Water into Wine, Remembering my Journal entry. August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010. On this date, I knew there was a very large lump on my right breast, but I didn’t know what it was at this time.

I was keeping a Bible Journal at the time. Apparently I was in John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

That was a crisis for this wedding feast. And I was in “crisis” as well.

Jesus said her,”Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
John 2:4.

In my journal writing I wrote, “Can God be showing me what to do in my crisis?”

I wrote so many years ago, (7 years to be exact):

There were 6 water pots of stone about twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.”
Today feeling very empty and confused, He said, “fill the water pots with water.” Water in the Bible symbolizes the Holy Spirit. And at the wedding they ran out of wine and He said, “Fill the pots with water.”

My very first thought is, the Holy Spirit. I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

So, on that day, many years ago, God was showing me personally, intimately what I, Toni, needed to do to get through that day, and the days I didn’t even know were to come, (which included a cancer diagnosis, many doctor and surgeon visits, then chemo, surgery, hormone therapy, etc., etc.

The words of Mary ring so loud to me, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Fill the pots with water.”

That’s what He said.

I knew I needed counsel. He answered me, “Fill your clay vessel with water.”

So, I went to the word about the Holy Spirit:
And not be drunk with wine which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD, giving thanks always…,” Eph. 5:18.

Little did I know, but for me, to help me through and keep me standing on the Rock, to keep faith through all the chemo and chemicals, I would be turning the pages of Then Sings My Soul, by Robert Morgan.

Speaking the words of the hymns, and singing them as I learned them, I was transformed, from fear to courage.

I was continually being transformed- from fear to courage!

So today, a lot has changed. I am healthy and strong. But what’s amazing is the remedy for my crisis today still remains:

“Whatever He says to do, do it.”

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2: 7-11.

Dear Lord, teach me to seek Your face and hear Your voice as I open your word to hear what You say.” In Jesus Name. 

Amen.

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“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!

 

 

 

 

He must have had fear!

Abram, (later to receive the ‘new’ name of ‘Abraham), must have been afraid, because “…the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying “Fear not, Abram…” (Gen 15:1).

I keep reading over and over again, “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying “Fear not, Abram.”  In a vision? “What does that look like? …the word of the LORD coming  in a vision?

All I know is, the only vision I have right now are the written words in front of my eyes, in this Holy Book, and the vision says:  “Fear not!”

“FEAR NOT”, God’s word says, but,  quite frankly, we become afraid! “Fear not, Toni.” “Fear not, Laurie.””Fear not, Amy.” “Fear not, Joe.” “Fear not, Jenny.” “Fear not, Paul.” etc, etc. I am not sure what ‘vision’ this could have possibly have been, but God’s word speaks, and if we take the time to open up His word, the words are right there in full view:  “Fear not!”

And what is fascinating-  ‘the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision’, it is told: “After these things…” (Gen. 15:1). After WHAT things?

Well,  #1, after courageous moves on the part of Abram,  he gathered trained servants from his own house to rescue his nephew Lot who was taken captive by foreign kings.  #2, Abram and his house courageously fought a ‘war’ to win back his ‘brother’ and succeeded! #3, Abram was met by Melchizedek king of Salem’ who ‘brought forth bread and wine’ and  then Melchizedek blessed Abram!  #4,  Abram payed him tithes and offerings. (Gen 14:18-20.) This was a huge victory! These were amazing ‘things’! So, it is after all of THIS,  that “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Fear not Abram!”

Abram had great victory in His life, but now, the word  of the LORD for him is:”Fear not!”  Abram had fear! You and I become afraid, even after God has done amazing things in our life! But we can learn so much about God through the stories, and we can learn so much about Abram, and yes, ourselves as well…

“After these things…” There is even more! Before the courageous ‘war’ that Abram fought with the ‘army’ that he had put together, and the ‘blessing’ that he had received, Abram, #1,  let his nephew choose first from all of the land he was given by the Lord. Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. , Then #2, Abram chose to ‘come and dwell in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and,”  #3, “(he) built an altar to the LORD.'(Gen. 13: 18). Abram chose to dwell in Mamre which means a place of ‘fatness’ and Hebron which means ‘communion’, “…and #4, he built an altar to the LORD.” Gen.13:-8).

Abram was a worshiper of God. (There is no mention of Lot having devotion with God, but it is recorded more than once that Abram worshiped God.)  And NOW Abram has fear? I always wonder what the ‘faith and prosperity’ teachers do with these stories? Abram had fear, yet he was the father of faith. God was with him!

So, back to: “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceeding great reward.”

Abram made choices of communion with God and worship. I am encouraged that this ‘father of faith’ needed encouragement not to fear: “Fear not Abram, I am your shield and exceedingly great reward.” (Gen 15:1).

God is so very patient with me and with you. How do I know? Because I can look at Abraham! His next words to the Lord were: “Lord GOD, what will you give me, seeing I go childless, and …”(then Abram let’s God know how he sees the situation). It’s almost as if he didn’t even hear the words, “I am your shield and exceedingly great reward.” I am like that as well, I am so focused on the situation, I can’t even ‘see’ what God’s word is saying!

But God…His ways are not our ways! The word is powerful, the word is transforming. Do you remember what God did for Abram? “He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Gen. 15:5). God keeps His promises. God shares His story in the richest Book in the world for all eyes to see in full vision. And you know what Abram did next?“…And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6).

