Re-weave this tapestry

“Empty the impatience, empty the anxiety.” You, Lord, can read my heart as it cries,  “Give me a break!”

This tapestry of mine is frayed and torn and worn out, forlorn.

Then, I remember, when You walked this dry, barren land, officials with position put on Your head a thorny crown.

The words, “Give me a break,” come back to me, as I watch You in Your word, in silence You went, the way of the cross.

I have a payment owed. I can’t come close to pay it.

Death for my sin is the bottom line. To be separated forever from Your Love, for all time.

I am broken and frayed. I can’t meet the requirements. To be perfect and holy, there’s naturally, no way.

“I am willing.” Jesus answers. Not with words, but in action. The words of the pages bring the past into focus.  The words are today, for me, in the present.

“Show me!” I cry. And He answers before my eyes:

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe  and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”  When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!

 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” (John 19:1-6, NIV).

 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (John 19:7).

The word speaks with such sharpness. How the story often is blurred. But living, it speaks. To me, every word:

 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.  “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”

12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar . . .”

13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out, . . . “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

How can I read all this and not ask, “Who is this Man?”

Praying, “God, give me a break.” He shows me, “I AM.”

 

Deeply woven in me is a sense of justice. But, it’s not found in You.

Weaved inside my being are threads that life should be fair. That what’s “right” must prevail.

But, Jesus. You didn’t fight. You didn’t defend Your innocence.

You remained silent. You weave the word s-a-c-r-f-i-c-e in Your cloak of Love.

And in my tapestry, you find competition, comparisons, insecurities, and pride.

And, who am I kidding, rudeness and evil thoughts thread their way through, knit, naturally within my whole being.

Rip it all out Lord. Rip these threads from me. I believe Who You are. You came that I might be made free.

Weave in me, Your Scarlet thread. Death to myself and my own righteousness – and my needing control of the circumstance. Re-weave me.

I am broken and frayed. But I believe You came. Let my tapestry proclaim You.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:5-7).

 

 

Changing Landscapes?

Soil, hard with clay and stone. Creates a landscape barren. Barren, dry, plain, and forlorn.

But with a shovel, some dirt, sweat and possibly tears – seeds can be fallen to bring about hope.

Planting seeds of promise. Promise of refreshing fruit.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (1)

“If it dies, it produces,” produces and multiplies. Life and fruit overcome. Life then, overcomes the weeds.

Soil prepared and seeds planted, required sun and water surrounded – the “kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” and a miracle springs up before our eyes.

Fragile, tender – however, life’s there!

Promise of a flower, a tomato, or pear. Fruit of self-control, and gentleness, and care.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,” 

“Jesus, You see my struggle. May I determine to focus on Your eyes. On the cross, You, the Lamb of God, willingly laid Your life down for me – that I might overcome, and be made free.

The struggle, the strain. Who likes “to die?” But the promise of newness- the guarantee of life. I will fix my eyes upon Jesus, and ask that You be magnified.

Magnify Your splendor. Magnify Your grace. Magnify Your steadfast love. No longer barren, but now a beautiful landscape.

A landscape of hope. Earth filled with color. Land providing sustenance. Fruit in multiplication- spread to splash this world with color.

“. . . unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, . . .”

the fruit of love is spread all over.

(1) John 12:24, NIV

Speak, “Be Still My Soul.” Time and again, for myself and my friends

“Be Still my soul … ” (1)

How can it be? The reality. God help us see – that You are the Almighty. “Be Still my soul … Be Still my soul.” 

Words. They hold power.

Let us speak old words together. With fears, and stress, tears and pain, whether seen on the outside – it seems, there are dark clouds within. We walk in the night, with courage and fight  – “O God, we cry – increase our faith  –  again, and again.

Today we pray, “Increase our faith.” Tomorrow we asked for increased faith again in this marathon-type race.

Words penned in 1752, over 200 years ago, bring health to the soul, somehow. So, today, let us pray together, to our God Almighty and our Father in heaven, with old words, true, (yet first person is changed a few)-  that we might  comfort ourselves in You.

