17The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Bye to 2015

As 2015 Comes to a close, I look back over a year that has been spiritual drought for me, a year of wandering in a desert. Perhaps it has been a time that the Lord has been testing me, or preparing me? Perhaps both.

I have found that during such times He is working on me in ways I am not aware. I may never know until I meet Him face to face. Until then, I will walk in faith knowing He has great plans for me and that He loves me deeply. I will rest in the knowledge His plan and His will for my life is greater than anything I can possibly think or imagine.

In this last month of 2015, He has begun to stir up new understanding and new learning in my life. I am excited to walk with Him into this new phase to see what He is going to reveal of Himself.

There have been a few events in the past few weeks which are drawing me to study the scriptures again in a new light, and it is so thrilling. During one of the events shaping this new change, someone pointed me to this verse:

Isaiah 45:3 says I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

What an awesome promise from God! I LOVE to be in the Word and listen as He reveals Himself in the hidden treasures of His Word. What a humbling and thrilling thing it is to be summoned by name by the God of all creation! How awesome it is that the God who breathed the stars into place by the power of the Logos, would deign to lavish priceless wealth upon us, His secret wisdom!

I go into 2016 with great anticipation of yet again being enthralled by my King. I hope and pray that when 2016 comes to close that this blog will be full of new insight.

In the past, as I have watched the numbers of readers decline to extremely small numbers, I have considered giving up on it all together. But then I was challenged by the Lord. "Would you still write even if I were the only One listening?" "Yes, Lord, I would." So, if you are reading this, know that I am truly honored that you would take the time to read this. But, yes Lord, I am writing to an audience of One.

Thank you Father, and praise you for the gift of Your Word! Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit, by whom we are given understanding and insight into the secret treasures and hidden things. Thank You that You have not left us orphans in this world, but have provided us the Way of Life and Truth, through Your Son. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us. During this coming year, I pray Your presence and revelation to all who seek you. Please give us a deep thirst and yearning for You, and please satisfy us through a filling of the Holy Spirit and quench us through Your Word. Draw is in and dazzle us! We Delight in Your Word, and fall down in worship! By the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Note: One of the amazing things I learned this week is that the original Hebrew word rendered "delight" in the Old Testament carries the connotation of bowing or bending down. When we are delighted in His Word, as He reveals Himself to us there, it should cause us to bow down. As we understand more of Him, it should cause us to see how very low we are. He must increase, and I must decrease.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunrise Through My Window

As I stood by the window in the gray before sunrise, I waited with anticipation to hear what the Lord would say. He had wakened me with gentle nudging, "Come, be with me. I want to show you something." After a short lull back into the warmth of blankets and sleep, I heard it again, "Come! Be with me!" And so, I left the covers behind and went. I did not want to miss the gift of the company of my Lord.

Still groggy, we went to the kitchen to warm some day-old coffee. As I stood in the cold kitchen drawing warmth from the cup, I leaned against the sink and watched the world light up with the coming of the sun. Slowly the grays shifts to blues and fiery pinks.

From the vantage of this window, I can see mostly trees which, without my glasses, appear only large black masses. If I lean to the right, bits of sky peek through the branches and around the edges.

Slowly the hues brightened, revealing their beauty in splashes of brilliance shining through the darkness. At once, I saw what He was revealing of Himself.

How like that scene is the life we live. From my vantage, the world seemed small and dark. We see only glimpses of His magnificence, small patches of His beauty and light sparkling through the darkness.

Through the window frame of this mortality we see only that which He allows us to see. The framework He uses to structure our lives becomes the context of our individual perspective. Yet, just beyond the frame of the window that is my life and the shadows of the trees which seem to fill it, is the beautiful reality of endless sky.

We see only a glimpse here and there of His Light, obscured by the darkness of what seems to us to be all of reality. Nevertheless, if we just shift ever-so-slightly to the right, we see there is so much more than we can even comprehend of His magnificence.

