Monday, March 27, 2017

Alone on a Desert Highway




Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering...
Isaiah 53:4a


It seems the Lord is teaching me much about suffering and trials of late, not only in my own personal experience, which you can read about here, but also insights that are jumping out at me through my Pastor's sermons, my own personal Bible reading time and tragedies that are touching the lives of people I know personally.

To reflect upon suffering and trials seems appropriate during lent, don't you think?  Our Lord suffered in the desert for 40 days, being taunted by the Devil, while going without food...

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  

And the tempter came and said to him,
 “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

   Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”  Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Matthew 4:1-11


And then came Jesus' ultimate suffering...

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him
Matthew 26:67

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.
Luke 22:63-65

And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him,
John 19:17-20


I'm sure you would agree that the typical view of suffering, as noted in the Bible, is that WE share in Christ's sufferings...

But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, 
that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
1 Peter 4:13

Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, 
if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory 
Romans 8:17


But something my Pastor preached about recently shed a new light on suffering... 

When Christ was born as a man, HE shared in our flesh and blood, and as such, experienced the same sufferings we do in the physical body whether it be tiredness, hunger, aches, pains, the common cold, stomach aches, etc.  He also suffered emotionally having been mocked, wrongly accused and rejected, as noted in the verses above.  

He also shared in the sufferings of temptation...

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, 
he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18

And there it is, the new light, "HE is able!"  Indeed it is Jesus who is sharing in MY suffering.  Jesus walked that road before me.  It is Jesus that says, 

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:29

As parents, we try to encourage our children not to make the same mistakes we did as a child.  We are trying to shield them from a world of hurt.  But it isn't always possible to do so...  Sometimes they have to learn on their own or they are hurt outside of our control...

Yet when we get that call that says, "Mom/Dad, I need your help.", our instant response, is always "Of course!  I will help you!"  It is then that we speak to their hearts and share the wisdom that we gained when we walked that road of suffering before them...  And if we haven't experienced that same suffering, we minister to them as only a mother or father can, with unconditional love and encouragement.

When my daughter lived in California, she was traveling back to Camp Pendeleton from Twenty-Nine Palms where she had visited her husband who was out there for a field op.  It was about a two and a half hour drive - a good part of which was through desolate desert areas.  She was driving on a stretch of highway, which speed limit was marked at 70 mph, the speed which she was going, when her brakes failed as traffic swiftly halted.  She plowed into the car in front of her.  By God's grace and mercy she was not killed and thankfully suffered no injuries.  Apparently those Saturn cars were made for impact!  The tow truck driver dropped her off at a fast food restaurant in the middle of the desert where nobody spoke English.  Her husband could not leave the base to come and get her.  She had to wait for a friend to drive out who was two hours away. Can you imagine this momma's heart when she received a tearful phone call from her daughter who was 2000 miles away, one that she could not physically help.  It was heart-wrenching.  I stayed on the phone with her and tried to encourage and comfort her as best I could.  She couldn't talk too long because she needed to preserve her phone's battery.  When I hung up, I did the most powerful thing I could, I PRAYED!!   And the Lord shared in my daughter's suffering, sustaining her until her friend arrived to pick her up.  How fitting, our dear Jesus knew what it was like to be alone in a desert and there my daughter was, feeling very alone in the California desert, with no one who understood English.  Jesus walked that road before my daughter and shared in her suffering.

How much more does our Lord say, when we cry to Him for help, "Of course!  I will help you!"

Or what parent who sees their child suffering with a sickness, doesn't wish that it was them that was sick rather than their child.

During my early motherhood years, I suffered terribly with asthma.  At one point I was on two prophylactic inhalers and one rescue inhaler.  Despite this, I endured several serious asthma attacks that required treatment with theophylline and prednisone, both pretty nasty drugs.  I can remember sitting up in bed doing a nebulizer treatment, gasping for air, only to be in the same boat, just two hours later - two hours sooner than the allotted time between treatments.  There is nothing scarier than not being able to breathe, especially after a treatment!

My asthma finally came under control, but it was now my three year old son who was suffering with asthma.  One episode in particular comes to mind where nothing seemed to open up his lungs for very long.  Even though I had suffered in the same way a few years before, I still would have chosen to trade places with my son, if it were possible, rather than to see him suffer so.

