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Petals of Praise

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If April showers bring May flowers, then our April prayers surely brought forth some May praises.  As I looked back over the prayer requests from last month, many of them were answered so quickly.  I’m thankful for the many who have recovered from illness, those who were kept safe from getting ill, the Lord’s provision for every need, the wisdom needed for those in authority and for those who are learning how to do their jobs in new ways, the mercy God showed in keeping the virus from spreading more than it did, and hundreds of other answers of which I am not aware.  He is altogether so very good, and so worthy of our praise.

This last week, I finished reading through Job at the same time I was finishing up the Psalms.  If you have ever read the book of Job, you know that Job suffered tremendous trials because of a challenge that Satan placed before God. My paraphrase of Satan’s challenge is,  “Would Job serve God for nothing?  Take away all that he has, and he will curse You.”  Job lost all of his children, all of his earthly riches, his health, and most distressing, the awareness of God’s presence.  Those who called themselves friends heaped “comfort”  on Job that comprised their assessment that he must have some secret sin that caused God’s judgment.  Job’s wife gave him the advice to just go ahead and curse God, so that he could die. The Bible says, though, that Job never sinned with his mouth.  He did not understand why he suffered, but he trusted God to bring him through.   When God answered Job at the end of his suffering, God never explained why Job went through any of these trials.  God answered with who He is.  His power, His knowledge, His glory led Job to the proper perspective of his own unworthiness before God. 

As I finished reading God’s answer to Job, I moved to Psalm 146-150, where every chapter begins with the imperative phrase, “Praise ye the Lord.”  The psalmists call God’s people to recognize God’s power, His provision, His pardon, His patience, His protection, His providence over all of Creation.  Praising God is not just encouraged in the Psalms, but throughout all of God’s Word.  Grateful hearts are stable hearts.

Susannah Spurgeon says of praise, “Prayer is the language of the earth, praise is the native-tongue of the angels.  Praise has power to lift the soul above all care as if on wings. 

A Basket of Summer Fruit, pg. 54. 

Understanding and knowing the God that we serve will help us keep the trials of life in a proper perspective.  And God’s people shine best when they are a thankful people.  Very few people enjoy spending time with complainers. 

This month, my challenge is to praise the Lord on purpose every day.  I have put together some passages that are by no means exhaustive, but hopefully helpful in drawing hearts to the greatness, goodness, grace, and glory of the God of all creation.  We have much to be thankful for, and eternity is not long enough to speak, sing, praise, and worship the God who has given us everything. 

If you would care to join me, here is a printable version to download or you can save the picture to your device.  Have a wonderful week, my friends!

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Peace for the Battle

The Garden of Gethsemane

There is a jeweled treasure box full of the richest of human emotion found within the Book of Psalms in the Bible.  Most of these treasures are penned by David, but all of them were breathed by the Holy Spirit of God into the pens of the men who inscribed them to paper.  And while God never intended  the pages of His Word to be used only in case of emergency, He certainly included every answer to every need within those pages.   One chapter in particular has been a personal treasure to me.  If you don’t write in your Bible, please forgive me for this, but I have written next to the words below, “The Panic Chapter.”

Give ear to my prayer, O God;
and hide not thyself from my supplication.
Attend unto me, and hear me:
I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise;
Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked:
for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.
My heart is sore pained within me:
and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me,
and horror hath overwhelmed me.
And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove!
for then would I fly away, and be at rest.

Terror, Fearfulness, Trembling, Horror, Overwhelmed…. Psalm 55 leaves no panicked emotion out.  David’s words were most likely written when his son Absalom stormed Jerusalem and took over David’s throne.  One of David’s longest and dearest friends, Ahithophel, became Absalom’s counselor.  David’s anguish over this treason is overwhelming and very real.  He draws the reader into the depths of his pain as he cries out to God.  He takes all of his raw emotions to the One who made them, who understands them, and who one day far in the future, would in His human lifetime, experience all of them Himself.  The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge cross references Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane to the fifth verse of Psalm 55.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   Luke 22:44  http://tsk-online.com/TSK/Psalms/55/5

In our deepest struggles, and in our rawest emotions, God hears, He sees, He knows. When we take our tangled, confused, overwhelmed feelings to the God who created us, He knows us better than we could even begin to know ourselves.

