Tag Archives: encouragement

Weathering the WEATHER

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It seems that everybody’s talking about our inclement weather. Lately and more vociferously than usual, folks are saying the weather is bad, severe, extreme, foul, harsh, stormy, rainy, windy, squally—any or all of the above adjectives apply, depending upon the location.   How’s the weather there where you are? Is it trending similarly – – -not calm/not typical/ not peaceful?

Front-page newspaper articles headline, picture and feature devastating weather events: multiple tornados in the same area, destructive twisters, incapacitating flash floods, extensive storm damage, and state emergency death tolls. This catastrophic devastation caused the destruction and loss of human lives and limbs and the obliteration of landscape and property.

However, the unpredictability of the weather is predictable. Scripture tells us that there will be earthquakes in various places. It refers to fire and hail, snow and clouds and stormy winds. Yet our present unease stems from the disturbing fact that previously predictable weather occurrences now occur unpredictably.

Consider Psalm 29:3-9

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters:

the God of glory thundereth:

the Lord is upon many waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars;

Yea, the voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.

He maketh them also to skip like a calf;

Lebanon and Sirion like a wild ox.

The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness;

the voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

the voice of the Lord maketh the hinds/deer to calve,

and discovereth the forests:

and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

As we meditate on this passage, we understand that God controls the vagaries/quirks of the weather. We acknowledge what seems capricious and beyond our understanding is actually the structured iteration of Almighty God’s volition and power.   His ways are past our finding out. What we can know from this passage is that God is in control of the weather. He speaks from a place of authority, above the waters. Using only the powerful thunder of his majestic voice, God breaks huge trees into pieces and makes them skip like calves; he makes the deer give premature birth; he shakes the wilderness, making it tremble, and strips bare the forests; he strikes with flames of fire/streaks of lightning. In essence, the voice of the Lord exercises God’s dominion over the same nature that he spoke into existence when he created the world. No wonder this psalm has been called, “The Song of the Thunderstorm!”

Thus lessoned, what is to be the believer’s response to earth-shaking weather?   Should it be terror and impassioned supplication for personal safety? Should it be frantic panic? Should it be stoic resignation to disaster? No. No. No. The last line of this passage instructs us. As God speaks in power through the weather, we must speak also; however, we must speak of his glory. In a word, we must worship our God.

The second verse of this psalm instructs us:

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name

worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Worship God for his sufficiency in himself: the eleven verses of this short psalm mention his name – – only – – eighteen times.

Worship God for his dominion over nature.

Worship God for his everlasting position as supreme governor of the world. He sat as King of the flood/deluge, and he sits enthroned as king forever.

Worship God for his grace: the psalm ends with a promise, assuring his believers that God will give them strength and bless them with peace!

Standing on this promise as the storms rage, we can say with hymn writer Charles A. Tindley:

 When the storms of life are raging

Stand by me. [repeat]

When the world is tossing me

Like a ship upon the sea

Thou who ruleth wind and water

Stand by me.

We can sing with Fanny Crosby that we are “safe in the arms of Jesus.”

We can shout with Lucy Campbell that there’s:

Something within me that holdeth the reins

Something within me that banishes pain

Something within me I cannot explain

All that I know – –

There is something within.

Finally, believers can ride through stormy weather on the strength of the promise of God, himself:

You are mine.
when you pass through the waters, i will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
nor shall the flame scorch you. for I am the lord your God

Praise the Lord! No matter what the weather is, was or is predicted to be – -May you journey in good weather!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AUDACIOUS WOMAN

Woman-RoaringDo you know who Helen Reddy is?  She and Ray Burton composed the song that became the anthem of  the  Women’s Liberation Movement [Women’s Lib] in the 1970s.  The song expresses the collective feelings and attitudes of women who were experiencing an emergence of female empowerment.  It was a time of social consciousness about important “women’s issues, ” such as whether to continue to be a traditional “stay-at-home mom” or work outside the home, to be satisfied with the usual nurturing occupations that  women were expected to practice  or to  enter male- dominated professions that would cause them to challenge and seek to pierce the invisible but real “glass ceiling.” Women burned bras in public gatherings as a symbol of  female liberation from the restrictions of their contemporary society, often singing  Helen Reddy’s  song.  Here are the lyrics:

I am woman, hear me roar

In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long, long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can face anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

As you embrace this audacious spirit, consider this acronym:

{W }    –     WONDER-FULL

Are you full of wonders,  doing things that  amaze others and yourself

{ O   }  –      ONE-of-a- kind,  OUTSTANDING

By the way,  what do you know about yourself?

What distinguishes you from every other woman on this planet?  Is there anybody

else  exactly like you?  Shouldn’t be! Not  even your biological child or identical twin!

{  M }     –    MAJESTIC

Do you walk in a regality that calms troubled waters. Are problems more

manageable just because you are in charge?

{   A  }   –     ANGELIIC

Do you  have a close and  direct connection to God so that you operate in either the

heavenly/spiritual or the nether /earthly world as He directs

{ N  }   –     NATURAL, NATURE MADE

Do you treat yourself as a  a divine creation , as made by divine hands with natural /

earthly materials.

Reminds  you of Women’s History Month, you say?  Good deduction.  How apropos!

Let’s go all the way back to the beginning of history.

Let’s go all the way back to the “Let there be’s” in the first chapter of Genesis where we learn that God created light and sky and water and sea and moon and stars and day and  night and  fish and birds and animals.

God spoke many things into existence in the verses of Genesis 1:

2 – LET THERE BE LIGHT

6   – let there be a firmament/sky

9   –  Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place  [SEAS]  and let dry

land appear

14  –  Let there be lights in the firmament  [sun and moon]

20  –  Let waters bring forth every abundantly moving creatures  [fish, birds ]

24  –  Let earth bring forth every living creature after his kind  [animals]

26   –  Let us make man after our image

29  –  God even talks/speaks to the man after  he has made him,  giving him dominion over his entire creation

Yes!  God begins and ends his creative activity  in chapter 1 by speaking and then he rests.

