“I sing the Mighty Power of God

“There is not a plant or flow’r below But makes Thy glories known,
and clouds arise and tempests blow,
By order from Thy throne.
While all that borrows life from Thee
Is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God,
art present there.”

This is a hymn of Isaac Watts written in 1715. And in just a few little lines Isaac Watts reminds me of the promises of God in the flowers, even though God has allowed the trials to come much like the clouds,(out of nowhere,)that I am ‘ever in His care,’ and that no matter what, God is with me.

What a sweet treasure verse three of ‘I Sing the Mighty Power of God’ is. The other verses remind us of His mighty power, His flowing seas, His lofty skies, His sun and moon and stars. And His wonders of creation – but verse three,
brings everything down to you and me.
Because I can see all the magnificence – and enjoy the wonder of it all –

but I need to hear His voice.

So the sweet reminder,‘There’s not a plant or flow’r below But makes Thy glories known…’But it’s not all sweet, that is, if you were the seed that was originally planted.

Yes, God speaks to me with the flowers. The way that the stars are written of in the Bible, God speaks to me through the flowers. Do you remember Psalm 19?
“The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech…There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard…and their words to the end of the world.”

Well, for me, I cannot stay up late because I am worthless in the evening- I find that speech in the flowers. What is its speech?

It is not easy, it is not pretty – but when I look at the flower I see the prize and it keeps me on the right path.
“What is it’s speech?” You might be saying, get on with it.

“There’s not a plant or flower below But maketh Thy glories known…’
They speak the words of Jesus,
“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified.
Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and

dies

it remains alone; but if it dies,
it produces much grain.” John 12:23,24.

You see, we can’t see the flower, until there was a death that had occurred. But because a grain of wheat fell into the ground and died, it then sprouted and grew and was nourished and brought forth fruit.

And things in life happen that are ‘not fair’! Things happen that hurt and bring scars – Jesus knows.
He was mistreated and misunderstood, He was hurt and has scars. He prayed,“Not My will, Father, but Yours be done.” and He willingly went to the cross and

died.
But now there is so much life, so much life- everlasting life to all who believe!

So what does this mean for you and for me?
Am I willing to lay down my rights? Am I willing put off my pride? And for what?

For the promise, for the Promise:
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted ,
(just like a plant,)and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught…”

It’s hard to die to ‘self!’ But remember the flower and all of its beauty.

Rooted and built up…as you have been taught’,
You might be saying, “Remind us, what have we been taught? There is too much dirt right now in this dying stuff, not a lot of color, just darkness! Please keep it simple!”
In a child’s version, here it is:
“God has chosen you and made you His holy people. He loves you. So always do these things:
Show mercy to others, (don’t give them what they deserve!)
Colossians 3:12.

“This is way too hard!” you might be saying.
Remember the fruit, remember the flowers!

“Be kind,
humble,
gentle,
and patient.” Colossians 3:12.

“Death” is the appropriate word here! Most definitely!” you might be saying as well.
Oh, yes, but the fruit, remember the flowers!

“So do not be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, then forgive him. Forgive each other because the Lord

forgave you.

Do all these things; but most important,

love each other.” Collosians 3:13,14.

“But I can’t do this,” you might be saying.
You are so right. We cannot do this- but He can!
We cannot forget that
“Christ died, and we have been joined with Christ by dying too.” ( I just make a lot more noise in my dying than He did!)So we will also be joined with Him by rising from death as He did…

We know...(well, if you didn’t know or forgot, you and I now KNOW!) that our old life died with Christ on the cross (when we received Him in our lives),…Anyone who has died is made free from sin’s control.” (!)Romans6:6. Exclamation point mine. We have power over sin because of Him.

“There’s not a plant or flow’r below But makes Thy glories known.” The flowers are the fruit! The fruit of the Spirit is love; joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Gal 5:22.

“If a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies…”

I cannot do this on my own, but Oh, “I will sing of the Mighty Power of God”, because In Him, I can do all things, even bear good fruit.

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‘ a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down’

Life goes on its merry ol’ way, but then suddenly – everything stops. Crisis comes. We’ll just call it ‘a sickness’ for now, because we can all understand getting the flu.
We just want to get better- as fast as we can!
And when taking medicine, it has been said from ages past that ‘a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.’ And I think we all kind of agree with that!