Spurgeon writes of Psalm 55:2 (Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise…) Groanings that cannot be uttered, are often prayers which cannot be refused.” Even when we cannot fully comprehend our own fears, sorrows, longings, pain, and anguish, He can make sense of our lack of words. His Spirit communes on our behalf, and brings our speechless petitions to His throne.

As David pours out his heart to the Lord, his emotions of panic soon turn to purposeful prayer in verses 16-17.  And before he sees a resolution, God’s peace takes over the internal battle of his heart.

As for me, I will call upon God;
and the Lord shall save me.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud:
and he shall hear my voice.
He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me:
for there were many with me.
 

 It is no coincidence that David ends this chapter with his decision to trust in God’s sovereignty and judgment of evil.  Panic is overcome in David’s heart by his choice to focus his thoughts and emotions onto the unchanging, stabilizing God that he knows well.  He chooses to place the circumstances soundly at God’s feet to work through as He sees fit.

 v. 22 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee:
he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

There is peace for the battle-worn and overwhelmed. These burdens of fear and sorrow need not be carried on our own, but placed firmly at the feet of the One who draws near to us in our needy complaints. These burdens are often the very things that He uses to draw us to Him.

Here are a few more of my favorite Scriptures to refocus and redirect the overwhelmed emotions that stir to life every now and again:

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.
Trust ye in the Lord for ever:
for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:

Isaiah 26:3-4

Fear thou not; for I am with thee:
be not dismayed; for I am thy God:
I will strengthen thee;
yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Isaiah 41:10

What are some of your favorite verses?

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And the journey begins…

“So, I have a lot of words.” My husband laughed when I said this, because I rarely speak them out loud. But give me a pen and paper and I could write for days. This blog is just an outlet for all that I’m learning from my time at the well with my Friend over a cup of coffee every morning. Join me whenever you can and say hello. I’d love to hear from you!

Savoring His Word

What is it about sweet things that sets our mouths to watering? Imagine your favorite dessert: the texture, the flavor, the temperature. Can you taste it? Do you just wish you could indulge in eating it right now? What if you had the opportunity to eat it at this moment? Would you savor that first bite, letting the moment linger as long as possible? The first bite is always the best, but I never let it be the last. Let the savoring linger until every last crumb has been cleaned from the plate.

God’s Word is often praised as sweeter than honey, and the Psalmist spends all of Psalm 119 savoring it.  His admiration and reverence for the laws, testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, ways, truths, and faithfulness of God spill out over 176  verses with not one verse repeated.  There are twenty-two sections of poetry, with each section alliterated to a Hebrew letter, all praising the sweetness of God’s truths revealed to man.  The Psalmist’s delight draws my heart to the table to taste and see for myself how sweet His Word must be.  It creates a longing to set aside all other cheap counterfeits so that the memory of its savor draws me back again and again. 

According to Psalm 119, God’s Word—

                –blesses those who walk in it

                –cleanses those who take heed

                –counsels with God’s Truth

                –renews and strengthens

                –leads to perseverance

                –reveals mercy and salvation

                –reminds of God’s comfort

                –fixes hearts to the eternal

                –makes affliction instructive

                –teaches the fear of the Lord

                –gives longing for peace in salvation

                –anchors us in God’s eternal, unchanging faithfulness

                –commands our hearts in wisdom

                –sheds light on our path

                –keeps our steps in truth

                –purifies our motives

                –testifies of God’s character

                –reveals God’s righteousness

                –moves us to cry out for salvation

                –delivers us from self-pity

                –removes offense and grants peace

                –assures of God’s answer in due time

This month I am taking some time to meditate and savor the passages about God’s Word.  The passages are short to give opportunity to think of them throughout the day.  Below, you will find the download button to print out the schedule.

 My pastor’s wife gave me a few questions to help guide my consideration of each day’s passage. 

First, take a moment before you begin to ask the Lord to speak to your heart.  Set aside distractions and let Him know that you are ready to listen.

Then, take some time to consider three questions.