BUT  notice  in in chapter 2,  God  creates by doing .  First we learn in verse 8 that he plants a garden  eastward in Eden, rather than speaking   it into existence.   When he sees man’s  solitary condition ,  he observes in verse 18 that it is NOT good – – everything else has been “good”  and “very good” – –  that  man should be alone, he acts.  In verses 21-22,   God performs the  first recorded surgery in the history of the world by making a woman from Adam’s rib.  Note that God takes special care in making this woman whom Adam will name Eve.  She is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made [Psalms 139:14]  Here is a striking comparison:   At the beginning of history, God FORMED  Eve and she became the most notably renowned woman in the Old Testament, the mother of natural mankind.   Eons later, the angel announced that God CHOSE Mary and she became the most notably renowned woman in the New Testament,  the true mother of spiritual mankind.

I am proud to be in the lineage of these two women.

Therefore, I make this declaration audaciously and in the spirited fervor of Helen Reddy’s sentiments:

HEAR KLARA SHANNON HADLEY ROAR!

Increasingly, I watch and celebrate as more of my beloved friends and “chosen” family members march triumphantly into eternal happiness.

 And increasingly, I commiserate with a few loved ones who limp – – either in torturously agonizing pain or in medically induced insensateness- – – across the final goal line.

How ever way my own last footfall will be, I say, Even so, come Lord Jesus. [Revelation 22:20]

THEREFORE, BE IT WIDELY KNOWN by all in this universe who are under the sound and influence of my voice:

My hope is firmly and unalterably founded, grounded, established, constructed and built in/on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Apostle Paul’s confident assertion is mine also: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.

[Philippians 1:21]

I will never die while Jesus lives

N O W

What about you?  What is your declaration about your uniqueness?

Are you a WOMAN  –  wonder-full, outstanding, majestic, angelic, natural?   Are you audacious?  Let the world hear your ROAR!

GO forth now, WOMAN!

ROAR THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY THIS WEEK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On RECOGNIZING L O V E

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To begin with,  Webster’s Dictionary  tells us that love is “a deep, tender feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person,”  that it is  “a feeling of intense desire and attraction toward a person with whom one is disposed to make a pair.”

The modern perspective of love conjures up ,  first of all,  romantic love:  that emotional involvement  of thoughts and feelings between two individuals. In any discussion of this topic,   we must first establish  that love  involves a  a two-way relationship between two people:  a  lov—er – –  that one who chooses of her own volition to offer,  to give this powerful emotion – – and a lov – -ee  – –  the  object of that love,   that one who chooses [or not ]  to accept/to receive  same emotion.   To initiate this action, the  lover chances vulnerability.   She “puts herself out there.”

To offer the love or not, this is the risk the lov–er takes.  To receive the offering of love, or not,  this is the risk the lov–ee takes.  Such risky business is not for the faint of heart!  Still,  February is a time when  one’s “fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love” as Tennyson tells us in “Locksley Hall.”

We must recognize two perspectives on this kind of risky relationship,  one is romantic, the other spiritual.   The spiritual  perspective shall be first.   Expounding on God as the perfect Lov – -er  is where we must begin, for he initiated the  personally designed love relationship that each of us as believers  experiences with him.   Now we have this love union because we chose to receive and return God’s love.  We can know that our declaring we love God makes happy both the lov — er and  the lov – -ee.

A good place to examine such a kind of spiritual relationship  is Psalm 63,  where David expresses his desire and acceptance of, confidence in and gratitude for God’s presence, his provision and his protection.  Here is a man truly in a love relationship  with God.  David not only receives God’s love, but he revels confidently in it.  He makes his boast in it;  he experiences and expects  it continually.  Even though David is presently in a  geographically hard place,   the Wilderness of Judah,  he reminds himself of the faithfulness of his Lover to attend to his well-being. Consider the tone of this passage:

O God, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.

So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory.

Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.

So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips

When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.

For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.

We can also find information in the Bible to help us recognize romantic love as well.

Think of   the “Love Chapter,”   1 Corinthians 13,  where we find a descriptive definition of love.  Consider this translation from the Amplified Bible:

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way,  for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]

Also consider a  succinct description of  the  same passage and attribute from MESSAGE Bible:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

8-Love never dies.

FRIEND,  WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are  you offering/giving these attributes, so far as you are able?

Is the person choosing to receive[or not receive] so far as that person is able?

Is someone offering them to you, as far as s/he is able?

Are you choosing to receive [or not receive]  as far as you are able?

Do you know what you’re looking at?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Do you  recognize who loves you?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

Whose love are you receiving?

Are you recognizing love in your own life?

Both  spiritually and romantically?

May   L –O-V-E   be more obvious this week on your journey!

On Keeping . . . S I L E N C E . . .

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BLACK HISTORY MONTH is still eminently relevant to the collective psyche of the citizens of this country, the United States of America.  During this season of remembrance, we acknowledge the excruciation of  the  struggles  and imbibe the elixir of the successes of our African American ancestors.   One salient and continual purpose of Black History month is to teach/ remind ourselves of the “coping strength” of our elders:  How they “got over”  their physical and mental impediments  – – slavery, discrimination, hardships, beatings, and other well-documented atrocities.  I submit that prayer was their first line of defense – – the through line to victory from the dark,  brutal  days of Sojourner Truth to the hard-won enlightenment of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We can benefit greatly from focusing on pray-ING, the “coping strength”  that our elders relied upon to sustain them in their noble efforts.  I submit, further, that often  SILENCE is our best usher into prayer.  Maintaining silence in the face of adversity can be  the ultimate demonstration/ utilization of meekness  – – strength under pressure.  In fact, earnest prayer often comes from  pressure, patience and perseverance.  Force yourself to keep silence despite a rash desire to rant; instead let patience have her perfect work in you,  for patience is the very  foundation for your cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is faith under pressure.  Keep silence until you hear the instructions of the Lord.  The psalmist speaks about this:

I said to myself, I’m going to quit complaining! I’ll keep quiet, especially when the ungodly are around me.   But as I stood there silently the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. The more I mused, the hotter the fires inside.  Then at last I spoke with God.   Psalm 39:1-3 

Follow the example of the psalmist and other scriptural recommendations:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven

. . . A time to keep silence,  and  a time to speak           Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b  

But the Lord is in His holy temple:

Let all the earth keep silence before him.    Habakkuk 2:20

Out of fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks — Luke 6:45

At this point, the psalmist speaks from the deeply private issue of his heart : his journey through this world  –  his time of existence on earth – –

 Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more.  My life is no longer than my hand! My whole lifetime is but a moment to you. Proud man!  Frail as breath!  A shadow!  And all his busy rushing ends in nothing. He heaps up riches for someone else to spend.   And so, Lord, my only hope is in you.   Save me from being overpowered by my sins, for even fools will mock me then.   Lord, I am speechless before you.  I will not open my mouth to speak one word of complaint, for my punishment is from you.  Psalm 39 vv. 4-13 , NLT

The psalmist ends his prayer feeling comfortably confident that his only hope is in God whose control he can securely trust.

