Monday, December 30, 2013

A Fresh Start

I have a love of and a fascination for snowflakes! Makes one wonder why as it never snows where I live; I have to drive or fly to catch a glimpse of these wonderful winter wonders. The first time I can remember actually seeing it snow (i.e. falling from the sky) is when I was 17 years old and away at college. It entranced me. I was mesmerized. So fresh. So clean. So soft. So white.



My real love and appreciation for these lacy pieces of ice began just a short seven years ago while homeschooling my son.  Great science lesson. We talked about how snow is made, what happens to it when it hits the landscape, and 'made' our own out of Borax and pipe cleaners.  I checked books out of the library including one about the famous 'Snowflake Bentley' (who I had no idea was so famous until I checked out the book).  


"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone without leaving any record behind."

William 'Snowflake' Bentley
Photographer, 1925


Pictures under the microscope by Bentley


Bentley was fascinated with these delicate creations.  I was and am still amazed. Amazed at what God has done and continues to do each winter with His magnificent creativity. For our enjoyment. For our amazement. To show Himself to us. His infinitely detailed self, His many facets and layers. Unending yet never changing.

So, as winter is upon us, my mind does wonder to thoughts of the snowflake. I don't envy those who live in colder climates but do relish the opportunity they have to watch the beauty of God in His creation of the snowflake. Its blanket of hush, its peace, its individuality, its community, its spiritual significance and in its purpose in making all things new again come springtime.


 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” saith the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: It shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

“For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 
Isaiah 55:8-12


And, as our calendar dictates yet another year going and coming, the snowflake again makes me reflect on His boundless creativity in each one of us.  No two are the same. Unique in composition, shape, form, and united in purpose. Praise Him!


 But rise and stand upon thy feet, for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose: to make thee a minister and a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in which I will appear unto thee,  delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee,
to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ 
Acts 26:16-18


Give yourself a fresh start. Ponder the snowflake. Remember Whose you are, who you are in Him. Who He made you to be. You, my friend, are His miracle of beauty just as the snowflake is His. Created by Him and for Him. His masterpiece of design. He made you just as you are to mold into the person He wants you to become. Unique, special. This journey is uniquely yours. Renew your focus, your energies, your time. Let your light shine; leave your record, your legacy, behind for His glory.....



I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.
Psalm 139:14

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who's That Knocking at the Door?

My puppy. Actually, not a pup anymore.  He is about two and a half years old which makes him about 17 1/2 years old in human years, I guess.  Anyway, he is a sweet little puff of fluff with a 'fur'ocious  bark and a somewhat 'needy' disposition.  He loves company whether animal or human. His name is, most appropriately, Dr. Snuggles. And, yes, Snuggles absolutely loves to snuggle, cuddle and, of course, be petted and pampered almost continually.


Isn't he cute?!

Snuggles has developed the sweetest routine in the mornings around our home. (Dogs, like children, thrive on routine.)  He comes to my bedroom door somewhere between 7:30-8:00 a.m. each morning.  I'm usually enjoying my 'quiet time' then.  I can hear him outside my door sniffing and trying to see through crack underneath the door.  He then jumps up on his hind legs, places his front legs on the door itself, stretches, and drags his legs from top to bottom. Quite the noise he makes with his nails!  He then whimpers a bit; if I don't come to door right away, Snuggles' whimper turns into a bark.

So much FLUFF!

I treasure this time with him and he with me. He will curl up on my chair with me and usually let me stroke him for as long as I am willing. Sometimes he'll snooze. Sometimes he just gazes at me longingly. So peaceful. So sweet. So loving.  He will stay with me until I'm ready to go about my day and then move with me from chair to doorway and down the stairs.  My mornings just wouldn't be the same if I didn't open that door...

Irresistible 
 
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Revelation 3:8

The door. THE DOOR. Yes, my mornings certainly wouldn't be the same if I don't open THE DOOR. My time with Him. In the beginning when I said "Yes!" to His invitation; even now, as I enjoy my time with Him in meditation and prayer.

Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. James 5:9

The word 'door' appears approximately 175 times in the Bible.  Some significance there I would suspect.  And, so many times it refers to our Christ, THE Door. It moves me to action.  I feel compelled to open that door as much as possible. A glimpse of the Old Testament:

  1. Exodus 21:6
    Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
  2. Exodus 26:36
    And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.
  3. Exodus 29:4
    And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.
  4. Exodus 29:11
    And thou shalt kill the bullock before the Lord, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
  5. Exodus 29:32
    And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
  6. Exodus 29:42
    This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
     
    I could list many more references. Our slavery. His Lordship, His priesthood, His kingship, His living water, His sacrifice, His body, His atonement. All for us. A shadow of what was to come.

    And, the New Testament:

    1. John 10:1
      Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
    2. John 10:2
      But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
    3. John 10:7
      Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
    4. John 10:9
      I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
    5. Luke 13:25
      When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
       
      Again, I could list many more verses.  To accept Him, we must open the door of acknowledgement of Who He Is and What He has done for us. To surrender to Him, we must continually open that door in submission everyday of our lives as a sacrifice to the One who loved us first. No, my mornings would be the same without Him walking through that door!

      And, one of my favorite verses:

      Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

      He desires our companionship and He seeks us out to find it. He is eager. He is always knocking. He is always waiting. He wants to love and be loved. He wants to carry your burdens. He wants to heal your heart. He wants to guide you, bless you, impart wisdom upon you. Every morning. Every moment.

      I encourage you to open your door on a daily basis. Morning, noon, and/or night. Your life won't be the same.... Won't you open THE DOOR and let Him in!?


Sunday, December 22, 2013

A LEGACY OF FAITH

Feeling a bit melancholy at the moment.... I just broke one of my favorite cooking bowls! A pale green mixing pitcher. Circa 1950. Yes, it was probably considered a collectible of sorts but the value in it for me was not monetary but emotional. It belonged to my mom....

















If you've been a follower of my blog, you know my mom has been gone about six years now. Bittersweet parting, she and I. Yet, I have many fond memories of life with Mom including this small green mixing pitcher.  It is one of a few things that belonged to her that I elected to keep after her passing. Many a perfect pancake and cookie concoction came from this little treasure. (And, yes, I found it on eBay today for approximately $50.00).

Today, I dropped it on the kitchen floor when taking it out of the cupboard. It immediately smashed into several large portions and countless shards of glass. In an instant, my bowl was reduced to rubble! Too shambled to put it back together the way it was before. My treasure, emotionally and physically, was no more. A part of my heart broke with it....



I suppose, in a way, it kept my memories of Mom alive. The good ones. It was as if she was still with us in a small way. I still felt attached to her, remembered her in the younger years and the better times. And, I was hoping to pass that bowl on to my daughter. Now what....?

The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe.  John 1:7

Now what, indeed! The physical reminders of Mom are fewer and fewer as time passes. I want to hold on to that keepsake!  How breaking it makes me long to see her that much more! For His kingdom to come, for all to be made right, for everything to be put under His feet.

 But our High Priest offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There He waits until His enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy.  And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For He says,
 “This is the new covenant I will make
    with my people on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”
Then He says,
“I will never again remember
    their sins and lawless deeds.” 
Hebrews 10:12-16 NLT


Yet I know I must pick up the pieces and move on. In the here and now, it helps me to remember the important legacies that I will leave behind for my own children. Not just mixing bowls. The life lessons, the spiritual journey, the laughter, the love.  The intangibles. The treasures worth collecting.

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Matthew 6:21 KJV

To be a mom worth remembering rather than wishing and hoping to forget. No, not a 'perfect' mom. Just a mom who gives it everything she's got, fully relying on His power, pressing deepest into her faith in the weak moments, and flying by His Spirit everyday.  Being an ear and shoulder for them in the tough times, being tough on them and for them in their weak times, and on my knees when they need it and even when they think they don't. And, knowing when to let go and let God fully live in their lives rather than just through me. Passing on warmth, wisdom, wonder, and worthiness. His light. His love. Especially in the dark times when life doesn't make sense.

