This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: Susan’s Musin’s (Page 1 of 2)

Susan’s Musin’s – It Is Even a Vapour

James 4:14 – “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

Dave and I recently attended the funeral of a sweet sweet lady from our church who had died suddenly. She was only 69 but had been in ill health for many years and lived in a local nursing home for a good part of the last decade or so. She had faithfully attended the church we now go to but, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, she was only able to get back out to church in the past several months. But we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her before God called her home, and we all truly miss her.

A dear man from our church faithfully picked her up and drove her each Saturday morning for prayer meeting and Lord’s Day for morning services. She required oxygen, I am assuming 24/7, and was really tuckered out just from walking on her walker about 40 feet from the car door to the front door of the home church. She never complained about her health and didn’t seem that worried about it but was always sweet and mild. One morning, we were told, after breakfast the nursing home attendant rolled her back into her room and left for a few minutes. When she returned, Betty’s body was slumped over and her spirit was now with Jesus. God had said “it’s time” and she was gone in an instant.

Our pastor preached a wonderful sermon at her small funeral, but one thing that he mentioned really resonated with me. Paraphrasing, he said how just yesterday we were all 18 and how fast time has flown and we are now so much older. It’s so true. A younger person just cannot relate to that statement because they haven’t lived much of their life yet (assuming a normal life span, Lord willing). But those of us who are now in our 50’s, 60’s and beyond nod our heads, look at each other smiling and say “It’s so true!”

Betty had been in and out of the hospital with different ailments and every so often Pastor would request prayer for Betty because she was “in the hospital again”. But she had such a peace about it. You could see that her treasures weren’t in good health, or riches or anything but knowing Christ and trusting in Him. To speak frankly, her health had deteriorated to the point where her quality of life had shrunk to a very small sphere. But she put us all to shame determined to be worshipping God if she could possibly get to church and prayer meetings. Her sacrifice of worship was kind of a modern day widow’s mite, if that makes sense. She gave everything she had in her extreme fragility and weakness to get to church and worship God while so many these days use flimsy excuses in exchange for something they would rather do.

Here is Pastor’s sermon at Betty’s funeral, well worth the few minutes to listen to, IMO:

 

Dave and I started eating turkey bacon a couple years ago when I went on a leaky gut healing program (I highly recommend it, by the way. It changed my life). Anyway, many times when I am cooking the bacon, I look at the four pieces in order in the pan and it reminds me of how short life is:

Frying Bacon in a Pan

Each piece cooks differently and I pull the fully cooked pieces from the top, move all the pieces up, and replace with new pieces on the bottom. The top ones have been through the cooking process and are somewhat dark and bubbly, maybe a little burnt, charred and beat up if I kept them in too long, but they are the ones ready to be taken from the pan first. The piece next down is a little less cooked, and not burned yet, and so on. As we grow up, sometimes there are four, even five, generations alive at the same time, but great-grandma and grandpa die not long into the lives of the great-grandchildren. Then next up are the grandparents, then mom and dad, and then, all of a sudden, we are next in line to be taken from the frying pan of this earth. Where did the time go????!!!!

As we have all seen or experienced, sometimes God, in His sovereignty, takes a young one first, or a parent or sibling first. That’s His business and not ours to understand. But Pastor’s funeral sermon brought something forth to me that I needed to be reminded of. It’s not how long we live, but how we are spending our time here on earth. Am I wasting a lot of time I should be redeeming? (and here’s Part 2) Do I really believe to live is Christ and to die is gain? (Phil 1:21) Am I immersed in the means of grace I’ve been given (Bible, prayer, worshipping with God’s people, etc.), focused on learning more about Christ, or something that is fleeting or the flavor of the day in any given area of life? As Pastor said, our time here on earth determines our eternity. Our eternity! The glories of being in Heaven with Christ will never, ever, end, and the unthinkable torments of being in hell completely separated from God will never, ever end. May God grant each of us to pause and take some serious time to let that sink in.

I just wanted to pass along what has been pressing on my heart and am taking a new inventory of my priorities in life. God is shakin’ them up, and I’m thankful. May Christ draw each of us to Himself and give us a fresh desire for Him in light of eternity.

