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Archive for September, 2011

Mat 2:23  And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Dwell: Katoikeo: (Greek) to house permanently, i.e. reside, dwell, inhabitant.

My friend, does it seem too much, this season you are in? Does it seem  long that you have been in this place, waiting…waiting for the next thing? Does it seem that God has forgotten His promises, or at the least He has forgotten you and that you are left in this address of dreary, day after day, when you were sure that He has called you for more?

Jesus knew there was more for Him. At twelve, we hear Him confirming that there was a heavenly business into which He was destined to pour His life…

Luke 2:49: “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?…

and yet…

Luke 2:51: “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”

Hupotasso:  (Greek) ; to subordinate; to obey:–be under obedience , subjection, submit self unto.

What is going on here? Do we see a man who is straining at the horizon, wondering why for 18 more years He is left in this place of obscurity, of seemingly purposelessness? Do we see Him downcast and heart broken?…

Matthew 2:23: “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

A Nazarene, one completely consecrated and given over to the purposes of God.

This is why Jesus went back with them; this is why He dwelt in Nazareth. He wanted His Father’s purposes for Him, and that was enough, even more so, that was pleasant.

Psalm 16:5-9 

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.  I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I have set 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 secure, Right where Jesus was, He DWELT. He was completely present, year after year, honoring His parents, loving his siblings…

Luke 2:52:  “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men...”

and He must have made some incredible furniture.

So, today I had to ask myself…

“Where is my Nazareth?  Am I waiting there, or am I dwelling there?

Time to pull out the carpenters tools and build something beautiful, right here.   Because when it gets right down to it, that which was spoken over me; that I should become completely His, that I should be“called a Nazarene.” 

Will come to pass as I dwell in this most wonderful of “pleasant places”…

Psalm 90:1: “Lord, YOU have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”

 

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Be a Tea Bag.

May I share with you a journal entry from this summer?

August 25,2011

This morning I had a cup of tea, Lemon Honey Ginseng, one of my favorites. It brewed while I started the campfire and sat alone quietly, my family and dear friends all still sleeping.   This has probably been the most restful and restorative time in the Lord I have had in  years . Camping on the Yuba River, we have no cell phone or Internet access…just each other. The biggest decision of each day has been whether we should eat or go swimming again. Eating usually won out.

Then a vexing thought stirred in my mind. Small and seemingly insignificant, but enough to alter the sweet solitary repose I have enjoyed here, alone each morning. I was having such a lovely time, a restful and “deep breath” time.  Now this thought crept in, it was the taunting reminder that soon we would be heading home, home to situations that were complicated, unsettling and some wearying. All of a sudden I felt tired, unequal to the demands of my life. I felt used up.

My tea had been brewing long enough. As I removed the tea bag I realized that if I put it into another cup and added more hot water I could easily make another cup of tea.

Hmmm…

Just a little more hot water and something that appeared “used up” could actually bring comfort and refreshment. Just a little more hot water.

I had been reading from my favorite author and brother in heaven, Richard Wurmbrand. He spoke of loved ones that had gone through unspeakable trials, and yet , they loved. They loved God and they loved those around them, and they lived lives of peace. The hot water did not cause them to crumble, it made them blessing.

I heard a whisper in my heart …

“Beverly, be a tea bag.”

Hebrews ( He brews…I had to say it !) 12:11 (ESV)

For the moment, all discipline…
(also translated:” chastening”, from the root word “chaste” which means to be free of impurities)

seems…
Greek: dokeo,. to think; by impl. to seem (truthfully or UNCERTAINLY)

(Prov 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean NOT on your own understanding; painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”   

This morning I read this excerpt in my devotional “Streams In The Desert”…a definite “tea bag “ encouragement:

”A cloud of rain engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town.  It isn’t raining rain for me; it’s raining roses down.”

“Perchance some one of God’s chastened children is even now saying 

‘O, God, it is raining hard for me tonight. Testings are raining upon me which seem beyond my power to endure”. Disappointments are raining fast, to the utter defeat of all my chosen plans. Bereavements are raining into my life which are making my shrinking heart quiver in its intensity of suffering. The rain of affliction is surely beating down upon my soul; these days,’ Withal friend, you are mistaken. It isn’t raining rain for you, it’s raining blessing. For if you will but believe your Father’s word, under that beating rain are spiritual flowers of such fragrance and beauty as never before grew in that stormless, unchastened life of yours. You indeed see the rain. But do you see also the flowers? It isn’t raining afflictions for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruit of the blessed Spirit which are brining into your life such a spiritual enrichment as all the fullness of worldly prosperity and ease was never able to beget in your innermost soul”.  (Selected from McConkey’s “Chastening”)

 James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Gal 6:9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

2 Cor 12:9  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

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War Horses

I have been getting together with a group of women for about three years now. Our once a month Monday evenings have been precious to me. We open the word and ask the Lord to show us who He is, to show us who we are in Him and to help us walk the journey that each of are traveling.