I will miss my bowl as I do miss my mom. As in all things, however, I must move onward in this journey remembering her limited legacy and doing my utmost in Him to leave something larger than myself for the blessings in my own nest. A treasure in a legacy of something, Someone larger than myself that will be here even when I am no longer. Something that can't be broken, taken away, or lost. Something that truly passes the test of time and transcends into eternity.... A legacy of faith.

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."  Deuteronomy 6:7 KJV

"Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." Matthew 13:52 KJV


Friday, December 13, 2013

THE GAP FILLER

The 'gap'.  As Christians, we hear this term often throughout our walk. It is usually used in the conjunction with the word 'separation.' Most appropriately. Our separation from God: the gap between sinfulness and righteousness.

A friend and fellow servant of mine has been in the midst of intense spiritual battle for many moons now. Attacks on health, emotional well being, and physical temptations among various family members.  She has been on her knees constantly and asking others to do so as well. She wants to make it right. She is worn out and desperate. She needs rest.

My friend recently used the word ‘gap’ when describing her feelings of separation between truth and emotion. How poignant!  Knowing God's Word, knowing what she should do but being unable to separate herself emotionally from the pain and suffering to do what she knows she should. Wanting control but not being in control. Wanting to do 'the right thing' but not knowing exactly what that looks like.


“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one." Ezekiel 22:30


She needs a gap filler, THE gap filler. It is His grace that fills that ‘gap’! In His grace, and only there, will we find true rest.  Not absolution of responsibility. Not a free ticket to do what we like. A willingness to let go and let God do what He must.  A heart surrendered to Him knowing He knows best.  Not trying by our own might to make it right. Just knowing that He already has....


We don't need to fix it. He has done that for us. We need to experience the fullness of spiritual rest in not feeling like we need to be perfect in word and deed at every moment.  Rest from the pressure that we need to orchestrate every moment of life constantly planning and preparing to avoid the next catastrophe. Freedom to live our lives, love our families, and accept our appearances just as they are and as God has intended them to be (especially as Christians). Perfection is unattainable to us in this life yet we constantly strive to achieve it on our own.

Picture Jesus in the garden before His crucifixion…  Few looked upon Him as being perfect yet He was/is Perfection.You just know darkness was closing in, the weight of the evil one’s presence, the burden of sin.  Heavy on His heart and mind. He saw it, heard it, experienced it, bore it. He prayed, He struggled, He was obedient. He chose to submit all to the will of the Father. He let go and, because he let go, He bridged that gap for us then and He does it now. By His grace. Christ alone is THE Gap Filler. Nothing we do can compare or ever fill that place....





Strive for peace not for perfection. He knows your struggle. Experience freedom in Him. You are not expected to react ‘perfectly’ in every situation. You are human and of the flesh. He knows.  He uses this time to draw us near and draw near to us.  He knows your heart. He covers us, especially during these times, with His gift of grace.  Embrace that gift; it will bring you peace. Experience rest in Him. It is truly not meant to be easy; it is meant to grow us in ways that are often difficult and painful as we let go and let God have His way. Your beautiful obedience will help you through the darkest of times.

The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. Isaiah 9:2

I’ve been there, in my own ways, many times before. Those dark, lonely places. Gather together with like-minded brothers and sisters to pray and chat. I can think of nothing more important for this journey through despair than precious prayer and fellowship! Surround yourself with light. Edify and encourage one another and remind each other of His constant grace that overcomes our weakness and love that conquers all. His grace that fills the gap and shines light to shatter the darkness.



So, rest and rejoice. Repent and recommit as He breathes life and light into your life through His amazing grace. I pray for your peace as you become perfected through the pain and trial and for you to see the beauty in the struggle as you become more like Him! Praise Him for His goodness and grace!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Let Everything that has Breath Give Thanks

Giving thanks.  Variations of the phrase 'give thanks to the Lord' occur at least 40 times throughout the Bible.  An important topic to our Lord to say the least. It should be equally important to us.

A spirit of thanksgiving. "Sure", I say "I can give thanks. I can offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for the food on the table, the roof over my head, the material blessings that surround me, even the air I breathe."

