It All Matters, Part 2 By Larry W. Peebles

DSC_0519Breakfast with the Sheriff was about to be served. A friend of mine wanted me to meet Sheriff Dan (not his real name). Sheriff Dan, from the neighboring county, was very popular and known to be a Christian who had a heart for the youth. He was a big supporter of the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch. My friend had helped with several fund raisers, some of which I had attended. My wife and I had volunteered for many years at the juvenile centers in our home county. We brought Christ-centered programs to the young people locked up in maximum security. Given our common interest in young people, my friend had arranged a breakfast meeting with himself, Sheriff Dan, and me.

After introductions were made and breakfast orders had been placed, the Sheriff immediately asked me to tell him about myself. I told him I was born in Texas, married my high school sweetheart, had two children, and moved my family to Florida in 1987 to take a new job. My children married spouses from Florida, and we were now grandparents. He listened carefully to all the other details, and waited until I was finished before offering that he was also born in Texas. We quickly discovered that he was born near my home town, moved to my town as a young boy, and lived a few blocks from me. We had attended the same elementary school for a while, although he was two years younger. We reminisced on those early years of our lives, asking each other many questions, as we were both inspired by that common thread. He was easy to converse with, and very friendly, but had a way of directing a conversation through questions to get the information he thought was important. It must have been his investigative training. He wanted to know about our involvement with the teens in juvenile justice.

I told him my wife and I brought a Christian faith-based program to the teens three times a month. We had an hour and fifteen minutes from the time the security doors opened until they slammed shut behind us. We brought a message from the word of God, inspired by prayer to be tailor-made for the group that night. We started with songs of praise to lift up the name of Jesus and to set the atmosphere in the room. The message would follow, and the night would conclude with prayer for those young people who wanted prayer for their individual situations. Some were first- time offenders with relatively minor charges such as fighting in school, while others were repeat offenders with very serious charges. Some faced time in jail. We learned enough of their background as we prayed individually with them to know that there were deep and varied problems, some so complicated and discouraging they were almost unimaginable. Our mission was always the same. We were to tell the youth at the juvenile justice facility of God’s love for them, and that He had a good plan for their lives, according to Jeremiah 29:11. We did not know names (because these were minors), and there was no follow up allowed. No matter what they had done, we told them their situation mattered to God, and while we might not know the answer, we could point them to the One who did. When the night was over, we had to simply trust God to take our effort and use it to make a difference in their lives.

At this point, Sheriff Dan could hardly wait to tell me his story. He prefaced this by saying what we were doing would make a difference. He wanted me to share his story with the young people any time I wanted. The Sheriff began by saying that although he was brought to church in his early years, he had gotten away from the Lord as a teenager. When his parents divorced, his world was shattered. He expressed his desperation in the form of anger, which caused him to get into fights in school. He began to run with the wrong crowd, finding himself in and out of the juvenile justice system. He was in trouble, headed nowhere, and did not know how to get out of the destructive cycle.

One night a couple came to visit the juvenile facility where he was detained. They told the group that God loved them all, and had a good plan for each of their lives. The young people needed only to ask for help, and believe God would help them. He listened. When he got out, he determined that would be his last time in juvenile justice. He changed his friends, and started going back to church. Through prayer, God helped him get control of his anger. He finished high school, and went into the Air Force. Following his stint in the Air Force, he went to college on veteran’s benefits. After completing college, he pursued a career in law enforcement, ultimately winning three elections as county sheriff. God definitely had a plan for his life, and the juvenile justice system was not it. He wanted me to use his story to encourage the youth to know that there was a way out of their situation. Their dreams were not dead. There was hope and help for them, by trusting in Jesus.

I was humbled that this large public figure would be so honest with his success story. He not only encouraged and inspired me, he wanted me to encourage and inspire others who came from the identical situation to know that there was help for them.

