cultivating eyes to see and hearts to hear
"By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created,
link back to:
Creation Speaks 2009 Devotional Blog
December 29, 2008
| "A miserable heart
means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart
fills the day with song."
If your heart has lost its song,
let me encourage you -
lift it up to the LORD.
Ask Him for healing
fully expecting His faithfulness.
(For He took "stripes" that we could be healed -
Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24.)
Settle for no less.
Request the ability to see and feel -
through His eyes, through His heart.
My New Year's wish and prayer for you:
May your heart songs be endless in 2009.
December 22, 2008
|A Merry Christmas to all...|
"So Joseph left Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
and went to the town of Bethlehem in Judea...
...While they were in Bethlehem,
the time came for Mary to have the baby,
and she gave birth to her first son...
That night, some shepherds were in the fields nearby
watching their sheep.
Then an angel of the Lord stood before them.
The glory of the Lord was shining around them,
and they became very frightened.
The angel said to them,
'Do not be afraid.
I am bringing you good news
that will be a great joy to all the people.
Today your Savior was born in the town of David.
He is Christ, the Lord.
This is how you will know him:
You will find a baby wrapped in pieces of cloth
and lying in a feeding box.'
Then a very large group of angels from heaven
joined the first angel, praising God and saying:
'Give glory to God in heaven,
and on earth let there be peace
among the people who please God.' "
Luke 2:4, 6-14 NCV
God put on human flesh.
He walked the earth, experienced what humans experience, felt what humans feel, suffered what humans suffer.
He loved us, He taught us, He laid down His life for us –
not only with the intent to win our salvation, but also with hope to win our love.
December 15, 2008
"...I have loved you with an everlasting love..."
Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
"'For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,'
Says the LORD who has compassion on you."
Isaiah 54:10 NAS
December 8, 2008
| "'For I know the plans
I have for you,'
declares the LORD,
'plans to prosper you
and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope
and a future.
Then you will call upon me
and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me
with all your heart.'"
Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV
December 1, 2008
"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man
that you are mindful of him...?"
Psalms 8:3-4 NIV
November 24, 2008
|H E A R T O F T H A N K S G I V I N G|
"You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!"
Psalms 30:11-12 NLT
November 17, 2008
"Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ?
Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?
Are your hearts tender and sympathetic?
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose.
Don't be selfish; don't live to make a good impression on others.
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.
Don't think only about your own affairs,
but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.
Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had."
Philippians 2:1-5 NLT
November 10, 2008
"My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I'm your choice!"
Psalms 16:5 The Message
"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil.
As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you."
—Jesus. John 15:16 The Message
November 3, 2008
" Ask the former generations
and find out what they have learned,
for we were born only yesterday
and know nothing,
and our days on earth
are but a shadow...
Such is the destiny
of all who forget God;
the hope of the godless.
What he trusts in is fragile;
what he relies on
is a spider’s web."
Job 8:8-9, 12-13 NIV
"The world and everything that people want in it are passing away, but the person who does what God wants lives forever."
October 27, 2008
"O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth, I will cry to you for help,
for my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety,
for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.
Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!"
Psalms 61:1-4 NLT
October 20, 2008
"I raise my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep.
The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever. "
Psalms 121:1-8 HCSB
October 13, 2008
|T H E R E I S A S E A S O N|
"There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace."
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 The Message
|What does the Holy Spirit say is your season? What is your particular opportune time?
Season's change. It may be time to ask Him again.
October 6, 2008
|S E A S O N O F H A R V E S T|
"Take a lesson from the ants [also social, the bees are from the same type of insect family] ...
Learn from their ways and be wise!
Even though they have no prince, governor, or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter."
Proverbs 6:6-8 NLT
October 4, 2008
September 12, 2008
| "The Lord is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."
Psalms 27:1, 4-5, 7-8,13-14 NIV
September 8, 2008
September 1, 2008
| "The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name's sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me."
Psalm 23:1-4 HCSB
I remember a sermon explaining how a shepherd’s staff was used for protecting the sheep and his rod for correcting them. The hooked end of a staff could pull a sheep from danger. A rod, on the other hand, would be used to bop a wayward sheep.
Therefore, in Psalm 23 perhaps David could have said "Your correction and Your protection – they comfort me." Yes, feeling protected brings much comfort. Yet how many of us would say that correction brings comfort? Most may acknowledge in hindsight that, yes, correction and discipline came in our best interest. However, by and large, my memories of correction and discipline contain uncomfortable feelings – feelings of hurt, shame, defensiveness, denial, even rebellion.