Susan

(For more on James 4:14, you can listen to what Puritan Thomas Manton has to say regarding it on our James Commentary audio book page, or you can listen below following:

 

 


or download it.)
Download

 

 

Susan’s Musin’s – The Price For Greener Grass

Part of my daily routine includes taking our two border collie dogs up to one of the empty goat fields and walking them. Sometimes I will leave them up there for extra run-around time while I attend to other chores. The border collie natural instinct is to “herd” or “corral” things, chickens included. Well trained shepherding dogs can probably behave beautifully around chickens but we never invested the consistent time to train them properly. We learned long ago that if they are left out with chickens, if a chicken starts to run, the dogs will automatically try to chase and “herd” it and if captured, they will then try to play with and bite it, and eventually the chicken will die from its injuries. Thankfully, for the most part, we’ve been able to successfully keep them apart.

Chicken behavior is interesting to watch, as well. They are, indeed, flock creatures and tend to free range in small groups. A rooster will generally take one or more hens “under his wing” and look out for them. He will alert his hens when he has found food and will deny himself to let them have it. He will also protect the hens from other roosters trying to invade his territory. So there is a covering of protection, of sorts, when the hen stays with her little flock while out in the world of free ranging.

Our chickens have many acres of fields and greens on which to free range on our homestead. Much of the time they like to go up into the goat fields and lay eggs in the sheds as well as rummage through the hay for tasty morsels. There is one chicken that, over the past several months, likes to leave her little flock and go up by herself into the goat field next to the one where we walk the dogs and hang out there. A couple of months ago, I saw that chicken all by herself eyeing the greener grass on the other side and hop through the fence into the dog field just as I was walking up. Well, unbeknownst to her, the dogs were watching and immediately pounced on her. I ran over and was able to get the dogs to let go and the chicken ran off leaving a pile of feathers on the ground (chickens will automatically release feathers to try to get away from a predator).

Well, very recently, I had left the dogs up in the field to do other chores. I usually scan the field to make sure there are no other animals, etc. in there before I leave them. I came back a time later and started walking around the perimeter of the field to give them a bit more exercise. Nessa ran ahead, very normal for her, but she came running back with something in her mouth. She seemed very proud of it and brought it right to me. It was almost unrecognizable. My heart sank. I knew what it was. It was that chicken, brutally handled and eventually killed by the dogs in her attempt to get away from them. I walked around the field and found the place of struggle with a big pile of feathers strewn all around.

Dead Chicken

You may think “what’s the big deal?” It’s just one of many chickens. Yes, that’s true. But one of the invaluable reasons we have chosen to live out here is to be more in tune with God’s spiritual lessons and types in our daily lives. I believe there are no coincidences with God. He has purpose in *everything*. We always ask Him to search our hearts and grant insight into these things. Well, I started praying for God to help me understand the spiritual side of this. With my own past experiences in mind, several things came to my mind: (these are my own personal observations)

  • God brings us under His “wing” and, in His plan, places us under godly authority on this earth (parents, pastors, elders, etc)to act as a covering of spiritual protection
  • When we get too confident in our own strength and wander away from our Protector and flock distracted by our own “greener grass”, we are making ourselves vulnerable to the enemy, always watching and waiting for an opportunity to attack
  • There are many instances of this in the Bible. Here are just a few:
    • Numbers 20:12 – After all that had transpired with God’s mighty deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses and Aaron were kept from entering Canaan because of *one* particular sin when they took their eyes off of God and tried to do something in their own strength.
    • Joshua 7 – Joshua, after God granted a great victory at Jericho, relied on the false confidence and faulty wisdom of his spies in the consideration of Israel’s next conquest. He did not seek God first and look to Him for counsel. And all of Israel paid a great price for it.
    • 2 Samuel 11 – David, in a slothful time when he was supposed to be out at battle diligently leading his armies and protecting Jerusalem, eyed greener grass when he saw Bathsheba. This one moment of “indiscretion” resulted in a lifetime of sorrow, war and turmoil in David’s life and the lives of his family and subjects.

So the death of this chicken has been a HUGE spiritual lesson and is a great warning and reminder that I am always to be diligent in my Christian walk, not to wander off in my own strength and wisdom or take my eyes off of Christ and put them on “greener grass” thinking I know better than God as to what is best for my life.

1 Peter 5:8: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Thankfully, our Lord Jesus Christ paid the price to cover the sins of our Old Testament Fathers and all of His children throughout time, however, the price we pay when we don’t do things God’s way can be so devastating and far reaching in this life, detracting from God’s glory.