Here are some of the take-away points from that breakfast:

  1. Our testimony matters. It is a tool to use against the devil. Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him [the accuser of our brothers-the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimonies.” [Emphasis mine.] Many of the teens in juvenile justice were accused of being worthless. They were told their lives didn’t matter, and it would be better if they were never born. On any given night, the meeting room was full of the attempted destructive works of the devil. Sheriff Dan’s testimony stood in direct opposition to those lies. His story speaks of God’s unfailing love, and His relentless effort to reach the lost.
  2. Our testimony not only matters, it never dies. It becomes a form of eternal praise to God for what He has done. The Sheriff asked me to use his testimony in our meetings, and I did. I learned to begin by asking the young people what they wanted to do with their lives. The response was amazing-they wanted to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, firemen, nurses and every good thing. None of them aspired to be thieves, career criminals, or drug addicts. I would then ask if they wanted to know how to get from where they were (locked up) to where they wanted to be. I would then start the story by saying I had breakfast with a man who had spent time in juvenile justice, and end the story by revealing the name of the Sheriff in the county next door. Jaws would drop open. The story was powerful because many of the teens knew the Sheriff or knew of him. I told that story dozens of times, as the Lord directed.
  3. Young lives in prison matter. These teens were God’s creations, known to Him before they were born. They were important, and God had His eye on them. They may have made a mistake, even a very serious mistake, but there is forgiveness. Their lives should not be thrown away. He will find a way to reach them.
  4. God was gracious to send Sheriff Dan to re-enforce when our ministry visited those in the prison, our efforts also mattered. God would honor our obedience and faithfulness to what He had called us to do, and use it to turn lives around. If God would send a couple to reach Sheriff Dan, He would send us to reach someone every night we came.

God has given all of us a testimony. It probably arises out of a mistake we made, or a situation we could not have possibly overcome ourselves. He wants us to use that testimony for His glory. We are not to file that testimony away in archives and forget it. I am sure Sheriff Dan’s testimony was powerful in any setting, but it was especially powerful in our juvenile justice ministry. God wants us to know and develop our testimony to be used as a tool for Him and a weapon against the devil. If there is only a limited amount of time to tell someone about Jesus, such as we had at juvenile justice, what single testimony would you use? I encourage you to think about it, pray about it, and have it ready and available. Then watch God find multiple opportunities for you to use it. Your testimony matters.

Building A Place Of Habitation Part 2 By Kay Keith Peebles

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He could not believe what he was seeing! Moses had been in the presence of the Lord on Mt. Sinai for forty days receiving God’s instructions for the tabernacle, the priesthood, and the celebration of feasts for the Israelites. Returning from communion with the Most Holy God, Moses looked with disgust at the Israelites as they celebrated before a golden image. Their hearts had turned apart from God, and they were worshipping and sacrificing to a large golden calf. Moses’ brother, Aaron, was the one who had made the golden calf for them to worship, having been pressured by the huge crowd. Aaron was to be the High Priest for the Hebrew faith. How could this happen? (See Exodus Chapter 32).

Moses burned with anger toward the people and threw down the two tablets upon which the hand of God had written the Ten Commandments. They broke into pieces before the people. Moses, however, was not the only one who was angry.

Exodus 32:7-10 “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I (God) commanded them; they have made them a molten calf and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it, and said, These are your gods, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt! And the Lord said to Moses, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; Now therefore let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and that I may destroy them; but I will make of you a great nation.” (Emphasis Mine)

If we had we been in Moses’ place, how many of us would have moved aside and said to the Lord, “Go right ahead”? Imagine how Moses must have felt after months of struggling with Pharaoh, back and forth, initiating one plague after another, and then relenting when Pharaoh said he would let the Israelites go. When they were finally released, he marched them through the Red Sea and they camped in the wilderness near Mt. Sinai. Historical writings determine there must have been approximately 2-4 million people for whom Moses was responsible.

Moses’ response to the Lord was remarkable. Exodus 32:11-13 “But Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why does Your wrath blaze hot against Your people, whom You have brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, For evil He brought them forth, to slay them in the mountains and consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from your fierce wrath, and change Your mind concerning this evil against Your people. [Earnestly] remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self and said to them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give to your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.”

Moses stood before the Lord God Almighty and interceded for the Israelite’s lives. He must have felt betrayed as did the Lord, and yet Moses interceded on their behalf. The Bible says Moses was the most humble man on earth. (See Numbers 12:3) It takes a humble person to intercede for those who do not deserve grace, but then we were all in their position before we believed in the Lord and received His grace. Moses again replied to the Lord, “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray You out of Your book which You have written!” (Exodus 32:32) Moses was not only humble, he was bold!