Let us say together, out loud, putting sound on our chords:   “Be Still my Soul. Be Still my soul, The Lord is on our side …

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to our God to order and provide;
In every change, You faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

There is so much change. But You, O LORD remain. We draw near to You, and You draw near when we do. O God, help us, today in such darkness, take hold of Your light and believe and rest . . .

in Your faithfulness.

“Be still, my soul: Our God doth undertake
To guide the future, as You have 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
Your voice Who ruled them while You dwelt below.”

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart, And all is darkened in the vale of tears, 

Then shalt we  better know Your love, Your heart,
Who comes to soothe our sorrow and our fears.

“Dear Lord, comfort the downcast with Your Spirit, we draw near.”

“Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with You Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

Dear Father in heaven, we bow our heads together. The most important change that needs be, is that which must be done, inside of me.

Increase my faith, that I might stand, and follow You, as You take hold of my hand:

“Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing,  You, O Lord on high; to
Acknowledge You in all our words and ways,
So shall You  view us with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Son of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.”

Today. Today! This is what You have given us. Teach us to pray. To talk with You the words of this hymn rather than complaint. Be merciful to us.

Teach us to trust.

Help us to take hold of You – who are Love, and let go of all lust. Let us put off the fight, and the anger, and the strife …

and let us make harmony as we sing Your melody throughout the rest of our life.

We bow our heads, we pray to You. We end our words  and whole heartedly say:  “Our soul is still, as we set our minds on the hill, where You laid down Your life, as a perfect sacrifice, forgiving my failures, Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You.

(1) “Be Still My Soul” by Katherine von Schlegel. 

“Trusting God is always the right thing to do.” A happy birthday note to David.

“Trusting God is always the right thing to do.”

It might not always look like the “smartest” thing to do, but as each day dawns, if we seek the Lord with a yielded heart, doing the best we can, slippin’ and slidin’ along the way, He is our support.

His Hand is our hope and stay.

He offers grace, “unmerited favor,” and mercy, “not giving us what we deserve.” God is a faithful Father.

And God spoke from heaven in Luke 9:35, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”

There was a day I heard God say those words to me, so I spend time each day trying to do just that – to “hear Him”

 Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Matthew 19:14.

Perhaps I’ll spend my lifetime discovering what this verse is all about. But today I write because we celebrate the birthday of my 9th child, David.

Happy Birthday David! How can you actually be 17 years old today?

Born in the year 2000, I will never have to stop and do math to figure out your age. My 2000 baby.

David, you are such a blessing. Words could never express.

From the beginning, well, you did have a bit of a rough beginning, at least from my point of view – you were my biggest baby of the 11 at 8lbs 14 oz.

But for you, it was probably wonderful to be breathing well at birth because you had the chord wrapped around your neck during delivery. Thanks to the best midwife on the planet, Marylou Nalducci,

and our Lord Jesus, (who was watching out for you then and is watching out for you now,)

you recovered it all. The purple blue face for the first few days, all the prodding from the Neonatologist, the tests. And then later, coming home to a houseful of kids who couldn’t wait to hold you.

It is days like this when you can say with a heart skipping with joy, “It is always right to trust the Lord.”

And now to think, you will be approaching your Senior year in high school. And smart as can be. No damage done in that rough beginning, that’s for sure.

“Thank you Lord.”

David, 17 years later your mom and dad will still tell you, “It’s always right to trust the Lord.” We might not always say it with an outward “skip and a hop,” in our voice, but with a deep resound.

But God has shown himself faithful daily. To you, to me, to our entire family. That is why your mom and dad love the Lord so much David. Because He loves us first.

And He blessed us on June 3 with you! “Trusting God is always the right thing to do!”

But you have experienced and seen for yourself, in the 17 young years of your life, that “trusting God” in life is a bit like a marathon. It has it’s ups and downs and dizzy spells and muscle aches.

Sometimes “trusting God” just plain hurts. Especially if you feel you are on mile 17 of the run, or again on mile 26, with rubber knees and bleeding toes! ( I wouldn’t know from running specifically.)

But experientially, your mom and dad can say, David, It’s always right to trust the Lord. You see, He is the One who directs your steps through the rough terrain and the smooth.