His glory is infinite! It is not bound by the limits of our perspective. The darkness of the trees is only a shadow of this world.
Just on the other side is endless blue sky and splendid ceaseless sunlight!

Thank You and Praise You, Father for waking me this morning to see You show me the Truth of Yourself once again. I knew when You said, "Come, be with Me." that there was beauty to behold. Oh how I love when You reveal bits of Yourself to me! I treasure our time as You tarry unrushed with me! Thank You, Lord!

Just now as I prayed that, the sun broke through the trees and shone brightly through my window!

Oh how marvelous,
Oh how wonderful,
is the Father's love for me!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Mother's Legacy of Service

Over the years I spent with my mother, I never knew a time when she was not volunteering at something. Her health made it a struggle, but she always found a way to serve. Often, my sister and I had the privilege of helping.

Before I was 10 years old, I knew how to find a store manager and request permission to post a sign for important events such as the Red Cross Blood Drive or our church's Shut-In Mass. I had stuffed envelopes and waved at passers-by dressed as a clock for a political campaign. And, the list goes on.

Even when we were not able to participate, we understood that serving should be constant. We learned this as she shared her experiences with us.

I recall her return home one Sunday afternoon, after she had been volunteering as a chaplain at the local hospital. She seemed lost in thought, but proceeded to explain. She recounted a series of events which she attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit to put her exactly where she needed to be, when she needed to be there. She was on the elevator, where she met a man with a boy and a girl around 8 and 10 years old, both of whom were sobbing. The man explained to mom that they were on their way to say goodbye to their mother. She accompanied them and stayed with them until they were ready to leave.

I cried as I listened and then asked her, "How did you do it?!" She said simply, "Just hold their hand and let the Lord lead."

During another season, she was a teacher of English as a foreign language at our town's library. She didn't just teach English, however, she got involved in their lives and taught them our culture.

Three of her students were a man and his two sisters from Czechoslovakia. He spoke some English, but the women did not. Shortly after mom began working with them, the man died unexpectedly, leaving his sisters behind alone in a foreign country whose language they didn't speak. My mother stepped up. Imagine trying to translate to and for people you couldn't understand yourself. But, she did it - with God's help, she insisted. They became life-long friends.

There are many more examples, not only of things she did, but lives she changed.

In her later years, she read books to a blind man until she could no longer speak. Before she reached that point however, she read the entire Bible onto tape for him. At that time there was no such thing as audio books. When she could not read anymore, she took up her knitting needles.

She spent hour after hour knitting bandages for a leper colony in the Philippines. They were needed because they were lint-free and reusable. She suffered from Carpel Tunnel and would knit until her arms cramped. She'd stop only long enough to rub the circulation back into them and then continue with her labor of love. In all, she knitted hundreds of yards of the bandages before passing away at only 62 years old.

I learned a lesson from my mother which has become a passion and a way of life. She taught me that if you can breathe, you can find something to do for someone. She may have been weak in body, but the Lord made her strong in spirit to do every work He set before her.

I still treasure her knitting needles. In death, she left them behind, along with her legacy of service. She and they will never be forgotten. I love you, Mom.

Praise you, Lord, for a godly example of living to serve. May I remain eager to serve You. Show me the way, Lord. What work do you have for me? Help me to remain faithful and to train up these children You have entrusted to me as servants for Your Kingdom, and may we together continue her beautiful legacy for future generations. AMEN.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Though My Fields Be Empty

So many times I wonder why God does things. We all do. When Life gets hard, we often ask the Lord, "Why me?" as though it should have been someone else. When situations arise that shake us to our core, it's easy to think God must have been mistaken. This is not how life is supposed to be.

It's easy to see this tendency in the circumstances that threaten to overtake our lives as we know them. But, what about during the more mundane happenings that pass each day? We often miss the Hand of God and His fingerprints in life's minor inconveniences.

