State of the Heart

From First 15: “Our heavenly Father is the giver of every good gift. His mercies are vast, powerful, and real. His love has the ability to completely overwhelm and satisfy every one of our needs. Everything he gives us satisfies, transforms, and leads us to abundant life. As we spend this week stirring up our affections toward God, allow your heart to become soft and open. Allow his loving character to draw you close and provide life to every dry and weary place in your soul.” Here is the online link https://www.first15.org/04/25/god-gives-peace/ You can also subscribe to the podcast.

Have you seen stones that seem to be in the shape of a heart? In almost any place with loose stones you can occasionally find a stone in the shape of a heart. Could it be a message for you? God wants us to have a heart that is open to His touch. He knows the thoughts of our hearts. He knows what lives in our heart. He is able to change, cleanse and help our hearts.

In the Old Testament He wrote

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 NIV

Have you examined your heart to see if you are open to His touch? Open not just when it is convenient or feels good, but open to His every instruction as each day unfolds.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Hebrews 10:16 NIV

He will put His laws in our hearts. He will write upon our minds. As a senior citizen I believe this is terrific! Yes, we do tend to forget things, but the Father is not going to let aging prevent us knowing what He desires. Perhaps one of the greatest promises of all is found in Jeremiah.

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13

Have you sought God with all your heart? Is your heart soft towards Him? Can you imagine how soft the heart of Jesus must have been to yield to the sacrifice that the Father required on our behalf? I return again and again to the song by Andrew Peterson. If you watch the video the veins in the living heart remind me of the veins in the rock heart above.

Next time you see a stone in the shape of a heart ask the Lord if that is a message to you about your heart. It very well could be He is trying to get your attention!

Humility?

The Bible has things to say about humility and the world has many misconceptions of that character trait. Our youngest pastor was speaking about this last week. He was talking about how his young sons try to outdo one another being Dad’s favorite. He was contrasting the kids behavior to the Lord asking us to value others as better than ourselves.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves

Philippians 2:3 NIV

The Lord taught about humility and He modeled humility for us in His life and in His death.

Jesus said, “But if you are as humble as this child, you are the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:4 CEV

Jesus also said, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:12 NRSV

He (Jesus) humbled himself

    and became obedient to the point of death—

    even death on a cross.

Philippians 2:8 NRSV

Willie Nelson sings this song written by Mac Davis that shows how the world sees humility. Such a far cry from the Word, but humorous none the less.

How do you view humility? According to the Word or Mac Davis and the world?

Lean Hard into Him

Have you had days when the same old same old seems to crush your spirit? Or days when you want to declare “Some old “S***, different day!” Each of us gets caught in the seemingly mundane go-round that I would not call merry. How to get away from that?

One cry of my heart goes out in this song we learned years ago at the Vineyard. I pray it helps lift you, too.

The eternal God is your refuge,

    and underneath are the everlasting arms.

He will drive out your enemies before you,

    saying, ‘Destroy them!’

Deuteronomy 33:27

Childhood memories

How many playground rhymes do you remember? Some of these popped into my brain this week. If I am ever in a nursing home wing for Alzheimer’s I hope these songs and rhymes help restore me to some form of sanity. (Here Bob might chuckle “Sanity is too much to hope for even today!” Ever the tease. He is oldest of five kids. I’ve learned how to give it back!)

My Dad worked for the N & W railroad. Mom wasn’t the only one who sang in the car! Daddy taught us this one.

I left my wife
Alone in the kitchen
With 28 children
And nothing but gingerbread left
Left, left, right, left

Oh it ain't gonna rain no more no more
Ain't gonna rain no more
How in the heck can I wash my neck
if it ain't gonna rain no more?

I woke up in the morning 
the bread was hard and stale
the coffee tasted like tobacco juice
from the US county jail, OH ( with gusto!)

So what poems or verses are in your memory bank?

A my name is Alice
and my husband's name is Al
we live in Alabama where we grow apples

How far in the alphabet did you get? Do you remember? Was this for jump rope or bouncing a ball against the wall and passing it under your knee when you hit the A words? Ah! memory lane can be fun sometimes.

Musical Rejoicing Over Jesus’ VICTORY

Celebrate His Victory with me and other Christians around the world.

May you enjoy the resurrection power that flows in your veins and use it only to His glory and honor.

May this, our high, holy holiday be just the beginning of new life for you.

