peace

May you Rejoice!

I Chronicles 16:8-12
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
9 Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
10 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
11 Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
12 Remember the wondrous works that he has done,

There are no other memories I cherish more than the moment I first caught sight of my husband-to-be, nervously waiting for me at the altar.  That surreal moment in time represented the culmination of so many hopes, dreams, and prayers. My job of “Watering the camels” had come to an end, and if you could have looked inside my chest, you would have seen my heart leaping in sheer joy as I made my way down to David. Every ounce of my body, soul, and spirit exalted and rejoiced as I made my way to the God-given answer to years of waiting and hundreds of tearful but resolute prayers for a husband and companion. Had there been time that day, we could have spent hours recounting the most amazing story of God’s guidance, protection, mercy, and provision in our lives. Our story was a testimony of His glorious faithfulness, as He patiently worked and moved to intersect our lives and hearts to become one. On that day, we Rejoiced!!!!

Today my husband, I am giving thanks to the Lord for you. Our lives are beautifully marked with the fingerprints of the Holy, Righteous, Living God. Every page of our story contains the unmistakable bold, rich, strokes of His abundant mercy, love, and grace. My heart rejoices as I think back over the past 10 year and my spirit exalts as I look ahead with curiosity to the future that has been set aside for us since the beginning of time.

My prayer today is that He would bring to mind the innumerable moments in time when He demonstrated His love, compassion, and faithfulness to you. May your heart be overcome with a sense of awe and wonder as you recall precise Divine interactions with Him. May these moments wipe away any doubt or fear of His love, presence, power, or favor for you! My prayer is that the 33 years of His presence and work so clearly evidenced in your life would be a source of joy. May His deeds in the past be a cause for you to rejoice today regardless of the pressures and trials you face. He has loved you with an everlasting love, revel in His love, and the endless provision of power and grace evidenced in your life.

 Photo Credits: http://www.halbergphotographers.com/blog/2011/04/
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My Prayer for you: Quietness

Quietness

Isaiah 32:17
And the effect of righteousness will be peace,

and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.

One of the most mind-boggling fruits of a life yielded to Christ is the ability to be at peace and to have a quite spirit in the midst of great turmoil and pain.

Peace and quietness stands in glaring contrast to a world ruled by chaos. Quietness shines like a brightly lit neon sign stuck smack dab in the middle of black nothingness. It draws others to itself like moths to a lit bulb. Quietness and peace boldly proclaim a message of hope to those who are being crushed under great burdens of grief, anxiety, fear, and guilt. Quietness meekly whispers, there is something bigger than your pain, and there is someone stronger than what afflicts your soul.

Today my husband I am praying that the power and strength of the Lord would anoint you as you relax and recover from a long week of stress, turmoil, and physical exhaustion. My prayer is that as He transforms and strengthens you with might in the inner depths of your heart, soul, mind, and spirit, that a quietness and confidence would shine loudly from your life. May you humbly seek His face, openly be weak in His presence, and allow His Joy to shine from your life. May your ability to be quiet in the face of turmoil, pain, weakness, and need be a bold and powerful testimony of His power and ability to redeem sinful man. May peace reign in your heart today my husband, may His righteousness be your confidence.

 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. “

Photo Credits:quietness http://tonchee.deviantart.com/art/quietness-113749145

A to Z: V is for Victory!

Victory

1. Defeat of an enemy or opponent.
2. Success in a struggle against difficulties or an obstacle.
3. The state of having triumphed.

I Cor 15:42-45, 50-58

42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit……

50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

“Death is swallowed up…..Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory”

Are there any other words as sweet and liberating as these? Over the last few weeks, I have blogged about the atonement of Christ that gave me freedom from the condemnation of sin. I spoke about the liberating power of faith, truth, grace and God’s love. What a great way to wind down this challenge, by speaking about the ultimate fruit and reward of our battle to Overcome and to walk worth of the amazing gift we have been given.

The truth is alive within my heart. Grace has been poured out upon my life. God’s love has transformed me from a condemned sinner to an adopted daughter and joint heir of Christ. I am His and He is mine. My death was swallowed up when Jesus rose from the dead. He bore the sting of death on the tree fulfilling the law of the Righteous and True, the Only Wise God.

Because He is, I have Overcome!

Thank you Father the the Victory that is mine through you!

A to Z: Overcoming Noise

Noise

A sound, esp. one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance:

I do not like noise. My ears are sensitive to misplaced, unnecessary, intruding sounds that rudely interrupt and distract from what I’m trying to concentrate upon. As much as I detest audible noise, this is not the enemy I speak of. I am referring to the silent noises of life.

Noise doesn’t have to be audible. It can come in small voiceless accusations. It is failure ripping relentlessly upon raw hearts and vulnerable emotions. It is silent reproach “You have messed up again,” “you are a horrible mother, wife, friend,” “You call yourself a Christian, you are not better than they are.”

Noise can be a look, a cold shoulder, or indifference. It is a fractured relationship that drowns spirits. Noise strains emotions like a great storm rolling across a plain, devouring everything within the reach of its icy fingers.

