Category Archives: Refined by the Word

What cave???

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I know because I talk to people and I read other writings, posts and status’s that we are all busy, busy, busy. 

Time, and life, is accelerating and if you don’t believe me; even little kids think time goes too fast. 

When I was a child, summer was sooooooooo long.

Waiting for Christmas and my birthday, car rides and sitting at the table while my parents finished their coffee after dinner was nothing short of an eternity. 

But I hear even young ones today say how fast time has gone so … it must be an acceleration. 

And as I hurtle through my days, I sometimes realize I have mentioned on here how I am going to tell you something and then other thoughts flit across my brain and I never get it down in type. 

Last week, I alluded to a Psalm of David that I wanted to share about. Or maybe it was just in my own head that I planned to address it…whoops…there I go again.

Before I let more time steal this thought I want to make sure I get it out of my head and onto this place where we meet.

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Last Tuesday my devotional reading was based on Psalm 142. 

As I turned to the passage in my Bible, I noted this particular song was written by David and in the tiny italic type under the big number 142 it says..

A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer. 

Well, if you know me…I had to get some questions answered before I could even move on to the psalm, devotion and anything else God might be wanting me to take away. 

First off, I had to find out what a “maskil” is. Turns out it is a literary style – a kind of instruction. 

Easy peasy. What is David teaching us?

But then I wanted to know what cave????

Because obviously this had to be very important, right?

It is noted as “the” cave, so it had to be a specific cave and I wanted to know which one it was because I am learning that things like this knowledge will give me a greater grasp of understanding the meaning of the passage I am studying. 

So I googled it….and I read the notes in my Bible…and I read a huge passage of Matthew Henry’s commentary…(and I think we all are beginning to understand why time getting away from me may be an issue)…

and guess what I found out?

All of those sources agree that they don’t know if it was the cave of Adullam or the cave of Engedi. 

This led to a rabbit trail of great proportions as I then followed up with the passages that hold the account of his experiences in these two caves and then I poured another cup of coffee and wondered why on earth my bible would include “when he was in THE cave” and it isn’t really a specific cave and then it hit me.

The geographical location of the cave is not the point. 

It was the circumstances IN the cave that made THE cave special.

Because both caves were really the same cave.

The cave where he was held captive by circumstances not of his choosing.

In both of these caves he faced the depth of betrayal.

It was the confusion of having been anointed as the future King of Israel and then running for his life. 

It was being banished and then having his family and all the outcasts and rubble and apparent riff-raff that didn’t make the cut in Saul’s kingdom coming to find him and say…lead us. 

It was the despair and the need for protection and direction and wisdom and waiting and responsibility not only for himself but for the calling God had placed on him.

It was THAT cave where David poured out so many prayers over and over that years later, he set about to write this out for us as an example of how someone who is after God’s heart prays and talks to God and sorts things out when he or she is in “the cave.”

I get it. 

I have some caves that I know of as THE cave. 

They are familiar places where I have had to dwell for an extended period of time. 

Places where it seems God led me and then left me.

My prayers and my cries have been repeated often enough that I can tell you the gist of them years later. 

I can remember what it felt like and I can remember when I was delivered. 

And sometimes, I pull out those experiences and I write them again, outside the cave, for someone else to read. 

I am no longer in that cave, but my words might give to some other cave dweller some hope and a way to hold on and get through. 

And that is what this Psalm is about. 

Are you in “the” cave today? 

Do you know someone else who is?

Turn to Psalm 142 and let it guide and lead your prayers as you wait <3

Better yet…here it is

I cry aloud to the LORD; I plead aloud to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him; I reveal my trouble to Him. Although my spirit is weak within me, You know my way.

Along this path I travel they have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; no one stands up for me; there is no refuge for me; no one cares about me.

I cry out to You, LORD; I say, “You are my shelter, my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry, for I am very weak. Rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.