He’s there at the beginning. He waits for us to believe. He hears us when we bleed. He helps us persevere. And in Him, He helps us succeed.

Seek His face as you wake. Hear His voice in His word. Talk to Him throughout your day.

Trust God. He is faithful. Always.

David, before you get out of bed, take a hold of your Father’s hand – your Father in heaven, and follow His lead. He will show you the way.

I love you, forever,

mom

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6.

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8.

“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” Deuteronomy 10:12-13.

Fact, not feelings: “As thy day, thy strength shall be”

Feelings aren’t facts. But they are very real.

Feelings can whirl with tornado-type style. They make havoc of the present moments and solid things even fly wild.

Based on facts of circumstances and realities in this life, our hearts become ripped up in the midst of overwhelming feelings.

But all the while, one thing remains, though we can’t feel Him,

Jesus Christ stays.

We leave.

We mis-perceive.

But He’s present. God doesn’t change.

“Afflicted soul, to Jesus dear, Thy Savior’s gracious promise hear; His faithful word declares to thee That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.” 

“Let not thy heart despond, and say, How shall I stand the trying day? He has engaged, by firm decree, That, “as thy day; thy strength shall be.”  (Poem found in CH Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible, p.142, based on Deuteronomy 22:35).

“Why should I continue to read,”some will say in the midst of the storm, “Why do you state that Jesus is God? Why does Jesus have to be in the mix? I can do fine with just God in all this.”

Others will say, “I need a lot more than Jesus right now. Get out! I really don’t want to hear you right now!”

The fact remains, God stays the same. Whether we believe or not – Jesus loves, period. You are precious, period. Yesterday this was true. Today this fact stands. Forever, He is God.

God is love.

Can we come close to understand?

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13. Words breathed from God in the Old Testament persuading, but not only that, these living words provide peace that’s alive. Living bread for a hungry soul.

Comfort true. Comfort whole.

“Let not thy heart despond, and say, How shall I stand the trying day? He has engaged, by firm decree, That, “as thy day; thy strength shall be.”  

“Your bars shall be iron and bronze, and as your days, so shall your strength be.” These are verses from the Living Word. When the Book is open to Deuteronomy. Chapter 33:25, and by chance one will open the dull looking Book, only to discover precious breath within each word.

For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.“Deuteronomy 32:47.

As thy day, thy strength shall be . . .”  Will you believe?

Abide in Me.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding— indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord

and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom;

from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:1-6.

Who was it that came down and rebuked the winds and the sea became sound?

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.  Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! (Matthew 8:23-27).

“Afflicted soul, to Jesus dear, Thy Savior’s gracious promise hear; His faithful word declares to thee That, “as thy day, thy strength shall be.” 

“Let not thy heart despond, and say, How shall I stand the trying day? He has engaged, by firm decree, That, “as thy day; thy strength shall be.”  

 

United sound brings a sweet fragrance/ Amazing Grace

Common knowledge learned, in the reach to smell a rose is, “Every rose has its thorns.”

“Ouch!”

How this world with vast beauty and joy, is also sharp and prickly. It punctures and so often, brings about so much more than a “whine”.

Yet,”For God so loves the world.

How can it be? There are days I can’t “love” anything.

I feel so far from smelling the roses. The “thorns” seem to be, like weeds, surrr-rrrou-nnn-ding.

The darkness of nursery rhymes come to the surface, “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.

“Whoever wrote these rhymes anyway? Though the origins are argued, we must believe, it was a day of “thorns” in a struggle to smell the rose.

Common knowledge. Community. Comforts and joy in the reciting. Children gather, hand in hand. Going around and ’round, making familiar sounds. “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

Amidst dark clouds, and thoughts of ashes – being together, gathering around, common words chimed – heaviness dashes.

“Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.”

The song is sung and we all join along, even if the tone is completely wrong. The melody flows from all lips with a smile. In full agreement, hearts receive the gracious love God freely gives.

There’s no strife when hearts unify. There’s no disagreement in the “wretch” that we each be. The thirst seems quenched. The heart instantly warmed.

The smell of roses comes vibrantly alive, when we put sound on our voice and in a common hymn sing! This is where God abides. This is where He dwells. We can all agree. Yes, we agree and somehow our blindness is made to flee:

“‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.”