Noise can arrive without invitation. It steals wordlessly into living rooms, bedrooms, and even Church auditoriums. It lashes out with silent tongues of discontent, strife, anger, greed, and jealousy. Noise invades relationships, making what was once natural, effortless, and cherished morph into something awkward, unbearable, and tormenting.

Noise is the silent anguish of a grieving mother who has buried her child. It is the suffocating feeling of failure that burns deep inside the soul of the husband who has lost his job and has no idea how he will care for his family. Noise is the guilt of a teen who has given into pressure and had their innocence stolen. Noise is condemnation, heartbreak, anger, hopelessness. Noise is absence of peace.

In a world filled with so much mind numbing and heart deafening noise, how do we find the strength, grace and power to overcome?

Overcoming Noise!

Athletes provide a great example of how to overcome noise. They stand on the free throw line, the game riding upon their shoulders. Every spectator is on their feet screaming, yelling, chanting, praying, taunting, begging. The noise is mind numbing, yet that athlete can silence every voice, becoming deaf and blind to the presence of every human in the arena. It is just him and the net. There is silence in his heart and mind.

SWOOSH, VICTORY, TRIUMPH!

FOCUS!

The only way I overcome the mind deafening, crushing noise of life is through focusing on that which truly matters and the only thing that gives purpose and makes sense of life. Eternity, Forever, Hope, Healing, Heaven, my Lord and Savior. He is present through all the noise. His will is just, loving, and with purpose. Heaven and Earth will pass away, the noise will stop, and He will be there. My life is fleeting, my trials passing. All that matters is the only thing that will last. I will endure and can endure because I know the “Ending.” It is glorious, powerful, and satisfying. Eternity makes the here and now bearable, endurable, even acceptable. The only way I can overcome the noise it to

Look to the Master and Creator.

1I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

3He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The Lord s your keeper;
the
Lord is your shade on your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7The Lord willkeep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep
your
going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

Practical Advice:

  1. Preach to yourself don’t listen to yourself

    When that accusing voice starts whispering lies & accusations, interrupt that voice with a good ol sermon of your own. Counter each lie, accusation and hurt with truth.

  2. Claim a “mantra”

    Not an in the mystic sense of the word, but a phrase or verse of truth that specifically counters the noise. When I was single and struggle with lies like : I was missing out, forgotten, cheated… Psalm 84:11-12 was the mantra I clung to. When I felt overwhelmed by a trial, it was the Psalm “You caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and water but Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. ” I set my gaze ahead, and as I broke, fell, cried, and rose up to keep press on, I was a looking for that promised wealthy place.

  3. Meditate on truth

    It doesn’t work to try to just out noise the noise. You have to know, believe, and purpose to let truth and peace reign instead of the noise, lies…. I didn’t just recite Pslam 84, I meditated on it and I told myself why I wasn’t missing out, cheated, left behind.

  4. Accountability!

    If you struggle in an area find a trusted friend who will challenge you, encourage you, and kick you in the butt when you need it. (Do not ask a person struggling with the same thing)

    How do you overcome Noise?

The Priceless Gift

The Priceless Gift
Psalm 50:7-15
“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you:
I am God, even thy God.
I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices or thy burnt offerings, to have been continually before me.
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds,
for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know know all the fowls of the mountains, and the wild beast of the field are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell thee, for the world is mine, and the fullness there of.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.

A few days ago David and I were reading a Psalm written by King David, and my husband made a comment about him I had never considered before. In a time where the religion of the Jew’s revolved around customs and traditions, law and “doing/works”, David was ahead of his time when he wrote Psalms like chapter 51. Somehow this scraggly backward shepherd boy become king, realized that one could slaughter an entire heard of cows and have a heart still separated from God because of sin. He fully grasped the key to a right and proper relationship with Christ, something the Pharisees and “Doctors of the Law” still hadn’t figured out hundreds of years later earning them the open rebuke and scorn of Jesus Christ himself.

As a parent with three kids, my hearts desire and prayer is they they come to know and love Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, serving him faithfully all their lives. I feel woefully inadequate as one of their spiritual God given teachers, and fear I will fail them, so David’s story interest me greatly. As I mulled over this thought, I asked my husband, how he thought a lowly, last born, adolescent boy, who spent solitary hours and days in a field with nothing but sheep and a musical instrument as his companion, discover this secret? How did he figure out in the midst of sheep and grass, what men who studied the law all their life in the “house of God” missed? What did David discover in the fields alone with the sheep that the pharisees and scribes missed, that being what the Lord truly wants from us and the precious truth of what keeps us in a right relationship with Christ. What did Jesse his father, teach him? What kind of worship with Christ did he experience in the solitary fields that illuminated his spirit with the truth- It is not at all about the “sacrifice”, but “rather about the heart of the sacrificer.” Perhaps in the fields, with nothing to distract, and nothing to offer but his heartfelt love, adoration, and worship David experienced what men spend years trying to discover, a true and living relationship with Christ.

