Category Archives: Encouragement

Knowing the One Who Satisfies

I was frustrated with the way my life was going. At the time, if anyone had asked me to describe my state of mind in three words, they would have been “discontented,” “disappointed,” and “discouraged.” I felt I had done all the right stuff, but nothing was changing for the better. All I could think about was how things were not as they should be.

In the middle of that mess, the Lord revealed Himself to me as “the God Who Satisfies.” He asked me to focus more on my Promise Keeper than on the promises He had given me. And He highlighted several Bible verses to help me shift my attention off my frustrations and onto Him. One of them was Jeremiah 31:14: “… And my people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord.”

All of us could come up with something we’re not happy about — some of us more than others. Many Christians are frustrated and miserable, feeling there must be more to life than they are experiencing. There is a gnawing sense inside of a greater destiny, a greater purpose, but it eludes them. Maybe for you it’s not destiny, but more down-to-earth desires:

If only I had a husband (or wife). If only my marriage were better.
If only I had the job of my dreams.
If only I were doing that ministry God showed me.
If only I had children. If only my grown children paid more attention to me.

God is eager to give us many things our hearts long for. He is extremely generous. This is why He has put thousands of promises in His Word — and He wants us to have them all! Here are a few which specifically mention satisfaction:

Psalm 91:16With long life will I satisfy him….
Psalm 103:5Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 107:9For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.

As much as the Lord wants to give us things we desire, finding satisfaction in Him needs to come first. He knows the longings of our heart. He is keenly aware of the difficult places we are in, with no relief in sight, and He is compassionate toward us concerning them. But He wants to give us light, peace, joy — even contentment — in the middle of our situation, as we learn to know Him as the God Who Satisfies.

The apostle Paul understood this truth. He told Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). In Philippians 4:11, he said, “I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. I know both how to be abased and how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” Notice that he had to learn it. It was a process for Paul.

It was a learning process for Abraham as well. Putting our satisfaction first in God does not come naturally to us. In Genesis 15:1, God approached him with this wonderful statement: “I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.” Abraham didn’t even respond to that. He headed immediately into, “But, what will You give me, seeing I am childless …?” (v. 2).

Abraham did not at that point value intimate relationship with the Lord as much as he would later on. Yet, God was gracious toward his mindset and entered into a marvelous covenant with him. However, He also took Abraham through years of getting to know Him before the promised son arrived. In the meantime, Abraham matured to where God honored him by calling him “the Friend of God” (James 2:23; Isaiah 41:8). Becoming the friend — learning to be satisfied in the Lord — came before the other desire was fulfilled.

One of the highest honors we could ever hold is being thought of by God as His friend. There are varying levels of this. We can be a friend among many friends, who are loved and yet not particularly close to Him. Or, we can be the type of friend Abraham became — near to God’s heart, putting Him above our wants. This is the intimate friendship reserved for those who have learned to pursue Him as our deepest, most abiding satisfaction. When we do that, peace and joy rest inside us in the greatest measure possible. “All these things shall be added unto you” becomes the by-product rather than the goal (Matthew 6:33).

If you are feeling discontented or unfulfilled in some area of your life, I encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal Himself as the God Who Satisfies. He will not disappoint you, and you may be amazed at how much rosier life looks, even in the midst of your present circumstances.

Bible study

 

River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(A Bible study for adults)

 

names of God

 

 

The Names of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

 

The Other 9-11s

9-11This week we commemorated 9-11-01, the infamous day when Muslim jihadists attacked our nation. It is a day not to be forgotten. Life in the United States will never be the same because of it.

On 9-11 this year, the Lord happened to remind me of one of my favorite names of God, found in Hebrews 9:11, which speaks of our Lord Jesus: “a high priest of good things to come.” After posting it on Facebook, I noticed the 9:11 / 9-11 correlation, and I began to think about other 9:11 references in the Bible.

While 9-11-01 was a time of great devastation, God has His own set of 9:11 words, and they are full of hope for us. Here are some of them, starting with my two favorites:

Hebrews 9:11“But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come….”

Psalm 91:1“He who dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Are you afraid? There is a haven of safety and rest for you in the secret place of the Lord’s presence. He is inviting you to enter into intimate fellowship with Him, for it is there that the other wonderful promises of Psalm 91 will become real to you. I spend a lot of time in Psalm 91, especially when fear knocks at my door.