We, as children of God, have Someone who DID trade places with us, suffering the wrath our sins deserved  - our Savior Jesus!

When Christ shared in our flesh and blood, He replaced the Old Testament sacrifice requirements with Himself!!  He REQUIRED the sacrifice and Himself BECAME the sacrifice!!  Such amazing love!!  We now can enter the Holy Veil with complete confidence knowing that He loves us with an everlasting love and will share in our sufferings and provide total consolation...

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 
 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through 
his flesh,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near 
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an 
evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:19-23

Are any of you suffering?  Be encouraged!  Christ shares in YOUR sufferings!  

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you;
 he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord never requires of us anything that He hasn't gone through already.

The Lord has suffered in every way that we have, yet we will never suffer to the point that Jesus has...

Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:4

He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed...

But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. 
He was oppressed and He was afflicted...

But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Portions from Isaiah 53:3-12


Cast your burdens and sufferings upon the Lord.  Allow HIM to share in YOUR sufferings.  For it is HIM and only HIM who will carry you through...


Hiding in Thee

O safe to the Rock that is higher than I 
My soul in its conflicts and sorrows would fly; so sinful so 
weary – Thine, Thine would I be: Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” 
I’m hiding in Thee. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

In the calm of the noon tide, in sorrow’s lone hour, 
In times when temptation casts o’er me its power, in the tempests of
life, on its wide heaving sea, Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” 
I’m hiding in Thee. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

How often in conflict, when pressed by the foe, 
I have fled to my Refuge and breathed out my woe; how often, when
trials like sea billows roll, have I hidden in Thee, 
O Thou Rock of my soul. Hiding in Thee, hiding in Thee,
Thou blest “Rock of Ages,” I’m hiding in Thee.

William O.  Cushing


Please feel free to share testimonies in the comments below of how the Lord has shared in your sufferings so that we all can be encouraged.  :-)

I hope you will join me next week when I will continue what has now turned into a series on trials and suffering where I will talk about God's activity within our suffering.

The following week, I will share about the rewards of suffering.

You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up

Monday, March 20, 2017

When you're in a Season of God's Discipline...




If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:8-11

  
Why is it when something gets taken away from us, it is usually then and only then that we truly appreciate it's worth.

I'm not talking about the deeper things of life, which I believe most of us endeavor to appreciate, but too often take for granted.

But I am talking about the simple things in life, those situations or functionalities that are so routine, yet not appreciated to the fullest.

Recently, I was so frustrated with spending a lonely day at home, that I realized the only cause of the frustration was not the lonely day, but how I viewed it...

Rather than focusing on the loneliness and things not going how I would have liked them to on that particular day, I decided I needed a major mindset adjustment.

It was a beautiful sunny day.  Even though it was too cold to be outside, the sun was making the inside of my entire house bright and cheery.  Having recently watched a vacation vlog of a person who stayed in a beautiful vacation home overlooking the ocean and epic mountains of Cape Town, Africa, I thought to myself, I can have a vacation mindset, even in my own home!  

I spent different times of the day enjoying the surroundings of the different rooms in my home, and partook of relaxing activities. 

I appreciated the warmth of the sun, as I sat bathed in the sunlight next to my back slider; I soaked up the views of the fields out back with the birds flitting around; I sat in my living room for a spell to read a good book, and although time didn't permit, I was going to play a round of Wii Resort Frisbee Golf to truly get the tropical vacation feel.  ;-)

Within a matter of a few days of my vacation, I found myself in an abundance of pain and stiffness. I couldn't even sit or walk without extreme difficulty or discomfort.

I have been having issues with worsening sciatica. For the past six weeks the pain wakes me up at night, and the lack of sleep is catching up with me.

I'm not really sure what the offending event actually was that caused this bizarre turn of events, but I've never experienced anything like it.  

Unfortunately, I apparently don't have the ability to sleep when I am lying on my back and can only sleep on my side.  For two nights in a row I didn't sleep at all because it was too painful to sleep on either side.  My right hip is still very sore.

I am also allergic to NSAIDs which I'm sure would have helped greatly with reducing the inflammation I most assuredly have.