As if time stops. Glory invites. “For God,” gave His Son, that we might overcome. The song, is sung. And we agree together, and sing along:

“Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”

Jesus can turn water to wine. Jesus can heal. Jesus can restore. The fragrance of joy is smelled. Let us put sound on our voice. And join together and sing.

Let us unify. Let us give thanks. Let us worship our King.

“Praise God. Praise God. Praise God. Praise God!

 

The prayer in the hymn. The answer within: “Just from Jesus, simply taking …

Deep inside, tired. Deep within, weary. Like a wilted plant longing for reviving water. We hold out our hands, and our spirits seek God. In our weakness of faith, we cry out to Him.

And He hears our silent voices. He sees our seeking hearts. He breathes upon our frame mysterious peace though nothing changes.

Personally, as for me, deep inside my heart, I write what the Living God, through His glorious Spirit does, as I long for so much, time and time again. My morning prayer is written – from an age old hymn.

Not the first part, nor the middle – but the last thought becomes my prayer: “… O for grace to trust Thee more … O for grace to trust You more.” Silent words repeated over and again, but with wholehearted meaning and truthfulness: “O for grace, to trust You more.”

The next thing I know is a resurrection takes place. My eyes lift up and my whole countenance has change. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” This is the Spirit of God speaking: “Trust Me.”

“Trust, … Me.

I know the old words. What a treasure store. The Spirit brings them to my mind to answer and restore:“Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.”

Simply take from Jesus: life and rest, and joy and peace?

Then the realization is brought to mind, in my weariness, I’m not taking from Jesus – anything. Like stagnant waters with no movement and sound. But to my rescue at my soundless call, the Spirit woos me to remember His Song.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

The next thing I know, my heart responds. Being reminded of my Love who is mine, evermore. And the song, though silent, stirs in my heart and revives me and prays the words I longed for:

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Then those words, almost hidden, they are. Words that could be so easily missed – become highlighted to me and repeated again …

“Just from Jesus simply taking, life and rest. Joy and peace.” 

“Take from Me. Take from Me.” I feel my Jesus answer.

“I offer life. I offer rest. I offer joy and peace.”

What do we say, to the old hymn’s reminder? What is our response this day, this hour?

Let’s respond with the old words that are written, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds once again. Let us rejoice in the Lord, always – no matter the mess we’re in.

Let us sing, even aloud with our voices today,

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust You. How I’ve proved You o’er and o’er Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust You more!”

“O for grace to trust You more.”

So, today I will go, knowing I will fail Him often. Especially in my trust in Him along the way. But there will be a day, when He calls me to meet Him, and I will finally be able to truthfully say:

“I’m so glad I learned to trust Him, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend”

but today, I will believe with all my heart the hymn:

“And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.”

Let us sing with rejoicing and be ignited with praise:

Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood
And in simple faith to plunge me
‘Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

 

“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!

 

 

 

 

Can you, will you, brush away the tears?

This morning, you have a choice. Does your heart yearn for God, do you pray, “Speak LORD, Your servant hears.” (1) or do you think you already know the words He has to say?

The thorns and thistles of life have brought temptation – to doubt and believe the LORD has left you alone on your way.

I write for myself, these words are for me. But if by chance they are speaking to you, read on as we wrestle with God together. Are we God’s ‘fair weather friends’ or are we still His – when the floods come or it’s typhoon weather?

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .” Psalm 23:1. Do you hear Him call you to trust Him deeper still? Do you hear Him, are you willing to obey His will?

But, “I’m wanting Lord.” You say in your heart. “I’m needy and helpless. I don’t know how to trust.”

But, there is a willingness inside. There is, though weak, you cry out beside:

“Speak Lord, Your servant is listening,”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs, the Book of wisdom. Chapter 3 verse 5 and 6. Do we dare submit and really believe this?

Believing God, is an Olympic feat, at best, “Make me to lie down and open my eyes that I might take notice that the pastures are green. Oh, God, I need rest.”

 Is this your prayer to the Lord in the morning? Will you be humble and yielded and give Him praise in the evening? What if nothing is going your way? Does that change God? Does that change your trust in Him?