Well, when it comes to ‘things of God’, I think this statement is true as well.
In life, there are times we find ourselves in ‘crisis’. All of a sudden we feel ‘far from God’. We don’t know what to do or where to turn.It is a time of great anxiety for us all.

So we know we need some spiritual medicine. The sugar? The sugar is the truth that God has said, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

The medicine?
It isn’t easy to choke down, but it is powerful. It is truth. It is life transforming when ‘taken’ correctly.

Leviticus 19:2 When the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them:
“You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

Don’t be offended, there is no judgement going on, these are God’s words, and I think we feel far from God because we need to remember,

He is a Holy God.

You might be thinking, “This sounds like some kind of ‘Holistic’ medicine.” Forgive the pun!

No, this is God’s basic formula. Have you thought about the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry? ‘He went about all Galilee, teaching…preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of diseases…And great multitudes followed Him – Matthew 4:24. He saw the multitudes, and ‘He went up on a mountain…Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed...(that’s kind of like the sugar!) He said, “Happy”.
That is what you and I want. We want to be happy. But the medicine, or the remedy, is not self-assertiveness and confidence. It becomes quite obvious that God’s ways are not our ways when we remember what He has to say that “Blessed...
“are the poor in spirit”
You see, if you and I took a piece of white cloth, but then held it up to an even whiter piece of cloth, we would look at the white cloth and say, “Hmm, it’s kind of yellow.”

God’s holiness is perfection. No matter who we are, we are not holy and perfect. We all fall short.
But He is holy.

We need so desperately,these days to remember, and remind each other that God is Holy. So that we can become…
poor in spirit. Because “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 5:3.
It seems so backwards, but it makes perfect sense. We stop comparing ourselves to ‘the other guy’ and begin to see ourselves in light of a perfect and holy God. God is holy and we are not – we become, poor in spirit.
But ‘O how happy’ we now can become, because we see once again
that we need Him. We need a Savior.

Can we come to Him and honestly ask, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.Psalm 139:23.

Blessed are these words, “The LORD is righteous in all His ways, Gracious in all His works. The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them…”

Once again, the familiar hymn speaks:
“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth, and sky, and sea…
Only Thou art holy! Merciful and mighty! Perfect in power, In love and purity…”

He alone is holy. He alone is near to all who call upon Him…
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ and in His time, He makes all things beautiful. A ‘spoonful of sugar’ is faith, and hope in believing Jesus,…His Name is like honey on my lips, His Spirit washes and cleanses, My Father in heaven Your kingdom is come, I praise and hallow Your Name… and in the praise and in the worship and in the lifting up of my hands,

“Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!  Though the darkness hide Thee, Thou the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see. Only Thou art holy; There is none beside Thee Perfect in power, In love, and purity!”

I wait on You, for “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen.” and even in the waiting, in ‘brokenness of spirit’, Jesus, my health  is restored. Praise be to my holy Father, who sent His son because He loves us so, and comforts us continually with His glorious and Holy Spirit!

“Amen, Amen, Amen, Oh! Let all the children say, Amen!”

“There is a place of quiet and rest…”

Today, today…speaking in a hymn to bring rest in heart and mind: “There is a place of comfort sweet, Near to the heart of God; A place where we our Savior meet – Near to the heart of…”

See God's Hand

“Near to the heart of God.”

This is the first line to a hymn titled, “Near to the heart of God.”

“There is a place of quiet and rest,…there is a place of comfort sweet, near to the heart of God.”

Quiet, rest, comfort…is this what you and I seek for today?
Perhaps your heart is very heavy. Perhaps you know someone who has been stricken somehow, be it fear, or great sickness, or addiction or afflictions of great loss.
Maybe it is a brother or a sister or a mother or a father or maybe that someone is …you.

When asked the question, “How are you?” The only reply near to the tongue is,
“I’m tired.”
Today, I read the words aloud of an unfamiliar hymn, (unfamiliar to me that is),
“O Jesus, blest Redeemer, Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us, who wait before Thee, Near to…

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He paints His presence daily…

Holy Father of Heaven and of Earth, draw me nearer, so much nearer to you, and the children, dear Lord, yes, draw the children too. Nearer to Thee, oh how we busy ourselves. We get moving so fast that we don’t take time to give You our ear. We don’t give You our eyes either, and notice the faithfulness in each rising sun and we forget it’s You… that painted the sunset as we run, here and there everywhere. Oh Father, draw us near!