I do not believe Moses changed the Lord’s mind; I believe the Lord allowed Moses to become an intercessor for His people. The Lord desires us to participate in what He is doing and wants to take us where He is going. In some cases, He even allows us to think it was our idea! When we begin to truly know Him, we are able to see the incredible grace He gives us to partner with Him in ministry to others.

The Apostle Paul spoke the same desire Moses had, when ministering to the Jews after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Romans 9:1-4, “I tell the truth in Christ. I am not lying; my conscience [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit bearing witness with me that I have bitter grief and incessant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off and banished from Christ, for the sake of my brethren and instead of them, my natural kinsmen and my fellow countrymen. For they are Israelites, and to them belong God’s adoption [as a nation] and the glorious Presence (Shekinah). With them were the special covenants made, to them was the Law given. To them [the temple] worship was revealed and [God’s own] promises announced”.

The sin the Israelites committed was a grave sin and had to be dealt with. Their rebellion was not only high treason against the Lord and all He had done for them; their unbelief would affect the entire nation if God had not enforced the consequences of their actions. Moses was willing to give his own life on their behalf. God knew the hearts of the people and rather than judging all of them, He sent Moses to judge the main instigators of the rebellion. After they were judged, it was time to move on.

In Exodus 33:2-3 the Lord spoke to Moses, “I will send an Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite, Amorite, Hittite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, for you are a stiff-necked people, lest I destroy you on the way.”

We see the true heart of Moses when he cried out to the Lord pleading with Him to go with them all the way to the Promised Land. Exodus 33:13 “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You [progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, perceiving and recognizing and understanding more strongly and clearly] and that I may find favor in Your sight. And [Lord, do] consider that this nation is your people.” After spending 40 days with the Lord on Mt. Sinai, Moses wanted more of God’s presence.

The Apostle Paul prayed two similar prayers which you can read in Ephesians 1:17-23 and Ephesians 3:14-21.

Moses led the stiff-necked Israelites (God’s words, not mine) for 40 years. Geographically, they could have arrived in the Promised Land within a few weeks, but the Lord led them safely around enemy territory. Many more unbelievers and idolaters were weeded out in the process. When they began their journey, Moses was 80 years old. He led them until he was 120 years old. The Bible says that no one knows where Moses was buried because the Lord buried his body. (See Deuteronomy 34:5-7) Now that was an incredible relationship!

What does all this mean for us? The Lord has been building a body of believers who are to be kings and priests. (See Revelation 1:6 & 5:10). Kings rule and priests minister. Jesus Christ is the Chief Intercessor and He has called all believers not to judge the lost, but to intercede on their behalf. A king ministering by the authority of the Lord has power in the spirit realm to bind the works of darkness and loose the plans and purposes of God by declaring the Word and will of God. The priest ministers first to the Lord, seeking His heart, His ways, and His will, making them his own. Then he also has the responsibility and privilege to minister to the people.

We are to hate what God hates and love what God loves. He loves the lost; those who do not know Him. He loves the broken, the poor, the prisoner, and the sinner. He hates sin, but desires to save and set the captives free. Every believer is called to this. The great commission is for all who believe, but we cannot accomplish this glorious calling unless we, like Moses and Paul, abide continually in His presence.

Moses and Paul both moved the heart of God because they both sought to know Him with all their heart. They made knowing the Lord their priority. Complaining about what we see happening around us will not change anything. Instead, we must wake up, rise up and take our place with the countless others like Moses and Paul, who are leading the lost and broken into freedom and rest. The Lord God Almighty came to the little tent Moses erected outside of the camp to sit and talk face to face with him. Today, the Lord is looking throughout the earth for those who are willing to give their lives away for the sake of others.

Moses built the tabernacle in the wilderness and the Lord came because Moses praised the Lord for Who He is and he interceded on behalf of those the Lord loved. We must lift our eyes higher than our own needs and wants, although they may well be legitimate. When our attention is off ourselves and turned to the Lord, He will show us great and mighty things He wants to do through us for others. There is no calling higher than the high call of Jesus Christ.

This life we have is not about us. It is not about our being blessed. It is about finding the heartbeat of God by knowing Him, and taking our place to help His will manifest in the earth. We are the ones who are to enforce His will and His Word in the earth today. Just as God used Moses and the Apostles, He is looking for those who not only desire to KNOW Him, but are willing to abide with Him in order to change the world.