“Lord, I have heard your word in a vision, yes, me, Your ‘fearful’ child.  I choose to believe You LORD. I will choose to believe what is true, that You provide for Your children, that You protect Your children, and that Your promises are true. Will You help my unbelief? Thank you Jesus, that Your love is patient and kind! I can ‘see’ it just in reading Your Book and watching Your people. Help me spend time in Your Word and ‘see’ in a vision Your voice speaking to me. In Jesus Name, Amen.” How about you? Is this your prayer too?

“Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake…”

“Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake.
All now mysterious,…”

There are times in our lives where we can truly say, “all is now mysterious”

‘Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake?’
It gets shaken. Our confidence, our hope, it gets shaken.

And for this reason, I share a bit of my story:

After being diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, (7 years now), and being instructed of the Doctor’s protocol – chemo, surgery, etc. I found myself at the book shelf – for me, my book shelf is like a teddy bear. I love books. I pulled out a book given to me a years before, but never read. Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan. On the cover it states “150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories.”

I suppose a cancer diagnosis makes one reach for the hymnal on the shelf. Then Sings My Soul is next to my Bible now.

The hymn stories are amazing, but the story that comes back to me over and over again is Robert J. Morgans’s story on the beginning pages. His is a powerful story. Titled, “The Cure for Shot Nerves.”

His little story changed me. I share it with you:
The Cure for Shot Nerves – “It was a small pond of brownish water near my motel, bound on one side by a freeway…an unlikely spot for a personal retreat. But I was in no shape to be choosy. I was exhausted, my nerves were shot, and I felt dangerously close to some sort of breakdown. The sun was warm, the birds were raising a careful chorus, and, thankfully, no one else was around. As I began walking, the words of an old hymn I’d learned in college came to mind, and instinctively, almost unconsciously, I began singing it softly:
Praise the Savior, ye who know Him,…
there followed a verse of:
The God of Abraham praise, Who reigns enthroned above;…
Then Fanny Crosby’s,
All the way My Savior leads me, What have I to ask beside?Can I doubt His tender mercy Who through life has been my guide?
Ducks glided over the pond, and a couple of geese waddled past with a flourescent-yellow brood of goslings. I heard myself singing quietly the old Scottish rendition of the 23rd Psalm: The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll not want…

“That hour by the tiny lake was better for me than a month of therapy, and it did me more good than a dozen self-help books. Then and there I felt emerging twinges of a “restored soul.”
“What if I had not known those hymns?”

These are the words that come to mind almost daily now,
“What if I had not known those hymns?” (Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan.)

I didn’t know the hymns, but I passionately adore reading them and singing today.

I battle with anxiety, doubts, and fears almost constantly when I think about of the “earthly troubles,” instead of “setting my mind on things above.”

I know that we are to “be anxious for nothing,” and I pray and “try” to have a thankful heart, but there are times when I get physically exhausted trying to chase away all the fear, doubt, and anxiety that comes at me through the course of one day.
Does anyone else relate?

But, for me, God stops it all – all the craziness – with a song.

“He stops it all with a song? Yeah, right,” you might be thinking!

God used it all for good in allowing me to be “made to lie down.” I opened a hymnal and discovered these words:
“Be still, my soul;
Thy God doth undertake
to guide thy future
as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious
shall be bright at last.
Be still my soul; the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them
while He dwelt below.

Reading aloud hymns and God’s word is truly a
help and a “cure for my shot nerves.”

Acts. 20:24,
“But none of these things move me;
nor do I count my life dear to myself so that I may finish my race with joy
and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of the the grace of God.”

“Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake” . . . just keep singing, just keep singing       Selah

If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.(Ps. 94:18)

If I say, “My foot slips!”

Why are some days like this? Lord, today I say, “my foot slips!” Every step is an effort. I wake up with doubt and fear and ‘trouble on every side’ so to speak! Does anyone else have this happen to them?

Yet, Ps. 94:18 reminds me,, “My foot slips, Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.”
What if I didn’t have the word to remind me? My very own thoughts are the death of me!
God has brought me to a place where obeying the word is no longer a choice – it’s a matter of life and death! Once again, I must enter into battle.

So, I take up my sword, the word of God, to help fight my enemies of fear and doubt:
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.”(Ps 42:5)

“Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; Not one is missing. (Is. 40:26)

Then I remember my Hymn, (I’m calling it ‘my’ Hymn now. I have two that I call my own, Be Still my Soul and Be Thou My Vision.) But today, I think on these words:“Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake, to guide thy future, as He has the past. Thy hope thy confidence, let nothing shake – all now mysterious, shall be bright at last, be still my soul, the waves and wind still know, His voice who rules them while He dwelt below…”

I need ‘Thy hope thy confidence’:(Hebrews 10: 35,36)“Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God you may receive the promise.”

This is our confidence: (1 John 5: 14,15) “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

And finally, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” ‘Your mercy, O LORD’ is holding me up! Your word gives me solid footing again.

All of a sudden, I feel my step getting a bit lighter, and my own countenance softening. Is this what it means to ‘work out my own salvation? with fear and trembling?’ (Phil 2:12) Maybe this is what Paul meant as well in Philippians 2:16 when he said,
“holding fast the word of life…”

So I started my day with my head in the dumps, but thanks be to God for His wonderful mercy, that brought me to His word, to hold me up. When I wake tomorrow, I will remind myself, before thinking of the realities of life – to ‘hold fast the word of life!’ then maybe my path won’t be so slippery.