We must remember, if ‘Jesus wept,'(2) then surely in this life, we will weep as well. “Dear Lord, don’t let my affliction grow greater than You. May I not seek sufficiency from wells, dry and broken, but may I go to You and listen to the words You have spoken.”

“Can you, will you, brush away the tears?” (I hear the Lord whisper this in my ears.)

 So will you reply, (as I ask myself this question), ‘Speak to me LORD, your servant hears.’ 

“But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”(3) I have spoken. Do not be tempted to doubt. I will fill you with My Spirit that your faith will abound. Will you choose to make me Lord and submit? This is the power of God to you. I offer it . . .”

“For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.” “This is My word from Lamentations. (4) Walk in this. Give fear no reservations.”

We can, we will, you and I together will cast all our cares upon our Shepherd today, and feed on His faithfulness and all He has to say:

in Psalm 23: The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul . . .  and Joshua 1:9: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 

We can, we will remember God is able – for now and for all time.

 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.  Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”(5)

(1) 1 Samuel 3:9.

(2) John 11:35.

(3) Isaiah 43:1-3.

(4) Lamentations 3:31,32.

(5) Hebrews 5:7-9.

When the counselor is hidden in a devotional

So I wake. I sit with coffee and thoughts. But on the table is a devotional.

‘Beside Still Waters’ by CH Spurgeon, sits there with it wooing title, ‘Come, and sit beside still waters . . .’
So I pick it up and open it to a random page: “No Smell of Fire.” (Daniel 3:27).

I read on: “When you cherish Christ, the things of the world are of little value, and their loss is not heavily felt.”
‘Cherish?’ The word stops me in my tracks.

I think of traditional wedding vows,  to love and to cherish. Spurgeon incites me to think, “When you cherish Christ . . .”

“Do I cherish Christ?” for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer? Can I? Do I cherish Christ? as long as I live?

But then it hits me – Death will never part us, if we have received the gift that God has given us, with our personal names written on His Son’s sacrifice on the cross. Instead of a bow on the greatest gift to the world, His blood was shed that we would be washed, white as snow. This is what the Good Book says. The Lord loves me so.

“My beloved is mine, and I am his. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” This is the Song of all Songs, Song of Solomon 2:16.

Do I cherish Christ? This is the question. And so continues CH Spurgeon: “When you cherish Christ, the things of the world are of little value, and their loss is not heavily felt. If you feel your losses and if your trials are so ponderous that Christ’s love cannot lift you from the dust, then you have made too much of the world and too little of Him.”

“I see a pair of balances. I see on one scale the loss…, but I perceive on the other scale the great love of Christ. Now we will see which weighs the most. If Jesus lifts the light affliction, all is well, but if the trouble outweighs Jesus, then it is indeed ill for us.” (Spurgeon, beside Still Waters, pg. 161).

The devotion counsels with gentleness. Yet, kicks me hard in the midst of the world’s darkness: “If you are so depressed by your trials that you cannot rejoice, even though your name is written in heaven, then I think you do not love Jesus as you should.”

“Get delightful thoughts of Him, and you will feel as if you lost a pebble but preserved a diamond. If you have a high sense of your Master’s preciousness, you will rejoice in the deepest distress. The sweet love of Christ, when placed on the deepest wound the soul can ever know, heals at once.”

I will repeat words perhaps this sheep forgets: “The sweet love of Christ, when placed on the deepest wound the soul can ever know, heals at once.”

Beside Still Waters, has spoken to me, and even given words of the prayers we must pray: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Be within us, and we will make no choice of situations. Put us in Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace (Daniel 3:20); if Jesus walks the glowing coals as a companion, the fire will have no power, the hairs of our heads will not be singed, our garments will not be affected, and even the smell of fire will not be on them ” (Dan. 3:27).

So I pray for myself this morning as well, “Bring to remembrance, bring revival in my heart. Dear Jesus, mold me, and make into a new lump of clay and create in me a loving heart as I walk through my day. Teach me what it means to ‘cherish You, Lord.’ That I might be a blessing this Christmas. Help me spend time in Your word.” In Jesus name, Amen. and Amen again.