Remind me again of the story that’s told of Pilgrim’s journey, written so long ago. How he ever so slightly, ever so slight began to keep walking a bit off the path. But in turn it lead him in chains and dismay as he found himself hopeless in ‘Giant Despair’s’ wrath! But in the scroll it is written, that there’s a Way of escape, a Table has been prepared in the presence of our enemies – yes, it’s a ‘cup of blessing’ and ‘bread that’s been broken’ – our Rescuer, our hope… may we see Him who’s been smitten.

But it’s a mystery so deep at times, we feel You’r so distant, so we journey along as time is insistent! Seasons come; the joys and sorrows of Christmas pass, New Year’s promises and the winter’s blast…grace is needed, ‘Want’ and need are the cries of Your sheep – there are no flowers, no songs and mountains seem so, so steep!

“Increase my faith! Help me believe! My unbelief overshadows and brings me down deep!” So ‘deep cries to deep’ my  Father of earth,where are You now? “Your kingdom come, Your will be done! I have trouble trusting! Trusting in and waiting on the Faithful One!”

How can that be? I just don’t know, but it’s true and it’s evident in my worry and fret. Winter comes, and sometimes winter stays, and a rut becomes comfort, but a rut brings regret! So, help me ‘do hard things’ , even to lift my eyes…give me courage to pray and to lay down ‘my rights’, that I might not be believing in things that are lies!

It’s hard to humble myself before You dear Lord, and  sometimes Your words are ‘just words’.  I, like a sheep hear… but don’t understand:’flee from idolatry’, and ‘resist satan’s roar’- Suddenly I find myself instead of ‘fleeing’ just standing there. Just like dear Pilgrim in ‘Giant Despairs’ grasp, now what? what do I do to stay on the path?

“Oh, search me O God, and know me through. Test me and know even my thoughts, I ask You. Is my heart hard as a stone, give me courage to face it, and God in Your great mercy, with ‘flesh’ will You replace it? Not a stone, but a heart soft as flesh, in Your mercy – grant me  Your grace and forgiveness.”

“You are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me, I humbly pray, into a vessel of honor, but can I be twice baked? You see I’ve been broken and set aside, can You use me again? Lead me and guide me in Your Self-Less Way, and when I wake each morrow-morn, may I be able to receive with humility,  just what You say.”

Winter – cold and hard, turns into spring. And in the sun and all the new color – we can see with our eyes that Your mercy never ceases and Your love, steadfast and true, is abounding in grace and kindness besides!  This is your plan that leads our dark hearts, to see once again, what is True, what is True! It’s true that You love me, it’s true that You care, it’s true that You are always, You are always there!

Summer comes, summer fun and warmth, but the enemy is lurking in our rest and recreation to ‘put off’ the narrow road, ‘oh, it’s  just for a season’. But we believe him, we do – and often forget, what God has to say: “Seek Me first, I’m loyal  and faithful and love at all times, come to Me you who are weary, I am the Way…”

satan’s a liar, (I can’t capitalize his name), he wants us all to believe that You are hard and demanding with a scowl on Your face, with You, nothing fun is thought to be OK. But You took all my garbage and all of my shame, so I could be free and have real life in me again! You say, “Do you love Me?” And it doesn’t really matter the words that I say, because dear Lord, You’re watching to see if I…simply obey.

But God, there is nothing ‘simple’ in obeying You Lord. But You led by example by walking that Via Delarosa. It reminds me of the cold fall winds that blow hard and strong… but they are needful, yes needful to bring us to our knees. When those cold winds blow, You know their purpose, it’s all good, even though they seem OH  SO WRONG!

Winter to spring, and spring into summer, and the fall winds blow all the old leaves away, but  the winds make us dig deeper to survive the cold…This is Your plan full of surprises, this is how You paint Your picture for us. New months, new weeks,  and with each new day, Your  faithful and early sun… rises.