Most of all, may you gain understanding of why Jesus made the sacrifice of His life for you. Truly, He died for you.

Things Learned in Darkness

“Each part of each life is a lesson.” Some of us never realize this; however, some of us learn and cherish the lessons and move on.

To me “things learned in darkness” are unknown by most other people yet known to God. Others have no clue what you have endured or struggled with. Frankly, there are few on earth who would still love and accept you if they knew your struggles. Each of us is quick to judge others. God knows all about us. Palm 139:1-7 NIV says:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?


God knows. This is what omniscient means: “One having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding.” He also knows our struggles in the dark.

even the darkness is not dark to You;

    the night is as bright as the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.

Psalm 139:12 NRSV

My struggles are often against things from the past. Sins done both by me and to me. Things said about me that were never corrected by the speaker. Things I have wrestled with God about. Things I have wrestled with against the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of this present darkness and spiritual forces of evil. (Ephesians 6:12 NRSV) There are also struggles in the present. Keeping my tongue in check. Being kind when it is habitual to lash against others. Staying the course, choosing to walk in the Light of Christ even when chronic illness crushes me.

Each of us faces struggles on the earth with other earthlings and with those wicked forces of evil. With Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit we can overcome those forces. We must be willing to endure the warfare. We must be willing to put on our armor and go into the fight. If not, the battles can continue to wage in and about us all of our lives. The same old, same old, over and over and over again.

People see you on the outside. For the most part, they do not know what struggles you have faced in your soul and spirit. But the Father sees. He is willing to come alongside you with the Spirit and the Son for each skirmish.

When I taught a Bible study on the women’s unit at the Hamilton County Justice Center I wore a button telling the women I was “not as innocent as I looked.” And I am not as innocent as I look today. God, Who reads the heart, knows what each of us have endured, as well as what each of us has done. The Word says, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NRSV

We are all broken. We each have need of the Holy Healer and Savior.

Rescue
Lauren Daigle
You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you

There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You're not defenseless
I'll be your shelter
I'll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find you

Weeks in My Soul

For weeks this melody and parts of the lyrics have been rolling about in my soul. I could not track ti down. Totally cluueless what the title was. I have many old hymns on Cd and in my soul and when they surface I cannot always find them, even in a computer search. Finally, I found this one! My hymnal notes Ephesians 1:12 “That we … might be for the praise of His glory.”

Praise the Savior Lyrics by Thomas Kelly
Praise the Savior, ye who know Him!
Who can tell how much we owe Him?
Gladly let us render to Him
All we are and have.

Jesus is the name that charms us;
He for conflict fits and arms us;
Nothing moves and nothing harms us
While we trust in Him.

Trust in Him, ye saints, forever;
He is faithful, changing never;
Neither force nor guile can sever
Those He loves from Him.

Keep us, Lord, oh, keep us cleaving
To Thyself and still believing,
Till the hour of our receiving
Promised joys with Thee.

Then we shall be where we would be,
Then we shall be what we should be;
Things that are not now, nor could be,
Soon shall be our own.

Gladly let us give Him all we are and have. Trust repeated. Nothing can separate or sever us from Him. Keep us cleaving: adhere, cling, stick fast. Then we shall be – Oh Lord, transform us into Your likeness.

Adhere, cling, stick fast, like a tendril adheres a vine firmly

Why is it important to track down these glimmers of song? Almost every time the Holy Spirit is leading me to me a truth I need. I do not know why it sometimes takes longer to find the song than at other times? When I do find the song it is with rejoicing and praise that my God is bigger than me and smarter than me and knows what I need when I need it – often before I know!

This week Bob has gone to the Convent in Glendale for time away. As he pulled out of the driveway this song rolled through me again. I decided to search for it one more time. And there it was!! This is also special time for me to draw closer to the Lord while Bob is gone. The routines are broken up and Lucky and I are on our own. I am praying I will not waste this time, but “gladly render to Him all I am and have.”

Yes! Let us live for the praise of His Glory, always.

Nothing Impossible

I saw an advertisement recently that used a quote from Audrey Hepburn. I had never heard this one! She said,

I just love that! The word itself says I’m possible. That is just the optimism I believe the Lord had when He created you and me! He makes us possible and He provides what we need to fulfill His plan on the earth.