This year, as in years past, I planted a garden or, more accurately, a crop. It was not your average "throw some seeds in the ground and see how they do" affair. Not in the least.

It began with reading and planning and dirt testing. Then days filled with hand tilling and soil enhancement. By the time planting days deemed appropriate by the Farmer's Almanac arrived, I was exhausted both mentally and physically. My hands had more blisters than a sunburned albino and every muscle in my body protested even the slightest movement.

And, I prayed through every step in the process. I prayed harder as the work got harder. With more pain came more prayer. In the end, I cried to the Lord. Tears rolled with sweat down my face as I begged for His strength just to finish, and I praised Him when I did.

The weeks passed as I watered. My garden looked lovely. It was exciting to see the sprouts spring up and still more exhilarating to watch them bloom and grow. Praise the Lord for His goodness!

"Wait...is that...gasp!...mold?! Ok. Don't panic, just water every other day instead. Great, now they look dry and burnt."
It went from bad to worse. First the cucumber vines succumbed, then the potatoes. "Not the corn, Lord! Really?"

In the end, we lost it all. Frustration set in and then anger. "Lord, did I not pray? Did I not ask for your blessing and favor? Did I not promise to tithe the first fruits?" I reasoned. I don't often get angry with God, but I could see no fault of my own for this failure.

Often I sit on the front porch of our country home for my quiet time with Him. Since the devastation that was my garden sits close to the porch, I had avoided seeing it and opted instead for the comfort of the kitchen table for devotions, until the morning He nudged me back outside.

As I sat contemplating the mess with hurt in my heart, He led me straight to a verse which I don't know if I could find again if I tried. It said, in essence, "Yea, though my fields be empty, Lord, yet will I praise thee."

I no longer see failure in the brown cornstalks poking up out of the ground, I see the gentleness of a Father who loves me. I see His sovereignty. I see a lesson. And, I see that, although I do the tilling and the plating and the watering, it is He alone who gives the harvest.

Father, please forgive my presumptuousness and the ensuing temper tantrum. I am humbled before you, my King. Thank you for the opportunity to serve in Your fields. It is an honor and a privilege. Thank you for granting the strength to complete the tasks you set before me. And, "Though my fields be empty, Lord, yet will I praise thee." AMEN!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Without You Lord, I am Nothing

So much time has passed, I scarcely know where to begin. However, this is not about me. It is about a life affected by the Lord.

The last years have been trying to say the least. What I have found most difficult to bear is the time of spiritual dryness. I have endured a protracted time of barrenness in my relationship with the Lord, and it has been agonizing.

To my shame, I had harbored thoughts in my heart so deeply, I didn't even know they were there. I had the audacity to believe in some way all I had learned and studied about God's Word was a result of work I had done. I supposed the knowledge was my own. In my pride, the Lord "slapped me off my donkey." His discipline to such an attitude was swift and justifiably harsh, and I am glad.

It taught me a lesson I will not soon forget. I came to the immediate understanding that without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I do not even have the capacity to comprehend the words in the Book, let alone to soak into their rich and deep context. The great beauty I have experienced in the pages of His Word has absolutely nothing to do with me nor any intrinsic ability on my part. I have enjoyed profound revelation of His glory in the pages of His Word only through the gift of His grace and generosity. He has delighted my soul.

When the realization of my arrogance arose in my mind, I was immediately cut off from understanding. Throughout the months and years to follow, I would occasionally have a moment of clarity in which He would show me in my desperation that He was still with me and had not abandoned me altogether. Those times, however, were few and far between and mere fleeting glimpses of closeness I yearned to experience everlasting.

As well, during this time, I had asked a professional writer friend of mine if there was any potential in my writing. The response cut me to the quick. I was informed that my writing is "not interesting." I have wrestled with this declaration for quite some time now. At first, I felt hurt mixed with no small amount of embarrassment. I decided never to write again. But I waver as I am reminded of His question to me, "If I were the only one listening, would you write anyway?" Yes, Lord, I would.