Free me from prison so that I can praise Your name. The righteous will gather around me because You deal generously with me.

Psalm 142 A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.

That faith versus works thing from a new perspective <3

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When we were in Milwaukee for our nephew’s wedding, we attended the home church of his bride the morning of the big event. 

Redeemer Church is an unaffiliated church with roots in the Lutheran background and was just a sweet service. 

With opening songs of both “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “It is Well with my Soul”…needless to say Sonja, the groom’s mom,  and I were fishing tissues out of our purses and dabbing our eyes shortly after arrival. 

The sermon was right on theme with our own church series, which always amazes me how thematic God is. 

Because apparently, His current message to me is Surrender and while I may be several hundred miles from home…He wanted to make sure I got the point. 

Today, I am sharing one of the points of the message we heard in Milwaukee that really hit me because I have never thought of it this way, but check out the resources at bottom for full sermon plus the All of Me series from FCC. 

The passage of the teaching was James 2: 14-26 and the paradox of saved by grace not our works and yet the evidence of salvation being in our works. 

This is a balance we struggle with as believers, because we are human and prone to measure things. 

We talked about that at First Christian in the Fruits of the Spirit series as well. We can’t produce the fruit of the Spirit, but we do have to activate within ourselves a place where this holy Fruit can develop. 

So we can’t do some things but we must do others and it can get muddled as we work it out. 

But to the point for today… the pastor at Redeemer Church, David Lynden, opened the sermon with a bold challenge to not be a “Precious Moment’s” kind of church but a church that is attacking the gates of Hell. 

And he said in order to do that, we need to face the tougher aspects of what we say we believe.

He opened with the question,

“Does ‘faith alone’ mean works are not part of the equation?”

An interesting and provocative question that we would probably rather avoid, amen?

But the next portion of the sermon was so eye-opening for me.

I have never thought of it this way, but if faith doctrine alone is all that is needed…then, he asked, does that mean Satan is saved?

Did you gasp or at least cringe?

I know I did. 

But think about it as we were called to consider on the handout we were provided:

What doctrine does Satan believe?

Does he believe God is a Trinity?

of course

Does he believe that Jesus is both God and human?

yes

Does he believe salvation can only be acquired by faith in Jesus?

check

Does he believe Jesus rose bodily from the dead?

yep

Does he believe Jesus is coming back again one day?

He certainly does, and he is wreaking havoc because he knows his time is running short. 

But is he saved. 

Of course not. 

So believing all of the truths is not the same as salvation. 

It says in James, they even tremble before Him…but…

And here is the kicker he gave us:

“The difference between a head knowledge faith and saving faith is surrender.”

It’s believing all of the above doctrines and then making the choice to say, I can’t save myself. 

I have to come under the authority of what I believe. 

I can’t do enough good. 

I can’t work myself into a better person. 

I will never be, even on my very best day, righteous. 

I not only acknowledge the saving power of God, I accept His Lordship over me. 

I was born with a sin nature and I believe AND receive Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in payment for my debt. 

I can only do that by faith, yes. 

But then that faith will be worked out daily as I give up my “rights” to my “self” and allow His life to be lived out through me. 

It is daily dying to my own plans, will, desires, bent…and taking up His plans, His will, His desires, His best for me. 

Surrender. 

He becomes more. 

I become less. 

Resources:

For Redeemer Church sermon:

https://redeemerefc.com/resources/sermons

For First Christian Church series “All of Me”

https://www.firstdecatur.org/messages/all-of-me/

Surrender <3

www.laurareimer.net

I am a picture person. I see stories in photographs and I use words to paint pictures to help me process thoughts and to teach others. 

Often when I do not understand an emotion, situation, concept, or frustration I will ask God to show me a picture of what is going on so that I can see things more clearly. 

Surrender is one of those enigma’s that I often mull over with Him asking Him to help me with the practical application of what is expected of me in confusing settings. 