Follow, again, the psalmist’s example:   Feel the prompting that will come  from restraining your  impulsivity while allowing the Holy Spirit to “word your mouth.” Acts 2:4 tells us that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, then He will give us utterance.  In other words, your perseverance in silence will lead you to pray insightfully   to our Heavenly Father  about whatever matter is tugging at your heart.  I urge you to follow the spirit of your encounter with God and pray aloud.

This sincere meditation and prayer came forth out of the fullness of the psalmist’s heart.   What  will  come  from  yours ?

MAY YOU GO FORTH ON YOUR JOURNEY TODAY

IN THE C O P I N G    S T R E N G T H 

OF THIS ENCOUNTER !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TIME FOR L O V E

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Valentine’s Day! Yes, love is in the air, on the web, definitely in the stores. At this time our cultural awareness impels most of us – – believers and non-believers alike– to embrace the same affinity – -LOVE. By consensus, no one expresses the expansiveness of one person’s love for another human being better than Mrs. Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here her rhetorical question and answer:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Anyone who is the object of such well-spoken affection –whoever he/she may be—must be over-flabbergasted to receive it. Wouldn’t you be? And what about the author? From what well of expressive largess does such deep emotion spring? Phenomenal!

Lest we get too absorbed in Elizabeth Browning’s titillating expression of her love for her beloved husband, Robert Browning – –
and
Lest we overspend our time , examining our own personal coterie of special friends searching for THE one person upon whom we will dotingly lavish such exalted expression – –

Before we become so engrossed – -this seems to me to be a good time to recall the admonition of Apostle Paul: Don’t be conformed to the world. He reminds us that believers are to think differently. [Romans 12:1-2] Therefore, let us renew our minds about the topic of love. Ever wonder how many times the word LOVE appears in the Bible? Or what Jesus had to say about love? To begin with, notice that he explains how God, himself, set the example for demonstrating love, for Jesus asserts in John 3:16 that God “S O” loved the world that he gave. Here, love motivates God, the lover of mankind, to give his best gift to the loved ones. This
“S O” kind of love: That is deeply profound, too much love for most of us. And it is indiscriminate! Don’t we find it acceptably easier to love some persons more than others? What about those we “feed with a long-handled spoon” because hey have hurt us? And how about those whom we just lump together as “people”? Is he saying – – same degree of love motivation for all persons? What about the “less fortunate”? Isn’t targeted financial beneficence enough for “these people”? Won’t giving of our finances – -especially if we add portions of our time and talents – -to charitable organizations satisfy the world’s standards? Maybe.

According to James, however, believers must fulfill the requirements of the “royal law.” He insists:

8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [James 2: 8-9]

Believers must satisfy this royal law by loving SO much in the spirit of the love demonstrated by God as referred to above. We must exhibit the “S O ” kind of love to our neighbor. WHO, THEN, IS OUR NEIGHBOR? A neighbor is anyone we discover or who comes into our path and who can benefit from our personal attention and/or largess.

Yes, love is a basic Christian tenet. Jesus even summarizes the entire Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:1-17] as LOVE: love God and love your neighbor. [Matthew 22:36-38] A neighbor is anyone we can love by giving, by sharing.

Jesus teaches this essence in his parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:25-27], where a traveler interrupts his journey to attend to the needs of a severely beaten person whom he encounters. He gives compassion, time, resources and finance to someone in need whom he does not know. In a few words, he loves. Isn’t Jesus teaching here again, that believers must extend/give their love indiscriminately to our neighbors? And that we must love each neighbor with the same kind of love we have for ourselves?

Further, Jesus teaches us about this kind of neighborly sharing in his parable about a feast in which the host sends messengers out into the “neighborhood” to convince unlikely attendees to come enjoy his hospitality. The host prepares to share with others by: sending out save the date notices, making preparations, then when all things were ready, issuing the formal invitation. Consider this host’s determination to share as recorded in Luke 14:22-24:

22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

But even more instructive for me concerning sharing is Jesus’ parable about the Rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot , nor can anyone cross over from to us. 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Lazarus was in the rich man’s neighborhood. But the rich man ignored Lazarus. Forget about his inviting Lazarus to dine sufficiently with him , this rich man didn’t even offer Lazarus the CRUMBS from his sumptuous table. Certainly the rich man had enough and to spare. He seems more bloated with insensitivity than with food.

What about us ? Are we equally as insensitive of those in our neighborhood who would be satisfied with the crumbs from OUR tables? I will admit that giving the “S O” kind of love requires the spiritual fortitude to which some of us believers still aspire. However, we can make the intermediate step that will lead us toward that hallowed state. For now, let’s just focus on the table in the parable: the overflow of crumbs. What about the table God has set before each of us? Are there crumbs that a neighbor would gratefully receive? Do we have enough to share? If we have anything at all – –money, time, talent, influence, whatever- – then we have enough to share! We do!

Now the question is for me and for you: What are you doing with YOUR crumbs?

Finally, let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will guide us to those in our neighborhood to whom we can demonstrate our love by sharing.

My friend, on your journey this week, may you dare to love your neighbor by sharing , even if only the crumbs!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

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CARPE DIEM: SIEZE THE DAY!

