you find him, you will have everything you need to deal with your circumstances.

The psalmist looked to the Lord as his chief good, and set his heart upon him accordingly; casting anchor thus at first, he rides out the storm.
Matthew Henry Commentary

Penny Haynes

Trying Again After Failing

It is I; be not afraid.– When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I [am] the LORD thy God,… thy Saviour. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou [art] with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.– Emmanuel,… God with us.
DailyLight – ACTS 26: 15. Mt 14: 27.– Is 43: 2, 3. Ps 23: 4.– Mt 1: 23.

These verses comfort me this morning. As I come face to face with recent failures and their consequences, I struggle to maintain hope that I can overcome my flesh. There is no hope of me doing this in my own strength. I MUST have the power of the Holy Spirit; I must have the living Christ working in me and through me if I am to regain any sense of moderation and self-control in my life.

These failures are ones I have repeated throughout my entire life. The temptations have dragged me down without me even offering a fight for much of that time, and any battles I have won always seem so short-lived. I seriously cannot see myself enduring all the long days, weeks, months and years of fighting my demons and achieving my goal of continued self-discipline. If I think of having to accomplish this in my own strength, I’m done for before I even start.

Then I reach these verses, and a ray of hope shines through. Maybe, just maybe, if HE is with me, it IS possible. His presence changes everything and does make all things possible. He is WITH ME. I am not alone in this struggle with my own fleshly lusts. Maybe I can try again, one more time. Maybe I will go farther in my quest, get closer to my goal with Him beside me.

Yes, I am willing to get up, in hope, and try again. My failures and sins, although their results stare back at me in the mirror, are separated from me as far as the east is from the west. I am still free to open these prison doors and escape from the self-imposed sentence I have been living under. I will try again, but I will have to rely on His presence and power to get through every hour, and to remain hopeful on this journey through my struggles.

Penny Haynes

Not Seeing Him As He Truly Is

1Jo 3:2
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Maybe we are not like Him because we do not see Him as He truly is. According to this verse, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. What does this mean?

It makes me think of two things.

1) As we have discussions in the Christian Women With Depression Facebook group, I notice the recurring theme of us reading God’s Word (especially the Old Testament) and being confused about how God truly is. His actions and words in the Bible, as well as what He allows and does not allow to happen in the present and past, seem not to always mesh with the kind, loving and forgiving Person we find in the incarnation of Jesus. We have based our ideas of who He is based on our often confused and conflicting information we have about God. We can’t quite reconcile the different aspects of God’s personality, and it can make us doubt God’s goodness and loving-kindness.

Does He love us, or is He annoyed with us? Does He forgive us and remember our sins no more, or do our children suffer for our mistakes? Is He patient with us and long-suffering, or is He frustrated and quick-tempered with us, maybe even vindictive and vengeful? Whatever we think He is, whether we get it right or wrong, will affect how we interact with Him and others.

2) If children grow up repeating the behaviors modelled in front of them by their parents, then is it possible that we will also repeat the perceived behaviors of our heavenly Father? If we think He is grudging and grumpy and annoyed by us, will we be grudging and grumpy and annoyed with others? If we think He is kind, loving and just, will we attempt to express those characteristics as well? If we are shown mercy, will we show mercy? If we feel we are always being judged for our lack of perfection, will we judge others by that same standard?

If either of these things are true, that would explain how the way we see God affects whether or not we are becoming truly like Him. It provides another reason to spend time alone in His presence, and in His Word, and experiencing the love of Christ through fellowship. The more we know about Him, the more we will become like Him, so when we see Him as He truly us, we will act accordingly.

What do you think?

Penny Haynes

Do You Know His Name?

Psa 9:9-10
9 The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
10 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

What does it mean to know the name of the Lord? I think it means several things.

1) When you know someone more intimately (as opposed to as a passing acquaintance), you know their name; it is a sign of some level of relationship. One of the things that used to bother me in my marriage was that my husband rarely used my name. To this day, he basically just starts talking and I’m supposed to know he is talking to me. I, on the other hand, usually preface my conversations with him by saying his name, to let him know I’m talking to him.

However, when he DOES say my name, it means something, normally that he is being playful or affectionate. Saying my name (especially my middle name, which no one uses) is a sign of our having a special and intimate relationship. Hearing my name spoken in some way makes me feel more important to someone.

2) God has many names which reflect His different qualities, actions and characteristics. To know any of God’s names means you have experienced an encounter with Him that related to that particular name.

When you have experienced God meeting your need, you have known Jehovah Jireh. When you have experienced God’s healing, you have known Jehovah Rapha. When you have experienced God’s righteousness washing away your sins, you have experienced Jehovah Tsidkenu. You can personally refer to those names of God because you have experienced firsthand the truth and meaning behind those names, or in faith you believe Him to be those things which His Word says He is, and to do those things which He has promised.

Therefore, it makes sense that if we have an intimate relationship with Him where we have experienced for ourselves the truth of His provision, healing and righteousness, we will trust Him more, and continue to seek Him. Here are some more names of God; which of these names or characteristics have you personally experienced?

El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
El Elyon (The Most High God)
Adonai (Lord, Master)
Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
El Olam (The Everlasting God)
Elohim (God)
Qanna (Jealous)
Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)

Penny Haynes

I Will Be Satisfied When I Am Like Him

Psa 17:15
15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.

Imagine awaking and being just like Jesus. It would be like awakening from a bad dream during a thunderstorm to find the sun is shining and all is right with the world. No more struggling to be like Him; I WOULD be like Him.

I would finally be satisfied with myself, because I would embody love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control. I would be free from the power of sin over my life. I would be in unbroken fellowship and communication with God. I would see God as He truly is, not as through a mirror dimly. I would also understand the big picture of His plan, and not get upset when things don’t go as I had thought they should happen.

I see little glimpses of what I will be like while still in this present life. I have flashes of love, patience and goodness, and occasionally even self-control. Much of my dissatisfaction in life stems from my disappointment with myself and my ability to do what I know is right. The other dissatisfaction comes when people and God don’t do what I want them to do. If I was like Jesus, I would have an accurate perspective, so I wouldn’t get so warped out of shape with others so often.

This is the prize for which Paul pressed forward – to be like Jesus. This is what was meant by everything working for our good – we would be conformed into His image. This is why the race is run, and why the great crowd of witnesses is cheering us on.

And the best part is that one day, we WILL be like Him, and it won’t be a dream. It is a PROMISE.

Penny Haynes