If we build it, He will come. If we build Him a place where He is continually praised He will meet us there. If we build Him a place where we can agree with His will, and through intercession see it come to pass, He will come.   The kingdoms of this world must bow to the name of Jesus! If our focus is to discover what is most important to Him, and we are willing to help bring it to pass in the earthly realm, He will come!

How To Build Your Own Ark by Larry W. Peebles

DSC_0522“Home Depot does not carry gopher wood in stock”, my friend quipped. He was referring to the wood Noah used to build the ark in Genesis Chapter 6. Our home in the Tampa area had received over 28 inches of rain in July and August. Streets, cars, and entire neighborhoods were flooded. Main roads near the city that formerly were congested with heavy traffic were now being navigated on jet skis. The rainfall for that two month period tied a 55 year old record dating back to 1960, the year Hurricane Donna came through the area. As August closed and September began, a tropical storm was located in the Caribbean, with its projected path pointed toward Florida. It was quite a concern, as forecasters could not say with certainty if it would remain a tropical storm, or become a hurricane. The Governor declared a state of emergency. Where could we possibly put any more rain? The ark seemed to be a good option.

The Hebrew word for ark is “teba”. That word is found only twice in the scriptures. The basket that Moses mother made to float him to safety when Pharaoh was killing all the new born males of the Israelite slaves was also a “teba”. The basket saved Moses, chosen by God to rescue the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and oppression. The ark saved Noah and his family, the only ones found righteous in a land that had become wicked and perverse.   If an ark and a basket worked for Noah and Moses to deliver them from calamity, I was ready to build a “teba”.

The rain was not the only issue causing pressure. I would not consider myself a pessimist; a realistic optimist might be a better description. Regardless, when the Dow Industrial average dropped a record 1,324 points in the three trading days from August 21 through August 25, I began to wonder if God was trying to tell me something. Couple all of that with the ongoing daily news concerning terrorism, politics, corruption and crime, and it appeared a tragic end was coming. Lord, what should I do?

“Build an ark”, He said. Not a three-story ark 450 feet long, 75 feet in width, and 45 feet high. Not one made of gopher (cypress) wood, coated in pitch inside and out, with a roof on it, and rooms to separate the animals. Not a literal replica of the ark Noah was instructed to build to save his family and the animals of the earth. God was referring to a spiritual ark that indeed would save, but would be made according to these instructions:

1. Build an ark of praise. Psalm 22:3 says “But You are holy, O You who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered].” God dwells in our praises. He lives in, or inhabits our praises. He hangs out with those who praise Him. (See the article written by Kay Peebles on Sept. 4–“Building a Place of Habitation, Part 1” for more information.) I would rather have God Almighty as a friend who is welcome in my home than anyone in politics, Hollywood or big business.

Psalm 150, the last Psalm, contains only six verses, yet is so powerful. It essentially says we should praise God with everything we have for everything that He is. The last verse says “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”

1 Chronicles 16:23-26 says “Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” God has done so many wonderful and powerful things for the people of all the nations. He has also done them for me. He will do them for you. Who else would we want to worship? Where else but in Him will we find our hope, our joy, and our strength? He alone is our ultimate help

2. Build an ark of prayer. In 2 Chronicles, chapter 20, the Moabites and Ammonites were coming with a vast army to war against Jehoshaphat, King of Judah. People from every town in Judah gathered together to pray, and King Jehoshaphat led the assembly in prayer. He concluded the prayer in verse 12 saying “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” This is such a simple and honest prayer, so effective and powerful. When the circumstances are overwhelming and we do not know what to do, the best thing to do is turn to the One who has the power to turn the tide in our favor and already knows the outcome. They did not have to wait long for the answer to prayer.

Speaking through one of the other men in the assembly, the Lord said (v.15) “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Then “Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the deliverance the Lord will give you…Go out and face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” (v.17)

The next day, Jehoshaphat sent singers to praise the Lord out in front of his army. By the time they got to the valley where they expected to encounter the enemy, they found the enemy had become confused, attacked each other and all were slaughtered. God had won the battle, and handed them the victory without their lifting a finger. The key to the victory was in the prayer and the praise that preceded the coming battle.