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Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts Hebrews 3:7-8

She who hesitates is lost.
She who hesitates is bewildered.
She who hesitates is unprepared for the challenges of life.
She who hesitates loses the patently great accomplishments, friendships, knowledge, that come from being pro-active.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:8

Musings in my Mind

Epiphany – loosely defined as a revelatory experience when deity appears to/interacts with a person. The Old Testament records such random divine interactions as theophanies, often noting the appearance of THE Angel of the Lord [Genesis 16:7-13]. The New Testament documents the abiding presence of God in the person of Jesus the Christ. [passim]

Dr. Charles Stanley – [In Touch Magazine, January, 2014, p. 61]

What he says about a time of human exchange with each other when we experience a “face-to-face encounter, ” “a split-second epiphany” can also describe our personal interaction/encounter with Jesus. Dr. Stanley calls it “a moment of recognition, the revelation of a bond that always exists but we often fail to appreciate.” I call it a moment/minute/hour/day of Sabbath Rest. This interaction occurs – – not because of who we are, but – – because of who HE is. These moments stem from “the deep mystery of existence,” for “each of us carries a world within our one person.” Consider William Blake’s description of this powerful attribute in “Auguries of Innocence”:

To see a world in a grain of sand
And heaven in a wild flower,
To hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Yes, Dr. Stanley, I agree: each of us has “an inner life known fully only by God.”

Music in My Ear

I woke up this morning with my mind
Stayed in Jesus
Halelu! Halelu! Halelu!

– – -And secondly – – –

Yes, God Is Real

There are some things I may not know, there are some places I can’t go
But I am sure of this one thing
That God is real, for I can feel Him deep within.

Some folk may doubt, some folk may scorn. All can desert and leave me alone,
But as for me, I’ll take God’s part.
For God is real, and I can feel Him in my heart.

I cannot tell just how you felt when Jesus took your sins away.
But since that day, yes, since that hour
God has been real for I can feel His holy power.

Yes, God is real, real in my soul!
Yes, God is real, for He has washed and made me whole.
His love for me is like pure gold.
Yes, God is real, for I can feel Him in my soul!

Matter in My Heart

Romans 10:1 [Paraphrase] – Believers, my heart’s desire for you is that you might have Sabbath Rest. For I bear you record that you may have a zeal of God /enthusiasm for God, but not according to your own personal experience/interaction. Your knowledge may be second-hand, not yours, but someone else’s whom you respect – – mother, dad, grandmother, or even a minister o another believer. I say, “Get your own!” experience with God. My heart’s desire is that you may know God for yourself and not another. [1 John 5:20]

Messages in My Spirit

I have an overly burning desire to anticipate/mitigate against/answer with the Word excuses you may have for not studying the Word.

Excuse A – “I do not understand what I read in Scripture”

Answer – The Scripture is available in several versions. You are not bound to the King James Version [KJV, 1611] with the anachronistic “thee,” “thou,” “ye,” and the “begats.” You can even find translations beyond the New King James Version. [NKJV] One of the most recent modern versions of the Bible is The Message . Whichever you choose, first pray for understanding; then study the Scripture so that you may understand and handle it correctly. [2 Timothy 2:15]

Excuse B – “I’m too busy, not enough time in my day.”

Answer – Consider this: Joshua asked God to stop the sun and moon over Aijalon Valley so that he and his army could win their battle against the Amorites – – and God did! God redeemed the time for Joshua. He will do the same thing for you. For example, you may zip through that assignment that you thought would take tedious hours. Your mind will be clear and your thinking will be innovative. Or, a person may unexpectedly postpone/cancel a scheduled appointment.

Excuse C – “I don’t see the relevance/practicality.”

Answer – The central truth gleaned from Biblical context is applicable to our current circumstances. For example, both Exodus 16:16-18 and 2 Corinthians 9:10 show us that there is no lack of God’s provision when we follow his principles of sowing and reaping.

Excuse D – “I doubt that this will happen for me, in my case.”

Answer – Pray the same prayer as did the father who sought healing for his son who suffered from demonic possession: “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” [Mark 9:23, NAS] Unbelief is doubt/weakness of faith. Then, the Holy Spirit will lead you to such an empowerment of your faith that you will be able to choose to believe and declare like Paul: I am absolutely convinced that nothing – – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – – absolutely nothing can get between me and God’s love because of the way in which Jesus, my Master, has embraced me. [see Romans 8:38-39, Message ]

Finally, my spirit urges that you pray to remove whatever excuses that rob/steal your time of Sabbath Rest. PRAY, ask God to help you . Should you feel you need someone to be accountable to – – ask God to send you a friend who will stick closer than a sister in this endeavor. PRAY, ask the Holy Spirit to activate himself in your life, leading you to truth and righteousness. PRAY, Ask the Lord Jesus to come in and sup with you. Follow his example, for he often slipped away to pray alone to his Father – – sometimes all night. [Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12 and 9:28]

In fact, we find him praying on the eve of his crucifixion. [Matthew 26:36-45] His humanity screamed dreadingly against the physical/emotional/spiritual pain he must surely endure if he were to carry out God’s plan of salvation. Although his humanity was weak, his divinity was strong. Finally, he achieved peace/rest in obedient submission to his Father.

Pray right now that we will steal away often to enter our own Sabbath Rest.

God rest you on your journey!

Red Heart Bible

S&S Call Encounter Notes: Commercial for the King

Red Heart Bible

In a popular commercial,  Samuel L. Jackson asks,  “What’s in your wallet?”  The real question for the believer is “What’s in your heart?”  Your heart is the core of you, for Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that we are what we think.  What’s in your heart?  The Lord, himself, tells Samuel that man looks at the outer appearance, but He looks at the heart.  [1 Samuel 16:7]  So, what’s in your heart?

In a popular commercial,  Samuel L. Jackson asks,  “What’s in your wallet?”  The real question for the believer is “What’s in your heart?”  Your heart is the core of you, for Proverbs 23:7 teaches us that we are what we think.  What’s in your heart?  The Lord, himself, tells Samuel that man looks at the outer appearance, but He looks at the heart.  [1 Samuel 16:7]  So, what’s in your heart?

Can you answer in the tone of  Psalm 45:1?

Can you say:

My heart is inditing/overflowing with  a good matter

I speak of the things which I have made touching the king. 

My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. [ NKJ]

Can you say that your heart is so running over with the joy of encountering the Lord that you are eager to write poetry about your experience?  [NAS]

Are you excitedly ready to pour out a poem to our Lord, an extended metaphor?  One comparing the status of your heart to that of a river so full that it :  bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness . . . shaping the river into words ? [Message]

I tell you Jesus is calling you to such an encounter, one wherein you luxuriate in his presence!

What’s in your heart?  Do you have a ready answer?   Or are you slow to answer because you are fearful of the exposure?  [Psalm 78:37]   Or because  you are suspicious that the heart harbors emotions that should never be exhumed?