What does this passage say?  Summarize the passage and identify key facts, themes, or truths.

What does this passage mean?  What does this passage have to say about God, His ways, about man, about salvation, about the Christian life?  Are there any promise to claim, commands to obey, examples to follow or sins to avoid? 

What should I do?  How do I need to respond to what I have learned from this passage?  Is there a change that needs to be made, or do I need to begin applying this truth in some way?

May this month lead you to the table of His delight as you savor the wonder of His laws, commandments, statutes, precepts, testimonies, judgments, ways, truths, and faithfulness!

Love Warns

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Our world, more concisely, the American world, is in a state of chaos.  Division, fighting, strife, and contention mark just about every walk of life.  There is no peace to be found.  Man, in trying to right one wrong, creates more murder and hatred.  God’s Word is clear that man’s ways always lead to death. 

Our hearts long for peace, but there is no peace ahead for America.  There will be no peace found in the election this year.  Man will not legislate others to morality.  Education can not tame the rebellion of man’s evil heart.  Tolerance will never gain its fill.  Vast treasure troves of riches cannot prevent death whether from virus or violence.  There is no peace to be found on this planet because the hearts of man are sinful. 

“Wait,” you may be saying. “I am a good person. I do good deeds.  I have given money to help the poor, the weak, the hurting.  I have never murdered anyone.”  Have you never once stolen even a small thing from someone?  Have you lied to anyone about anything?  Have you thought a hateful thought about another human being?  The truth is, we all were born with sinful hearts. There is not one righteous person.  We each raise our fists up to God and demand why we should bend our hearts to His rule.  The Creator God who breathed the Universe into place could have demanded our love and devotion, but love that is demanded is not love.   We call a demanded love a heinous crime, even in our sinful society.  So this righteous, holy, only good God allowed for His own rejection.  He allowed for these created beings of His to shake their fists at Him and demand to rule their own lives.  His perfection, however, cannot ignore unrighteousness.   His goodness cannot allow the sin of His creation to go unchecked.  Sin demanded an answer. 

The Perfect, Righteous, Holy God created a place of separation from Himself.  There is a place that Jesus, the Son of God who walked in perfect Truth on this earth with man, spoke of more than heaven.  God’s fury over the hatred, murder, evil, and pride of man pours into this dreadful place.  Jesus told the true account of the rich man and Lazarus who reached life’s end and found themselves in two vastly different places. Speaking of the rich man, Jesus said,

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.  Luke 16:23-24

Jesus was well acquainted with this terrible place and spoke of it often.  This place was the entire reason He left His perfect home in heaven to walk among sinful men, and at the young age of 33, to give Himself over to the cruelty of a torturous death by the hands of His own creation.  The furious wrath of God for the sin of man was poured out on Him while He hung on that Roman cross, and for three hours darkness reigned in mid-day as His Father turned His face away.  Every wicked deed of man exchanged itself for mercy so that not one person would have to pay for their own sin in the dreadful place He spoke of so often. 

It is a gift that must be accepted.  Because He does not demand love, He offers it, it must be received by free will.  To reject His offer is to reject God Himself, but to reject His offer means you choose to be separated from Him forever in a place of hopelessness and chaos worse than anything we could experience in this life.  Do you fully recognize the cost of following your own way?  Love warns that there is a danger to come if you do.  Please take a moment to consider if it is worth it.

If you have never accepted the payment of Jesus’ death on the cross for your sin, please do that today.  I would love to help you make that decision.

First, admit you are a sinner.  Your sins have separated you from God, and there is no good thing that you could do to be good enough to undo this separation. 

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23

Next, ask Him to forgive you and to live in your heart.  Recognize that Jesus took your place and payed your sin debt, and then rose again, so that we can live with Him in heaven forever. 

That if that shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  Romans 10:9-10

Now, know that nothing can ever separate you from His love.    When you stand before God at the end of your life, if He were to ask you why you should be allowed to live with Him in heaven, you can say, “I did what your Word told me to do.”

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13

If you made this decision today, tell someone.  Let me know, and I would love to help you find a way to grow in your newfound faith. 