In Hebrews the Apostle Paul tells it like it is:
"No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening – it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way." Hebrews 12:11 NLT
Paul reasons with us:
"And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, 'My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children.'" Hebrews 12:5-6 NLT
Yes, ultimately, we can find comfort in the fact that correction comes because we are loved and accepted. It also comes from God's desire for us - His vision to see and ability to bring out the best in us.
"But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal or like a strong soap that whitens clothes." Malachi 3:2 NLT
The Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary explains the work of a purifier:
"The purifier sits before the crucible, fixing his eye on the metal, and taking care that the fire be not too hot, and keeping the metal in, only until he knows the dross to be completely removed by his seeing his own image reflected (Romans 8:29) in the glowing mass."
"This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Isaiah 66:2 NIV
The word esteem in Isaiah 66 is translated from the Greek word nabat, which means to look upon, to regard, to pay attention to. God pays attention to those with a teachable heart, to those welcoming correction, taking "care that the fire be not too hot". Realizing this divine discipline takes me beyond comfort. It ushers me into His lush pastures of rest and nourishment, it leads me beside still waters that quiet my anxious heart, and again and again, it mercifully renews my life.
August 24, 2008
August 17, 2008
"For God, who said,
'Let light shine out of darkness,'
made his light
shine in our hearts...
...But we have this treasure
in jars of clay
to show that this
is from God
and not from us."
2 Corinthians 4:6, 7 NIV
"We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair;
we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed…
Therefore we do not give up;
even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:8, 9, 16-18 HCSB
August 8, 2008
July 28, 2008
| "I LOVE you, O LORD, my strength...
[God] reached down from on high and took hold of me...
He brought me into a spacious place;
he rescued me me because he delighted in me...
To the faithful you show yourself faithful...
You save the humble...
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
For who is God besides the LORD?
And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.
...you stoop down to make me great."
Psalm 18:1, 16, 19, 25, 27-29, 31-33, 35 (NIV)
God "stoops down to make me great" …and sometimes it seems He must have to stoop pretty low...
...that is, when we walk through the deepest valleys.
This week’s blog entry arrives late because of a sudden health crisis that came upon my family over the past few days. And oh how I am experiencing what it is to survive in the truly amazing promises of Psalm 18 this very day. As my family and I traverse through this deep, deep valley, I need " to be great" for my family, to be all that they need me to be.
It’s not that God takes away the exhaustion in my body or the pain in my heart, it’s that He lifts me when I don’t feel the strength to rise, carries me when I need to go forward and holds my heart together even while it must release a building waterfall of sorrow. And somehow He miraculously keeps the dam from breaking for the times when I need to be strong.
To be the recipient of such grace is His precious gift, a gift I have lived to know, a gift available to each of us, enabling us to be a valiant survivor of any atrocity this fallen world is capable of dishing out.
When all that I seem to have left has been poured out and then comes the request to give more, He is the one who melts the rising crankiness away before it has a chance to surface. Because He is the one who gently allows me see how that crankiness makes it about me when really, He and I both want it to be about them.
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
Yes, He is.
July 21, 2008
July 14, 2008
"If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm..." Psalms 37:23 (NIV)
"My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped." Psalms 17:5 (NIV)
How can we know, for sure, that we have found (and remain upon) the path God desires for us personally? Certainly, through His Word the Bible we can learn about the path of life: Jesus Christ and His way, the Way that leads to everlasting life. But what about all the individual choices we encounter while traveling upon that path? That is, can we look to the Lord and receive guidance when determining specific matters (for example, in decisions regarding career, family, finances, volunteering, etc)?
I don’t want to waste hours because I obliviously stepped over the edge, or missed a turn and got lost. How unnecessary (or even tragic) that can be, especially when I have available to me the wisdom of our all-knowing Heavenly Father.
Habakkuk 2:1 (NAS) says: "I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me..."
Note that this verse does not say to hear, but to see what He will say to me.
As much as I’d like Him to much of the time, God does not use a bull-horn. As a watchful and respectful Heavenly Father, the wisdom of God chooses a method of guidance proven much more effective than barking out orders. He desires to walk us through the course of life, showing us things, thus creating a rich and lasting impact on our hearts. It takes time. It takes an exchange. It takes a relationship. And from that vantage point, He enables us to see and make the best decision, His decision, for ourselves—with understanding and confidence.
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." Psalms 32:8 (KJV)
Wow. No words. Not even a hand gesture. Simply and only an exchange of glances intended for us to take notice of something.
