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?

 

 

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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.

“Speak Lord, your servant hears…”(1Sam 3:10).The word, and Jenny…

These words, “Speak Lord, your servant hears,” were spoken by a small child whose heart was tender and listening.  “Then the Lord said to Samuel…” (1 Sam. 3:11), then  we see that the Lord spoke to Samuel directly,  to him individually.

What I think is a most amazing discovery about God and His word, is He speaks to me – and desires to speak to you as well, individually and at times, specifically. There are times when I read the Bible and it doesn’t speak directly to me that minute, but, then later in the week, what I read was perfect with what I was going through.

You can imagine the deeper depth of listening that went on in Jenny these 5 1/2 years, as she battled being paralyzed and unable to even hold her Bible, or anything for that matter! All I know, is when I read God’s word aloud with Jenny,  she was listening, she held on to every word!

Well, each time I would go and visit Jenny while she was in the hospital these last 10 weeks, God would guide me as to where in His word I was to read aloud. And we didn’t understand every word, but there were verses that were read, and I would pause and Jenny would simply say, “Wow!” God had me read from many places, but for many of the visits we were reading Song of Solomon from my Amplified Bible.

We discovered that this truly was ‘the song of songs – the most excellent of them all – which is Solomon’s. (Song of Sol. 1:1). This amazing Song is an allegory of our amazing Shepherd King and His Bride – us!

And the Song of Solomon is full of the Shepherd-King’s words of love to us, His bride. And Jenny and I were all ears and our hearts burned within us as He spoke to us. I was not going to write about this time in His word together, but the Lord told me, “Write!” So I am writing this out of obedience to the Lord because this is a story He wants read.

 The Lord wanted us both, to not only know His love for us, but to KNOW HIS LOVE for us, deeper and richer than we had before!But to tell you honestly, I was the one that had a lot of growing to do, it really seemed as if Jenny had already grasped all of this truth and  the Lord was teaching me what ‘intimacy’ with Him looked like through Jenny.

“Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth![she cries…]For your love is better than wine!…Draw me! We will run after you!” (Song of Sol. 1:2,4). Perhaps, it was our separate prayers, “Lord, increase my faith” that God brought us together. Will I ever cease  to thank Him for answering my prayer by drawing us together that we may ‘run after Him!’ So our relationship was simply time in worship, time in God’s word, and in prayer, and sweet fellowship, and Jenny’s continual perseverance through each and every trial only proved that she was ‘running’ after Him in such a way to win (!), oh, how I was in awe of the way she ‘ran after’ her Lord!

And I will forever be thankful that the Lord had put on my heart to gather my guitar and my Amplified Bible and go to room 609 at the local hospital to have the  most glorious moments ever- they almost seem like heavenly moments now. He brought us both together to draw away, to be with Him. It’s as if He transported us to His castle, our Shepherd-King. The Son literally brought the ‘sunlight’ into that dim, gloomy room. He brought His kisses to our lips, so to speak. His word lifted us away from this earthly place! God’s Spirit breathed encouragement and hope into both of us.

And how mysterious is God’s word. But  it would leave us thinking and learning  and pondering Him. How beautiful to think that our Shepherd-King can only kiss one person at a time with his lips! He is in love with each of us individually! We are His Bride! And, Jenny had such a sweet intimate relationship with Jesus, that I could read these words with ease, thinking of her as being the ‘fairest among women’ speaking of her Shepherd-King.

And the Shepherd King spoke, “Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold, you are beautiful; you have dove’s eyes.” (Song of Sol. 1:15.)  Can it get any better than that, when we give our hearts to Jesus, all of the ‘dark’ side is ‘covered in the blood’ and He sees us as ‘lovely and pleasant’. And ‘dove’s eyes’ talk of being ‘filled with the Spirit!’ This is how our Shepherd king sees us, “You have dove’s eyes.”

And the Lord speaks, “As the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters…”(Song of Sol. 2:2). And I couldn’t help but think of the many ‘thorns’ Jenny was surrounded by. But she is His ‘lily’ among the thorns. And then it made me think, Jesus was a ‘lily among thorns’ as well. He knows thorns…

We’re reminded and even thank Him for His willingness to wear a crown…of thorns in an old hymn, ‘My Jesus, I Love Thee‘. And with an added visitor from Jenny’s church, we sang together these words, “I love Thee, because Thou hast first loved me. And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree. I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow. If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ’tis now.” And we had read together that verse in Plilippians chapter 1 that no one wants to include in their promise book: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him,…”(Phil. 1:29). But Jesus saw her, “As the lily among thorns,” and He called her ‘my love’ among the daughters. And I am His ‘lily’ as well, but I don’t know anyone among so many thorns as Jenny.

But God brought so much comfort through His beautiful word. Comfort for Jenny specifically!  “How fair you are, my love, he said, how very fair. Your eyes behind your veil remind me of those of a dove…”(Song of Sol. 4:1). The name Jennifer means, “fair one”, and that is what He calls His Bride!  “[He exclaimed] O my love, how beautiful you are! There is no flaw in you! (Song of Sol. 4:7)…”A garden enclosed and barred is my sister, my [promised] bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed…” (Song of Sol. 4:12). Can words describe  the healing, the perfect peace that God’s love can bring. It is written that “God’s love never fails”(1 Cor. 13), and His word is truth, and I was able to witness God’s perfect love letter, perfectly minister His love and perfectly heal, not only Jenny, but myself! We were blessed beyond measure.

To think that we are the King’s private ‘garden’. And Jenny had a heart that was drawn so close to her Shepherd-King, that these words seem to fit completely for her: “Let my Beloved come into His garden, and eat His pleasant fruits.” (Song of Sol. 4:16).

I had an example in front of me that had had some severe ‘north winds’ blow on her and her family, and some hot, difficult, never ending ‘south’ winds as well, but these winds brought out a most beautiful ‘lily’ among the thorns.  Jenny was so yielded to the Lord. Her garden was so fruitful that her heart was the same as Paul’s when he wrote in Philippians 1:19-21, (As I read them aloud to Jenny, I couldn’t help but notice, this was her heart completely!)“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Jenny’s garden was full of the fruit of the Spirit, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. The nurses that took care of her are forever changed when they talk of the joy and the kindness Jenny had.

What a beautiful garden! Perhaps this time of sleeping for Jenny, is a precious time for Jenny and the Lord. Perhaps, her Beloved has ‘come into His pleasant garden to eat His pleasant fruits.’  Because they really are ‘His pleasant fruits.’ He is the One who did that work of the Spirit in and through her, and her life was ‘fully pleasing to Him’ (Col.) She  understood that her life was for Him, “Let my Beloved come into His garden, and eat His pleasant fruits.” (Song of Sol. 4:16).

So, as we pray and wait, we also grow in the Lord as we seek Him. And Jesus ministered to my heart specifically, in my moments of anxiety, He said, “I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem,…that you not try to stir up or awaken my love until it pleases.” (Song of Sol. 2:7). Yes, my Lord spoke to me. It’s as if He is saying, “Toni, I know what I am doing. I have brought her to My ‘banqueting table’ and My banner over her is love. You can trust me, even in this, you can trust me. Remember the verse Jenny wants you to write out: “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” (Jer. 29:11, Amplified).

My response, “I have heard You speak Lord, I am listening. Even in this, I will trust You! We can always trust You, because Your love is greater than we could ever imagine!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

(Jenny went home to be with Jesus, Nov.9, 2013). I can hear her speak: “My beloved spoke , and said to me: “Rise up, my love, my fair one and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come…” Song of Solomon 2:10,11,12.