  Please do not hesitate to leave a comment on the bottom of this post if you have any questions or if you make the decision to follow Jesus, and I will contact you directly without allowing the public to view your comment.  I am praying for you today. 

Taking Time to Hear Him

Rumors swirl like wildfire, loud voices and unthinking actions fill unending news cycles, and social media notifications chime at every spouted opinion.  There is noise from every corner of life pounding our ears to listen, to react, to notice.  It is a cacophony of chaos that fills hearts with stress and tension.  We become careful and troubled about many things.  This is not a quaint new experience for modern techies living in this age alone, but overwhelming chaos has affected historical lives as well.   Jesus called Martha on it long before instant news was faster than the servant girls’ tongues.  When hearts fill with trouble and care, there is one thing that is needful.  Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and hear His Word.  For Mary and Martha, there were much greater troubles ahead with both the death and resurrection of Lazarus, and then Jesus’ own death.  It was a timely reminder to HEAR him now because they would need to find refuge in those words later. 

My own heart has been troubled and careful about many things these last few weeks.  I needed Jesus’ reminder to sit at His feet and hear Him.  I am taking the next few weeks away from the constant voices of the news and social media, and  I am not planning to post any new blog posts for that time either.  There are, no doubt, greater trials ahead.  The only way to prepare now is to sit at His feet.  Please feel free to comment or message me anytime for any prayer requests or needs.  I am praying for you, my friends!

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42

Building Wisdom

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When my father in love moved to live with us, we wanted him to have his own space.  We hired a builder to attach an apartment to our house.  The builder made the blueprints for the apartment, and then followed them to the letter as it took shape.  The process took time, several months, in fact, but the final result was a sturdy, comfortable place that looks exactly like the builder intended when he started. 

Every wise woman buildeth her house:
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.

Proverbs 14:1

The first time I came across this passage my eyes locked on the word “buildeth.”  If there is a doing-word in Scripture, that seems to be the one that I find first.  It sent me into planning mode on how I could build like the wise builder.  What activities could I add?  How could I shape my children into what they should be?  Do you see those “I’s”?  The Lord sent me back to look at the verse again and highlighted the words “wise” and “foolish” for me.  Immediately, the parable from Matthew 7 came to mind with its own vivid word picture.

 In verses 24-27, we read of a parable Jesus told of a wise builder who heard Jesus’ sayings and then did what Jesus said to do.  When the storms came, that man’s house stood because it stood fast on the foundation of Truth.  But the foolish man heard the same sayings of Jesus.  He knew what he should have done, but he did not do what he knew to do.  He thought doing things his way here and there would not make a big difference.  His house went up without the Truth as its solid foundation.  So, of course, this house faced destruction when the storms came. 

God’s Word is our blueprint for building.  My plans, my thoughts, my ways might get a building up off the ground, but it will not be what God intended, and it will not stand when the storms come. In fact, I can tell you that there a few things that I did throw out of the building plans when my children were growing up.  By my own testimony, I will tell you that when the storms came, parts of my house fell down.  But there were some parts  that were built on Truth that still remained.  God’s grace allowed for some rebuilding and remodeling in those fallen places.  Praise the Lord, it does not have to be permanent destruction, but it is so much better to follow God’s plans to begin with.

I have been working on a project through Proverbs for the month of June.  Because Proverbs has a chapter for each day,(there will be an extra day this month), there is a “ticket” with questions for each corresponding chapter.  I want to instill in my children the importance of spending time in God’s Word every day, and not just reading to check it off of their list.   Hopefully, these questions will encourage us to consider what the Lord is teaching. We can discuss them as we work through them together or later, if we work individually.  I will make the downloadable copy available for those who would like to use them, as well.   Just click on the download button below.

 There is no substitute for God’s Word, there is nowhere else to find His “Blueprints.”  The wise builder studies the “Blueprints” for herself and keeps the end result in mind as she builds. My prayer is that this will be a blessing to you!

Acceptable Praise

The Gorgeous Kansas Sunset

The winds fold the green stalks down in half before springing them back upright.  Heavy clouds blanket the sky mottled with bits of sunshine weaving their last wisps of light throughout.  Golden hues of fire paint their final strokes just upon the distant horizon.  The heavens rest in their evening declaration of God’s glory, but encore performances nightly outdo the one before.  Celestial praise ceases only when He bids them silence. 