As we seek His wisdom in matters big and small, we need simply to position our heart close enough to see.
"'...for who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?' declares the Lord." Jeremiah 30:21 (NIV)
July 7, 2008
June 30, 2008
I love how God beckons us in Isaiah 1:18. He is not saying, "Hey you, come listen to me tell you." To the contrary, God implores, let us reason together. In other words, "Let’s get together and talk, you and me, let us make sense of all this, let us come to terms – together." Within Isaiah 1:18 we hear God’s longing to have a conversation with us – an exchange of feelings, understandings, problems and solutions.
When I chose Isaiah 1:18 for last week’s scripture, I had not preconceived what the follow-up commentary would be for the coming week. As usual, I had asked God to give me the verse He had in mind for Creation Speaks. Little did I know how directly that verse would epitomize the conversation about to engage my being.
On July 3rd my husband and I packed up our camping gear (including my camera and some good reading) along with Lucy and Nutmeg (our two Jack Russell Terriers) and headed to our favorite secret off-road camp site in the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon. Ahh, three days, three nights to spend in quiet beauty. As anticipated, we did not see another human being, neither during the time spent at our camp site nor during our hikes leisurely exploring the surrounding wonders.
(photos to share in weeks to come)
While relaxing at camp, I was immensely blessed to partake of one of the deepest, heart-infusing, spiritually remarkable works of fiction I have yet to discover, The Shack written by William P. Young. Within the appendix pages following the conclusion of the story, I found an invitation: "If you are as taken with the message of this book as we are, you may already have some unique ideas as to how you can best let others know about it. Here are some ideas…If you have a website or blog, consider sharing a bit about the book…"
The invitation hit me right between the eyes. (It was kind of one of those "Well, duh" moments, nonetheless earnestly spiritual.) Thus far this weekly devotional has not been used to review/promote a literary work; however, I realized in that moment the perfect augmentation to last week’s Isaiah 1:18 scripture verse was to accept the invitation.
After all, I would deem The Shack as containing the most insightful conversations (apart from the Bible) I have yet observed between God and man – multiple conversations actually, in word and in deed – mysteriously deep, yet intrinsically logical. Come…let us reason together…
How do we reconcile the unspeakable horrors relentlessly suffered throughout the history of mankind with a God whose nature and character is supposed to embody absolute power, wisdom and love? Especially love?
The Shack tells the story of an ordinary man named Mack who, after suffering horrendous tragedy, receives a peculiar invitation, allegedly from God Himself. Accepting the invitation, Mack embarks on an incredible journey deep into the heart of God, his own shattered heart in tow.
As a side note, I feel compelled to admit at the start I near stumbled over the characters chosen to personify God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, likewise, the main character also initially wrestles with these representations. Yet, as Father God explains to Mack: "To reveal myself to you as a very large white grandfather figure…would simply reinforce your religious stereotypes and this weekend is not about reinforcing stereotypes…" (The Shack, p 93). Case in point, God is far too big to fit within the limits of any human perceptions. Thus, I would likewise caution readers to not allow the story’s untypical personifications to distract from the essential truths, beautifully and intelligently revealed, regarding God's nature and character.
The scriptural verity within its pages pierced my soul, engaged my mind, awakened my spirit, and strengthened my heart. I read many of the chapters over again, should the slightest distraction have possibly robbed my understanding. Plunging into its depths, inciting its application, continually brought me before my Lord, pleading for more of Him, less of me.
Thus, if you have not yet read The Shack, I encourage you to consider this transcendent story.
Read slowly. Drink deeply.
Notable endorsements and further information for this work can be found at: http://www.theshackbook.com/
Yes… Come now, and let us reason together…
"This is what the LORD says…
Call to me and I will answer
and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:2-3 NIV
June 23, 2008
June 16, 2008
"So teach us
to number our days,
That we may gain
a heart of wisdom."
Psalms 90:12 NKJV
I’ve been doing some reading over the past year to better understand the biological changes coming upon my particular season of life as a woman. One author quite matter-of-factly pointed out the fact that at this point, two-thirds of my life is over. The blunt reality hit the bottom of my stomach with a thud. "But I feel like I’ve hardly begun," I lamented.
|"Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalms 139:7-16 NIV
What comfort in knowing the watchful eye, the guiding hand, the lovingly wise intentions of God throughout every season of life.
June 9, 2008
June 2, 2008
"Come near me and listen to this:
"From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there."