[ Jeremiah 17:9]  Never fear!  With forgiveness and without acrimony, our compassionate Heavenly Father will search and cleanse our hearts. [Psalm 139:23] Therefore, you can base your answer on the  assurance that  the Holy Spirit sheds the love of God abroad in every believer’s heart .  [Romans 5:5]  You can answer with the fervency of David, having a desire to seek after the Lord and  to behold his beauty.  [Psalm 27:4]  More simply, to enter His Sabbath Rest!  Consider this:   God  rested on the seventh day , after he had finished creating  the earth and its inhabitants.  Jesus is calling you to enter this blessed state of quietude and holiness.  He is calling you to rest, spiritually, in the Lord.  If you will put him first, he promises that material things  – – food, shelter, clothing – – will be added  to you.  [Matt.  6:33]

Conveniently,  Jeremy Gilmore has compiled a unique 2014 Bible Reading Plan that includes weekly Sabbath Rest.  You can easily answer Jesus’ call to enter his rest by simply committing yourself to following this plan.  Voila!  If you have the will, here is the way.   Jeremy Gilmore offers five tips to help you use the plan successfully:

1)  pray first   2)  write too  3)  use/speak the Word  4)  read with a partner for accountability and 5)  rest and reflect.  After viewing this plan, pray about how it can aid you in entering Sabbath Rest.  As you use this plan, the Holy Spirit will guide you to helpful insights.  For example, one reading from Exodus deals with Moses “down in Egypt” and repeatedly telling “old Pharaoh to let my people go,”  even as various plagues bring suffering to the Egyptians.  This passage may speak to you assuringly about how God protects the believer as he watches God demonstrate his power – -even his wrath- – to others who disbelieve.  Respond to the plan as the Holy Spirit leads you.  Make your goal to encounter Jesus through his Word at your own pace, NOT to merely read the Bible through in a record-setting period of time.  Most important, don’t neglect rest and reflection.  I pray now that God will use this plan to usher you into Sabbath Rest.

 God bless you on your journey!

2014 Bible Reading Plan

If you have been desiring to get closer to God, there is no better place to be than in the Word!  Scripture says to “Seek ye out the book of the Lord and read…” (Isaiah 34:16a) There are many calendars online that offer ways to read the Bible in a year. However, this calendar incorporates weekly times of rest (Sabbath) and lighter reading (Psalms). In addition, it includes a full month without weekday readings.

This will be a major commitment, but you can do it! Here are some tips to help:

1)     Pray first.  That the scripture gets inside of your spirit. Here is a verse that may be helpful to recite: Open my eyes that I might see the wonderful things in your law. (Psalm 119:18)

2)     Write too. Have a pen and paper handy or write in the margins of your Bible if you like. Many Bible apps also allow notes and highlighting.

3)     Use the Word.  In conversation or in your prayer life, reciting the word can get it into your spirit.

4)     Read with a partner.  Having accountability can be helpful.

5)     REST.  Let your Saturdays and month (June) be a time of rest and reflection. Maybe you could journal about what reading has felt like. You might take a trip/retreat. Perhaps read a book other than the Bible.  Whatever you decide, remember there is nothing wrong with taking intentional rest.

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath

Jan. 1

Genesis 1-5

Jan. 2

Gen. 6-10

Jan. 3

Gen. 11-15

Jan. 4
Jan. 5Ps 1-2

Jan. 6

Gen. 16-20

Jan. 7

Gen. 21-25

Jan. 8

Gen. 26-30

Jan. 9

Gen. 31-35

Jan. 10

Gen. 36-40

Jan. 11
Jan. 12Ps 3-5

Jan. 13

Gen. 41-45

Jan. 14

Gen. 46-50

Jan. 15

Exodus 1-5

Jan. 16Ex. 6-10

Jan. 17

Ex. 11-15

Jan. 18
Jan. 19Ps 6-8

Jan. 20

Ex. 16-20

Jan. 21

Ex. 21-25

Jan. 22

Ex. 26-30

Jan. 23

Ex. 31-35

Jan. 24

Ex. 36-40

Jan. 25
Jan. 26Ps 9-11

Jan. 27

Leviticus 1-5

Jan. 28Lev. 6-10

Jan. 29

Lev. 11-15

Jan. 30

Lev. 16-20

Jan. 31

Lev. 21-25

Feb. 1

Feb. 2

Ps 12-14

Feb. 3

Lev.26-Num.

3

Feb. 4

Numbers 4-8

Feb. 5

Num. 9-13

Feb. 6

Num. 14-18

Feb. 7

Num. 19-23

Feb. 8

Feb. 9

Ps 15-17

Feb. 10

Num. 24-28

Feb. 11

Num. 29-33

Feb. 12Num. 34-Deut. 2 Feb. 13Deut. 3-7

Feb. 14

Deut. 8-12

Feb. 15
Feb. 16Ps 18-20

Feb. 17

Deut. 13-17

Feb. 18

Deut. 18-22

Feb. 19

Deut. 23-27

Feb. 20

Deut. 28-32

Feb. 21

Deut. 33-Jos.

3

Feb. 22
Feb. 23Ps 21-23 Feb. 24Jos. 4-8 Feb. 25Jos. 9-13

Feb. 26

Jos. 14-18

Feb. 27

Jos. 19-23

Feb. 28

Jos. 24-Judg.

4

Mar. 1
Mar. 2Ps24-26

Mar. 3

Judg. 5-9

Mar. 4

Judg. 10-14

Mar. 5

Judg. 15-19

Mar. 6

Judg. 20-21

Mar. 7Ruth 1-4 Mar. 8

 