I will be making an appointment with a chiropractor to get this all checked out.  In the meantime, in God's mercy, I am slowly but surely doing better.  I still can't sit for prolonged periods and am not very comfortable doing so.  But I am walking better thankfully.

Enter in the lessons within the lesson taught through God's discipline... 

The Lord brought to my remembrance my attitude just a few days earlier about my lonely day and although He turned it around for me in the moment, I realized how different my initial attitude would have been toward that particular day had I been experiencing the pain and stiffness I was when it was at its worst.  I would have relished a day to just lay on the couch all day - ALONE...

I realized my lack of gratitude toward the simple functions of my body, like sleeping, walking and sitting!   I am without excuse not to be grateful for EVERYTHING in my life, no matter how routine or functional it is!

I also became painfully aware, pun intended, that because I rarely, if ever, suffer from physical ailments such as this, that I can lack compassion and understanding for those who do.  The Lord is refining me through His loving discipline to share His holiness and to be of encouragement to others who suffer in the same manner through how He encouraged me.

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. 
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
2 Corinthians 1:4

I found myself complaining and thinking to myself, "Well, I KNEW the other shoe was going to drop!"  As I read the verse above in Hebrews I was convicted that those thought processes are showing a great lack of respect for my Heavenly Father.   

For He ordains all the painful circumstances that touch my life through Godly discipline so that I may live!

We are reminded in the passage from Hebrews that for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but in that same passage we are promised that life comes with God's discipline.

When we are in the midst of suffering, it can feel like it will never end.   

To be transparent, these thoughts have recently crossed my mind, "Will I ever walk normal again??"  "Will I ever be able to sleep without pain again??"  "Will I ever be able to sit without pain again??"

But to those who are suffering, we can find great hope in the above verses from Hebrews.  The Lord will redeem our pain for His good purposes.

What if we took the following mindset to be subject to the Father of spirits and LIVE concerning every affliction or difficult circumstance that comes our way?...

What if we remembered that most afflictions won't end in death, but will give life and are only for a moment so that it will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it?

What if we faced our affliction with a Heavenly mindset and instead asked ourselves, "What good thing is God teaching me?" "How will God use this affliction to help another?"  "How will I share in His Holiness through this experience"?

The answers to these questions all showcase the great and wonderful purposes God has through us for the Kingdom!

And God loves us so much that He chose the EXACT AND SPECIFIC circumstances that touch our lives to accomplish His Kingdom work!  For we are sons and daughters of the King who have the privilege of receiving His loving discipline so that we might experience the peacefulness of a life lived in obedience to the Lord.

Mrs. Charles Spurgeon shares encouragement regarding God's discipline, of which she was well-acquainted, having struggled through long seasons of affliction...

"The following incident is related by Mrs. Charles Spurgeon, who was a great sufferer for more than a quarter of a century:

“At the close of a dark and gloomy day, I lay resting on my couch as the deeper night drew on; and though all was bright within my cozy room, some of the external darkness seemed to have entered into my soul and obscured its spiritual vision. Vainly I tried to see the Hand which I knew held mine, and guided my fog-enveloped feet along a steep and slippery path of suffering. In sorrow of heart I asked, 

“’Why does my Lord thus deal with His child? Why does He so often send sharp and bitter pain to visit me? Why does He permit lingering weakness to hinder the sweet service I long to render to His poor servants?’

“These fretful questions were quickly answered, and through a strange language; no interpreter was needed save the conscious whisper of my heart.

“For a while silence reigned in the little room, broken only by the crackling of the oak log burning in the fireplace. Suddenly I heard a sweet, soft sound, a little, clear, musical note, like the tender trill of a robin beneath my window.

“’What can it be? surely no bird can be singing out there at this time of the year and night.’

“Again came the faint, plaintive notes, so sweet, so melodious, yet mysterious enough to provoke our wonder. My friend exclaimed,  “’It comes from the log on the fire!’ The fire was letting loose the imprisoned music from the old oak’s inmost heart!

“Perchance he had garnered up this song in the days when all was well with him, when birds twittered merrily on his branches, and the soft sunlight flecked his tender leaves with gold. But he had grown old since then, and hardened; ring after ring of knotty growth had sealed up the long-forgotten melody, until the fierce tongues of the flames came to consume his callousness, and the vehement heart of the fire wrung from him at once a song and a sacrifice. ’Ah,’ thought I, ’when the fire of affliction draws songs of praise from us, then indeed we are purified, and our God is glorified!’