…This is what the Lord says-- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains..." "
Isaiah 48:16-19 (NIV)
|T H E F A T H E R H E A R T O F G O D|
Whether or not we’ve been fortunate to have a loving earthly father or not, we certainly have the good fortune of being offered an amazing Heavenly Father. Jesus shared the story of the lost son in hopes that we could begin to understand the extent of God’s love. Because most of our nation celebrates Father’s Day this coming weekend I wanted to be sure you would have opportunity to read this story this week. Thus, I’m including the story here today. Spending a few extra minutes to read and take Jesus’ illustration deep into your spirit should prove entirely worth the investment.
"There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father.
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' 'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
Luke 15:11-32 (NIV)
Even if we’ve forsaken God's fatherhood and wisdom in the past, He’ll welcome us back. In fact, He'll run to meet us.
Thank You Lord, for those in our lives who reflect Your Father heart, with nurturing, protecting, providing, forgiving, restoring love. And let that love heal the hearts of the ones who can't.
Enjoy a blessed Father’s Day.
In dedication to my dad, Laurence, husband, Tom and our four sons who have recently become (or are soon to become) fathers - Levi, Silas, Noah and Aaron. Your Fathers (here and from above) smile upon you...and I'm proud of you, too.
May 26, 2008
May 19, 2008
"All of us must quickly
carry out the tasks assigned us
by the one who sent me,
because there is little time left
before the night falls
and all work comes to an end."
—Jesus, John 9:4 NLT
Simply reading John 9:4 could send anxiety astir.
So much to do – so little time.
In Luke 10, Martha got upset with her sister Mary for sitting at Jesus’ feet when there was so much work to be done – yet Jesus admonished Martha by telling her "Mary has chosen what is better" (Luke 10:42 NIV).
Sit? Work? Sit? Work? Where do we find the balance?
In John 9:4 Jesus exhorts us to "quickly carry out the tasks assigned us". Ah ha, the tasks assigned us! How often do we fill our lives with tasks never truly assigned us?
Balance in our lives begins with sitting at His feet and asking Him about His assignments for us.
He will likely give each of us a totally different assignment list than the person next to us. So don’t compare, don’t accept any guilt trips, and don’t judge.
When we take time to listen for our assignments God can help us clean the clutter out of our life, enabling us to be that much more productive with the tasks we are custom designed to carry out. He can also give us peace to release and trust Him for all the things we see to do, but cannot do them all.
Productivity with peace and balance begin and are maintained by a relationship with Him.
When we find ourselves getting anxious and upset we must remember what Jesus told Martha: "There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it" (Luke 10:42 NLT).
|Sit at His feet. Ask. Listen. Clear away clutter. Then get back to work. And oh yes, don't forget to take Your Savior with you!|
May 12, 2008
May 5, 2008
"But the Lord's love for those who respect him continues forever and ever, and his goodness continues to their grandchildren."
No one ever takes another’s place. Children should not be concerned with the arrival of a new sibling or cousin that their place in the hearts of their parents and grandparents could ever be taken over. As wise parents and grandparents, no child ever takes any previous one’s special place. Our hearts simply grow larger to welcome in the new child. With each one's arrival a new place is born, expanding our hearts with their place, a place that only they can fill.
Oh, to be trusted with such precious ones! I feel blessed beyond measure with the children God has placed into my life – and now doubly blessed with the gift of grandchildren. Our fourth little grand blessing was just announced this Mother’s Day – due to arrive the first part of January. Truly, there’s just no containing the fullness of my heart!
Oh Lord, that this love would flow without end: down my arms to embrace them, into my feet to stand with them, from my mouth to build them up, through my eyes when I look into theirs – that they would grow up secure and strong, knowing You, the source of that certain and impartial love, the source of all the wondrous gifts that fill our lives.
|"Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights;
with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning."
James 1:17 HCSB
April 28, 2008
April 21, 2008
"My thoughts are completely different from yours," says the LORD.
"And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.
It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it."
Isaiah 55:8-11 NLT
O Lord my God, You send out Your word, and like the rain and snow You promise that Your word will always produce fruit.
I cannot trust my own heart, for Your truth declares "The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out." (Jeremiah 17:9 The Message Bible).
Therefore, I surrender the darkness in my heart to the light of Your word, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 NIV) I ask You, Lord, to cut away any thoughts and attitudes that do not align with Your Spirit. "Create in me a pure heart" (Psalms 51:10 NIV).
And I also surrender my mind, because Your word implores "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2 NIV) Yes, Lord, "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)!