Here is what He gave us last Monday.

There are things we need to “put in our back packs for the journey”. We have seen in history the tragedy of those who thought they knew what to pack (ie. the Donner Party with their double-decker covered wagon complete with upholstered chairs and piano), and yet were sorely unprepared when difficult times arose.

Let’s look at the packing list we found in Psalm 33  (NASB).

Psa 33:13  The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men;

Psa 33:14  From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the earth,

Psa 33:15  He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands all their works.

We are not alone.

These are words we hear constantly throughout scripture in the Lord’s interaction with His people.

“Fear not, I am with you”,  “”I will not leave you as orphans”, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

“When you walk through the waters, I will be there”…

Psa 33:16  The king is not saved by a mighty army; A warrior is not delivered by great strength.

Psa 33:17  A horse is a false hope for victory; Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

The ESV says here “the war horse is a false hope for salvation”.

We stopped together here and asked the Lord to reveal to us our “war horses”…

…the things that we believe would bring us peace…would give us rest…would allow us to finally exhale…

We asked the Lord to reveal to us that were indeed, “a false hope”.

This was harder than it may sound. Take a moment now and ask the Lord to reveal (Psalm 139:23,24) your war horses. Do you hear the neighing in the back of your mind, the powerful hooves tearing at the ground, promising you deliverance? What are your war horses?

Psa 33:18  Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

Psa 33:19  To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.

Look at that word “famine”. What do we know of such a word? The people for whom David wrote this psalm knew this word and it struck fear into their hearts. It meant death. Death to them and to those they loved. Famine. The ground was backbreakingly plowed, the seeds were planted , they waited for the rain, but it never came, and there was no food. They were left to hunger and eventually die.

Have you felt this, a situation so completely out of your control that it feels like death? Well, look what David knows to be true, look what is packed deep into the backpack of his soul.

“To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine”

It is one thing to worship and celebrate in a God who brings rain and plentiful harvest, but what about a God who is present in a famine? What about a God Who shows up when death seems imminent. A God Who keeps you alive, a God who feeds you, nourishes you, and sustains your soul with food that “this world knows not of” . Now here sisters, here is our God. Pack this truth away.

Psa 33:20  Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

Psa 33:21  For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.

Psa 33:22  Let Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, be upon us, According as we have hoped in Thee.

We wait, we trust and we rejoice because He has caused us to know Him in the famine.

So, untie the war horse and send them running.  Our God will never, never leave us.   Never.

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I Needed This

Eccl 7:2-4   “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.  Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart.  The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.”

Earlier this year I had the honor of speaking at a memorial service for the aunt of a friend of mine.  I had spent only a few hours with this woman as she was dying.  As I told her about Jesus, the One who walked on water in the storms, I saw her simple faith in Him who was calling her to get out of the boat and come to Him. Only a few days later…she did.

At her service with many of her family and friends gathered, I recalled my time with her and read the scripture from Ecclesiastes.

It is better…

Heads were nodding as I compared the depth of the precious time that we were all sharing together with the momentary exhilaration of being a party, a “house of feasting”.  Today, instead, they had all taken time to stop and recall the sweet face of their friend, to recall the things they admired about her life, and the ways she had affected theirs.

They had chosen to come to “the house of mourning”.

They were able to stop and take a look at their own lives, and inhale the rare moment in which one realizes that their days too are numbered and that no one knows that number except the One who started them. To remind their busy minds that they needed to let the valuable people in their lives know how valuable they were, and to pull hard on the reins of there stampeding lives to “be still and know that He is God.”

We all agreed, “It is better.”

But then there came last Tuesday.  I called my friend Evie and asked her when we could meet for lunch.  She said she had bad news. Joking, I replied, “what, you can’t get together for lunch?”

“No, it’s about Bob.  He was out running and somehow passed out.  When he was found, they couldn’t resuscitate him.”

The words stuck in my mind and wouldn’t move, like keys on a keyboard that refuse to type the next words…. “Couldn’t resuscitate?”

Finally I ventured, “Evie, what are you saying?” 