Black letters line wispy thin pages stained by watermarks where mercy and truth have collided.  Perfect laws, sure and right, open foolish hearts and light unsure paths.  Commandments, Testimonies, Statutes, Judgments perfect His praise for ever.  Precious to the wise, sweet to those hungry for righteousness, no sinful spot blights the truth of God’s Word for all eternity.   Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.

And then there are His people. Unique and varied, no two the same, washed clean in the perfect blood of His Son, made free by the covenant signed by His dear Name.  By His grace, we bring Him glory, but on this earth still fear to cause Him shame.  So with hearts intent on pleasing, to reflect His light in ceaseless praise, we call to Him with David’s pleading to align our thoughts and words with His.

When my anger wants to fuel the fires of indignation, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

When fear threatens to take my eyes off of You, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

When defiance and rebellion rear their ugly opposition, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

When my will clashes with Thine, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

When the pride of my heart rises to answer the scorner, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

At every occasion, You hear my prayer if I will just seek you to ask.  Until heaven’s gates surround me, sin will mottle the light of your praise.  But if I ask, Lord, You will help me, walk worthy of the glory due Your name. 

Psalms 19

TO THE CHIEF MUSICIAN, A PSALM OF DAVID.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech,
and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven,
and his circuit unto the ends of it:
and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold:
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is thy servant warned:
and in keeping of them there is great reward.
Who can understand his errors?
cleanse thou me from secret faults.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me:
then shall I be upright,
and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth,
and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight,
O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Reaching the Summit

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Like most others across the United States, my children finished up their last nine weeks of school at home.  Our private Christian schoolteachers went above and beyond the call of duty, recreating their curriculum and teaching methods to continue to press their students to finish the year well.  Of course, the end of the school year usually holds the biggest learning challenges to overcome.  The final exams, the research papers, the essays, these are the things that you spend the whole year working to teach, so that the students learn and grow in preparation for the coming year’s learning.  Without the benefit of having the students in class, however, all the teachers can do is provide the lessons.  The students must engage and take up the responsibility for their own success without the encouragement and help an onsite teacher would provide. 

My youngest child just completed sixth grade yesterday.  One of her final projects in English required her first research paper due three days before the end of school.  Her teacher broke the preparation into baby steps and gave thorough instruction on how to find credible information online, as they would have no access to library books.  Once she chose the historical figure she deemed most important within the last 500 years, the next step was to craft a thesis statement that she would then prove with her research.  Her research would need to fill five required paragraphs, the fifth one bearing out her conclusion.  This project, to my overwhelmed child, was the Mount Everest of sixth grade.  In her estimation, this impossible task could not be accomplished.  The night before the project was due, she hopelessly gazed at the computer wishing the words to appear on the screen without any effort on her part.  Her lack of effort to engage with the learning and her procrastination up to this point left me with little sympathy for the tears streaming down her face.  Walking away in frustration, I took a minute to pray and ask the Lord for wisdom regarding this youngest child of mine.  My plan was to let her sink or swim, but His gentle nudge sent me to sit beside her.  I called her to look at me, and reminded her that she could do hard things.  She did not have to do it alone.  I guided her to her sources, asking her questions that made her look for the answers.   When she did not understand the advanced wording from the online sources, we looked up the words in the online dictionary together.  She began to fill up her five paragraphs, working for six hours until the final edits had been accomplished.  Mount Everest had been climbed, conquered, and celebrated.  The next mountain would not seem quite so insurmountable after this. 

This week, I ran into my own Mount Everest.  A spiritual battle loomed large in my path, leading me to question the One trying to teach me how to overcome it.  He had given me step by step instruction on how to move forward, but the task still seemed insurmountable.  Could I obey in this instance?  What if I had to  go it alone?  Doubts crowded out His instruction and my flesh longed for an easier path.  Taking up His cross and following Him required more than I thought it would when I started out on this quest.   But His Spirit walked right beside me, took my hand, and reminded me that with His help, I could do hard things.  As I read His Word, He raised questions that drove me to look for the answers I needed.  Grace became my teacher, my enabler, and my strength to obey the task He had set before me.  Grace never ignores or avoids obedience, it only presses forward. It never takes the path of least resistance, never serves the flesh.  Grace is the teacher that leads us to climb, conquer, and then celebrate those obstacles that threaten to derail our spiritual growth.  There is no mountain too high that grace cannot overcome. 