So there is hope for this dark heart! Lord, You can "make [me] holy, cleansing [me] by the washing with water through the word" (Ephesians 5:26 NIV)!
My hope lies in You and in Your word that my mind and heart, that is, my thoughts and ways might actually align with Your thoughts and ways for me!
"I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 1:6 HCSB)
"According to your faith will it be done to you." (—Jesus, Matthew 9:29 NIV)
April 14, 2008
April 7, 2008
|"But who am I,
and who are my people,
that we should be able to give
as generously as this?
For everything comes from You,
and we have given You
only what comes from Your own hand."
1 Chronicles 29:14 HCSB
|Now how could I
after knowing One so great
Respond to You in any way
that’s less than all I have to give?
But by Your grace
I wanna love You not with what I say
in the way that my life is lived
Mike Weaver, Andy Cloninger, Michael Farren
Big Daddy Weave
“Every Time I Breathe”
March 31, 2008
March 23, 2008
|H E I S R I S E N|
"All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again.
Now we live with a wonderful expectation
because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead."
1 Peter 1:3 NLT
Oh yes, we certainly do live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead.
|The evidence for the reality of God
can be observed in the enormous difference found
in the attitudes and actions of those
who continually welcome the risen Savior into their lives
in contrast to the lives of those who do not.
March 17, 2008
March 10, 2008
|U L T I M A T E R E S C U E M I S S I O N|
But he was pierced
for our transgressions,
he was crushed
for our iniquities;
that brought us peace
was upon him,
and by his wounds
we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5 NIV
I’m certain almost all of you have heard it said: If you were the only person in the world, Jesus still would have died on the cross just for you. I’m certain that statement is true.
There’s something about that statement that is also true, of which the realization freshly pierced into the core of my being.
If I was the only person and Jesus died just for me, it also means I was the one who held the whip, who held the hammer and nails – the one who tore through His flesh. I was the one. I am responsible.
I’ve long been told that “it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross” and I’ve always accepted that truth. But there’s something extremely sobering, extremely chilling, extremely humbling in the realization of my transcendent responsibility for His physical suffering that day.
Such understanding adds much more depth behind my mea culpa: "Lord, I’m so sorry for my sins." So much more.
Praise our God for His unfathomable mercy – for a Savior who in the midst of utter agony requests "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34 KJV)
Thank You, Jesus. Thank You with all of my heart.
March 3, 2008
February 24, 2008
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution he will come to save you."
Isaiah 35:1-4 NIV
If only you could see yourself the way God sees you.
Do you know that God believes in you?
– even when you don’t believe in Him?
– even when you don’t believe in yourself?
Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before him”. Bearing unimaginable pain, Jesus searched the span of time and saw you. He saw His sacrifice breaking the power of sin and death over your life. He saw you rise in victory over every evil ploy this fallen world could throw at you. He saw you empowered to reach your full and glorious potential, being everything you could possibly be in this life and the next – in Him, for Him and with Him.
Such vision kept Him nailed to the cross.
|"Therefore…let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith,
who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:1-2 NAS
|Fix your eyes on Jesus until you begin to see yourself in the reflection of His eyes.
Then run. Run with all His might.
|This week's devotional is dedicated to all the beautiful "buds" with whom I had the privilege to enjoy last weekend's retreat.|
February 18, 2008
February 11, 2008
"For the eyes of the LORD
move to and fro
throughout the earth
that He may
those whose heart
is completely His."
2 Chronicles 16:9 NAS
|"Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there."
Psalms 139:7-8 NIV
|We might as well stop fighting. We might as well stop running. We cannot escape. Resistance is futile.
Surrender. That is what His eyes look for as they move to and fro throughout the earth. A heart that is completely His. Unconditional, full surrender. However, this surrender is enormously different than the surrenders we’ve seen or read about in our world. Enormously different. There is no gun pointing at our head. The Mighty Warrior of Heaven is simply searching for our heart. And upon this surrender the unusual outcome will be that we are set free. No prison or slave labor for His captives. Nope, no way, because this unusual captor of hearts is known as One who "raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes" (Psalms 113:7-8 NAS).
So what on earth are we waiting for?
"O LORD, you have searched me and you know me…you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD…My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place... All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be…" Psalms 139:1, 4, 15-16 NIV
|To the One who knows me inside out – let me love You from the inside out.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalms 139:23-24 NIV
February 4, 2008
|January 28, 2008|
"I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children.
Skepticism. Somewhere on the journey from child to adult we develop a good case of it. But all for the better in this world – otherwise we’d be eaten alive.