His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

He has given us His Son. The power of resurrection life through the sacrifice of Jesus and the indwelling Spirit. Everything we need for life and godliness is ours. Are we taking advantage of the things we have been given? Are we telling ourselves “I’m possible.”

There was a time when it would have been thought impossible that people of color could star in Cinderella, and I would ask “Why not?” There was a time when my mother took my sister for modeling lessons while I stayed home to strip the wax off the kitchen floor on my hands and knees. I called myself “CinderLinda.” (Molly is a nickname.) Yet the following shows how very possible “impossible” things are!

You may have asked God if there is some way He can use you in His Kingdom. I would cheer a resounding, “Yes!!” Our Pastor often quotes Henry Blackaby.

“We don’t choose what we will do for God; He invites us to join Him where He wants to involve us.”

― Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God

So have you asked the Father where He wants to involve you? If He shows you where He is working will you be willing to join Him? Even if it is not a place you choose to serve? Are you willing to declare through His power “I’m possible!”

Many years ago the following praise chorus was popular. Praise choruses are a great way to learn Scripture. This one quotes Jeremiah proclaiming praise in The Amplified Bible Jeremiah 17:32. ‘Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too difficult or too wonderful for You—. The outstretched arm is the weakest position. You will get the idea after the first minute!

God can use anyone yielded to Him for the growth and building of His kingdom. The best question is “Are you willing to serve Him?”

Ode to Joy

Bob’s favorite hymn came to mind recently as MUSIC WEEK developed on this blog! Praise can be a powerful part of your spiritual discipline. The word says that God inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3 KJV) Christianity. com comments on that verse saying

The word “inhabits” is not suggesting God is only present when people are singing praises about Him. Obviously, God is not confined to one place. As the Creator of the universe, the world, and all the people and things within it, God has no bounds. But what the writer of the psalm seems to be saying is that God is present and glorified when His people lift His name in honor. God enjoys it—perhaps it brings Him peace and rest. He draws nearer to us when we praise Him.

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-does-it-mean-that-god-inhabits-the-praise-of-his-people.html

Have you ever attended a symphony performance of Beethoven’s Ninth? It is very difficult for me to be there and not break out in loud singing when they get to this melody. One of my favorite hymnals has it as selection #1. Below is an updated version that I like also!

The keyboard work is so fun to watch! And participants of all ages! Love it!

Original lyrics Henry J. van Dyke, not exactly what they are singing, but I like this updated version!

  1. Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
    God of glory, Lord of love;
    Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
    Op’ning to the sun above.
    Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
    Drive the dark of doubt away;
    Giver of immortal gladness,
    Fill us with the light of day!
  2. All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
    Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
    Stars and angels sing around Thee,
    Center of unbroken praise.
    Field and forest, vale and mountain,
    Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
    Singing bird and flowing fountain
    Call us to rejoice in Thee.
  3. Thou art giving and forgiving,
    Ever blessing, ever blest,
    Wellspring of the joy of living,
    Ocean depth of happy rest!
    Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
    All who live in love are Thine;
    Teach us how to love each other,
    Lift us to the joy divine.
  4. Mortals, join the happy chorus,
    Which the morning stars began;
    Father love is reigning o’er us,
    Brother love binds man to man.
    Ever singing, march we onward,
    Victors in the midst of strife,
    Joyful music leads us Sunward
    In the triumph song of life.

Keep praising! There is so much power in praise.

YouTube

In 1970 when Judy Collins’ recording of Amazing Grace was on the radio my Mom was furious that it was being played in the bars. I asked her, “Where better, Mom?” My thinking was why not reach the lost in the bars? Give them hope that Jesus could touch them, too?

Now we can watch church on YouTube and sing along to almost every hymn ever recorded. The possibilities are limitless with the computer in our pocket that we call a telephone. I have access to the entire Bible in various versions, sermons from New York City, my local Pastor preaching, all on my iPhone.

Renaissance Church, New York City, Harlem

Whether it is a song from my childhood (“How Much is that Doggie in the Window?) or a lyric line like “More than you know,” yep, You Tube has it. I can even post my own videos of Lucky watching a doe and her fawn or monarch caterpillars devouring milkweed plants.

But the earth will be filled

    with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,

    as the waters cover the sea.

Habakkuk 2:14 NRSV

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.

    Let your glory be over all the earth.

Psalm 57:5and Psalm 108:5

Mom had no idea where things were headed. I must admit I did not either in 1970!