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!    His faithful love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:39

We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near. People everywhere tell of your wonderful deeds. Psalm 75:1

And, I can certainly give thanks when a prayer is answered as I have asked. When life is good. When I have everything I think I need.

And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat.  These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.” 
Exodus 16:15-18

But, do I really know what I 'need'? Can I really give thanks to Him during the tough times?  Can I thank Him for that trial, tragedy, or tribulation?  The unpredictability that life brings? The pain that often accompanies it?

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
Ephesians 5:20

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Ouch! Giving thanks for everything?!  Certainly easier to say than to do. Yet we are asked, in effect commanded, to do so!  It is God's will for us. So then, we must ask ourselves those hard questions once again...  What do we truly 'need'? How and when should we give Him thanks? 

Sorrow is better than laughter,  for sadness has a refining influence on us. Ecclesiastes 7:3

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

So simple yet so difficult. We read it; we hear it.  But when it comes to living it, we deny it.

He desires to transform us. To become more like Him. The potter and the clay.  It hurts. It's hard. It doesn't make sense to the flesh; yet, His ways are NOT our ways. He is increasing our faith and trust. He is reducing our stress and anxiety so that we can find rest in Him and become eternally minded. So that we are free to desire a deeper understanding, draw closer to Him, and develop His character.

Desire something Deeper
 Draw even Closer
 Develop Godly Character


Remember:  HE IS LOVE. He is not motivated by any other reason than His unconditional love for us! He desires an intimate relationship with us unhindered by the flesh. Our definition of love must become His definition of love....

Praise the Living God for what He has done, is doing, and will do. It all has glorious purpose.  Praise Him who is a God of details leaving no stone unturned so that we can relax. Praise Him for being Love and for loving us so much that He gives us just what we need when we need it most! Praise Him for His devotion to us and to our transformation process. Thank you, Lord!

An attitude of gratitude. Always. In everything. 

Receive His grace.
Accept His gift.
Give thanks. 
No matter what.
His love endures...

FOREVER!



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

CLUSTERS

The words ‘community’, ‘clusters’, and ‘huddle’ have been running through my thoughts as of late. You  may be thinking because it is Fall. My mind must be filled with visions of grapes on a vine, football, or family gathered around a Thanksgiving table. Or maybe I'm craving chocolate-covered peanut clusters. In part, you are right; however, I was thinking more along the lines of butterflies!

My family usually makes a trek to the Central Coast of California at least once every couple of years. Truly, it is my favorite place to visit in California with the June Lake/Mono Lake area running a close second place. For me, it is like stepping out of the world—a slower pace, more open space, a more clear vision of Him and His creation—to regain focus on what is truly important. A breathe of fresh air literally and spiritually.

Amtrak Coast Starlight

Moro Rock

Hearst Castle

Avila Beach

There is a very special place in that coastal area in Pismo Beach where the Monarch butterflies migrate every winter.  They spend the warmer months up in Canada and parts of the northern states but find wintering in the warmer climates of Southern California and Mexico much nicer.  Much like the migration of geese or ‘snowbirds’ as we affectionately call migrating/vacationing seniors.  The butterflies, however, have a beautiful aspect added to their migration habits.  They love to cling together in clusters on eucalyptus trees in October and November!

A Monarch Butterfly
Our trip to Central Coast this year took us, once again to this familiar stomping ground. I never cease to be fascinated by these graceful creatures and their gathering together. They are huddled in beautiful clusters like grapes on a vine or crystals on a chandelier. I love their need for each other, their dependence upon each other, their sense of urgency in helping one another. They gather together in early morning and evening to keep warm until the air warms up enabling them to spread their wings and fly. Their clusters among the eucalyptus leaves keep them well camouflaged to protect them from predators. As the sun rises and the temperature warms, each butterfly will gradually spread its wings and fly to its next destination. Often, they will return to that same resting place each evening for a number of weeks until conditions warrant moving onward.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 1 Peter 5:2

Clusters of Monarch Butterflies
 A cluster. A community. Of caring. Of sharing. Of providing for one another. For protecting each other. So intimate, so beautiful and so necessary for survival. By God’s design.