“Perhaps some of us are like this old oak log, cold, hard, insensible; we should give forth no melodious sounds, were it not for the fire which kindles around us, and releases notes of trust in Him, and cheerful compliance with His will.

“’As I mused the fire burned,’ and my soul found sweet comfort in the parable so strangely set forth before me.

“Singing in the fire! Yes, God helping us, if that is the only way to get harmony out of these hard apathetic hearts, let the furnace be heated seven times hotter than before.”

Streams in the Desert, March 13th

I'd like to sum up this blog post with one final thought.  The purpose of God's discipline varies uniquely to the individual Believer's life, but the overarching purpose for God's discipline in all Believer's lives is to draw them closer to Him...

As Dr. C. stood on a high peak of the Rocky Mountains watching a storm raging below him, an eagle came up through the clouds, and soared away towards the sun and the water upon him glistened in the sunlight like diamonds. Had it not been for the storm he might have remained in the valley. The sorrows of life cause us to rise towards God.

Streams in the Desert, March 14th

What a personal God we have.  One who seeks after us with Amazing Love.



You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday Faith on Fire Link-upSunday Scripture Blessings Link-up

Monday, March 13, 2017

Spiritual Encouragement from a Spider



I will be like the dew to Israel; 
He will blossom like the lily, 
And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. 
His shoots will sprout, 
And his beauty will be like the olive tree
 And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.…
Hosea 14:5

Years ago we were heading out early one morning from our hotel near Killington, Vermont, on our way toward our favorite town, Woodstock.  The sun was rising higher in the sky as we descended the tall mountain into a valley.  Looking to the left we saw the most amazing sight - trees laced with spiderwebs, their intricate designs magnified by shiny dew drops, courtesy of the sun rays reflecting their own light through the prisms of water, creating an amazing masterpiece of artwork, there in an otherwise unremarkable field.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I don't like spiders!  Give me a snake any day.  lol.  Now that's not to say I won't jump sky high if I'm walking along and happen upon a snake, but they don't seem to strike the same fear in me as spiders.  There is just something about spiders that gives me the creeps.

Yet I have always found it fascinating to observe, from a safe distance, of course, spiders making their intricate orb webs.   

We usually have a resident spider on our deck most of the summer that just gets fatter and fatter sampling all the tasty morsels he has captured in his sticky web.  

But to me, what's even more fascinating, is to see a web get demolished in a summer evening thunderstorm, only to wake up the next day and find an even bigger, more intricate web where the old one used to be.  That spider must have worked all night creating the new web.  Of course he did! Otherwise, he wouldn't have the means to catch a steady supply of food for the next day.  I have watched this cycle repeated many times over a summer when gusty thunderstorms can be frequent.  Yet the spider maintains his diligence to ensure his nourishment.

We could learn a thing or two from spiderwebs and their creators.  

Diligence in preparing for that which sustains you is critical to a healthy spiritual life.

Like the spider who weaves his web every night, repairing or recreating that which was destroyed during the day, every evening we too must repair and reclaim that which was broken during the day. We do so by coming to the Word of God to rest in the presence of our Great Redeemer, who redeems every circumstance that touches our lives daily. 

For those of you who have never tried doing your Bible reading in the evening, I would like to encourage you to give it a try.  I realize this goes against the grain of the traditionally recommended morning devotions, but after you hear of my own experience with nighttime Bible reading, you might feel compelled to give it a try.  :-)

Let me first say I am in no way discounting morning Bible reading.  I truly wish that I was wired in such a way to effectively do my Bible reading in the morning.  And believe me, I have tried!  I had a friend once tell me that before her feet hit the floor in the morning, she would spend time in the Word.  So I followed her example, even setting my alarm to wake up earlier to read from my Bible.  But I found that I would start to fall back to sleep as I was reading.  Then a season in my life opened up where I had entire afternoons to spend time in the Word of God - an amazing blessing.  Last year, due to the hecticness of my life, I returned to an early morning Bible time.  But this time, I sat up in bed so that I wouldn't fall back to sleep, and although I indeed stayed awake, I was finding that I just didn't retain what I read.  If that wasn't bad enough, because of how hectic my life was, my mind would wander and I'd start thinking of all the things I had to do throughout the day, essentially becoming stressed while trying to comprehend what I was reading in the Bible.  Yeah, I'm special like that.  lol.  