Because I don’t think surrender means standing idly by when someone is intending harm to another or there is an injustice that I can speak influence over…and yet, I also know that there is a level of sacrifice of self involved in surrendering and where are the lines drawn for it?

I know from experience that I am selfish by nature and often my lack of surrender has been because of a keen sense of “self-ish” preservation….yet I also know that I am to keep my heart guarded against that which would overcome the peace of Christ in me…so as I seek to balance all of these issues, I often pray for God to show me practical ways to grasp what it means to “surrender” my selfishness to His Sovereignty. 

And yesterday, He gave me yet another picture. 

I was headed over to Springfield around 7:30 yesterday morning and apparently so were a large portion of semi’s, pickups and cars that must have had very important deadlines to meet because, have mercy…I felt I should paint a number and some sponsorships on the side of my car and don a helmet. 

I had to go close to 80 just so I wouldn’t get run over.

 There was one scary moment where I went to pass a semi, when out of nowhere I had a pickup truck almost in my back seat, a car with darkened windows attempting to pass me on the right with barely a window between me and the semi and my heart was racing twice as fast as all of the vehicles surrounding me. Thank God the semi driver sped up enough to let the lunatic on my right zip around us and I gunned it to get out of the way of the pickup truck. 

As I merged back into the right lane and my blood pressure began to return to normal, I rethought how I would finish this journey. 

For the rest of the trip, I only passed another car if the road behind me was clear for quite a long way. If a faster car was coming into view, I would adjust my speed down until it shot past and then I would accelerate to make my pass. 

Surrender. 

It was inconvenient to go below the speed limit for a little while to avoid the crushing pressure of someone in a hurry. 

Surrender.

It was not fair that someone who was over-exceeding the speed limit and getting away with it, was forcing me to slow down. 

Surrender. 

It was setting my “rights” and my “preferences” and my “agenda” aside because the peace that I felt NOT getting run over was of far more value than “winning.”

Surrender. 

There is a reason we don’t like the word. 

It means I don’t get my way and that goes against all that is ingrained in me. 

And that’s the point of it. 

I pray today to recognize the same increase in my heart rate in settings outside my car where my blood pressure is starting to rise as indicators that I may just be entering an opportunity to stop pressing my way ahead of someone else and to just surrender my will and my way…not to the one who is pushing ahead or striving to win some non-existent competition…but surrender to the One who made me, loves me and provides all that is needed for me <3

Be blessed today as you sort out for yourself when it is time to stand up and when it is time to bow down. May the Lord give you wisdom and peace and strength in all of your circumstances today <3

Here is a prayer I wrote in September of 2004 and it still holds true for me today.

Lord, I want to be wise and discerning in choices and decisions I make. I need Your help and guidance. Show me when to pause, when to rest, when to move, when to speak and when to be silent. Show me how to pray or lead me to pray in the Spirit when I don’t know how to pray. Teach me YOUR ways, O LORD, that I would walk in your Truth. 

Monday and we actually have sun!

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We had a full and fun weekend that culminated with us falling in a heap with blankets and books last night and has me moving slowly this morning. 

Thankful for getting to wrap my arms around these two lovely ladies yesterday

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and then seeing this guy via What’s app video

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…so all in all….best weekend ever.

Since we were going to hear the boys sing up north on Sunday, Russ and I attended our church service Saturday night to hear the end of the Nine Fruits of the Spirit series. 

It was all very good and helpful until the last part when things got a little dicey. 

Because our pastor presented us with a challenge to review again the list of the fruits of the flesh…Galatians 5: 19-21….and note our “signature tendency.”

Well, true to my excessive nature, I had four. You know…go big or go home, right?

Then he challenged us to look at that and make a decision to let God take control and surrender that tendency to Him so that He can transform us and start growing and developing more of HIS fruit in us. 

He offered us to join him in a prayer that he had the tech team put up on the screen and I give Wayne credit for knowing his flock well. 