This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.  
1 Corinthians 12:29

We were made to cluster. We were made for community. Families, friends, churches, neighborhoods.  Yet, in our flesh, we want to ‘go it alone.’ We become exclusive rather inclusive—cliques, social circles, clubs—with standards, seen or unseen, that shut people out. We feel more comfortable with people who see things pretty much the way we do. We focus on differences rather than similarities or the wants of the few rather than needs of the many. We focus upon what divides us rather than what unites us. Not by God’s design.

 "When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures,  idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division,  envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21


Good things happen in huddles, clusters, and community. People form bonds, make plans, accomplish amazing things and share life experiences together, win or lose.

Just think how wonderful it would be if we were to cluster together, to reach out continually to one another, to share with one another, to care for one another!  To be inclusive. To truly be in this world but not of this world. Our emotional and spiritual tanks would be full rather than empty. What if we were to appreciate our differences, learn from them and grow together? Make friends rather than enemies. Agree to disagree without anger. We could shine our light upon others, bringing them into community to experience warmth, friendship, intimacy, transparency, love and security without feeling vulnerable. We could spread our wings and fly returning to our community to recharge our batteries and fly again. We would bless and be blessed. We would not be wanting. By His design.

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. Acts 2:42

So much more to learn (than science) from this delicate creature that God has created. So beautiful. So much like our Savior…. Let us reach out to others, as He did, to include rather than exclude, to embrace rather than disgrace, to accept rather than reject. He came and He died for us ALL!


If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. Matthew 5:46
And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. 1 John 3:23

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Beautiful Sacrifice of Prayer & Fasting Part II


"Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God." ~ Andrew Murray


Love this quote! What a powerful statement!  Bringing heaven and earth together.  Bringing the temporary condition of our lives on this earth in alignment with the eternal, everlasting domain and the will of the Almighty. Coming before the throne of grace and power in surrender. Drawing close to Him. Expressing our love and trust in Him. Knowing Him more intimately. Prayers with power behind them. Spirit-led and Spirit-filled. Don't miss this wonderful opportunity!

The Sacrifice

The power and beauty in the sacrifice of prayer and fasting...

Praise

Repent

Ask

Yield

Focus

Acknowledge

Sacrifice

Thanksgiving



Praise Him. For all He is, all He does and His willingness to humble Himself to commune with us.
Repent and Release your heart. Come before Him with a humbleness and a willingness to learn and grow. Embrace His forgiveness. Surrender.
Ask Him to guide you in Spirit (rather than flesh) as you pray for your heart’s desire for yourself and others.
Yield in submission to His perfect will and in anticipation to His answer to your request whatever the outcome.

Focus on the power and provision of God, His Spirit and the gift of redemption, reconciliation, and salvation rather than on perceived needs of the flesh.
Acknowledge His sovereignty in all things. He is our ALL in ALL; we would not, could not exist without Him.
Sacrifice something of significance such as food, a stronghold or a bad habit. The sacrifice should be something you feel you need but must do without to increase the realization of your weakness and dependance upon Him. Sacrifice your time to be used in prayer.
Thank Him continually during the fast for providing spiritual strength and sustenance during your time of surrender and moments of weakness and revelation. Thank Him for His unfailing love and provision.



Reasons to Pray and Fast
To seek God’s guidance and wisdom
To seek deliverance or protection
To express grief or remorse
To strengthen prayer
To express repentance
To rededicate your life to God
To humble yourself before Him
To overcome temptation or conquer a stronghold
To seek His provision spiritually or physically
To ask for healing emotionally, spiritually or physically

“Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.” Daniel 9:3, seeking guidance and deliverance

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.” Joel 2:12-13, in repentance and mourning.

“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ Isaiah 58:6-9, fasting pleasing to the Lord.


Scripture References for Prayer and Fasting

http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Fasting-and-Prayer/

The Beautiful Sacrifice of Prayer & Fasting


Another absolute favorite story of mine from His Word comes from 2 Chronicles 20.  It is a story of angst, danger, desperation and deliverance. It is a story of prayer, power, community,  and perseverance. It is love story sacrifice and deliverance.