“Can you see Me?” “Can you see Me?” your still small voice speaks and even sings in a song. Many don’t notice, but today I say, “I do!” Your Bride is preparing, your Bride is getting ready. “Help me in my weakness, help me stay on the path even when it’s seems so terribly long.”

Your face! Your face! As we ‘run this race! Through the journey we go in the beauty of Your presence! That’s how it is that the joy of the Lord is my strength, Because You are there, even in the valley of the shadows of darkness. You shine in the sky and the Evergreens, even the rocks, You are speaking, and You are Our Ever -present Fortress!

“I will never leave you nor forsake you,” You say. “I will direct your paths for the day.” “I love you with an everlasting love,” You whisper, but, sometimes I make some rough choices, and choose not to listen.  I don’t run to the Strong tower that is there, instead like Pilgrim, I think I’ve got it right, but the next moment I find I’m in Giant Despair’s prison!

Oh my! I still walk in circles it seems,  forgive me again, my Father of the earth as well as the heavens! And You do, You do, You never give up on Your child.  Your love is complete, it’s faithful as the winter that turns into spring, You make all things work together for good, even when I make a mess of things, when I’m head-strong and sometimes wild!

“I want to see You!” I cry. And You answer Me. “Can you see me in the sky I’ve painted for you? Can you see me when it’s dark or shining bright and blue? I am here, when you choose to humble yourself and surrender…I am with you now, abide in Me, FOREVER!”

“Teach me to abide, to You the Vine. I am the branches! Help me not forget! Teach me to abide in You my dear Jesus. Flow through my veins, may Your Spirit guide me yet! Help me from going off the path again, when winter comes, and I’m caught by ‘Giant Despair’, help me see that there is no death in Christ. That hidden inside those ‘dead’ looking  trees, is  life; Life that is greater than any enemy! Life for today, life for tomorrow. Life for all of eternity!

_____________

“Today you can see Me and feel that I’m near, but tomorrow when You can’t, please remember, I AM here.”

My response is the very first verse I learned when I was three: “I love You Jesus, because You first loved me. I love You Jesus…Because You first…loved me!”

Out of the mouth of babes…

I share this again because courage is something I need this day, and my genuine love for Jesus sharpened… this child is an example of courage and love to me and I pray for many more:

See God's Hand

“Assuredly, I (Jesus) say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”Mark 10:15.

We can learn so much from children. Today, feeling the lack of courage, I remember a story, one of which I am so thankful was written, so as to be strengthened in my love for God, and to be more worried about what HE THINKS than man! Oft times, God uses children to speak to us ‘adults’!

The story, “The Courage of a Child, p288 from the book  “Jesus Freaks, by dc Talk and the Voice of the Martyrs, Stories of those who stood for Jesus: the ultimate Jesus Freaks. The story is told like this:

Siao-Mei, 5 years old,Mainland China.  During the Red Guard Era, 1966-69. 

“Over and over, a mother spoke soothing words to her five-year-old child as they…

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True joy is heaven-“O Beulah Land…”

I repost something I wrote quite awhile ago, praying for those (including myself), who had lost very, very special people in their lives. There was a loss, a void, a great sadness… So in honor of a woman I sat next to at the Regional Championship swim meet just a few weeks ago, and her two lovely girls – who happened to open up to me, that her husband and the girls daddy passed away this day last year, March 25. March 25th will never be the same for them, ever. But I pray that the darkness of night and loss lift a bit when then think of Beulah Land…so near, not far. Very near, forever beautiful…

See God's Hand

Don’t we just love those fantastic aerial pictures of the mountain climber at the top of the peak from the highest point overlooking all the surrounding land? We would almost say, these pictures are ‘heavenly!’ The pictures are expressions of ‘true joy’ here on earth!

Oh, how we need these heavenly pictures of true joy! They inspire us, they touch us, they lift us to a new place of hope and inspiration. They change our thoughts to ‘think on things that are good’ (Phil 4), and to ‘set our minds on things above’ (Col 3). It’s as if the pictures put a song on our heart again. God knows what we need, so He gives us pictures, to inspire us and in the next breath it seems, He gives us a song.

“The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.”Exodus 15:2.

Yes, He is active…

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Why ‘give back?’ Because, I’ve been ‘given!’