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  Titus 2:11-14

What Mount Everest looms before you today, my friend?  Is there some sin derailing your walk with Him?  His grace comes alongside to enable and strengthen you to overcome.  Is there a seemingly impossible talk He is calling you to undertake?  That same grace enables and strengthens you to obey Him.  Take Him at His Word and press on.  There is much to celebrate when the summit is reached. 

The Value of a Life Given Away

My mother has always had a listening ear.  She encouraged me, prayed for me and with me, and reminded me of what God’s Word had to say when I did not know which way to go.  Her ability to make little money stretch to great lengths etched early into my mind the worth of a dollar and God’s daily provision.  The individual uniqueness of her personality and example molded much of my empathy and understanding of others.  While she would be quick to assure any who asked that she was not a perfect mother, she was the mother that God chose for me.  Her sacrifices and calling may never be noted or recognized here on earth as significant, but God keeps perfect record.  Because of God’s goodness in all of His ways,  thankfulness for the parents He has given me is the foundation of gratitude for everything else in my life.

The value of children in this modern economy seems to decrease with each passing year.  Career, power, and success continually make their case to lure young women away from the purpose and calling of motherhood.  God never intended children to be an afterthought to a family’s life.  His Word is full of the beauty of family, of the blessing of children, and the need for training them in His ways.  The world may look on children as inconveniences and irritations, but God sees the potential for which each one has been created.  He sees their precious value and the need the world has for every one of them.  The calling to motherhood is a sacred calling, and every woman saved by God’s grace is called to mother, (see Titus 2).   Not every woman will have the opportunity to bear children from her own body, but God has many motherless children in need of the tender care of a mother’s heart. No matter what season we find ourselves in, there is someone in need of the instruction, prayer, and care that we have to pour into them.  In God’s economy it is not the value of what we earn that pleases Him, but the value of what we give away. 

A Hebrew translation of Proverbs 31 hangs on the wall of my home.  It is a sweet reminder to me of the memory a king had of his mother.  While the mother is unnamed, the teaching and example of her life left a dramatic imprint on his heart. Proverbs 31 exemplifies the highlights of a lifetime, not of a single season, so do not lose heart if you feel that your example does not seem to measure up to hers.  Very few could claim that it did, and in our quest to become the perfect woman, our pride and inflexibility for failure would detract  from what we were trying to gain anyway.  What we can take away from King Lemuel’s reflections though, is the value of a life given away.  This mother gave herself to the task of exhorting and enlightening her son with God’s Truth, entreating the Lord on his behalf, expending her time and energy for the good of her family and the needy, and enduring to the end with excellence.  Hers was a life well-lived.  Filled with His Spirit, this is the life that God will lead us to; the life that we will live out as we surrender it to Him. 

Take some time to reflect on the mother or spiritual mothers that God has given you today.  If you have the opportunity, tell them how they have impacted your life, and thank them for their role.  God is so good to show us His sacrificial love through the lives of those around us.  I am so thankful for my own mother and the many spiritual mothers He has used in my life throughout the years.  Have a blessed day, my friends.

The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
What, my son? and what, the son of my womb?
and what, the son of my vows?
Give not thy strength unto women,
nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine;
nor for princes strong drink:
Lest they drink, and forget the law,
and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish,
and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty,
and remember his misery no more.
Open thy mouth for the dumb
in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction.
Open thy mouth, judge righteously,
and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
Who can find a virtuous woman?
for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her,
so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil
all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax,
and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants' ships;
she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night,
and giveth meat to her household,
and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it:
with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength,
and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good:
her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle,
and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor;
yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household:
for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry;
her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates,
when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it;
and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honour are her clothing;
and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom;
and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household,
and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously,
but thou excellest them all.
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain:
but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands;
and let her own works praise her in the gates.
Proverbs 31