A summary of the story goes something like this:
 
King Jehoshaphat of Judah was told that his enemies were coming to make war. Jehoshaphat was terrified and begged the Lord for guidance. He also ordered everyone in Judah to begin fasting. So people from all the towns of Judah came to Jerusalem to seek the Lord’s help.

Jehoshaphat stood before the people.  He prayed before the people giving the Lord all the praise honor and glory. He also took claim to God’s promise of protection for his people. He said, ‘We can cry out to you to save us, and you will hear us and rescue us.’ In humility, Jehoshaphat prayed, “ We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.”

Then the Spirit came upon Jahaziel, a man in the crowd.  He said, “Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Then King Jehoshaphat bowed low with his face to the ground. And all the people of Judah and Jerusalem did the same, worshiping the Lord. 



 Early the next morning the army of Judah went out into the wilderness to face their enemies. On the way Jehoshaphat stopped and said, “Listen to me, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm.


(And, here is the best part!) After consulting the people, the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang:  “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” (Can you imagine singers leading you into battle?!)

 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir to start fighting among themselves. The armies of Moab and Ammon turned against their allies from Mount Seir and killed every one of them. After they had destroyed the army of Seir, they began attacking each other.So when the army of Judah arrived at the lookout point in the wilderness, all they saw were dead bodies lying on the ground as far as they could see. Not a single one of the enemy had escaped.


 King Jehoshaphat and his men went out to gather the plunder.  It took the people three entire days to gather the plunder! It is still called the Valley of Blessing today.  When all the surrounding kingdoms heard that the Lord himself had fought against the enemies of Israel, the fear of God came over them.  Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.


Valley of Blessing


I love this moment in history because it memorializes the beauty of relationship with God Almighty.  The king loved his people and his people loved him. The king loved God and God loved him. The people loved and worshiped God. There was beauty in the sacrifice of prayer and fasting and coming before God with surrendered hearts.

Jehoshaphat had a sense of urgency in approaching the Lord; rather than trying to solve the problem himself, Jehoshaphat went straight to the Creator of the Universe. He approached the throne with humility before God and his people, relying on God alone. The king seized God’s power in collective fasting and prayer demonstrating his trust, reliance and dependance on Him alone. His prayers and demonstration through fasting with his people were answered, he gets an added bonus of peace on every side during his reign, and God gets the glory!

The sacrifice of prayer and fasting, with a yielded heart, can move mountains. It is a beautiful way to demonstrate our love and trust in the Living God. It is one the most powerful tools of spiritual warfare yet one of the least used.

May we grasp the power of prayer and fasting, may we seize the opportunity to gather together in coming before Him to offer this sacrifice in submission, worship, trust, and dependence. And, may we utilize this tool in our toolbox of faith often just as we put on our armor to face each day!





Sunday, October 13, 2013

WHAT IS 'FAMILY?'

Alone. Lonely. Lonesome. Solitary. Abandoned. By oneself. Unaccompanied. Words that sound empty, sad, painful. Things we usually want to avoid at all costs. There are certainly a lot of negative connotations associated with these words.

Truth be told, I've struggled off and on throughout my days with these negative words associations. Have spent quite a bit of time by myself. I'm an only child. My dad traveled a lot so both my mom and I spent a lot of time alone. I had a very small extended family whose members lived in the Midwest and East coast (we're on the West coast) so we rarely saw them. I married into a small family whose members were again in the Midwest and East coast and somewhat estranged from each other so it has been just my husband, myself and our two kids. And, unfortunately, we now have only one surviving parent between the two of us.  


As God would have it, I ran across this beautiful verse last year during a season in my life where I was feeling very isolated:  

God sets the solitary in families;
He brings out those who are bound into prosperity;
But the rebellious dwell in a dry land. Psalms 68:6

I clung to this verse that day and have never let go. "God sets the solitary in families"..... I truly seek claim to that promise and look for it on a daily basis. And, He is faithful and good to fulfill it. But never does He do things in the way we expect....