If I can write a story that inspires someone to hope again, then I have succeeded. I had no hope. I was suffering and despairing, I was low. The rug had been pulled out from under me, and my whole family of 13.

(And yes, they were all mine biologically, and no, we are not Catholic, or Jewish (!) (I would always be asked in NJ). “No we just love Jesus.” was our answer.

The thorns of this life had torn and ripped and brought great loss. Now we had bleeding hearts. And it seemed as if each of us was all alone, each with our own pain, because loss sometimes brings a void of words.

Even in the ‘trying’ to heal, I opened the Bible to page 1 and after reading the word “GOD”, all I could see was, “The earth was…an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face…”(Gen. 1:2). “Yes, that’s me…” is all I could feel.

I remember going for a long walk, all alone. I cried out to God! Yes, out loud with tears down my face – this was a desperate cry to God. Yes, I even yelled at Him! I yelled, “I will never get over this!” “I will never get over this.” And I believed my words. I believed my words!

But my words weren’t true. You see, two weeks later… (and I imagine you are thinking, “Oh, everything smoothed out and the pain and hurts were taken care of.”) Well, think again! Two weeks later it was discovered that I had a very large tumor on my right breast, 5cm x 7cm. I now had great loss AND breast cancer! Truly it seems as if God is mean and heart-less. That God is distant and just doesn’t care.

But something happened – something amazing and huge and transforming and good.

My family was injured so they were numb, but God had a plan. Do you know, (of course you don’t know. That’s why I’m telling my story, so that you WILL know…), that the neighboring community gathered together and extended rides for me to the infusion room – sometimes people I didn’t even know! Friends came and sat with me for hours while I received my poiso…I mean…chemo! People sacrificed their time…for me.

A dear sweet woman in her late 80’s who lived 5 states away sat down and wrote in  a beautiful card with flowers every Tuesday, week after week with the hand written words, “In God we trust” on the envelope and the words “I am praying for you and your family daily, Love Bea” . Every Thursday week after every ‘bald and sick’ week I received mail from  what seemed the very the hands of God saying, “I love you.” “I am with you.” “I will never leave you.” “I have not forsaken you.”

The  swim team of the Y(MCA) that we were members of rallied together and gathered gift cards of activities and eating places so the children could focus on life and health and hope! For a large family, this is a BIG deal! The Y provided a way for the kids to ‘kick out’ their anger’ that they couldn’t even understand at the time,  to ‘kick out’ their fear and uncertainty. The Y was a finger of the strong hand of God for each of my children, saying, “I’ve got a hold of you during this storm.”

Do you want to hear something HUGE? Well, women from the local  church were touched and being that I was sick through the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, they decided to go shopping for the 8 children I had living at home at the time! Yes, the woman went Christmas shopping for my family! The evening they came walking in like Santa with large contractor bags, (yes, 4 of them!), filled with goodies for my kids, I felt like George in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life!’ God walked through the door saying, “I love you!” “I am with you and your family!” Each of you are special to me. I know your names, I know your shoe size. I want to bless you.”

Wonderful, well thought out dinners with amazing desserts and cookies walked their way down our sidewalk through our door being carried by busy people who chose to give their time and substance and effort for me and my family for weeks and weeks! We saw God! We saw the very hand of God! (And somehow, the kids think that dessert comes after every meal now!)

The dinners didn’t always seem appetizing to me however,  because I was very sick on the chemo. So, for many weeks, one of my friends came and shared time and love and …you guessed it, her home-made chicken soup. I had hope because I could hear once again the amazing sound of God’s grace, “Toni, I know what you need. I am here for you.”

I was empty and in the face of darkness, but the “Spirit of God moved upon the …” hearts of His people. And I was healed.

I was healed of everything that hurt me. The cuts were still there from the thorns, but they healed. God’s hand reached down to touch us through the hearts, minds, hands, and feet of others.

God had a plan. He was working a work of compassion in my heart. But first, He had to allow the ‘rug to pulled out from under my feet’.

I had no hope, but now I hope to better spot the person that feels ’empty and void and filled with darkness.’ And now, I hope to ‘give back’ – be it a card, or a phone call, or prayer with someone, or a song…(you don’t have to ‘join an organization’ to do that!)

Those little things are as big as the hand of God! I know first-hand.

Why ‘give back?’ Because I’ve been ‘given!’