To Our Chief Musician

Francois Fressnier, Melodie Venetian

There is an intriguing story of a famous violin crafted in 1731 by the world-renowned Antonio Stradivari. Shortly before Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, a young Jewish prodigy named Bronislaw Huberman put into motion a plan to gather Jewish musicians from all over Europe and create a musical presence in Palestine. In his efforts to raise funds, he played throughout the United States, and in February of 1936, performed at Carnegie Hall. During this concert, while playing his other violin during the second half of the show, the 1731 Stradivarius was stolen from his room. Having been stolen once before, it was recovered quickly when the thief attempted to sell the obviously valuable instrument. This time, however, Huberman was not as fortunate. The thief deemed himself a violinist and enjoyed playing on an instrument of such quality for parties and for a local orchestra. He blackened the beautiful face of the violin with shoe polish and kept his secret until his death bed fifty years later. It took nine months of restoration to unveil the original beauty of the valued instrument. Just before a collector bought it to display on a shelf, it was resold to the famous violinist, Joshua Bell, for a little under four million dollars. In the hands of Bell’s artistry, the violin yields the most beautiful sound, finally fulfilling the purpose for which it had been created some 300 years prior. https://csosoundsandstories.org/how-a-once-lost-stradivarius-found-its-way-to-joshua-bell/

This story so beautifully parallels the lives of us who are bought back from the bondage of sin to once again serve the purpose for which we are created.   Our price demanded so much more than a mere four-million-dollar price tag, it cost Him the blood of His own dear Son.  And He doesn’t just buy us back to restore us and place us on a shelf.  Restored to the hand of the Chief Musician, yielded to His control, He cleans, tunes, and renews us with the purpose of allowing each of us to play the most beautiful sound for which we were created.    

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.      1 Corinthians 6:20

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  Romans 6:13-18

Yielded to Him, we simply allow Him to do with us as He wills. As He works, we turn our hearts over to Him in obedience. In my imagination, I see the strings tightening at the musician’s skillful turns. The stretching and pulling is uncomfortable, but necessary to tune the strings to play in harmony with the others. Not just once, but daily, the strings will be adjusted and compared to the correct tone, so that the instrument will play in harmony alone, and also with the entirety of the orchestra. Daily, we renew our mind in His Word, stretching to fulfill the command of His Word, conforming to the “sounds” of our Savior.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Romans 12:1-2

YIELDverb intransitive

1. To give up the contest; to submit.

2. To comply with; as, I yielded to his request.

3. To give way; not to oppose. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/yield

While tuning is important in music, tempo is equally important.  A conductor must evaluate and interpret the intention of the written music’s composer.  Some measures will move slowly, proceed into a nearly impossible speed, and eventually, end in a rest.  Each musician watches the conductor carefully, so that the beauty of the composer’s message will be conveyed clearly.  In much the same way, God created a gorgeous symphony long before any instruments were crafted, and the message He wants to convey will have various rhythms and tempos.  He alone knows the scope of the whole arrangement.  If we are yielded to His musicianship, our part will be played intentionally within His timing.  His understanding of the entire composition allows us to be content with His adagios, with His allegros, with His rests.  He has perfect understanding of how each season fits within His symphony.  How sweet it is to remember that I am only His instrument, and that He is the Musician. 

Eventually, there comes an end to every great symphony.  The last note is played, the musicians take their final bow, and the curtains close.  No life lasts forever.  When the final tone ceases, there will be no audience but One from whom we seek approval.  It is the Chief Musician who will evaluate every single note played.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  2 Corinthians 5:9-10

At the close of our lives, when we stand before our Chief Musician and He views the scope of our part played, how will He find our performanceour service?

I enjoyed the picture that C.S. Lewis’ presented in “The Weight of Glory.”

“I suddenly remembered that no one can enter heaven except as a child; and nothing is so obvious in a child—not in a conceited child but in a good child—as its great and undisguised pleasure in being praised. And that is enough to raise our thoughts to what may happen when the redeemed soul, beyond all hope and nearly beyond belief, learns at last that she has pleased Him whom she was created to please. There will no room for vanity then…With no taint of what we should now call self-approval she will most innocently rejoice in the thing that God has made her to be. In the end that Face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.”