3. Build an ark of protection. In the book of Daniel, chapter 1, Daniel and three of his friends were among the Israelites captured by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken into exile in Babylon as servants. They remained loyal to God, prayed to Him and continued to worship Him, though they were surrounded by those who did not know the true God and indeed worshipped pagan gods. God gave them supernatural wisdom and understanding in return, which enabled them to impress and gain favor with the King.

When the King had a troubling dream, and his own magicians, sorcerers and astrologers could not tell him the dream or the interpretation, the King asked Daniel to do so. The threat of his life was at stake. Daniel gathered with his friends, and (v.18) “He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery [pray], so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.” [Emphasis mine.] In verse 19, the Bible says “During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision.” Then in verses 20-23, Daniel praised the Lord and thanked Him for the wisdom and power to make known what was asked of Him. Their lives were spared because Daniel told the King his dream and its interpretation.

In chapter 3, when Daniel’s friends refused to bow down to the golden image of the King, Nebuchadnezzar declared that Daniel’s three friends would then be thrown into a fiery furnace. Their famous response is recorded in v.17 and 18 “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods, or worship the image of gold you have set up.” When they were put in the super-heated fiery furnace, they were seen moving around with a fourth person who looked like the gods (God). They came out unharmed, their hair was not singed, the clothes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. Sometimes God protects us from the fire, and sometimes He protects us in the fire. Prayer and praise brought an ark of protection over the three friends of Daniel.

The prophet Zechariah declared in chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 “…Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it, declares the Lord, and I will be its glory within.”

In times of trouble, we do not need a wall (or an ark) to protect. We need to glorify Jesus in our lives, families and homes through prayer and praise, and then be confident that He is our wall of fiery protection.

Building A Place of Habitation Part 1 By Kay Keith Peebles

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“If you build it, they will come.” Since the release of the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” that phrase has been quoted millions of times. It was true in that fantasy drama and in many cases it is true today; however, it is not always true. There have been restaurants that built it, but they only came once! There have been products and inventions released on the market, but failed because (enough of) they did not come. It is good to dream and build, but that alone does not guarantee they will come.

Moses wanted to be near God all the time. The Lord had called Moses and the Israelites to come near to Him, but the people rejected the presence of the Lord at close proximity. Refusing to be denied, Moses built a tabernacle in the wilderness by erecting his own tent outside of the camp where the people were living. This ensured him God’s presence would always be with him.

Very few people have had a relationship with the Lord like Moses. Abraham and Jacob had visitations from the Lord (pre-incarnate Christ). Enoch was so close to the Lord he was translated to heaven. Genesis 6:24 records, “And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him]”. Moses was the only one the Bible describes as speaking to the Lord (Yehweh, Amplified Bible) face to face as a man would speak with his friend.  Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory and the Lord hid him in the cleft of a rock as He passed by showing Moses His goodness. (See Exodus 33:18-23) The Lord was especially close to Moses because Moses understood how to build a place of habitation for the Lord. He called it the tent of meeting.

Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation; he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him”. (King James Version) (Emphasis Mine)

Exodus 33:7-9 & 11a “Now Moses used to take [his own] tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting [of God with His own people]. And everyone who sought the Lord went out to [that temporary] tent of meeting which was outside the camp. Vs. 9 When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the door of the tent, and the Lord would talk with Moses. Vs. 11 “And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend”.

I have often wondered why some people have such an incredible presence of God in their lives like Moses and Brother Lawrence in the 1600’s. (“The Practice of the Presence of God”) I now believe it is because visitation from God every now and then was not their desire. They wanted their relationship with God to be one of habitation. Their desire for more of God motivated them to prepare a dwelling place for Him where they lived. Desiring that kind of relationship with the Lord, I have been searching to know what these men knew about God that would ensure their ability to draw His presence among them on a continual basis.

In the above Exodus 15:2 passage I discovered out of 6 translations, the King James is the only one that used the phrase “I will prepare Him an habitation.” The other translations were similar to the Amplified Version below.

Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my Strength and my Song, and He has become my Salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him”. (Amplified Version) (Emphasis Mine)

The word praise, in Exodus 15:2, is equivalent to the word habitation, according to the Strong’s Concordance. It is the Hebrew word “nawa”, meaning “to be at rest, reach one’s aim; to praise:- keepeth at home, prepare a habitation”.