Well, this season of desolate isolation appears to be nearing its conclusion. I find myself in a place of refreshment and renewal, and my soul rejoices!

Since I have received many more messages indicating the writing the Lord has put on my heart touches the souls of others, I have decided to fulfill my promise to my Father. Yes Lord, I will write as though You are the only one listening. I will extol You. I will allow my soul to sing of the good things You show me. I will never again take them for granted nor will I allow myself to harbor vanity in my heart.

Without You Lord, I am nothing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jewels From Exodus 12

This morning was delightfully quiet. My children are all away at their Mamaw and Papaw’s house for a nice visit. Selah… I can breathe and pray and praise. This should not be the exception, but all too often it is.

As I sat in the quiet, I asked the Lord to delight me with His Word. This is absolutely my favorite thing to do in life. I LOVE the Word of God and studying it is akin to panning for gold. The treasure hidden therein is beauty beyond compare, and we miss if it we are not intently searching it out. And, as the good and mighty Abba Father that He is, He did indeed delight me again.

I read the following section of Exodus 12 regarding the Passover:

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 This month shall be to you the beginning of months, the first month of the year to you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel, On the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb or kid, according to [the size of] the family of which he is the father, a lamb or kid for each house. 4 And if the household is too small to consume the lamb, let him and his next door neighbor take it according to the number of persons, every man according to what each can eat shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb or kid shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; you shall take it from the sheep or the goats. 6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall [each] kill [his] lamb in the evening. 7 They shall take of the blood and put it on the two side posts and on the lintel [above the door space] of the houses in which they shall eat [the Passover lamb]. (AMP)

It fascinates me how the Lord uses the very physical events and descriptions of the Old Testament to teach spiritual truths, and these 7 short verses are packed with those multi-faceted spiritual gems. They are dazzling to the eye when viewed through the eyes of Christianity.

First, we are told that the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt. Think of this, the Lord God communicated with man in the place of his bondage. Spiritually speaking, we are slaves to whatever and whomever and wherever we are before the deliverance achieved by the Lord on our behalf. He met them where they were, not where He ultimately wanted them to be.

Also, He communicated to them specifically what He needed for them to do in their present situation in order to work a miracle to serve as a witness to His greatness. I heartily dispute anyone who claims the Lord stopped speaking as soon as John put down his quill at the end of Revelation. My God does NOT change. He has not stopped performing miracles and He has not stopped talking. Tragically, those who say He no longer speaks are those who have stopped listening. Nowhere in the Bible does it in any way indicate that He would stop speaking and in fact we are told, the Holy Spirit gifts some to be pastors, some to be teachers, and some to prophecy (Matthew 23:24, John 8:47, John 18:37, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29, Ephesians 4:11). Why in the world would we continue to have pastors and teachers, but not prophets? In such an instance, we are not taking God at His word, but rather picking and choosing what we will believe. He said what He meant, and He meant what He said. But, I digress.

He prefaced His words to them by telling them that this command that He was about to give them was so profound that it would change the way they recorded time. It was to become an entirely new reckoning of time. It was a new Beginning.

3 Tell all the congregation of Israel, On the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb or kid, according to [the size of] the family of which he is the father, a lamb or kid for each house.

The father of each household was to choose a Lamb for his family. Though it is socially unpopular, one cannot escape the command of the Lord for the father to be the spiritual leader of his home. This verse is only one of many that corroborate the importance of his role to the spiritual health of the family. It is God-ordained. Many volumes can and have been written regarding this subject alone. But again, I digress.

Each house was responsible for accepting the Lamb into their home. All of Israel corporately as a nation was commanded to perform this task, yet each family was responsible for their own portion. Each family, with father as head, had a role to play. And, father had to be mindful of the size of his family. He was responsible for each one having sufficient food.