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath
Mar. 9Ps 27-29

Mar. 10

I Sam. 1-4

Mar. 11

I Sam. 5-9

Mar. 12

I Sam. 10-14

Mar. 13

I Sam. 15-19

Mar. 14

I Sam. 20-24

Mar. 15
Mar. 16Ps 30-32

Mar. 17

I Sam. 25-29

Mar. 18

I Sam. 30-II

Sam. 3

Mar. 19

II Sam. 4-8

Mar. 20

II Sam. 9-13

Mar. 21

II Sam. 14-18

Mar. 22
Mar. 23Ps 33-35

Mar. 24

II Sam. 19-24

Mar. 25

I Kings 1-4

Mar. 26

I Kings 5-9

Mar. 27

I Kings 10-14

Mar. 28

I Kings 15-19

Mar. 29
Mar. 30Ps 36-38

Mar. 31

I Kings 20-II Kings 2

Apr. 1

II Kings 3-7

Apr. 2

II Kings 8-12

Apr. 3

II Kings 13-17

Apr. 4

II Kings 18-22

Apr. 5

Apr. 6

Ps 39-41

Apr. 7

II Kings 23- I Chron. 2

Apr. 8

I Chron. 3-7

Apr. 9

I Chron. 8-12

Apr. 10

I Chron. 13-

17

Apr. 11

I Chron. 18-

22

Apr. 12
Apr. 13Ps 42-44

Apr. 14

I Chron. 23-

27

Apr. 15

I Chron. 28-II Chron. 3

Apr. 16

II Chron. 4-8

Apr. 17

II Chron. 9-13

Apr. 18

II Chron. 14-

18

Apr. 19
Apr. 20Ps 45-47

Apr. 21

II Chron. 19-

23

Apr. 22

II Chron. 24-

28

Apr. 23

II Chron. 29-

33

Apr. 24

II Chron. 34-

Ezra 2

Apr. 25Ezra 3-7 Apr. 26
Apr. 27Ps 48-50

Apr. 28

Ezra 8-Neh. 2

Apr. 29Neh. 3-7

Apr. 30

Neh. 8-13

May 1

Esther 1-4

May 2

Esther 5-10

May 3

May 4

Ps 51-53

May 5Job 1-4 May 6Job 5-9

May 7

Job 10-14

May 8

Job 15-19

May 9

Job 20-24

May 10
May 11Ps 54-56

May 12

Job 25-29

May 13

Job 30-34

May 14

Job 35-39

May 15

Job 40-42

May 16Prov. 1-3 May 17
May 18Ps 57-59 May 19Prov. 4-7

May 20

Prov. 8-12

May 21

Prov. 13-16

May 22

Prov. 17-20

May 23

Prov. 21-23

May 24
May 25Ps 60-62

May 26

Prov. 24-26

May 27

Prov. 27-28

May 28Prov. 29 May 29Prov. 30 May 30Prov. 31 May 31
June 1Ps 63-65 June 2 June 3 June 4 June 5 June 6 June 7
June 8Ps 66-68 June 9 June 10 June 11 June 12 June 13 June 14
June 15Ps 69-71 June 16 June 17 June 18 June 19 June 20 June 21
June 22Ps 72-74 June 23 June 24 June 25 June 26 June 27 June 28
June 29Ps 78-80 June 30 July 1Ecc. 1-3 July 2Ecc. 4-7

July 3

Ecc. 7-12

July 4

Song 1-4

July 5

July 6

Ps 81-83

July 7

Song 5-8

July 8

Isaiah 1-4

July 9

Isaiah 5-7

July 10

Isaiah 8-11

July 11

Isaiah 12-16

July 12
July 13Ps 84-86

July 14

Isaiah 17-21

July 15

Isaiah 22-26

July 16

Isaiah 27-31

July 17

Isaiah 32-36

July 18

Isaiah 37-41

July 19
July 20Ps 87-89

July 21

Isaiah 42-46

July 22

Isaiah 47-51

July 23

Isaiah 52-56

July 24

Isaiah 57-61

July 25

Isaiah 62-66

July 26
July 27Ps 90-92

July 28

Jeremiah 1-4

July 29Jer. 5-8 July 30Jer. 9-12

July 31

Jer. 13-16

Aug. 1

Jer. 17-20

Aug. 2

Aug. 3

Ps 93-95

Aug. 4

Jer. 21-24

Aug. 5

Jer. 25-28

Aug. 6

Jer. 29-32

Aug. 7

Jer. 33-36

Aug. 8

Jer. 37-40

Aug. 9
Aug. 10Ps 96-98

Aug. 11

Jer. 41-44

Aug. 12

Jer. 45-48

Aug. 13

Jer. 49-52

Aug. 14Lam. 1-4

Aug. 15

Lam. 5-Eze. 3

Aug. 16

 