A Garden Story…

 It is a rough bit of ground, very hard with clay soil, with weed seeds planted everywhere in great variety. But it is time ‘to break up this fallow ground’-and deep down, I know, my own heart is as this dry ground.

My thoughts are overcome with weeds of lies and projections of non-truths about the future and other people. But, we think it’s only ‘me’, that the other guy has it ‘all together’ and ‘gets it right’ and everything always works out great for ‘him’. This garden seems hopeless, and yes, the soil of my heart will remain unfruitful, unless…

this ‘fallow ground’ is broken.

This is not easy work. There will be a scent of perspiration. Great amounts of energy will be expended – thoughts ,”I do not have time for this great expedition,” in effort to get me to ‘stop’ –  there is pain as the thorns of the nasty weeds, cut!

It sometimes seems like an impossible job – wondering, “how in the world can all these weeds grow so violently when the soil is only clay and rock? Nothing should grow in this soil!”

Breaking up the ‘fallow ground’ in this garden and turning it around to be fruitful just seems like a mountain too high to climb,so to speak. Maybe it just shouldn’t be done -forget about it, it’s just too hard a job. There’s no way all these weeds can be pulled out, there is no way this soil can go from rocky to soft. No, forget  it- this is an impossible job.

But there is a messenger with the words, “Don’t you know? Surely you have heard. Hasn’t someone told you from the beginning?”(paraphrased, Is. 40:21).“Didn’t you believe the report you heard? Didn’t someone tell you of the hand of God?” (paraphrased, Is. 53:1).

“He’s the Master Gardener, you know. All things are possible with Him. Didn’t you know that ‘He grew up like a small plant before the LORD and that He was like a root growing in dry ground’?(Is. 53:2). There was nothing strikingly beautiful about His appearance that made Him desirable. Yes, He was ‘a root growing in dry ground.’

“Surely, you know this, that He was hated and rejected by people. He had much pain and suffering. People would not even look on Him. He was hated, and we didn’t even notice Him. But He took our suffering on Himself and felt our pain for us.” (Is. 53:2,3.)

Did we see His suffering in the garden? Did we see Him as He prayed for us? Did we see Him with the crown of thorns on His head? No, we didn’t know. None of us did. ‘We all have wandered away like sheep. Each of us has gone his own way.’ (Is. 53:6). “There is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God…” (Romans 3:10,11). Our hearts are like stoney and weed infested gardens. There’s no hope for fruit.

But something has happened. The work has been done: “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44). “Surely our griefs he Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried…He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well being…” (Is. 53:5).

The Master Gardener was faithful in a ‘faithless’ land of stones and weeds. The Master Gardener was willing to face the task at hand, the sweat, the thorns, the pain and toil…breaking up of the fallow ground came upon Him; ‘He was  wounded for the wrong things we did. He was crushed for the evil things we did, (Is. 53:5, Int. Children’s Version)…that we might be healed.

Something happened,  He said, “I am willing.” Something happened, He said, “I believe in you.” ‘He willingly gave His life, He was treated like a criminal. But He carried away the sins of many people. And He asked forgiveness for those who sinned.”

Something happened, He said, “It is finished.”(John 19:30). 

The soil is made new, that it might bear fruit. Life will come from each desolate heart ‘ for God so loves ‘His garden, His garden is you and me, without Him we are nothing! “Who has believed His report?”(Is. 53:1). Will you?

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. for you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up…” (Is. 56:10-13).

“God made Him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21). And ‘in Him’ He speaks as a Master Gardener to His own, “No longer do  I call you servants, but I have called you friends. For all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit ..that whatever you ask the Father in my name,…He may give you.”(John 15:15).

You  and I, shall be like a garden …

 

 

true beauty…’broken vessels and frayed tapestries’

Thankful that our gracious redeemer already knows all about us, but even more thankful that He is the One who bears all things, and believes all things, and His love never fails… He’ll never give up on us!

See God's Hand

Broken vessels and frayed tapestries…
by tonirypkema

“God, You are my witness-you see the broken vessel, You see the frayed tapestry…

Empty the impatience, empty the anxiety – when in my heart I cry “Give me a break!” That I might remember, time and time again that You already have. Having owed a payment of death for my sin, You, Jesus said, “I do.” And You have committed to love me, whether or not I even notice.

