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.
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!
What? you might be asking? What in the world does that mean?
Then a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quails from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, about two cubits deep on the ground. 32 So the people worked all that day and night and all the next day, gathering the quails; the least anyone gathered was ten homers; and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. 34 So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people journeyed to Hazeroth.
The people wandering in the desert were complaining about only having manna to eat. The Lord God had given them a heavenly food, unknown before or since, a food to nourish and sustain them. They complained and he brought them quail to eat. The quail lay all around them about 2 feet deep and the minimum they gathered was “enough to fill the bed of a full sized pickup truck to overflowing, mounded high.” They gathered much more than they could possible eat. Perhaps their plan was to dry them or preserve them with salt? We are not told. No language scholar here, but thankfully the references translate Kibroth-hattaavah for us. It means, the graves of craving. While the meat was still between their teeth, the anger of the Lord was kindled against them. Yikes.
Have you asked the Lord for something other than what you have? Has He given you that very thing? Have you been greedy about it?
Many years ago I was leading a study about these verses. Me, being the Queen of object lessons, decided we needed one for this verse. So we made a tombstone out of “Fimo” type clay that can be baked. Then we took alphabet beads and spelled out the name. Baked it and placed it in a prominent location to help remind us that there are consequences for acting on our cravings. The beads did not hold up well to the baking, but the idea worked.
Amused that it is now in my display of tiny things and the carved wooden pliers are pointing to it! (Lord, perhaps pulling out my cravings is like pulling teeth?) And those tiny glass birds could represent the quail, though I did not consciously place them for that. Oh Lord, remove my inordinate cravings with Your holy pliers, I pray.
The grave of cravings. What would you bury in that grave? Or would you be the one in the grave, the one who craved things inordinately and gave in to the greediness of wanting more than needed? I confess, I waver between the two.
All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].
1 Corinthians 10:23 Amplified
I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
1 Corinthians 10:23 NIV
Yes, Lent is over and the Easter season continues with rejoicing, Alleluia! That does not mean my self discipline ends. If I crave anything more than God my walk is in jeopardy. Here is a video with a little preaching from Keith Green.
Are you putting cravings to death or are you in the grave of craving? If you are stuck remember “a rut is just a grave with ends kicked out.” Ask the Lord to help you worship Him above all else. He is faithful to do just that.
It is said that the best way to discern God’s will is through prayer, the Word, confirmation through fellowship with other Christians and circumstantial situations God sends your way. If you want to rely on this method you need to learn the Word. Few of us can quote chapter and verse, but we can learn the principles of Scripture and how to find the verses that correspond.
Years ago I had a book about prayer that listed these Scriptures for guidance and direction. I made it a habit to pray them every morning off and on over a period of years, asking the Father to indeed give me guidance and direction for that day. If you want practice in finding references in your Bible, you can go to Deuteronomy 31:6 and mark in the margin Joshua 3:4, then at Joshua mark the next reference in your margin, etc., etc. The references that just say 25:9 refer to the book listed just before. So 25:9 is Psalms 25:9, etc. PROV is proverbs, ISA is Isaiah, JN is John and REV is Revelation. There are many such lists on line. This list has helped and taught me much. May it do the same for you in your study. If you use an electronic Bible on your phone or computer you will not have the advantage of being able to note the next verse in sequence. Bibles like the Thompson Chain reference give you space to add another reference.
Now, years later these verses still come to mind on occasion and remind me of His faithfulness. I also learned that if we “hide the word in our heart” and mind, that gives the Holy Spirit more to work with when I am asking for guidance or seeking to comfort another.
Tradition says that God was silent while Jesus was in the tomb on Holy Saturday. Rather than expound on the miracle of the resurrection, I thought this might feed your soul now and in the future.
Deut 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Josh 3:4 NKJV Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.
Psalms 16:11 You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
25:9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
32:8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
37:23-24 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
73:23-24a Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel.
121:8 The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.
PROV 2:6-8 NKJV For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints.
3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
11:3 The integrity of the upright guides them, but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.
ISA 30:20-21 Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
45:2-3 I will go before you and level the mountains, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.
48:17 Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the LORD your God, who teaches you for your own good, who leads you in the way you should go.
JER 6:16 This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
29:12-14 “Then you will call on 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. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
32:17 Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.
JN 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
REV 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Daily reading of the Word is one of our best weapons in warfare. The Word is our Sword of the Spirit. Let the Word guide and direct you, mold and teach you. The results are ‘out of this world!’
“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.
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
I doubt if there are many readers who have not had a similar experience. Perhaps before Lent ends this year you can walk through some of those situations asking Jesus to hold your hand and give you insight and understanding towards how to dismantle these painful memories. He is willing to walk with you. Are you willing to expose these unresolved situations to His light and power?
We are in “Holy Week,” the time we Christians focus upon what Jesus endured for our sake and the victory He gained for us. As Matilda Kipfer would ask you, “Did He die in vain? …” regarding your deliverance from the tormenter? Our best life is lived moment by moment in His resurrection power. Twelve steppers know this. Forgiveness. Letting go of wounds and hurts. Releasing those who are “living rent-free in your head.” This letting go idea was known long before the “Frozen” song was popular! That did not come along until much later. The idea has been around for eons.
If you want to drink deeply from the streams of joy and love you may with God’s help. It is best done without the burdens of the Unresolved hanging about your neck.
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
John 7:37-39 RSV
Granted it would be difficult to illustrate or photograph you getting a drink from the river of Living Water flowing out of your own heart, but you can imagine the refreshment that this young man is gaining from this water. There are times when we thirst for God and this poem illustrates one way to let go of the warfare and enjoy the provision Christ has made for us.