He had us read through it once and pause a second to think before we just prayed it. 

And I will tell you…in that split second after I read through what he was asking us to pray, I debated not praying it. 

I know God answers the kind of prayer we were being invited into. 

It was a prayer asking God to put us in situations and circumstances where our bent towards flesh would be displayed clearly so that we could then surrender in the circumstance and let Him have His way with us so that we could grow in our godly response of exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

Yes…exaclty.

A complete mind set shift from my whole life goal. 

My thought here has always been to ask God to help me avoid situations that test me in these areas.

It seems to me that we could develop a pretty solid character portfolio for my life if God just cleared the path from all those annoying situations where my flesh rises up and has a hey day. 

But no. 

All of a sudden my pastor, who happens to also be a good friend who has eaten around my table and attended family stuff and knows me very well…is asking me to ask God to….

orchestrate situations for me to encounter where I stand a good chance of failing miserably. 

Feeling somewhat like I would if I had just been locked into a restrictive chair so that I could be whirled through a living nightmare Batman Ride at Six Flags, I prayed the prayer knowing I was going to need a heavy duty dose of yoking with Jesus as soon as we said the amen…I prayed the prayer. 

And just to make sure I knew what I had committed to, I wrote these words based on his final exhortation….

Expect to see places where my bent will arise and I can choose at those moments to live under the control of the Holy Spirit – walk in step with the Spirit IN the struggle with the temptation. Expect to find places to grow. 

So here we go people. 

I have never wanted a tattoo but am considering writing in permanent marker on my hand…so I can see it all this week…

You asked for this, Laura…now…choose the Spirit…and grow.

Because it wasn’t five minutes after I prayed it that God answered and He has just continued to abundantly give me opportunities.

The way I am doing it is I literally imagine I have my arm hooked through Jesus arm. Like little kids walk together sometimes side by side.

And you know what…I kind of love it. <3

Even if ……

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This morning my reading was in Habakkuk. 

A short book and the devotion that accompanied my reading suggested taking time to read the whole thing, so I did. 

This minor prophet is asking God why He is allowing what is evil to overtake the people who belong to Him and God answers. 

He has raised up an enemy army who will storm in and He is allowing a big mess to come to fruition because the people have made choices and decision and set a course outside of His will and so He is letting them live the consequences. 

And if you think that sounds like God is unfair and unkind and mean and vengeful…remember the times you heard your parents say or have now said to your own little rebel something to the effect of ….

“You have made your bed, now lie in it”…

and you wished with all your heart they had chosen differently and you cry hot tears watching them suffer…

but for the love of their souls, you let them reap what they sowed so they hopefully will learn a lesson and choose right the next time….

and then ask if God is unkind. 

Habakkuk asks God why and he listens to God’s answer.

Like many of the prophets, the suffering Habakkuk was enduring was because of corporate disobedience of God’s people. The punishment was not necessarily his own actions, but because he identified himself with those who belong to the Lord, he accepted the consequences as his own.

 And he lands on this beautiful verse to close out the book:

Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off form the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

The writer of the accompanying devotion in my study this morning suggested writing out that verse by adding your only “even if’s.”

I did it and they were so personal, I didn’t even use my pen to record them. 

In pure fellowship and communion with my Savior, I simply said …

Even if…and I named off the things that are my deepest hopes…

Even if…this thing…that thing…

remains unchanged

bears no fruit

is completely void of a yes from You

Yet..

YET…

I will choose to rejoice in the LORD

I will take JOY in the God who saved me <3

He is worthy of our praise whether things are as we hoped they would be or not.

He is worthy of our praise when we are being disciplined, corrected, or redirected.

He is worthy of our praise whether our circumstances are great or alarming.

The choices that led us to consequences, whether ours or someone else’s, may be out of our control…but the choice to say…Yet…Yet, I will rejoice in You..no matter what…that is all on us.

How will we choose today?