4 And if the household is too small to consume the lamb, let him and his next door neighbor take it according to the number of persons, every man according to what each can eat shall make your count for the lamb.

If there was going to be any left over, they were to share with their closest neighbor, every man according to his appetite. This verse is so very rich! First, if we have more of the sacrifice than we are able to consume, we are to share it! Not only are we commanded to share it, we are told to share it with our nearest neighbor or those closest to us. They were not to go across the camp and share it with someone on the other side, or to search out their relatives. They were to share it right there where God had planted them. We have become a church obsessed with foreign missions.

Please do NOT misunderstand me. I totally support missions here and ABROAD. Everyone should have the opportunity to hear the Great News of the Gospel of Christ. But even the Lord said,"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) He started in Jerusalem.

There are people right next to us who need to have the soul satisfying supper. They are our responsibility. We should not be so concerned what someone is eating across the camp (globe) if our neighbor is starving for lack of the sacrificial Lamb. Those foreign believers have neighbors and responsible to share with each other as well. However, as I said, if the Lord has instructed someone to go, then certainly go. Let’s just not ignore the widow next door in order to do it. In my humble opinion.

“…Each man according to what he can eat…” Isn’t that amazing? Our Heavenly Father intends for us to be completely satisfied and has indicated that the portion that satisfies us in entirely individual!

A very dear woman of God said to me early in my walk, “You can have as much of Jesus as you want, pray that He always keeps you thirsting and yearning for more.” And so, I have. I believe I could eat the whole Lamb myself! And each time I hunger after Him, I am filled. But, though I am filled does not mean in any way that there is less for anyone else in the family, for all appetites have been considered and the Lamb is sufficient for us all! Just like the miracles of the loaves and fishes, no one who comes to the table of the Lord need ever walk away hungry.

At the same time, we are cautioned to let NONE go to waste. And again, just as he portrayed in the miracles of the feeding of thousands, the remains were collected so that “none would be lost” or wasted (John 6:12). What a tragedy it would be for any of Christ’s sacrifice to remain unconsumed and thus be tossed aside as so much refuse. God said He would not allow His Holy One to see corruption. It is incumbent upon us to be sure that each of our neighbors has been offered to partake.

5 Your lamb or kid shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; you shall take it from the sheep or the goats. 6 And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall [each] kill [his] lamb in the evening.

We who are in Christ know that He alone was the Lamb without blemish. He was the only sinless, spotless sacrifice ordained from the foundation of the earth. There is no other. He was set apart or sanctified for the work of God. And He was indeed killed by the congregation of Israel. I have had readers on this blog from every part of the world, so no matter where you are, please hear me… I am not anti-Semitic. Jesus was a Jew! They were His chosen people and He loves them, and so must I. Just as the Passover Lamb HAD to be sacrificed in order for the blood to be applied and the Angel of Death to pass over, so too did the Lord Jesus Christ HAVE to be sacrificed. What the Jewish leader of Jesus’ time did was ordained by God.

7 They shall take of the blood and put it on the two side posts and on the lintel [above the door space] of the houses in which they shall eat [the Passover lamb].

I think the King James Version is a bit more descriptive in this verse. It says that they were to “strike” the door posts.

Imagine the scene with me, if you will. Each family is standing together at the door. Each person dressed in their traveling clothes, as if ready to leave in a moment. They are about to embark on a journey. They have some place to go. Once the miracle of passing from death to life has been accomplished, we begin to move toward the Promised Land. He does not save us from slavery in order for us to stay there. He does not free us, only to have us remain in that place. We are ready to move with Him and on the way we will see the works of His mighty hands! He will rise up on our behalf and show us His power along the way! Oh what a sweet journey! Hard, very hard, but oh so amazing!