The next day I read Psalm 50, and when I got to the verses 7-15, the Lord spoke to my heart and humbled me with a truth I had never thought of. This chapter begins with the musician author speaking about the might and glory of God, and then the Psalm shifts to the Lord making a very profound statement about his relationship to us and all of creation. His statement is basically this, your sacrifices mean nothing to me because everything you take and offer up to me is mine all ready. I created the animals you offer to me, I control their movements, they obey me, they belong to me. He proclaims in Psalm 50 If I were hungry or wanted one of them, I would not come to you nor would I ask you to go get me one-THEY ARE MINE!!! The value or power of a sacrifice is not found in the quality, quantity or price of the sacrifice, the value of the sacrifice comes from something else and David realized this and he knew he could offer one-thousand of the choicest bulls from a heard and it could mean nothing to God, yet a poor peasant could offer a turtledove and obtain the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of the Lord.

This then is what brought me to my knees……The Lord God created this universe with the power and breath of his voice. All creation bows in obeisance to him, and he wields the power and the authority and the ability to control it all….. all that is BUT one thing. The Lord created the earth, the land, seas, animals, and heavens, and then he created within man something he prized and valued above all else, his heart. It is here the Lord then chose to limit himself. He could have demanded our love, required we worship him. He could have created us like the animals of the field forcing our obedience and service but he did not do this. Instead he created a gift, priceless and desperately sought after in his eyes and he relinquished his right to it. Limiting himself, he gave us the ability to give him something precious and treasured that he could not get for himself. This is what made our heart and our fellowship so precious to him. Then to establish how greatly he yearned for the right to possess that treasure, he offered in exchange the greatest gift he could, and the only sacrifice that could redeem that which had been tainted and made unworthy of him through sin. Thus he offered the unspeakable gift of his only son Jesus Christ. He offered up glory and majesty for the corrupted and sinful heart of man. The God of Creation, the One and true Gift became the seeker and the the corrupted and destitute became both the gift and the giver.

How humbling it is to recall every day that there is nothing I can acquire here on earth that is of true value and worthy to Christ. I can not achieve a salary, worldly goods, or any thing else of value here on earth that measure in any degree to his goodness, righteousness and holiness. I can not attain any measure of success that is of any value or worth to Christ, it is paltry and worthless compared to him.

All I can give him is my heart, but to him my heart is all he wants. For those who have accepted him as Lord and Savior, accepting the blood of his son Jesus Christ as payment for our sins, allowing him to wash our hearts clean that we can give it back to him holy complete is just the first part. Once this is done, the giving is not over, and this is what David understood. A bullock burnt on an alter by a man who does it to be seen of man is of no value to the Lord, but a bull given by a man with a heart broken and remorseful of his sin is priceless. Tithing 50% of my salary, proudly dropped in the offering is of no value to the Lord, but pennies from a teens allowance given with joy and out of love for God’s provision is worth more than mountains of gold. Staying up late so I can deliver a message in Sunday school motivated by pride and the desire to receive praise of man is worthless, but seeing a sister or brother in need and laying aside what I am doing to extend encouragement or support is priceless and sweet smelling to the Lord. The Pharisees of the OT strove to “practice” the law but they never understood the reason for the law nor did they discover the secret of true love that could empower them to truly live the law thus becoming a sweet smelling sacrifice to God.

I have been challenged by the Lord to make sure that my heart is in a right relationship with him and to make that relationship and love for him the driving force of all I do, say, and aspire to accomplish. What an amazing thought it is to think I posses something God truly wants, seeks, and esteems. “What is man that Thou art mindful of him?” This weekend we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior and Lord. The ultimate sacrifice made by the King and Creator of the Universe. Does it boggle your mind as much as it does mine, that is was a wretched and sinful heart he sought to redeem? What amazing love would compel Christ to send his blameless son here to earth, alloim to be tempted in every manner we are, to suffer as we suffer, tire as we tire, to sorrow, bleed, and die that he might obtain the one thing of value that we posses, our heart, our devotion, our love.

Fernando Ortega’s Song “Sing To Jesus” is a wonderful story of this sacrifice and the mystery of the love of Christ.

“Sing To Jesus”

Come and see, look on this mystery
The Lord of the universe, nailed to a tree
Christ our God, spilling His Holy blood
Bowing in anguish, His sacred head

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts, He is our great redeemer
Sing to Jesus, honor his name
Sing of his faithfulness, pouring his life out unto death

Come you weary and he will give you rest
Come you who mourn, lay on His breast
Christ who dies, risen in Paradise
Giver of mercy, Giver of life

Sing to Jesus this is the throne
Now and forever He is the King of Heaven
Sing to Jesus, we are his own
Now and forever, sing for the love our God has shown

Sing to Jesus, Lord of our shame
Lord of our sinful hearts
He is our great redeemer
Sing to Jesus, honor His name

Sing to Jesus this is the throne
Now and forever He is the King of Heaven
Sing to Jesus, we are his own
Now and forever, sing for the love our God has shown