SundayPsalms Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sabbath

Aug. 17

Ps 99-101

Aug. 18Eze. 4-7 Aug. 19Eze. 8-11

Aug. 20

Eze. 12-15

Aug. 21

Eze. 16-19

Aug. 22

Eze. 20-23

Aug. 23

Aug. 24

Ps 102-104

Aug. 25

Eze. 24-27

Aug. 26

Eze. 28-31

Aug. 27

Eze. 32-35

Aug. 28

Eze. 36-39

Aug. 29

Eze. 40-43

Aug. 30

Aug. 31

Ps 105-107

Sept. 1

Eze. 44-48

Sept. 2

Daniel 1-4

Sept. 3Dan. 5-8

Sept. 4

Dan. 9-12

Sept. 5

Hosea 1-3

Sept. 6

Sept. 7

Ps 108-110

Sept. 8Hos. 4-7

Sept. 9

Hos. 8-11

Sept. 10

Hos. 12-14

Sept. 11Joel 1-3 Sept. 12Amos 1-4 Sept. 13

Sept. 14

Ps 111-113

Sept. 15Amos 5-9

Sept. 16

Obadiah 1

Sept. 17Jonah 1-4 Sept. 18Micah 1-4 Sept. 19Micah 5-7 Sept. 20

Sept. 21

Ps 114-116

Sept. 22

Nahum 1-3

Sept. 23

Habakkuk 1-

3

Sept. 24Zeph. 1-3

Sept. 25

Haggai 1-2

Sept. 26Zech. 1-4 Sept. 27

Sept. 28

Ps 117-118

Sept. 29

Zech. 5-10

Sept. 30

Zech. 11-14

Oct. 1

Malachi 1-4

Oct. 2

Matthew 1-4

Oct. 3

Matt. 5-8

Oct. 4
Oct. 5Ps 119*

Oct. 6

Matt. 9-12

Oct. 7

Matt. 13-16

Oct. 8

Matt. 17-20

Oct. 9

Matt. 21-24

Oct. 10

Matt. 25-28

Oct. 11

Oct. 12

Ps 120-121

Oct. 13Mark 1-4 Oct. 14Mark 5-8

Oct. 15

Mark 9-12

Oct. 16

Mark 13-16

Oct. 17Luke 1-4 Oct. 18

Oct. 19

Ps 122-124

Oct. 20Luke 5-8

Oct. 21

Luke 9-12

Oct. 22

Luke 13-16

Oct. 23

Luke 17-20

Oct. 24

Luke 21-24

Oct. 25

Oct. 26

Ps 125-127

Oct. 27John 1-4 Oct. 28John 5-8

Oct. 29

John 9-12

Oct. 30

John 13-16

Oct. 31

John 17-21

Nov. 1

Nov. 2

Ps 128-130

Nov. 3Acts 1-3 Nov. 4Acts 4-7

Nov. 5

Acts 8-11

Nov. 6

Acts 12-15

Nov. 7

Acts 16-19

Nov. 8

Nov. 9

Ps 131-133

Nov. 10

Acts 20-23

Nov. 11

Acts 24-28

Nov. 12

Romans 1-3

Nov. 13Rom. 4-7

Nov. 14

Rom. 8-11

Nov. 15

Nov. 16

Ps 134-136

Nov. 17

Rom. 12-16

Nov. 18I Cor. 1-3 Nov. 19I Cor. 4-7

Nov. 20

I Cor. 8-11

Nov. 21

I Cor. 12-16

Nov. 22

Nov. 23

Ps 137-139

Nov. 24II Cor. 1-3 Nov. 25II Cor. 4-7

Nov. 26

II Cor. 8-11

Nov. 27

II Cor. 12-

Gal. 2

Nov. 28Gal. 3-6 Nov. 29

Nov. 30

Ps 140-142

Dec. 1

Ephesians 1-

4

Dec. 2Eph. 5-6

Dec. 3

Philippians 1-

4

Dec. 4

Colossians 1-

4

Dec. 5

I Thess. 1-3

Dec. 6

Dec. 7

Ps 143-145

Dec. 8

I Thess. 4-5

Dec. 9

II Thess. 1-3

Dec. 10

I Timothy 1-3

Dec. 11I Tim. 4-6

Dec. 12

II Tim. 1-4

Dec. 13

Dec. 14

Ps 146-148

Dec. 15

Titus 1-Phil. 1

Dec. 16

Hebrews 1-4

Dec. 17Heb. 5-9

Dec. 18

Heb. 10-13

Dec. 19

James 1-5

Dec. 20
Dec. 21Ps 149

Dec. 22

I Peter 1-5

Dec. 23

II Peter 1-II John 1

Dec. 24 III John – Rev. 2

Dec. 25Rev. 3-6 Dec. 26Rev. 7-10 Dec. 27
Dec. 28Ps 150

Dec. 29

Rev. 11-14

Dec. 30

Rev. 15-18

Dec. 31

Rev. 19-22

Praise God for a year of faithfulness in the WORD! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

 

 

 

Composed by Jeremy Gilmore

 

Adapted from – http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/stay-on-track.html and

http://lifeatthecrossroads.org/resources/thebibleinayear.html

 

Jesus Is Calling You to REST

spiritual rest

Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

EXPOSTULATION and REPLY

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  Come again?  Say again?  What?

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  What ?  Rest?

I say:        Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  He’s calling me to rest?  I have just begun,  just arranged my priorities and

arranged my goals for the next year.   Things are already starting to

happen for me faster than I anticipated.  I’m beginning to see the

brightness of this season of my life.   I have just begun.   Rest?

I say:        Yes, Jesus is calling you to rest, right now.

You say:  Right now?  In the beginning of my productivity? How can I understand his

calling me  to rest now?  Does he not know how I have longed to be at this

place in my life ?  This is the beginning of my wealthy season,  after so

many disappointments,  SO MANY heartaches and so many pains.  How can

I say:       Jesus is calling you to rest.

You say:  Rest?  Rest?     Oh, now I get it.  You mean W-R-E-S-T , rest.  I see,   I must

wrest, that is achieve the goals I have set for myself by forcefully usurping

them from the circumstances/people/things   that may/will rise up as

obstructions to prevent my attaining them.  Ah, so!   W-R-E-S T!

I say:       Jesus is calling you to R-E-S-T.

I say.       Same sound,  wrong word.  Drop the “W”.

You say :  Say again?  Drop the “W”?

I say:        YES, drop it.  When you drop the “W,”   you drop: worry, work, weakness,

want;  you drop wrestling with uncertainty, doubt and discomfort.

That leaves you with R-E-S-T , rest!  R-E-S-T.  Speaking anagrammatically, when you

answer his call,  you will become:

 

R  –  RELAXED    –   For you will be content.   [Philippians 4:6b]

E  –  ENTHUSIASTIC  –  For   in His presence is the fullness of JOY ! [ Psalm 16:11]

S   –  STRONG     –  The Lord will become your strength and your song! [Isaiah 12:2]

S  –   STRONG – The Lord will be the strength of your life, Whom shall  you fear?

[Psalm 27:1]

S  –  SURE   –     You will know that you win in the end, for all things will be working

together for your good because you do love the Lord and you are

operating according to his purpose.  [ Romans 8:28]

T  –   TRUSTING  –  For you will trust  in him who cannot fail.  BOTH heaven AND

earth must pass away before one jot or tittle of God’s law shall fail.

[Luke 16:17]

I say:  –    Jesus is calling you to rest; that is, he is calling you to enter the original

Sabbath rest. God  rested on the seventh day , after he had finished creating

the earth and its inhabitants. Jesus is calling you to enter this blessed state

of quietude and holiness.  He is calling you to rest, spiritually, in the Lord.

If you will put him first, he promises that things  – – food, shelter ,clothing – –

will be added  to you.  [Matt.  6:33]

Jesus is echoing the promise of God in Exodus 33:14

[I will be with you ]  My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.

And in Isaiah 65:24
It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.

If you will be dedicated  to Him,  take his yoke upon you and learn of Him.

That is, make the choice to follow him, mimicking his example for living the life that pleases God, accepting the help of the Holy Spirit as you deal with the vicissitudes of your journey.  Plan encounters with him – -whisper brief messages to him [some call this praying], watch to see him working in the everyday affairs of your life and in the activities of those around you,   fellow believers – – even learn from the mistakes of non-believers.