May each of us seek God and His word first and only, and lean not unto our own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Redeeming the Time, Part 2

Back in 2011, I read a book that had a foreword by Dr. C.J. Williams. I am of a naturally curious nature, so I went to his bio online to find out more about his background. In the midst of his short bio, I saw that he had written an article entitled “Redeeming the Time.” Those words really jumped out at me since the Lord had so recently put those verses on my heart, so I obtained permission from my husband to contact Dr. Williams and ask for a copy of the article. Dr. Williams was very gracious to take time out of his busy schedule to look for the article. He was not able to easily locate it for duplication, but he did send me a copy of an older sermon he had preached on the same subject, which I believe God provided to me as a wonderful means of grace to help me grow in this area.

I have included below, with his permission, the sermon notes included in that CD sent by Dr. Williams:

REDEEMING THE TIME by Dr. C.J. Williams
Ephesians 5:15-16

Most people in our fast-paced society regularly agree in the complaint that “time flies”. However, this consensus of modern experience was first captured in the ancient Latin proverb tempus fugit. Time moved no slower for the Romans because the passage of time is a human problem, not a modern one. But, like most human “problems” and the proverbs which accompany them, tempus fugit misses the point. Time is not to blame for moving too quickly, rather, we are to blame for wasting it. The divine corrective is to “redeem the time”.

1. The word “redeem” (Greek exagorazo – “to buy back” or “rescue from loss”) is used only four times in the New Testament. Twice it refers to Christ’s redemption of His people and twice it is found in a command to us to “redeem the time” (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5) Obviously, the thing redeemed is of great value and importance to the redeemer. Time is a holy thing to the Christian, truly a “window of opportunity” in the great edifice of eternity. Time is a scarce, precious and unrecoverable thing.

2. The reason we redeem the time is “because the days are evil.” Perhaps so because they are commonly filled with evil things and thoughts, but perhaps also because they are commonly filled with nothing, or at least nothing of importance. Time is not just a neutral measurement of activity that is either good or indifferent. All of life is a spiritual endeavor – there is not “time out” from it. Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.

3. So, what does it take? The way we “buy time” according to the apostle is to “walk circumspectly” (i.e. with diligence and carefulness), and to be wise (vs 15). Wisdom is to “understand the will of the Lord” (vs. 17), and a circumspect walk is one that acts upon His will with diligence and carefulness. So much sanctification ahead of us, so many people to whom we can witness, so much to be done for the edification of the church, so much to learn about the Lord who saved us, so much prayer left undone – and so little time. With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.

4. Now is the time. You only live in a tiny sliver of it called the “present”. The past is unrecoverable (though not unforgivable), and good intentions for the future don’t count. (“Good intentions” are the things we plan to never do, and a clever way to waste the present.) Employ the only time you have, the present, to its most profitable end. Use that time which can be used for spiritual good to the utmost, and “do all things as unto the Lord” during the time that must, of necessity, be filled with more common things. Let rest and entertainment be the servants which refit the body and mind for the work of our calling, not the masters of our time which claim an undue proportion of it. While time lasts, and some is still allotted to you, consider that you will give account for it and use it accordingly.

End

WOWW-EE-WOW-WOW! “Therefore the default mode of each day is evil. It takes something to redeem a day; it takes nothing to make it evil.” ……. “With such things being the business of God’s people, “wasting” time is too gentle a notion. You either redeem it or desecrate it.” To me, so much food for thought and meditation.

I recently read the following quote from A.W. Pink and thought it might be apropos to this post: “The more we are occupied with the Lord our God, the more shall we be weaned from this perishing world, the more shall we be delivered from Satan’s snares, and the better shall we be equipped for the fight of faith”.

Through all of the means of grace mentioned previously in this post that God graciously has used to teach me, my eyes have been opened to see that time spent in idleness and distractions of folly had become a HUGE idol in my life. The Bible has taught me, and I have seen it so many times, that my flesh is CONSTANTLY at war with my spirit; and unless I ask God for help to be diligent (remembering those words from Dr. Gill: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”) in hungering and thirsting after righteousness and the means of grace God has provided to make a way through this life, the war will be lost.

My dad, after reading Part 1, relayed a personal anecdote to me that I have found helpful in keeping the principle of redeeming the time ever in my focus. He said “Years ago, I was looking into the word ‘circumspectly’ just as you are. What helped me the most was this simplified version, ‘circum’ (circumference) plus ‘specs’ (eyeglasses … to see) = ‘to see all around’.”