Over the years, He didn't give me more additions to my physical family; however, He has brought a few people into my life that I can call friend or look at them as family. He has increased my family by giving us an extended spiritual one. Through church, homeschooling and bible study. Many of these giving people bless me in ways my physical family never could. And, yes, the Lord does fill our cup to overflowing in His perfect timing. 

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24


As you might imagine, birthdays and certain holidays are among the most difficult for me to be without family. You really tend to sense how 'alone' you are on days where tradition is to gather together with family. Especially birthdays. We all like to be celebrated on our special day. Even after all these years, I still like to be remembered on that day.   



I just celebrated another year of life. Honestly, I was dreading it. I did my own birthday chant: "Nothing special. Rarely remembered. No expectations...." This year was different.  I received the nicest gifts, cards, and Facebook notes from sweet friends in all my 'families'!  Just when I needed it most. Those cards and comments are like treasure to me. Little nuggets of gold! A sweet birthday gift in the form of a promise fulfilled from the One who loves me most....

"Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38

Your kindnesses never go unnoticed especially by the One who really matters.  God shows His amazing love in many ways including those beautiful random acts of kindness through others. Never miss an opportunity to reach out to those you come in contact with to extend a word of thanks, appreciation or encouragement. Reach out to those who need 'family'. Be inclusive. Love on 'em any way you can! Even the smallest of gestures can make a huge difference to those whose tanks need filling. Bless others in this way and you will be blessed!





And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.  1 Corinthians 13:13






Saturday, October 5, 2013

GOT YA COVERED

You may recall that I have two children, ages 10 and 13 years old going on 20 and 23...!  Love 'em more than I can express in mere words and would certainly give my life for them. In fact, as many of us moms know, we do give much of our lives--wants, desires, time, energy, needs--as a sacrifice of love for our little ones. Spend much of our time, especially in the younger years, caring for the details of their lives rather than our own.


As my children grow, get a bit 'older and wiser' in their ways, I do expect them to think for themselves and do things on their own without too much reminding or nagging.  Doesn't always happen....

In fact, just the other day, I found myself cleaning up the bird's cage, filling food and water trays, and replacing birdie treats.  Not my job. My kids share this job together. Most of the time. Not this time. This time it was mine, all mine.

 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Matthew 11:28

As a mom, this situation puts me in somewhat of a quandary. Yes, I desire that my children be responsible and fulfill their duties. Most of the time, in our household, there are consequences for neglect such as this circumstance. Why did I find myself doing it for them?  You are probably asking this question of me yourself. And, I did ask myself....



....but I already knew the answer. Because I love them and I love the bird. Immensely. I care. About the bird, yes. About his needs and desires most certainly. And, about my kids, absolutely in the same way. Sometimes we all need a break from the routine. A helping hand from nowhere. A gift of time off, a sweet treat, time to breathe. A taste of sweet grace. "I've got you covered." I say in my head to my terrific, mostly reliable kids and to the sweet bird who needs his sustenance.

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:6-7

Makes you truly wonder how many times a day God extends us His sweet favor and covers our backs.  Picks up after us in our messiness. He cares deeply.  About the smallest of things. He fills in the details, finds parking spaces for us, stretches time when we need it, sorts priorities, gives us that extra wisdom for the occasion, or the provision we desperately need just in time. A sweet taste of grace. Even when we are unaware.  Always when we don't deserve it.

 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:28-30

My kids didn't deserve it that day. It was my gift. I could truly relate to them in that way as a reflection of how God experiences His relationship to us. I certainly won't extend it to them everyday. But, for that day, I was sufficient for that moment just as He is sufficient for us in every moment.

When you feel stressed or stretched, remember that. His sweet gift of grace is threaded into so much of the detail in our lives. In the brokenness, in the hurried moments, in the planning, in the forgetfulness or the apologies. So much rest and blessing in that......! Don't worry; He's got ya covered!

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  
2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS Part II

The beauty of holiness.  So different than what we, in our flesh, imagine beauty to be....