So, there they all are at the door of their temporary abode, dressed for the journey. In one of father’s hands is a bowl of blood and in the other is a small bundle of hyssop. As commanded, he dips the hyssop in the blood and strikes or slaps the first door post. Blood is dripping and upon impact with the post, spatters. He dips again and…splat… hits the other door post. More dripping, more spatter. Gravity carries the blood to the floor. Again he dips the hyssop and slaps it upward to the top beam. I wonder how much of the blood is now splattered, splashed, and dripped on father. Scripture does not specify how much or the blood must be used, but I imagine it was messier and bloodier than we initially tend to think.

In your mind’s eye look left, then right, then up, and now down. There is likely a pool of blood across the bottom as well. There is a cross of blood, is there not? Do you see it?

The precious Blood of the unblemished Lamb in a perfect cross on the door posts of your temporary abode, so that the Angel of Death will pass over you. Once you have partaken of the sacrificial Lamb, you are prepared to embark on a journey with Him of Biblical proportions. You are immediately freed and you flee from the oppressor and run with Him, as He escorts you from the place of your bondage to the Land of Promise, the place He has prepared for you. Oh SELAH!

Blessed are You, Oh Lord of all creation! You and You Alone are worthy to be praised! How delightful is Your Word! How amazing! Father I pray that each and every soul who reads these words will be blessed by them. I pray your hand on each one that you will show them the freedom of Christ, if they do not already know Him. I pray that those who do know Him will be brought into fresh remembrance of the beauty and awe of Your Word. Thank You Father for this opportunity to gaze into the record of Your mighty work on our behalf and see You again for who You Are! Thank you for dazzling us with brilliant, vivid jewels You have hidden for us and then reveal to us! Praise You, Father!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Spiritual Discouragement and Neglect

Our natural Florida every-afternoon-rainstorm weather had caused my cucumber plants to mold. Over several weeks, I had spent considerable time tilling soil on a patch of earth covering approximately 75 square yards.

I tilled it, weeded it, planted it, hauled nearly 50 large wagons full of compost to it, watered it, and otherwise tended it. All the while, I prayed that the Lord would bless my effort. After all, I reasoned, I was doing important and useful work. I asked Him to send rain and a bountiful harvest.

And rain, it did. So much, in fact, my crops were drowning. The worms, on the other hand, were not. Nor did they respond in any appreciable way to the pesticide we applied.

As discouragement set in, I responded by grumpy neglect. The Lord has shown me again that my best efforts can do nothing to bring the harvest. Only the Lord of the Harvest can do that.

Today He led me, scissors in hand, to my cucumbers. They were a tangled mess of molded vines and soggy leaves. Slowly I began to snip away the dead leaves. This gave way to clipping entire branches. Ultimately, I uprooted entire plants. In the end, all that remained were the few plants which were actually bearing fruit.

I was reminded of my favorite section of scripture, John 15 where our Lord describes Himself as the vine and us as the branches. How like My Father to reveal Himself through a physical picture of a spiritual reality. When we allow the enemy to take a foot hold through discouragement and neglect, we are left with a moldy mess of twisted dead branches that are good for nothing. We do not reap a harvest and eventually bring forth no good thing and must be uprooted.

I noticed as well, the tendrils of the good plants had grabbed hold of the dead plants. When the dead rot was stripped away, the healthy plants suffered some damage. We must be careful to not become entwined in the sin, corruption and dead works of those closest to us. They will ultimately cause us injury.

It was truly a disgusting endeavor. Upon completion, my hands and clothing were covered with nasty grime. It was slimy and putrid and in all ways revolting. How good of our God to be our vine-keeper. How sweet of Him to tend to us in our corruption and slime. How marvelous that He would care to tend us and lift us up out of the muck and mire, clean us up and set us to good healthy growth.

Lord, please protect me from discouragement and neglect of my spiritual life. Please prune me Lord, so I may bear much fruit for the good and glory of Your Kingdom. Help me Lord to remember I have work to do, but only You can grow me and prosper me, only You can bring a harvest. I must do my part, but ultimately You are the vine. I am but a branch