Psalm 22:3 declares, “But You are holy, O You Who dwell in [the holy place where] the praises of Israel [are offered]”. (Amplified Version)

The New Jerusalem Bible translates the verse: “Yet you, the Holy One, who make your home in the praises of Israel”. In other words, God inhabits the praises of His People!

The word “inhabitest” (KJV) used in Psalm 22:3 is the Hebrew word “yasab”. In the Strong’s Concordance, “yasab” means: “to live, inhabit, dwell, stay, to set up; to cause to settle, make dwell, to cause to sit; by extension: to marry”. When we praise the Lord, He comes to sit down and make His dwelling place with us, betrothing (pledging to marry) us as His own (the bride of Christ).

There is a glaring contrast between Moses’ relationship with the Lord and that of many of the Israelites. Their story begins in the book of Exodus. From the time they were freed by God’s mighty power over the gods of Egypt, through their 40 year trek in the wilderness, thousands of Israelites died. A rebellion arose against God by those walking in unbelief. Rather than praising the Lord for His mighty miracles on their behalf, they chose to grumble and complain with insolence toward God and Moses.

Every time they had a need, they could have remembered what He had already done for them and praised Him, believing He could and would do it again. Instead, they chose to forget His miraculous intervention for them in the past. By grumbling and complaining to God instead of humbly asking Him for help, they proved they had no faith for Him to intervene in their present circumstances. If we do not remember what the Lord has already done for us, we will not have the faith to believe He will deliver us again!

The wilderness of testing and trials exposed and segregated the lovers of God from the idolaters. Of the ten spies Moses sent out to scout the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb had the faith to believe God would give them victory over the giants. It was Joshua who sat at the door of Moses’ tent of meeting because he, too, was hungry for the abiding presence of God. The Bible describes Joshua and Caleb as having “a different spirit”. (See Exodus 33:11b)

In Exodus Chapter 15 Moses led the Israelites in a song of praise to the Lord God. He praised the Lord for all the miracles He had done in Egypt, and His triumph over Pharaoh and his chariots. He praised the Lord for parting the waters and giving the Israelites dry land to walk on as they crossed through the Red Sea. He praised God for giving them manna (a nourishing bread) to eat and water to drink.  Unfortunately, not long after, many of the Israelites began complaining again, wishing they could go back to Egypt. (See Chapter 16) By forgetting what the Lord had done for them, they also forgot the pain and degradation of their slavery in Egypt, from which He had delivered them. Their slavery in Egypt began to look better to them that their freedom in the wilderness where God was with them. By not remembering what God had done for them, they began to fall into deception and idolatry.

Psalm 10:21 says, “He is your praise; He is your God, Who has done for you these great and terrible things which your eyes have seen.” The word praise in this verse is the Hebrew word “hilla” which means “praise is proclaiming the excellence of a person or object”. (Strong’s Concordance)

The Lord commanded Moses to build the Ark of the Testimony (Covenant). Enclosed in the ark were the two stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, an opher of manna gathered in the wilderness, and Aaron’s rod. These objects reminded the Israelites of the miracles God performed on their behalf. The Ark of Testimony symbolized the Lord’s continual presence with them. It was a visible sign reminding them that God was with them. His daily presence was demonstrated by the cloud leading them by day and the pillar of fire which illuminated them at night.

We, who are believers in Jesus Christ, have been given a much greater Testimony: Jesus Christ in us, is the Hope of Glory! We have the Bible available to us daily for meditating and studying His mighty acts, His un-dying love, and His faithfulness through all eternity. Could it be that we still feel insecure because we have not fully made Him our praise? Have we neglected the Gift the Lord gave us by the distractions of life around us? Is our faith sure, or do we waver when pressured by other’s opinions? If so, maybe we lack His abiding presence. Living without His presence can cause us to remain fearful and doubting.

God is omnipresent. He is capable of being everywhere in the world at the same time, but too few recognize His presence. The ones who recognize His presence have made His praise their habit. If you are looking for the Lord, He inhabits the praises of His people. Where He dwells, there is peace and rest waiting for us. “And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14) We do not have to wait for heaven, we can enter in now.

Those who want the Lord to come and sit down with them, can begin by building Him a house of praise. If we build it, He will come!