Genesis 9:11“And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth.” God has established a forever covenant with you through the blood of Jesus Christ. He never reneges on His promises, so you can absolutely count on Him to do for you what He has said in His Word. The hard part is waiting for the fulfillment, but if we cling in faith to Him, we will see Him perform the good things He has promised.

Nehemiah 9:11“And You divided the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and You threw their persecutors into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters.” Are you hemmed in, with nowhere to turn? God will make a way for you, as you release the insurmountable difficulty to Him. He will fight for you and personally go against those who are trying to destroy you.

Psalm 9:11“Sing praises to the LORD, Who dwells in Zion; declare among the people His doings.” Praise your way through to your victory! Praise is a powerful weapon of our spiritual warfare. It brings breakthroughs when nothing else seems to budge the circumstances.

Proverbs 9:11“For by Me your days shall be multiplied, and the years of your life shall be increased.” Do you want to live a long, healthy life, so that you can be as fruitful for Jesus as possible? God wants that for you too! Declare this 9:11 verse as your own.

Amos 9:11“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.” This verse is about the restoration of David’s kingly line through Jesus, the Son of David. It prophesies His physical return to earth to rule in righteousness. It’s an exciting word for all who love Him: Jesus is coming, and it is going to be good!

Zechariah 9:11“As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Do you feel like you are in the pits? Do you feel dry and thirsty? You have a covenant with the Father by the blood of Jesus your Savior. He has promised to set the prisoners free and to give His living water to all who thirst. Check out Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; 61:1 and John 4:13-15; 7:37, 38, just for starters.

Matthew 9:11“And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, ‘Why does your Master eat with publicans and sinners?'” Aren’t you glad that Jesus wants to spend time with people who sin and have issues? I am — because I know I don’t have it all together. He takes us where we’re at, and cleans us up as we fellowship with Him. Now, that is good news!

Luke 9:11“And the people … followed Him: and He received them, and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing.” He received them, He spoke to them, and He healed them. Jesus receives you, no matter what a mess your life is right now. He wants to speak to you. And, He wants to heal you physically and emotionally.

John 9:11“… A man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ I went and washed, and I received sight.” I’m going to take the liberty of applying this in a spiritual sense. Jesus provides for us a “pool of Siloam” in His Word. It washes us (see Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit uses it to guide us into all truth (see John 8:31, 32; 14:26; and 16:13). He gives us spiritual eyes to see what the world around us cannot see.

Romans 9:11“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not because of works, but because of Him Who calls.” God always planned for you to be His very own. He doesn’t love you and give you good purposes to fulfill because you have somehow been a super-Christian who earned His favor. No, He has favored you from before you were ever born, and now He’s helping you all along life’s way. That’s more good news!

2 Corinthians 9:11“Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness, which causes through us thanksgiving to God.” God “daily loads [you] with benefits” (Psalm 68:19) so that you can “pay it forward” to others. Did you know that when you are kind in various ways — even small ways — it causes other people to thank God for His goodness to them? We’ll only find out how much this has gone on when we get to heaven. You were meant to be a blessing and to give glory to God in all that you do.

I hope these 9:11 verses bless and encourage you as much as they have me!

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topical KJV Bible

 

 

Encouragement from God’s Word,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses from the KJV to encourage and strengthen you)

 

 

Bible verses for intercessors

 

The Intercessor’s Companion,
by Lee Ann Rubsam
(Topical verses to encourage you and help you intercede on specific subjects, in a modernized KJV format)

 

Your Most Important Accomplishment (and an Announcement)

finishing the raceWe will fight many battles in this life and, with God’s help, win many victories, both for ourselves and for others. But the most important victory we will ever achieve is to finish our race well. This is about our character and learning to depend upon Jesus.

There will be those who accomplish mighty feats — prophecies which accurately come to pass, healings, deliverances, and miracles. These are rightfully impressive, but we must never forget what Jesus said:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have cast out devils? And in Your name done many wonderful works?” And then will I profess to them, “I never knew you: depart from Me, You who work iniquity.” — Matthew 7:21-23

In Matthew 24:13, Jesus also said, “But he who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” Not, “He who does the most miracles,” not, “He who prophesies the best,” and not even, “He who wins the most souls.” Just, he who endures: staying faithful to the Lord, obeying Him, acting like Jesus would, and not denying Him when things get tough. To Jesus, enduring while keeping His testimony is far more important than anything else we do.