My prayer is for God to help all of His children redeem the time and walk increasingly circumspectly in these evil days, and that He may be glorified.

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Redeeming the Time, Part 1

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16)

God has convicted me so strongly on this subject I went to Dr. John Gill and Matthew Henry to assist in my studies and pray their teachings may benefit others as much as it has myself. I will provide more personal insights I have learned at the end of the post.

Here are a few thoughts from Dr. John Gill on these verses:

Ver. 15. See then that ye walk circumspectly,…. “a man should see to it that he does walk, and to the way in which he walks, and how he walks; that he walks circumspectly, with his eyes about him; that he walks with diligence, caution, accuracy, and exactness, to the uttermost of his strength and power; and with wisdom and prudence, looking well to his going”……

Wow, some of the words he uses: “diligence”, “caution”, “exactness”, “uttermost of his strength and power”. To me, these are words that are very purposeful, representing ultra alertness, awareness and carefulness to control what influences our lives and how our lives influence others.

….“not as fools, but as wise” “such walk like fools, whose eyes are not upon their ways; who walk in their own ways, which are crooked, and ways of darkness, and lead to destruction; who walk after the flesh, and naked, without the garments of a holy life and conversation; and with lamps, but no oil in them: and such walk as wise men, who walk according to the rule of God’s word, make Christ their pattern, have the Spirit for their guide, and walk as becomes the Gospel of Christ; inoffensively to all men, in wisdom towards them that are without, and in love to them that are within; and as pilgrims and strangers in this world, looking for a better country; and so as to promote the glory of God, and the good of souls.”

WOW! My prayer is for God to place upon me the “garment of holy life and conversation”…..walking circumspectly “as a pilgrim and stranger in this world, looking for a better country…so as to promote the glory of God.” I almost get physically ill when I think of the decades I have wasted walking as a fool focused on things of this world and lusts of the flesh, causing others to stumble and continue in deception and false comfort.

Ver 16: “Redeeming the time”,…. Or “buying time”; a like expression is used in Da 2:8, which we render, gain time: but in the Chaldee text it is, “buy time”: and so Jacchiades, a Jewish commentator on the place, renders it, Myrkmn Mta tazh teh, “ye buy this opportunity”; and the Septuagint version uses the same phrase the apostle does here; but there it seems to signify a study to prolong time, to put off the business to another season; but here taking time for a space of time, it denotes a careful and diligent use of it, an improvement of it to the best advantage; and shows that it is valuable and precious, and is not to be trifled with, and squandered away, and be lost, as it may be; for it can neither be recalled nor prolonged: and taking it for an opportunity of doing good to ourselves or others, it signifies that no opportunity of discharging our duty to God and man, of attending on the word and ordinances of the Gospel, and to the private and public exercises of religion, of gaining advantage to our own souls, or of gaining the souls of others, and of doing good either to the bodies or souls of men, should be neglected; but even all risks should be run, and means used to enjoy it: in the Syriac and Chaldee languages, anmz, “time”, comes from Nbz, “to redeem”: the reason the apostle gives for the redemption of time is,

because the days are evil; as such are, in which iniquity abounds, and many wicked men live, and errors and heresies prevail, and are days of affliction or persecution; see Ge 47:9.

And here are Matthew Henry’s thoughts on these verses:

(v. 15): See then, etc. This may be understood either with respect to what immediately precedes, “If you are to reprove others for their sins, and would be faithful to your duty in this particular, you must look well to yourselves, and to your own behaviour and conduct” (and, indeed, those only are fit to reprove others who walk with due circumspection and care themselves): or else we have here another remedy or rather preservative from the before-mentioned sins; and this I take to be the design of the apostle, being impossible to maintain purity and holiness of heart and life without great circumspection and care. Walk circumspectly, or, as the word signifies, accurately, exactly, in the right way, in order to which we must be frequently consulting our rule, and the directions we have in the sacred oracles. Not as fools, who walk at all adventures, and who have no understanding of their duty, nor of the worth of their souls, and through neglect, supineness, and want of care, fall into sin, and destroy themselves; but as wise, as persons taught of God and endued with wisdom from above. Circumspect walking is the effect of true wisdom, but the contrary is the effect of folly. It follows, redeeming the time (v. 16), literally, buying the opportunity. It is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observe and improve the seasons for merchandise and trade. It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment—one special preservative from sin. They should make the best use they can of the present seasons of grace. Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future. The reason given is because the days are evil, either by reason of the wickedness of those who dwell in them, or rather “as they are troublesome and dangerous times to you who live in them.” Those were times of persecution wherein the apostle wrote this: the Christians were in jeopardy every hour. When the days are evil we have one superadded argument to redeem time, especially because we know not how soon they may be worse. People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that would stir them up to redeem time.