“ Bev… Bob is with Jesus.”

 Eccl. 3:4  “There is a time to dance and a time to mourn…”

I didn’t know how to mourn…I didn’t WANT to mourn…I wanted him back.

I cried out to God…”Seriously! This dear husband of my friend! This father of six!  This man, vibrant in the ministry, this man… my brother and friend…seriously!

I know I will eventually be able to call on Romans 8:28, “all things work together for good”…

… and Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I  have for you, plans for good and not evil…”

…but right now I don’t want this; I hate this.  I hate death and sickness and hurting children and grieving wives… I hate it.”

It has been a week of learning how to mourn.

I have heard it said that there is a “time to mourn”, and if you don’t mourn when you should, if you push it away and refuse to let the effect of it come to your heart and take that broken heart to the Lord, then unhealthy things will happen. It will come up again at a most unexpected time and no one, even you, will know what to do with it then.

There is “ time to mourn”.

This week I having been learning something that I didn’t know that  I didn’t know.

I have been learning how to mourn.

I have gone down this road before.

Or so I thought.

I have said good-bye to my mom…I have lost a niece who was but a sparkling teenager… I have seen cancer erase the lives of dear friends.

But this, somehow, turned me upside down.  I can’t make it make sense.  I can’t fix it or make it better…I need to mourn; to be still and mourn.

I sat in his memorial service, where for 4 hours, person after person came forward to tell of how this man had affected their lives. 

Four hours.

I have a new opinion about funerals and memorials services now.  I don’t believe they should be a tidy hour of a slide show, a few scriptures read and then off to my day.  This is something you don’t squeeze in between picking up your dry cleaning and meeting someone for dinner.

When someone dies, you stop.

You think about them.  You remember.

You be quiet and let God show you, show you corporately, how fragile and fleeting this life is.

You allow the “search me oh God and know me, see if there is any wrongful way in me” have its way with you.

You cry.

And maybe, if you can, you smile, as a story is recalled or a saying that they always said is recounted with such vividness that for a moment you can hear them again.

This takes time. It’s supposed to.

There is a time to mourn. It may start out loud and hurting and angry. It may be so slow that it appears you are in shock (that’s what his wife looked like to me). So you give them time, and you don’t sweep it under the rug and assume because it’s quiet that it’s over.

You wait and are quiet and listen.

You don’t fix it with “if I can do anything, let me know.” You listen to the Lord, who knows their heart and their lives and you do what He tells you.

You learn to mourn, and to mourn with those who mourn.  And as with anything that we must learn, we must be taught. It will not necessarily come naturally.

That has been my week.

I am learning how to mourn, and the “God of all comforts” is teaching me.

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I am on a path to believing. It’s a path that Jesus put me on.

I’m not sure when the journey began.

Somewhere in between being in control of my life and having my world unraveled, dismantled.

Having what I thought I knew, what I thought was true, crumble around me.

Jesus is leading me on this path.

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake…”  Psalm 23:3

What is the path of righteousness?

Is it how to behave, what to say or not say, what to do or not do?

Or, is it in fact, that the path of righteousness is just that, the path to believing…

Believing that Jesus is all that He says He is,  (see our brother Zacchaeus in Blog #1)…

Believing that He will do all that He said He would do.

John 6:28,29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”  Jesus answered, “the work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent.”

 

What is the “work of God”?

Jesus tells us here exactly what it is…”to believe on the One He has sent.”

WORK (Greek): ergon, er’-gon; to work; toil (as an effort or occupation); labor

BELIEVE: (Greek) pisteuo; to have faith in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing, to entrust (espec. one’s spiritual well-being to Christ):– commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Now here is some great news…

Phil. 1:6   “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

So we see that the work of God…

…the labor that He is involved in…

…and committed to…

…is in fact…

…causing us to believe.

 Stop and breathe that one in.

 He is going to cause you to believe in Him…that is His work, and He is committed to it.

And He will.

He promised that what He began (and it was He who began it) would finish the work.

So this is what He is working in you.

What did you think it was?

Pause here, maybe even write it down.

What did you think He was working in you before you read that verse?

My list was faded and old; it has been written in my heart years ago.

To make me a better daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend…

…to make me more kind, more pure, more humble,

…to make me more calm, more self-controlled,

…to make me more…

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that God was working in me something I already thought  I had.

When I first saw what He said He was doing I was perplexed, then curious, then.. I smiled, and I couldn’t stop smiling. A peaceful, ‘I actually believe You Lord’, smile.

I am on the path to believing.