Yet, God wants us to change, to leave that adult-learned survival trait clear out of our relationship with Him.
Children who are born into the care of a loving, protective, providing parent quickly come to rest in that care. Have you ever noticed how most babies turn, search immediately and reach out toward their parent if they are suddenly put in the arms of a stranger? Trust has also been learned, yet is soon instilled in a newborn child as soon as they are held and fed and cared for.
Children learn to walk and laugh and play in the safety of their home, but all too soon they must venture out into the neighborhood. And all too soon they discover a cruel and selfish world. But that does not change the character of the parent to whom they run home to for understanding and shelter.
God wants you to know Him as your constant loving and wise Father – walk, work, play, sleep without a shadow of a doubt in who He is for you – in all He desires for you.
"It's impossible to please God apart from faith.
And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God
must believe both that he exists
and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him."
Hebrews 11:16 The Message
January 21, 2008
|January 14, 2008|
This is what the LORD says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go."
Isaiah 48:17 NIV
|God's heart is to enjoy a relationship with you.
As revealed in Isaiah 48:17, He desires to teach us what is best for us and to show us the way to go.
In reading the Bible, we discover that God is not distant and silent, but clearly a communicating God. A quick word search of the Bible (New King James Version) for the phrases God revealed brings up 14 verses, the Lord revealed 17 verses, God told 29 verses, the Lord told 39 verses, God spoke 62 verses, the Lord spoke 239 verses, God said 578 verses, the Lord says 858 verses and the Lord said 1153 verses!
God not only communicates to us today through reading the Bible or through teachers who study and share His Word, but God deeply longs for One on one relationship with us. He longs to converse with us directly, guiding us through our personal circumstances.
And who would be a better guide than the One who knows all, the One who made our hearts and knows us best and loves us most? Who could be a better counselor than the "Wonderful Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6) Himself?
Throughout the Old Testament, the children of Israel broke God's heart by stubbornly following after their own ways again and again. They rebelled against all that God had taught them. And because of their stubborn prideful selfishness they eventually wrecked their lives and lost everything they had. God sent His prophet Isaiah beforehand to warn them of the consequences to come - ""Woe, to the obstinate children," declares the LORD, "to those who carry out plans that are not mine..." (Isaiah 30:1 NIV) This warning is only one of the many, many warnings given throughout the book of Isaiah. Yet in the midst of all the warnings God still declares His relentless mercy:
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion… How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears he will answer you…Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."" Isaiah 30:18,19,21 (NIV)
And in the New Testament Jesus assures His disciples as He prepares to leave them –
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth…for he lives with you and will be in you…the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things" John 14:16-17, 26 (NIV)
I certainly don't want to take any unnecessary chances with my life.
"I know, LORD, that a person's life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course." Jeremiah 10:23 (NLT)Cultivating and enjoying a relationship with someone means that you communicate back and forth. You both talk. You both listen.
God desires no less.
January 7, 2008
A new year – traditionally, typically, the first days of the year are filled with anticipation, hopes, dreams, goals and resolutions.
Here we all stand looking into the future – little seeds of potential just waiting to bloom.
Jesus told His disciples in John 12:24:
"I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed." (NCV)
Jesus shared this principle just prior to His crucifixion. Within this little parable lies a dynamic truth. This tenet applies not only to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but to all those who would follow Him as well.
Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20:
"I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore -- it is Christ who lives in me. I still live in my body, but I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself to save me." (NCV)
I can appreciate how The Message translation elaborates on this verse stating "My ego is no longer central."
Becoming a seed and dying to our self for Christ means that we put to death all our self-fabricated aspirations that serve ourselves. We ask the Lord to take over our lives and hearts - becoming and reigning as the Lord of it all.
And should we be so brave, we even ask that He take away all the desires in our heart that would not line up with His, replacing those desires with the best plans He has for us. After all, God made us. He knows our gifts and talents better than we know ourselves. He sees our highest calling.
How could we settle for less? How could we settle for less than giving our all and all to the only One who knows all?
We need not fear losing out. We could never out-give God. Jesus promised us "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39 NIV). Not only that, as many have discovered, it is when living out this principle that God "is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us" (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)
For the most part, I imagine an element of pain accompanies dying. Yet if we will only trust Him, we can look forward with assurance to a glorious spring.
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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible , New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton , Illinois 60189 . All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked “NCV™” are taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (KJV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, KING JAMES VERSION.
Scripture quotations marked "NKJV™" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
Scripture quotations marked NAS taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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