As we look toward that day, as we consider the joy of pleasing the One who so skillfully created us to bring Him glory, let us take up our place in the symphony and wholly yield ourselves into the hands of our Chief Musician.  Every instrument is necessary in His composition, and no part is too small.  Let every moment of our song bring Him glory.   Have a wonderful week, my friends!

Bridging the Gap

Am I learning how to use my Bible?  The way to become complete for the Master’s service is to be well soaked in the Bible; some of us only exploit certain passages.  Our Lord wants to give us continuous instruction out of His word; continuous instruction turns hearers into disciples.  Oswald Chambers, Approved Unto God

These last few blog posts have been a theme on our journey of faith.  How does faith begin?https://satisfiedatthewell.com/2020/04/04/paralyzed-or-propelled/  And when faith sparks life in our heart, what immediate changes take place?https://satisfiedatthewell.com/2020/04/11/resurrection-life/ 

This post speaks to our continuance in faith.  Many believers stall here, and I will testify that I have spent some time gazing over the precipice myself.  There is a bridge needed between knowing what the Bible says and having a personal walk with the God of the Bible.  This yawning gap deters many a Christian from the deep, intimate fellowship that the One who redeemed them, adopted them, forgave and justified them, longs to enjoy with them. 

Romans 6:11 employs the word that defines the necessary bridge we need: reckon.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

RECK’ONverb intransitive  1. To reason with one’s self and conclude from arguments.  http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/reckon

From HELPS Word-studies

3049 logízomai (the root of the English terms “logic, logical“) – properly, compute, “take into account”; reckon (come to a “bottom-line”), i.e. reason to a logical conclusion (decision).  https://biblehub.com/greek/3049.htm

Reckoning is the personalizing of what we know into our walk of faith.  The Holy Spirit is as essential to this step of faith as He has been to every other.  He leads and guides us into all truth.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.  John 16:13-14

When I trusted Christ as my Savior, the Holy Spirit moved into my life that day.  He began nudging my heart about the things that didn’t belong in my life and moving me to get rid of them.  He put in my heart the desire to know more about this God who now lived in me and encouraged me to read the Bible and listen intently to the preaching of His Word.  As long as I took heed to His voice, my spiritual life grew.  But there came a day when I said “no” to His nudging.  I made an excuse as to why that thing He asked of me was simply not possible.  I tried to make it up to Him in other areas, though.  I allowed unforgiveness of someone in my heart, but I doubled my efforts to serve Him at church.  Soon, it became a habit to ignore the nudges that I refused to deal with and perfect the areas that I liked.  Needless to say, my relationship with the Lord died.  My Bible reading and prayer time was perfunctory, part of my daily routine, but it was lifeless.  His Word became rules to follow; knowledge that never seemed to work itself out into peace or joy or love for others.  I was working hard to look good on the outside, but the grace of God had ceased His work inside of my heart.  I became the white-washed tomb that Jesus referred to when He spoke of the Pharisees. 

Not everyone turns this direction when they stop obeying the nudge of the Spirit in their lives.  Many just turn away from the Lord altogether, or their life becomes a series of statements about how “I love Jesus, but (insert your favorite sin here.)”  This is what makes the “Bridge of Reckoning” so important to our journey of faith.  When the Holy Spirit brings us to a truth, we must decide what that means for our life.  In our Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11, our faith-heroes heard God, and then they had to bridge the gap of obedience.  How would this affect the choices they made in their lives from now on?  Knowing what God said was not enough.  A choice had to be made in order to obey.  Meditating on God’s Word is our key to unlocking that bridge.

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God.  It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God.  Packer, Knowing God

Taking the truth we studied last week about our Resurrection Life with God, I’m spending some time meditating on how they relate to who God is, and how that changes my life.  If you’d like to consider these for yourself, I linked the printable chart that I’m using. This is just a helpful tool to the way I like to study, but I know everyone has a different way of meditating on God’s Word.  Drop me a line and let me know what works best for you!  Until then, my friends, keep calm and carry on!