As the days we live in continue to darken, it is excellent to press in for miracles, to heal the sick, to set the captive free, to participate with Jesus in destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). But to faithfully confess His name right up until the end, testifying well of Him through a life of pure, Christ-like behavior — that is priority.

Don’t stop. Don’t grow weary in well-doing, including the well-doing of prayer. Keep your eyes always on Jesus, Who waits for you at the finish line, cheering you on. Finish well, with Jesus’ character so much a part of your inner fabric that, as you run your race, you leave His distinct aroma in your wake.

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God's promises are yes and amenUPDATE: After a two-year break, I am working on two new books. One is a Bible promise book, with all the promises from Genesis through Revelation. (This is something I have wanted for myself for a long time, but couldn’t find one done the way I had in mind.)

The plan is to do it in both the KJV and a modernized KJV (the same text without the thees and thous, with modern spellings and punctuation, but still completely faithful to the KJV, my favorite translation). I’m currently in the Psalms, which will take a while, I think. Just working on this book has been drawing me into the Lord’s Presence, and I hope it will do that for you, too!

The second project is a Christian dream interpretation book. If you are a regular reader at Out of the Fire, you know I write a lot about dreams and how God speaks to us through them. In the past year, Paul and I have presented several extensive dream workshops.

This new book will be much more detailed than the article series and even than the workshop materials. It will include a dream dictionary, which particularly emphasizes symbolic imagery found in the Bible. The dictionary will no doubt be the hardest part of the book to accomplish.

With the Lord’s help, I hope to have both projects completed sometime in 2020 or early 2021.

dream interpretation

 

If you want to learn a lot more about understanding your dreams now, we still offer our audio dream workshop, Hearing God Through Your Dreams, in mp3 or CD form at our website. I think you will enjoy it!

 

 

 

Jesus: Architect of Your Future

God's blueprint for your lifeThe Bible tells us in 103 places not to be afraid. And yet, many of us struggle with fear, especially about what the future holds. It’s something I personally battle, although I have been gaining ground against it through the years.

Because it’s still a struggle, the Lord often speaks to me about fear. Recently, He said to me, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Jesus is in your future.” This was a joyful reminder to me!

Jesus is with us in the now. He is our Immanuel, God with us. But at the same time, He has also gone before us, preparing the way. And, He is already waiting for us there in our future. We just need to catch up to where He already is.

The primary reason we fall into fear is that we have not yet fully grasped God’s nature — how good and utterly faithful to us He is. But another major reason we fear is because we so easily forget that He has a definite plan for each of us with specific purposes He is committed to helping us fulfill. In 2 Timothy 1:9, He says that He “saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”

Before the world began, He had already called us. Before the world began, He had already designed a life blueprint for each one of us. He is the master architect, Who has meticulously thought out and planned for all of our life events. Not only is He the architect, but He is also the project manager, overseeing the building of our lives from beginning to end. He will see us through to completion. He is both the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Philippians 1:6 expresses it this way: “Being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Recently, the Lord led me to meditate on Psalm 16:5, 6: “The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: You maintain my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes, I have a goodly heritage.”

The “lot” spoken of is the destiny He has planned for us — our lot in life. The “lines” are boundary lines defining that lot, as with a plot of land. So the Lord is telling us that He has given each of us a certain territory which is uniquely ours. He maintains it and carefully watches over it. He has not given us a desolate plot of land, either, but a “goodly heritage.” He has planned for it to be pleasant, a delight to us.

Now, sometimes we have to see our lot through the eyes of faith. It won’t always look pleasant from a human perspective. Circumstances — sometimes for extended periods of time — can be very hard. It’s difficult then to see through the murk to where it will ever get better. Temporary troubles tend to becloud the long-term picture.

When life looks bleak, if we determine to look at it through the Lord’s eyes, we will gain a higher perspective. Meditating on and declaring verses such as these in Psalm 16 are practical ways to attain to His viewpoint. We begin to see, believe, and speak with conviction, “He truly has given me a good life, a great destiny, with a great future.”