WOW! Again! So much wisdom and challenge to the Christian! I understand that nothing I do can earn my salvation, and there is a time for rest, relaxation and revitalization. But, I’ve started asking myself when I have the choice as to how I will spend my time, “Is this spiritually beneficial?” “Will this feed my flesh to the detriment of my spiritual health?” “Will this distract me from meditating on Christ and preparing me for when I come before Him?”

Continued in Part Two, Lord willing…..

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Into a Proper View of Christian Childlessness

While growing up it never occurred to me that I might be sitting here at the age of 49 with no children, or grandchildren for that matter. I always imagined I would get married in my early 20’s and start having children very soon afterward like most everyone else at that time. But I experienced “special bulletins” and “technical difficulties” over many years, and my life screen never got back to its regularly scheduled programming. Somehow the blueprint I had drawn up for my life early on had gotten some coffee stains on it or something. The word “give” had been smudged out of the word “caregiver” (give or take an “e”) at the top of the blueprint objectives, and off I went on a quest for a great “career” instead of what I should have been doing all along according to God’s word. Over time, I became a bit numb and suppressed my innate maternal desires.

Thankfully, the Lord brought my wonderful and godly husband into my life at age 38; and just a few weeks after I turned 40, the Lord brought us together in marriage–the first for both of us late bloomers.

My husband and I, Lord willing, will celebrate our 9th anniversary next week. Early on in our marriage, I thought the Lord might grant us to have a child; but it never happened. Before we got married, my husband and I had sat down for “the talk” and both agreed we were fine if the Lord brought us children or if we never had any. Looking back, I think I truly did feel that way but was secretly assuming and hoping that God would send us at least one child.

During the past several years in learning about God’s sovereignty, I began to study the Bible with regard to this subject. God was gracious to point out to me that throughout the Bible it was He and only He who opened and closed wombs, and that it is He and only He who opens and closes wombs today. After all these years of agrarianism and gardening, reciting 1 Cor. 3:6, where Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase,” it didn’t click that this applies to ALL provision from God, spiritual and temporal. There is no promise from God that He will provide what we want. It is His decision alone, for His glory. “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” – Romans 11:36. That should have shut me up right there, but my flesh was still asking why.

Note to self: Don’t ask why unless you are prepared for the answer. My mind wandered back through all those years of sewing seeds of sin and unrighteousness, my selfishness, and my oblivion to God’s sovereignty and ways. I realized that God has actually been MORE than gracious to me in protecting me from myself and all of the things that could and should have happened along the trajectory of the path I was walking. It is not mine to question the “whys” and “why nots” of God.

It was not until I started learning in the Bible about God’s intended role for women in being godly helpmeets to their husbands (Genesis 2:18-25) and godly mothers to their children (Psalm 127:1-5), the roles for which we were created, that repentance and regret hit me HARD. I had wasted and sinned away all those precious child-bearing and rearing years in selfish pursuits, with nothing of spiritual value to show for it. I had offended God infinitely with my sin. I had put the spotlight on myself as the victim through my eyes, but God now allowed me to see myself through His eyes. It’s embarrassing and shameful to look back and see all my “boo-hoos” and “why mes” and what a rebellious sinner I was (and still am, but I pray Christ in His faithfulness is still working to conform me into His image). I am eternally grateful to God for His forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ.

I pray that God, in His mercy in showing me my sin and extending forgiveness, brings glory to Himself, and moreover that He glorifies Himself through me in whatever way He pleases.

It would be untruthful if I said my flesh does not still yearn to love, nurture and rear a child with my husband in the way of the Lord, bringing glory to Him; but now Dave and I can TRULY say in this regard that we want what the Lord wants for whatever reason He in His infinite counsel has for us. We know there are adoption and foster care agencies out there tied to worldly systems, but we choose to trust in God completely for all provision, including this. And it has also been encouraging to see all of the faith-building situations in our lifestyle that have translated into maturing our trust in this area.