And when he [Jehoshaphat] had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: “Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.” 2 Chron. 20:21

 
  
Those whom Jehoshaphat chose to sing and praise the Lord in the temple had to embrace this vision of holiness, what it meant, and how to honor it in a way that was pleasing to God. It was no slight or unimportant calling. Those chosen had to have sincerity in heart for the great holiness of God and express it with truth.

Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Cor 5:8
 


To come before Him with offerings of praise and to accept the many gifts He graciously gives us, we must truly have a heart filled with submission, thanksgiving, and gladness. Our songs should be filled with adoration. How can we partake of His glory and goodness while holding on to things that don't bear good fruit or without trying to understand how magnificent He is?!

The words we sing or offer in praise should be heartfelt and full of life as they give evidence to our own holiness, belief, and way of living. We should praise the beauty of His holiness with every breath we take and every move we make. God is completely holy and His holiness is beautiful to behold! To be holy is:


1. to lead a saintly; godly; pious; devout: a holy life;
2. to have a spiritually pure quality: a holy love; and
3. be entitled to worship or veneration as or as if sacred.
He deserves ALL of our praise as He is truly perfect. He loves with a deep love, an unselfish love, an unconditional love. His motives are pure. "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28  Oh, how He loves us! We should long to be like Him, to have the beauty of holiness in His sight...


For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. 
Isaiah 66:2
He loves us no matter what. He finds the beauty in our sacrifice of pride to make way for humility, in our acknowledgement of His sovereignty, when we make Him Lord of every aspect of our lives, and when we live our lives for Him. 
Beauty in the ashes.
Beauty in the pain.
Beauty in the sacrifice. 
Beauty in the submissive life.
Beauty in the repentant heart.
Beauty in the spiritual fruit. 
Beauty in the praises.
Beauty in the reverence.
Beauty in the testimony.
Beauty in the holiness.

Let's worship Him in the beauty of holiness as He alone is God and is worthy of all praise!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

PROVIDENCE, PROVISION , POWER and PRAYER

One of my top ten stories in His Word is the story of King Hezekiah and Jerusalem's triumph over the Assyrians! Though it is full of kings, armies, contenders and mighty men of valor, I stand in awe of just one thing.  The power behind the heart and prayer of Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah as they prayed for his kingdom and his people!

Making a very eloquent, pointed and wicked speech delivered in Hebrew outside the walls of Jerusalem via his commander, the king of Assyria made it clear they were about to destroy everything Hezekiah held dear. (2 Kings 18:28-35)  Yet, rather than assemble his armies and fortify his walls as would most in his position, Hezekiah sought counsel from the man of God and bowed low before his Creator.


Annals of Sennacherib


King Hezekiah sought the Lord through wise counsel:

So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.  And Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”’” 2 Kings 19:5-7


King Hezekiah sought the Lord through prayer and humility:

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the LordThen Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.  Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.  Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.” 2 Kings 19:14-19



And God answered:

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’” 2 Kings 19:32-34


Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven.  Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.  Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.  And many brought gifts to the Lord at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter. 2 Chron 32:20-23
 

Hezekiah sought the Lord with all his mind, heart, soul and strength.

God answered.

I am deeply moved by the humility and surrender Hezekiah displayed as he petitioned the King of the Universe. I amazed at his unfailing trust in the Lord as he faced what seemed impossible to overcome. Unlike so many others before him, Hezekiah looked up and remained steadfast in the face of tremendous obstacles. And, he knew that his people were looking to him.  And, God was watching.

Hezekiah sought the Lord for wisdom, with humility, surrender, trust, and faith. On bended knee.

Was there power in the prayer?  No, not in the prayer itself but in the heart and character behind it. Was there purpose in the prayer? Yes, by His will and His providence, God elected to deliver Judah for His name's sake. He provided a way out of a hopeless situation to bring glory to Him alone. In front of all nations, in witness to all those that called themselves by His name.

God answered Hezekiah with favor, love and deliverance.

Is there power in your prayers....?  As we pray, may we remember to come to Him penitent, to humble ourselves and bring ourselves in line with His perfect will.  May we seek wise counsel and His counsel most of all. May we give testimony through every answered prayer as to His providence, provision and power.

To Him be the glory!