I invite you to ask yourself: “Do I believe, truly believe.”

I encourage you to quiet yourselves,

(Sometimes it requires a loud explosion in our lives to cause us to quiet ourselves)

and listen to the Spirit of God who is “at work” even now.

Working within you the shedding of the exhausting “doing”, and the laying down of it all to believe.

So then,

Believing is more than an agreement with, or confirming that the things said about Jesus are true.

This occurs only in the arena of my mind.

If I am not careful, if I am not aware that He has more for  me, my believing will remain lifelessly there.

Believing in Jesus must involve more than a mental ascent, it involves a relationship.

It involves knowing Him.

KNOW: (Greek) eido; to know:–be aware, behold,  consider, have known (-ledge), look (on), perceive, see, be sure, understand.

John 4:10  Jesus answered her (the Samaritan at the well), “If you KNEW the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 8:19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”  “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied.  “If you KNEW me, you would know my Father also.”   

Mark 9:24 “… immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Lord, help my unbelief.

John 5:17  Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

Do I rest in this, do I believe?

I believe, help me overcome my unbelief…

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“There is a way that seems right to a man,  but the end of it will destroy him.”

Or as we might say today, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

How sad, and sometimes even tragi,c that our efforts to protect ourselves afford very little real security.

1 Samuel 17

David knew there was a mortal battle ahead.  He knew it when he first heard the giant, blaspheming God.  Something must be done, and now, there was no turning back…

That he needed protection was an understatement…

…and the obvious was offered him.

Armor. Saul’s Armor.

Expert craftsmanship in which no expense had been spared.

 

But David would have no part of it.

At his young age he already learned that unless the Lord provided the protection, any protection would be useless.  All the well-meaning offers of those around him could not sway him.

1 Sam 17:37  The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

1 Sam 17:38  Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.

1 Sam 17:39  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.

What is your battle today?

  • The death of a cherished one?
  • Illness that has demoralized your life?
  • An empty marriage?
  • An unplanned pregnancy?
  • Financial struggles?
  • Slandered reputation?
  • Your own bad choices that have resulted in severe consequences?

1 Sam 17:10  Then the Philistine said, “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.”

1 Sam 17:11  On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

What giant is leering over you, taunting you with your own insignificance?

 

Some may polish the armor of their own abilities; confident they can take matters into their own hands and bring an end to their conflict, or at the least prevent a similar circumstance from happening again.

They have forgotten, or perhaps never known, that the battles they face are intended to cause them to press into their God.

To submit their hearts to a sovereign whose “thoughts and ways are higher…” Isaiah 55:8,9

Some may become “dismayed and terrified”, powerless to see anything except the overwhelming obstacle, powerless to see the reality of God and His purposes above “this temporary and light affliction…” 2 Cor 4:17

 

David would not use Saul’s armor because he had “not tested them”.  He had never fought with them and seen them to be powerful to defeat an enemy.  But his God, ah, now herein time and time again, David recounts his battles are won.

1 Sam 17:37  David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee.

Years ago, I watched my godly mother slowly disappear from me through the destruction of Alzheimer’s.   I often battled in my soul with the grief and anger over the “wasted” life of my mom.

In this heartbreaking and frightening season of my life, I could do no real battle; the only weapon in which I was confident was my own understanding, and it was sorely lacking.  I thought I knew what would be highest for her and for the body of Christ around her…

But God corrected me, comforted me, and protected me with His word:

Isa 55:8  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways,” declares the LORD.

Isa 55:9  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

My mind, which I had depended upon to be my ally, had actually become my enemy, turning my heart away from trusting and depending upon my Father God.

Prov 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding.

Prov 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Prov 3:7  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 

The Lord turned my heart to worship; that He and not my circumstance would become my full view.

Romans 11: 33-36 gives a spectacular vista of the person of God, then Romans 12 1,2 exhorts us that in light of this vista, “in view of His mercy”, that we must offer up ourselves wholeheartedly to Him, that we must trust Him.

That we must cease and desist from protecting and providing for our souls…

That we must wear no other amour. 

We can face the giant today with the same confidence of David…

1 Sam 17:45-46  David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me.

“This day”

I sense His Spirit as I write these words…

“This day” the giant is felled.

My battle is over,

Your battle is over,

Let us face our giants together without the cumbersome and useless armor of someone else’s good intentions for us, or the proven uselessness own thoughts and efforts.

Pick up the smooth stones of the rock of your salvation and let them fly…

“I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty”.

 And the giant fell.

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