I pray God may use my journey into a proper view of childlessness to help someone who may be struggling with the same issue. Now, this blog post could have read a little differently, in that, I could have grown up living in obedience to God’s word and been married at a young age with no known impediment to having children, yet my womb could still have been closed. But the conclusion I pray would have been the same: that God, with all of His attributes, is sovereign, which needs to be enough, regardless of the situation.

I’ve purposely tried to stay more objective and less emotional with this post because it truly is not about me. I was/am not seeking pity or encouraging words, but I wrote this in case God might see fit to use it for His glory, and I pray He blesses it to the spiritual benefit of the reader.

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Ezekiel’s Wife

I was reading in Ezekiel Chapter 24 recently and was taken back when I got to verses 16 and 18:

Verse 16: “Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes [he is referring to Ezekiel’s wife] with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down”…..Verse 18: “So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died: and I did in the morning as I was commanded.”

In a larger context, God was using the taking of Ezekiel’s wife as a sign and example to the Israelites. I stopped to ponder and meditate on this for a while. Matthew Henry says this about this passage:

“He must lose a good wife, that should suddenly be taken from him by death. God gave him notice of it before, that it might be the less surprise to him (v. 16): Behold, I take away from thee the desire of thy eyes with a stroke. Note, (1.) A married state may very well agree with the prophetical office; it is honourable in all, and therefore not sinful in ministers. (2.) Much of the comfort of human life lies in agreeable relations. No doubt Ezekiel found a prudent tender yoke-fellow, that shared with him in his griefs and cares, to be a happy companion in his captivity.

“Death is a stroke which the most pious, the most useful, the most amiable, are not exempted from. (5.) When the desire of our eyes is taken away with a stroke we must see and own the hand of God in it: I take away the desire of thy eyes. He takes our creature-comforts from us when and how he pleases; he gave them to us, but reserved to himself a property in them; and may he not do what he will with his own?”

Dr. John Gill has this to say:

“I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke; meaning his wife; who very probably was of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to; however, of an amiable disposition, and in her conjugal relation very agreeable to the prophet; and, no doubt, a truly religious woman, and upon all account’s desirable to him. This lovely object of his affection the Lord, who is the sovereign disposer of all persons, signifies he would take away from him by death unto himself; that is, suddenly and at once.”

My carnal man at first responded emotionally and in defense of “Mrs.” Ezekiel. I thought, “Wow, what a raw deal to be taken from your beloved husband all because God wanted to prove a point. And I can’t believe Ezekiel was able to just ‘not’ grieve over his wife’s death as God commanded.” I thought of how much I love my husband and love being his wife and serving him, and it made me sad to think of us being apart, and my flesh really clung on to it. But then I was reminded how God in His word continues to reveal to me that we as His creatures are His handiwork, and He made us for HIS glory, and EVERYTHING He does is to bring glory to Himself:

– Isaiah 46:10 – “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”

– Daniel 4:35 – “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”

– 1 Samuel 2:6-8 – “6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, and he hath set the world upon them.”

– Psalms 39:5 “Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”

– Proverbs 16:4 – “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

– Revelation 4:11 – “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”

…and I repented.

In this day and age, it seems to me we are taught to believe that God owes us something; or it is our right to live our lives in comfort and prosperity as happy as possible. But it’s not about me — it’s about Him! I am asking God to continue to set my mind right and see things from the perspective of “whatever and however God chooses to bring glory to Himself is what I want, whatever that looks like and however that affects my life.” I hope that if I had been Mrs. Ezekiel and had learned about the situation beforehand, I would have said something like, “What a privilege to be used of God for His glory in this manner! The Lord’s will be done!”

This is also helping me to take my focus off of myself in this lifestyle of agrarian separation we live, when things get really tough, uncomfortable or inconvenient. I want to be able to honestly hold that God is sovereign, so He knows EXACTLY what is going on, and this is how He has chosen to glorify HIMSELF in my life at this time. May I learn to ever say, “For THINE is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.”

I thank God for the people in His timeless word through whom He has chosen to teach us these precious truths.