God, You are my witness- there is nothing hidden from You. Deeply woven in me is a sense of ‘justice!’ Inside of my being are threads that ‘life should be fair!’ I feel as if my wait is ‘forever’ for things to be ‘right’. But You remain silent, like a great Mystery that yearns to be unfolded; and in my discontent I am stopped, to take notice that You, the Master Artist, are…

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“Tune my heart”…over and over again!

“Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…” Over and over again, this is my prayer.
The words of a familiar hymn speak renewal and refreshment to me. They never get old, NEVER: “Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace…”

Sometimes I pick up my guitar and notice, it’s not quite right. So I immediately start to put it in ‘tune’.  My own life gets out of tune- my thought life and  my attitudes  begin to smell… I mean sound bad, and then I am desperately in need of ‘The Master Player’ to intervene.

This kind of tuning, that I so desperately need is found in a most special place. It’s found at the cross, it’s found where the blood of the Lamb was poured out and the Living Bread was broken. Can I go to the communion table, even now? Perhaps the answer is “Yes”, as I simply worship  wherever I am, in whatever state I am in, even empty or full.

In order to ‘tune an instrument’ one must STOP and do the mechanics! When my life feels ‘out of tune’, I pray, “God, make me STOP, make me STILL – for a moment- to acknowledge YOU. With all of my heart, soul, mind and strength, may I bring a HALT to the ‘clamor’ and bring into focus: ‘the fount’ that covers me, that has washed away my sin. “Come Thou fount of every blessing…”

” tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”Yes,  that’s the song I need. The song that remembers the words of my Lord:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power if perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

I need to put my eyes on His word, to straighten up my thoughts and mind and calm my emotions, I need to remember Him and His words to me, personally: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that you can confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” (HEBREWS 13:5,6).

If my eyes weren’t on the words, I would never have known that the words are actually written in ALL CAPS in the NASB!… “Tune my heart to sing Thy grace.”

What a blessing to come and take the bread and know that the ‘Bread of Life’ willingly became broken for me so that I could be whole. The tuning has been perfected in me when I see how gracious my Lord has been toward me, ‘in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly,’ (Romans 5:8). What a gracious God He is. It is unearned favor He lavishes on me, just because He loves me so completely.

This makes me think of Noah, who lived in a godless time. And he had a hard job to do, accomplishing all that God had asked and with specific directions, with only his family ‘on board’ to help, so to speak! No converts, people doing what was right in their own eyes, truly an evil day – but it is recorded for all the world to see, what was different about Noah,

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Gen.6:8.

And that is what God does in this hymn for me, as I ask God,

“Come Lord, help me to remember that ‘fount of every blessing’ that covers and even washes away all the places in the deep recesses of my heart and mind that are out of tune, and remind me of Your gracious love for me. O, how You love me Lord. You don’t see all that ‘stuff’ that I see. All that ‘stuff’ was put on Jesus on that tree of Calvary.

Just as in the Song of Solomon when the Shulamite spoke to her love, (or in other words, how we often speak to the Lord,) “Do not look upon me, because I am dark,” Song of Solomon 1:6. (dark with sin), “because the sun has tanned me,” (this world of tribulations and trouble)…” But we have to remember, He doesn’t see the sin because of the ‘fount of every blessing’ shed for us – this is the response of the Beloved:

“Behold you are fair, my love! Behold you are fair!”

It is at His table where He tunes my heart to sing His grace and once again I find myself singing because ‘streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise!’ And the words to my praise as I leave the table of meditation in my heart, an old children’s song,

“I am my Beloved’s and He is mine, His banner over me is love!”

So now I’m all tuned; renewed and restored, miraculously refreshed -all because God spoke to me today in a hymn. So my prayer for today?

“Lord, just keep us in tune for a song this moment! Keep us in tune for Your song tonight, Keep me in tune Lord, when my heart is tired and weary, may I raise my Ebeniezer with my weakness and acknowledge Your Grace is all I need. I love you Jesus, You are my Rock and my Song – keep me in tune Lord, keep me in tune- and when I am ‘way out’, make me ‘Be Still and Know, YOU are God!  in Jesus name, AMEN!”