“Though there be no fruit on the vine …”

Many years ago, I felt God impress upon my heart my life verse: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.  

I had no idea then, what God had for me in this verse. Even today, I yearn to grasp the depths of all it means. “What are You saying, Lord, at times like these?”

“What is Your will for me?” “What is Your will for me?” “What is Your will for me?

And He responds, continually, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks …” I had no clue, back then, how very, very difficult these three things would prove to be.

“How can I rejoice in this?” “There’s no way I can pray!” “I refuse to give thanks in this!” Over and over, God allows me to see what’s inside of me. And, quite frankly, it ain’t pretty!

But Jesus. He loves me. He’s gentle. He’s patient. He’s kind and full of compassion. He hears my yelling and faithless thoughts. He sees my fret and knows my every thought.

How can God be so great and mighty as that? To still love me – even after my words and actions and … yes, being a brat!

There is no One like God on this earth.

But, wait.

He reached out from on high when I was in the depth of a pit. He pulled me out of great darkness and I could see, finally, the love in His eyes.

“Receive My love?” I felt Him ask of me.”

“I do, Lord. Come and live in my heart. Restore my soul. O God, don’t let go.”

Now, He abides in me. I’m simply a branch of His Vine. He is mine. He is mine. 

“No matter what you might go through, my child, I am here. And these words are your fortress and refuge. These words are your Rock that you might not slip or drown in sorrow or fear. I am the LORD, and this is my will you.”

“I see the conflicts press hard form the outside. I see the fear that entangles and grips at your very breath. I know the loss, the pain. I know death.”

“This is hard, this is dark, this is excruciating, I know. I am the LORD. I have gone before, I will carry you through. Keep your eyes on me, through this most difficult test, My Word is your life, yes, this is what you are to do: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;” 

I will show you success and help you focus your mind, that you might be victorious one step at a time. Study my Word. Sing the Psalms in your heart. Gain wisdom and understanding, ask of Me and I will give.”

Do you believe … even in this? that I am Yours.  I care for you … now, rest.”

My life verse gives me instant direction. Will I scoff, or will I take the instruction? My response has already been written. I will sing it from my heart to my Chief Musician:

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3:17-19. In response to my life verse, no matter what happens – this I pray will be my response. Continually. And with my Love, I will abide for all eternity!

 

 

 

 

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Beginnings

New years. New months, new days, new moments. Refreshing beginnings. All things new.

Do we open the Book? Will we glean something new?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1.

What’s it all about? What does this have to do with me? I have so much to do, and don’t we already know what this Book says. But my eyes keep reading the very next verse,

And the earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep.

Void and darkness already? Isn’t God in control of all things? Didn’t He create and everything was magical and perfect? How in the world was there void and darkness even before verse 3? Do we read and have questions like these?

Is God aware of my questions and doubt?

All I know is, it seems words like void and darkness could be used to describe me. Well, not when I’m putting my best foot forward, but the real me inside. This is me, as I feel void in my natural sense.  I sense darkness in my nature. What do you think? All I know, is, it seems at times, that there’s no escape.

So, my eyes continue reading the words on the page.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Genesis 1 verse 2. The Spirit of God moved.

God moved. Even without any other doing. In the midst of emptiness and darkness, He initiated a move. Apparently, He wasn’t in need of anything.

Today, as I read these words and I think, of my brain and my heart being 73% water, with emptiness and darkness caught up in the mix, (But), And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters … 

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.”

Today, this day, I’ve read from the Beginnings. I didn’t get far, but I felt something stir within me. Could this Book be more than black and white on a page? For you and for me, the Spirit of God moved.

I will speak for myself, I hear Him speak to me: “Let there be light; and there was light,” on that day. Thousands upon thousands of years ago then, but also today, hope has lifted her head, and my eyes and my heart have chosen to receive.

If this is the first day of the rest of my life, then I will choose to take some time to read this Book daily. I will ask God to shine light on my emptiness and fill up the void.