This past October, I started doing my Bible reading in the evening before I settle down to unwind and watch a little TV.  For me, that could be anywhere from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  And I must say, I have NEVER experienced such revelations studying the Word as I have reading my Bible in the evening.  Familiar passages that I have read countless times over the years are jumping out at me like never before with a clarity that is stunning.  Just last night I literally exclaimed out loud, "Wow!  I can't believe how much I am learning by doing my Bible time in the evening!"  

I recently read the following excerpt from the January 30th's portion of Streams in the Desert and it really resonated with me due to my own recent discovery of how fruitful it is to have an extended Bible time in the evening.


"Quietness and absorption bring the dew. At night when the leaf and blade are still, the vegetable pores are open to receive the refreshing and invigorating bath; so spiritual dew comes from quiet lingering in the Master's presence. Get still before Him. Haste will prevent your receiving the dew."  --Dr. Pardington

"Dew will never gather while there is either heat or wind. The temperature must fall, and the wind cease, and the air come to a point of coolness and rest--absolute rest, so to speak--before it can yield up its invisible particles of moisture to bedew either herb or flower. So the grace of God does not come forth to rest the soul of man until the still point is fairly and fully reached.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease:
Take from our souls the strain and stress;
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the pulses of desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, its beats expire:
Speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
O still small voice of calm!"

In the evening, all my striving ceases for the day.  I am getting ready to retire for the night.  There is nothing pressing on my mind that needs my attention - only sleep awaits.  I believe for me, personally, this is why my nighttime Bible reading experience has been so profound...  

...this spiritual dew has truly saturated me with a richness from the Word like none I've experienced at any other time  in my Christian walk.  Why?  Because I have been truly still before the Lord.  His dew drops settling over my spirit, bathing me in the light of His Word.

Like the spider who weaves His web in the evening, when we spend time in God's Word every night, we are weaving an intricately designed masterpiece with Words that repair our own personal circumstances and sinful bent, bringing with them the light and love of Christ that will reflect like diamonds, in the morning's light, the spiritual dew that rested upon us the evening before...

And all will see upon our countenance the radiance of the Son and evidences of the web of the Word that nourishes and sustains us.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eInspire Me Monday Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me Grace, Testimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryFaith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on Wednesday, Reflect His Love and Glory  Words of Comfort Link-upWholehearted WednesdaysTell it to Me TuesdayFaithful at Home Fridays, Faith 'N FriendsTGI SaturdaysSitting Among Friends Encourage Me Monday Words with Winter Essential FridaysSo Much at Home Family, Friendship & Faith House to Home  ,Wonderful Wednesday , Monday of Many BlessingsLiteracy Musings Mondays,Imparting GraceSHINE Blog Hop Dance with JesusGive Me GraceBooknificent Thursdays UNITE Cozy Reading SpotMaking Your Home Sing Monday Social Butterfly Sundays  Let Us Grow Small Wonder Link-up Winsome Wednesday Growing in Grace Thursday After My CoffeeRewind Friday Fresh Market Friday Moments of Hope Wonderful Wednesdays Christian Blogger Link-Up Tea & Word Tuesday Heart Encouragement Thursday Hearts for Home Messy Marriage Link-up Friday at the Fire Station Link-up Tune In Thursday







Monday, March 6, 2017

Hope Floats


David said about Him:

“I saw the Lord always before me.
    Because he is at my right hand,
    I will not be shaken.
   Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest in hope..."
Acts 2:25-28

"My body also will rest in hope..."  Something about those words spoke to me.

Spoke to me in a way quite different from the context of the Scripture passage where that statement is found...

Here David is referring to the blessed hope he has in knowing that when his body experiences death, he will be at rest with the Lord.

But as I read those words recently, during a time when my body was craving rest, rest from the constant anxiety that was pulsating through it, for no reason at all... I began to truly ponder this passage in a different light.

As I've shared in past posts, I can go through seasons of anxiety where I'm not anxious about anything in particular, but my body assumes an anxious state despite this.