Verses 8 and 9 of Psalm 16 take us a little deeper into seeing the good plan our Architect has for us: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also shall rest in hope.”

The inheritance our Architect has planned for us includes a glad heart, a soul which rests in hope, and a satisfying destiny. If we purposefully keep our focus on Jesus, knowing He is right beside us, we will not be shaken with fear. Truly, “the lines have fallen unto us in pleasant places, and we have a goodly heritage.”

Here’s a classic song from Steve Green to encourage you along the same lines:

 

inner peace

 

All-Surpassing Peace in a Shaking World,
by Lee Ann Rubsam

 

nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God, by Lee Ann Rubsam

In Defense of the Elijahs

Oh, here we go again. Another sermon on Elijah’s failure and how God never used him after that.

I don’t know how many times the story has been spun from our pulpits: “Elijah scored his biggest victory ever at Mount Carmel, and then he blew it. He gave in to discouragement, ran for his life, and that was the end of his ministry. God was so displeased that He immediately chose someone to replace Elijah. And Elijah never did anything important for God again.”

The moral of this concocted version of 1 Kings 19 is, if you allow fear, doubt, or discouragement to get in, you’re done — so don’t ever do that. (Like we haven’t all already done the same thing a time or two!)

In actuality, Elijah continued to have a powerful prophetic ministry after his brief lapse into discouragement. He prophesied to Ahab about the consequences of seizing Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kings 21:17-29). He prophesied to Ahab’s successor, demonstrating his prophetic authority by calling down fire from heaven on the king’s soldiers. And he was still around during the reign of the king who came after (2 Kings 1). Furthermore, he established training camps for young prophets in Bethel and Jericho (2 Kings 2:2-5).

Perhaps most importantly, he spent years pouring himself into Elisha, raising him up to be a mighty prophet like unto himself. Jewish historian Josephus indicates in Book VIII of his work, Antiquities of the Jews, that Elijah continued 13-15 years after he anointed Elisha to take his place (http://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-8.html). Other Bible scholars estimate anywhere from 10-20 more years passed before Elijah was carried up into heaven.

I’m glad that the story as it has been told from too many pulpits is untrue. You see, through the years, I have identified with Elijah a lot. I have repeatedly prayed that God would help me to hear Him with pinpoint accuracy like Elijah did. I’ve desired to be persistent and effective in prayer, as he was.

But I’ve also felt a kinship with Elijah in his temperament, leaning toward the melancholy side, sometimes taking myself a little too seriously, and having a tendency toward despondency if I don’t rigorously guard against it.

I take comfort in the apostle James’ tribute to Elijah (James 5:16-18). He held him up as our example for effective prayer. Apparently, James did not regard Elijah as a washout, and God didn’t either. Besides giving him a nod in James’ epistle, He chose to have Elijah appear with Moses on the mount of transfiguration to encourage Jesus concerning His impending death for mankind (Luke 9:28-31).

Elijah’s story does not end there. In truth, his greatest ministry is yet to come. We are told in Malachi 4:5, 6, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers ….”

This prophecy was foreshadowed, but not completely fulfilled, in John the Baptist. Some Bible teachers spiritualize the Malachi passage by saying Elijah will not literally come again. They think it will be carried out by a last days’ generation who will collectively carry “the spirit of Elijah.” That may certainly take place, but seeing how Bible prophecy consistently is fulfilled quite literally, I believe we will see Elijah himself accomplish this on the earth, perhaps as one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation 11.

What can we take away from Elijah’s story? 

Perhaps you’ve failed. Maybe you got your eyes off Jesus, became afraid, and “ran for your life” when you were supposed to stand in your victory. It’s a lie that God is now finished with you just because you didn’t do it right.

In spite of those sermons, God did not throw Elijah on the garbage heap. (Neither was He done with Peter when he failed to keep walking on the water or when he denied Jesus.) God knows our failings and has compassion on us. “Like a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him, for He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13, 14).

If you have grown discouraged and have run from your calling or your circumstances, don’t buy the lie that God has permanently put you on the shelf. Put your hand back in the Lord’s and keep going. Your most fruitful days can still lie ahead of you.

Christian foundations and the nature of God

 

Before Whom We Stand: The Everyman’s Guide to the Nature of God,
by Lee Ann Rubsam