Susan

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Out of False Security

I’ve always been a “what if” person. Wayyyyy back in elementary school, the sixth graders got to go to a week long science/nature camp. And when I was in the second grade, I cried to my mom, “I’ll be too scared to go and leave you for a whole week; I can’t do it!” My mom, bless her heart, had to calm me down and remind me I was only in the second grade and didn’t have to worry about it right then. Well, when I finally got to the sixth grade, I had a non-conformist teacher; and our class got to camp on the beach for a week and study the California Indians; and my mom was able to go as a chaperon. My “worst fear” never materialized. Later on as a senior in high school, I was asked to be a camp counselor to the sixth grade girls at that same science camp; so I got to go after all and made it just fine 🙂

I share that little story to tell you that I have always been that way, even into my adulthood and marriage, even more so because the “what ifs” seemed bigger when I got out on my own. The ultimate (so far) was when Dave and I decided to leave our corporate jobs and families in California and move here to Texas where there were mostly unknowns. (And Texas was one BIG science camp to me with all kinds of bugs, pests, snakes, tornadoes, etc.) Most everything was being taken out from my control, which, looking back so far, has been the best thing that could have happened to me. If you have read our early blog posts, you will know that God had been teaching us from His word about His sovereignty and lovingly growing our faith to be able to make the decision to trust Him and leave everything that we considered “secure” in order to be obedient to how He calls us to live in separation from the world as His children. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; Isaiah 52:11-12; Rev. 18)

As I have learned more about type and shadow in the Bible, I see that physical Israel in the Old Testament is the type of spiritual Israel today. I am very encouraged whenever I think of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years and all of the miracles God performed (ie: daily manna from heaven (Exodus 16), water from rocks (Exodus 17:1-6), their clothing and shoes never wore out (Deut. 8:1-4), etc.) We’re talking hundreds of thousands of men, women and children with all of their livestock; and God provided for their needs in the desert where there was nothing but His direct provision to sustain them. He provided shade by day and a pillar of light at night (Exodus 13:21,22). God had given them faith enough to step out and leave Egypt in obedience to His command, and He took care of the rest. However, it was because of taking their eyes off of God and His direct protection and provision that they were made to wander in the desert those 40 years before being allowed to enter Canaan (a type of heaven). And only the very few of the original Israelites that had truly and consistently trusted God were permitted to enter Canaan (Numbers 14:30; 32:12). The rest perished in their sin in the desert. The Israelites complained and longed to go back to Egypt because they had grown used to looking to Egypt to supply their needs (Exodus 16:3). Even though they were in bondage to Egypt they looked to it for security and material things instead of looking to God. I believe this is the situation most professing Christians are in today when they look to the world’s systems for sustenance (food, water, protection, care, etc.), but the Bible states this is not what God has commanded for His children to do.

Over the last five years of living here, I have been very tempted to look back to Egypt for my security, but God has taught me in His long-suffering and proven time and time again that He is the one who is in control regardless of the circumstance. As most of you know, we live off grid here and are increasingly learning to look to God for His direct, and I mean direct, provisions. God provides the rain for our water, our food from the ground, and our meat. During bad thunderstorms, tornadoes and in all the seasons, God reminds me in His word that it is He who is in control of the weather patterns and every single strike of lightning (Texas T-storms put the fear of God in me every time). I have also learned that every heart beat is a gift from God and all my days are in His hand and have been foreordained (Psalms 139:16). He also promises rebuke, chastisement and persecution to His children (Hebrews 12) to grow them into maturity; and I am to be perfectly content with only food and raiment (1 Tim. 6:8); so, ultimately, my job is to be obedient and trust in God completely, knowing that He knows what is best for me as His child. So whatever comes my way, it is for my good; and I can have peace in that.

I now look back to the “Egypt” from which God has called us to separate as His children, and the “what-ifs” are much scarier to me now if I think of returning to “Egypt” and trusting in man and its systems rather than God.

Our community has been going through the book of Isaiah recently, and I have been soberly struck by the number of verses in Isaiah and Psalms that talk about trusting in Egypt (the world and its systems) vs. God:

Isaiah 30:1-3: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth: to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt. Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.”

Isaiah 31:1: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!”

Isaiah 31:3: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is helped shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.”

Psalm 20:7-8: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.”

Psalm 118:8-9: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

In my firsthand experience of living in the world and depending on its systems for my security, and now living outside the world’s systems in direct dependence upon God for my sustenance, I believe it has become almost impossible in our time to stay in the world and walk hand in hand with it everyday and not be taken into its trust and look to it for security (ie: grocery stores, city water, grid electricity, health care, money, etc.) and thereby not to the God of Israel who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And if I ask myself in which situation God glorifies Himself more, and in which situation my faith is grown more, and where I am drawn closer to God, there is no question. My job is to be obedient to how God has commanded me to live, and He will handle the rest. I pray the Lord continue to turn my face towards Him alone and trust in Him completely.

Susan

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