During those seasons of anxiety, there may not be an anxiety provoking situation that I am acutely aware of, but upon further reflection, there are certainly attitudes and thought-processes that are preventing my body from resting, keeping it in an anxious state.

There are, of course, those situations which are understandably anxiety provoking, no matter how hard we try to calm ourselves.

The medical community certainly has documented how anxiety and stress effects the human body.   God designed our bodies with a fight or flight mechanism which is triggered as a result of fear from an immediate threat.  It is fascinating how our bodies respond to fear in such a manner that actually preserves and protects us.

Yet when we live in constant fear, even though there is no immediate threat, that same fight or flight response will have an extremely negative effect on the systems of our bodies.

What's that saying?   "A year from now, everything you're stressing about won't even matter."

As I look back at the things I was worrying about a year ago, I can say that for the most part this quote is spot on.

So why do I continue to worry??...

Worry is definitely a manifestation of having control issues.  And I'm preaching to myself here. When we worry, it is because we are fretting that things aren't going to go the way we feel they should, thinking we might not be able to effect the situation as we see fit.

IN OUR ATTEMPTS TO CONTROL, 
WE FEEL THE MOST OUT OF CONTROL.

And isn't control essentially playing God, wanting things to work out the way we deem it should rather than resting in the Hope that the One who has a perfect plan and purpose for everyone, will accomplish it.

Remember the story of Sarai and Abram.  Even after God had told Abram that a son of his own flesh and blood would be his heir, look at what happened...


Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian 
slave named Hagar;  so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said.  So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, 
Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.  
He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.  Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
Genesis 16:1-5

Sarai, who sadly I can relate to, was taking things into her own hands to force God's promise to come about.

So much strife and suffering resulted from "playing God" rather than resting in the Hope that God would accomplish His promise in His way and in His perfect timing.

Or what about the story of Rebekah setting into motion the deception of Isaac - wanting Jacob to receive the blessing rather than Esau...

Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.  Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.”  Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”  Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.”  Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”  But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?”  Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept.

Then Isaac his father answered and said to him,

“Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
“By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck.”

So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him; and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”  Now when the words of her elder son Esau were reported to Rebekah, she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Behold your brother Esau is consoling himself concerning you by planning to kill you.  Now therefore, my son, obey my voice, and arise, flee to Haran, to my brother Laban!  Stay with him a few days, until your brother’s fury subsides,  until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send and get you from there. Why should I be bereaved of you both in one day?”

Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; 
if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, 
what good will my life be to me?”
Genesis 27:30-46

How many lives were hurt because Rebekah decided to play God.  And in the end, she STILL lamented living because she was worried that Jacob would now take a wife from the daughters of Heth.

The moral of these stories, even when we succeed in effecting the change we set out to control,  we STILL won't be happy.  We will suffer consequences of going outside of God's will, and will possibly have caused pain to the others we sought to control.

Our Heavenly Father watches over every aspect of our lives, including those lives that touch ours. We will lose the desire to control, when we  rest in the following promise...

The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life;
Psalm 121:7

Even in the deepest affliction, God is there with us, sustaining us, blessings us.  (I spoke more about this in last week's blog post.  If you missed it, you can read it here.

There is truly something cathartic about letting go and placing all of our Hope in God and in His promises.

There were a few acute times in my life when I felt an overwhelming psychological and physical relief when I let go and put my Hope in God to accomplish what concerned me.

I can remember a couple of times lying in bed late at night,  I would experience crushing sensations of anxiety, usually related to my own medical crisis, to the point of physically shaking in bed.  I was so distraught with anxiety and worry.

I remember coming to a realization that I was literally holding on for dear life TO MY WORRY!  I became so exhausted, I just let go...  Let go of the anxiety and worry...

I then placed my Hope for the situation in the Great Physician and the God of all Comfort.  It was at this point that I had experienced the most profound physical rest of my life.

The striving ceased, the worry released, the hoping commenced and the body rested.

You will be secure, because there is hope; 
you will look about you and 
take your rest in safety.
Job 11:18-19

Therefore my heart {was} glad and my tongue rejoiced!

May we always remember that the Lord is before us because he is at our right hand, and we WILL NOT BE SHAKEN...

 And may we say with the Psalmist...

 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.     
Psalm 62:5




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