So, in curiosity, I looked up Jesus as light, and John 8 verse 12, is recorded When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

God initiates. Do I choose, moment by moment, to follow?

 

 

Mind craze in the maze …

You and I live in a broken world. The attack, the battle, the unrest is in our minds. Playing havok with our peace, our thinking destroys us, even in our sleep.

There are pressures just to  survive. Our physical needs must be met or we’re weak, our emotional needs need met or we weep, our spiritual needs? There’s no time for that…

at least, that’s how we’ve been taught by professors to think.

Add to that, through the course of the day, media at our eyes notice constantly to say,  “You’re incomplete, you now  need this!” “You need more, and more – come out to our store!”

It’s like we entered the fairgrounds, striving to win the biggest prize. But it all seems twisted somehow –  impossible – and instead of that wonderful prize, (that we just saw with the other guy) –  we simply get the dollar-store size.

But out of nowhere, a ‘voice crying in the wilderness,’ says, “Turn around’. Where it came from, I’m not sure. I never heard a sound!

I’ve heard these words before, John the Baptist, we all know:  “Turn around , the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (1) But the mind brings the battle. Thoughts bring me down, when, unlike a child, I rebel and twist things around. The maze has me spinning, I feel I can no longer stand …

unlike a child, who simply takes the father’s hand.

“He was a weird dude, and his word went against what’s natural inside. Anyway, what would people think? The mind, the crazy games, the battles divide – “I’m not going to listen! This is judgement on his part. Who is he to tell me what I should do, beside!”

‘Turn around, the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ …

“What if that’s true? Plain and simple. What do these words mean anyway? The craze continues, confusion follows through.”

“Today! Today! Come follow Me,

Turn around once for salvation and grace.

Make Me your Shepherd, that I might give you all you need. I AM the one who will make you to rest, to lie down on green pastures and lead you in what’s best… I am the One sent by the Father, I am the Son,

I have come that you might have life, abundant and blessed.”

“What makes me hesitate? What makes me stall? The battle rages – is this all there is to life after all?”

“Trust in Me and feed on My faithfulness. Delight yourself in Me, I am able to give you the desires of your heart.” “Today, today , I call you by name, I lead you out, I don’t drive you alone. Dwell in My pastures, I protect and provide, and I love you more than My life.”

“Follow Me through the gospels on the shelf.  Open it up and read it yourself. I am there, come with Me… ‘Today’ is the first day, of the rest of your life.”-Jesus

 

(1) (Matthew 3:2, paraphrase, mine).

“We’ll understand it better by and by…”

Words have been written, and I dig them up from the past, because through time and ages, they speak – for me, for you –  bringing comfort to last.

God allowed hard times for the man who wrote this hymn – Charles A. Tindley, a ‘prominent, powerful, persecuted American-African. He wrote through the pain in 1851, – not in anger or in hate – but in power and love with faith -of faith in a God Whom he could not see, but with eyes focused and believing on the promise… of eternity!

1.”We are often tossed and driv’n on the restless sea of time, rolling clouds and howling tempests oft succeed a bright sunshine; In that land of perfect day, when the mists have rolled away, We will understand it better by and by. By and by.”

This hymn was written and recorded and often sung, not asking, “Why?, Why God Why?” but instead, “We will understand it better by and by. By and by.”

“By and by when the morning comes, …We’ll tell the story how we’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by.”

There is hope and there is trust in a God that is great. There is patience and  quietness and rest while we wait.

2. “Trials dark on ev’ry hand, and we cannot understand, All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed promised land; But He’ll guide us with His eye, and we’ll follow till we die, We will understand it better by and by, by and by.”

Words written of wrestling, yet of surrender to God’s plan. Power is in surrender and taking hold of God’s hand.

“We’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by…When the saints of God are gathered home, we’ll tell the story of how we’ve over-come; And we’ll understand it better by and by, by and by.”

We’ll Understand it Better By and By , Charles A. Tindley – tells us why. Perhaps in our present day we should be resurrecting words spoken in  1905!