I mentioned recently in this blog how important it was to me that the Episcopalians actually humbled themselves and would kneel every service. Here is one of the Canticles from the Morning Prayer service that has increased in meaning for me as my knees are less and less cooperative for the act of kneeling. It is a prayer of repentance and useful at all times, but especially during Lent.
If you are unaware of your sin, perhaps this prayer can help you remember a few. “I have sinned and I know my wickedness only too well.” Rest there for a time. The Holy Spirit will gently remind you if you are sincerely asking.
Canticle 14 – A Song of Penitence Prayer of Manasseh
O Lord and Ruler of the hosts of heaven, *
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
and of all their righteous offspring:
You made the heavens and the earth, *
with all their vast array.
All things quake with fear at your presence; *
they tremble because of your power.
But your merciful promise is beyond all measure; *
it surpasses all that our minds can fathom.
O Lord, you are full of compassion, *
long-suffering, and abounding in mercy.
You hold back your hand; *
you do not punish as we deserve.
In your great goodness, Lord,
you have promised forgiveness to sinners, *
that they may repent of their sin and be saved.
And now, O Lord, I bend the knee of my heart, *
and make my appeal, sure of your gracious goodness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, *
and I know my wickedness only too well.
Therefore I make this prayer to you: *
Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
Do not let me perish in my sin, *
nor condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, *
and in me you will show forth your goodness.
Unworthy as I am, you will save me,
in accordance with your great mercy, *
and I will praise you without ceasing all the days of my life.
For all the powers of heaven sing your praises, *
and yours is the glory to ages of ages. Amen.
There is debate about whether Manasseh should be considered part of the Bible. If you are interested in the debate you can see https://www.gotquestions.org/Prayer-of-Manasseh.html I am not concerned about that. I am concerned about keeping my heart clean before God and trusting in His goodness. Bending the knee of my heart in confession is one way I try to do just that.
KNEELING—falling to one’s knees as a sign of reverence, obedience, or respect
International Children’s Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN.: Tommy Nelson, 2006).
We are usually quite aware of the times we disappoint the Lord. Perhaps you have not called your actions wickedness, but compared to the glory and righteousness of God those actions are nothing less. Yes, we are to kneel as a sign of reverence, obedience, respect. I do not think God cares if I actually bend my knees to the ground or bend the knee of my heart because my heart can at times be more stubborn than my old knees. He is looking for my yieldedness to His authority. He is a God full of compassion and quick to forgive, but we must confess our sins. I love the verse in 1 John 1:9 that says He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 RSV
Notice that the above verse begins with the little two letter word “if.” His forgiveness and cleansing are dependent upon our willingness to confess. The first step is ours.
I am praying you will examine your life and take those sins to the One who grants peace and mercy. I assure you, it is worth your time and effort.
I have been familiar with this passage for many years. When I had the recent pain flare it was brought back to my mind. As I seek ways to cope I keep remembering this passage. Stand. Look. Ask. Walk. Find rest.
Seems simple enough. I do not want to be part of the folks who said, “We will not walk in it.” Just like my life verse Isaiah 30:15
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused
I do not want to refuse in things the Lord asks of me. So yes, I will seek medical advice, but I will also look to the Lord for guidance and instruction on how to cope with this part of aging. When Bob worked in the hospital as a Medical Technologist part of his job was to go on the floor and draw blood specimens early each morning. He often had to wake the patients to do that. He asked a man one morning how he was doing. The gentleman replied, “Well, I woke up on the right side of the grass!” We have taken that as one of our bywords when aging and illness throws us for a loop. The alternative would be to not finish out the stories going on in our lives and the lives of those we love. So even when we are miserable, we are grateful to keep on living.
Next time you are stymied in your life perhaps Jeremiah could guide you, too. Can’t hurt to try that as your prayer guide when frustrated. Ask God. He will show you the ancient way, where the good path lies. Please, do not join the ranks of those who said “We will not walk in it” or outright refuse His help.
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.
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.
I saw an advertisement recently that used a quote from Audrey Hepburn. I had never heard this one! She said,
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.”
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?”
Recently I cleaned out a box I used to keep safety pins. The box used to belong to my Dad. At the bottom of the box was this tiny key that one of my children had asked me to keep some time ago. I have no idea if it went to a diary or a little cash box? I almost threw it out and then I remembered a teaching that helped free my soul.
I once heard a teacher talk about having fearlessness and courage to remove her armor. Not the armor of God spoken of in Ephesians 6, but the armor we place on ourselves because we fear what others might do to us. The chains and locks we apply to try to keep the world out. The barriers to emotional intimacy and transparency with others, even God. She said “Nobody else can take it off because nobody else knows where all the little locks are, nobody else knows where it’s sewed up tight, where it’s going to take a lot of work to get that particular thread untied.”
Where have you locked yourself up? Where have you fixed chains upon your heart and soul that no one can get past? You placed the chains and you locked the lock. What if God asked you to go back and undo those limitations and walk in freedom with Him? Would you? What if your lock kept you out of the Living Water?
Then would you be willing to chance getting close to God and bathing in His Living Water?
I believe this idea is worth our pondering and reflecting upon. So often it is not the circumstances of life but the ways we limit ourselves that prevent our progress in the spiritual life. When the question arises “was it nurture or nature?” I often wonder if it was self. When I insist upon ruling over my own life trouble starts. Only my holy Father, who knows my heart and soul better than I do, can be a just, kind, fair and loving ruler of my life. I gave the throne seat in my heart to Him. Always I must be careful not to try to knock Him out of the chair.
Where have you locked Him out? Are you willing to take off that fencing and chains and locks so He might enter in? From my experience it is the best thing you can do with your life, bar none!