Read, study, learn his words so that you can quote them back to him, for the power to successful living is in the promises in his Word.  God tell us to put him in remembrance  [Isaiah 43:6], and – –

You will have rest – from worry [Philippians 4:6]

You will have rest  –  from confusion   [1 Corinthians 14:33]

You will have rest  –  from anxiety  [Isaiah 26:3]

You will have rest  –  from needless waiting  [Isaiah 65:24]

You will have peace  – – for the peace of God, which passes all understanding will keep – – BOTH – – – your heart AND your mind.  [Philippians 4:6]

In essence, you will have a mind to do right, to live right, and be right according to the Word of God.

YES!  Jesus is calling you and all the people of God to rest in his perfect work of redemption on the cross  [Hebrews 4:9]  While  God’s rest was instituted  on the seventh day of creation,  Jesus’ rest was planned before the foundation of this world. The rest that Jesus invites us to enter is not our rest but his rest which he invites us to share.  Therefore, we can come boldly unto the throne of grace – – not the throne of accusations, judgment, disappointment – – where we will find mercy and grace. [Hebrews 4:16].

I say again:  Jesus is calling you to rest.  What will your answer be?

Let’s pray now that the Holy Spirit will lead you into that rest into which Jesus is inviting us:

Father, we acknowledge your greatness. You are the creator of the universe.  Having finished your creation, you entered into your rest.  Having redeemed us on the cross, Jesus also ceased his own works, just as you did.  And now he is calling us to rest.

Father in the spirit of Hebrews 4:11 – 12  –  – Let us labor to enter that rest.

For your word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword,  piercing even unto the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and the marrow, and is the discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.  Also, Father, we pray in the spirit of verse sixteen, let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and grace to help in our time of need.  Dear Lord,we thank you for providing this rest.  Another reason to love you the more!

 Amen

 

Friend,  God bless you on your journey!

2014: Jesus is Calling

1717955585_african_jesus-71112079846_xlarge

 

As  I prepare to usher us to the place of our first encounter with Jesus on the second day of this new year, 2014,  I hear the rain falling persistently on my roof.

It reminds me of the spiritual symbolism of water, a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, for  the presence of the third person of the Trinity. Randomly, the rain  makes me concentrate on the availability and involvement of the Holy Trinity in the mundane affairs of my life, of my Christian journey.  I think of God the Father, whose mercies are new every morning, for great is his faithfulness. I think of God the Father, our God of All Comfort.  I think  of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent to be our guide, whose purpose is to be our default resource to lead us into all truth and righteousness.  And I think of Jesus, himself.

Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling.  Feel this sentiment of the hymnist Will L. Thompson:

“Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling for you and for me . . .

Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,

Mercies for you and for me”

I think of Jesus, standing  at the door  of our hearts and knocking – – gently- – offering to come in and sup with us [Revelation 3:20].   I think of Jesus, who lamented:   O, Jerusalem/Klara how often would I have gathered you under my wings,  protected you from the vagaries of your life’s journey, but you were otherwise occupied [see Luke 13:34].  How often would I have told you the many things about thriving in this life, on this journey, but you could not receive my encounter.

This steadily persistent , gentle rain reminds me that Jesus is always there/here, in my space, to help me, comfort me, and guide me.  I invite you to say with me:   Lord,  I need not feel that I must face theses coming days alone.  I resolve now to release myself from pre-occupation with questions, fears, apprehensions about  my future this year.  I release my self to trust in Jesus for my provision—in every aspect of my life, every activity, every arrangement, every circumstance.  I will anticipate his favor and expect the Holy Spirit to lead me from one good degree of grace to another.

It is as if the Father is whispering:  I will be found by you [Jeremiah 29:14]  Earlier, God tells the  prophet:  For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, . . . thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not evil, to give you hope in your final outcome [Message, Jeremiah 29:11].

Allow me to Give my personal amplification:

I hear our Father saying,

I, God, KNOW [in my omniscience]

The plans [activities, goals, purpose, experiences, achievements, tests]

I [the plans I have prepared – – not those proffered by your enemies, i.e., –the world, the flesh , the devil]

HAVE [ My plans are already figured out,  signed sealed and waiting to be delivered.

I am not making up these plans as you travel on your life’s journey; these plans are already “in the vault.”  Therefore, you CAN be easy about the vicissitudes of your life.  You CAN count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, or in the more modern words of the Message about faith under pressure:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.  You know under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.  So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.  Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.  You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it.

Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  . . .

So my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.

The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.

There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as

the crown of all  his creatures  [James 1:2-5, 16-18] .

I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU – -for your individual journey, for you specifically. God is  saying to us just as he enlightened the prophet  [Jeremiah 1:7]   about his calling:

Before I formed thee in  the womb, I knew thee,  and before thou calmest forth out of  the womb, I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee.

These plans are to prosper YOU  [they will foster your individual growth, YOUR individual well-being]

My plans are are not designed to harm you.  Remember your heavenly Father knows how to give GOOD gifts;  He will not “scam” you by giving you stone for bread [Luke 11:11-13].

The Father says, my plans are customly tailored  for your specific life TO PROSPER YOU.  I want to GIVE you blessings.  Be assured these blessings will overtake you.  They will be grace gifts, unearned but merited – – only because I CHOOSE to bless you with my favor.

I WILL GIVE YOU HOPE. –not mere wishful thinking, but right believing, a confident knowing that I do all things well.

I WILL GIVE YOU a successful end, a future  [you will see my workings on your behalf  in January,  continuing through the year, cascading into a crescendo in December!

Therefore, you can go ahead now and fulfill 1Corinthians  15:58:

Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

Confidently, run with patience the race  – – this segment of your life’s journey – -that is set before you [Hebrews 12:1]

Heavenly Father, please help us to trust your faithfulness throughout every month, every week, every day, every minute, every second of this new year. Holy Spirit, you have our permission to lead us into the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Lord Jesus,  as much as we are able, we receive your peace and emulate your love.

Blessed be the Holy Trinity.      Amen

My friends, watch for God’s blessings to be seen as you journey in 2014!

 

S&S Call Encounter Notes: THE X – FACTOR

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At this time on our annual cultural calendar, we collectively—secular and Christian alike, — recognize a special season.  For secularists, it is Xmas, i.e.,   a satiating time of astute  commercialism,  hedonic consumerism and gormandizing consumption.

For  Christians, it is  Christmas, i.e.,  Christ – mass:  a designated  time for special worship service –“mass”—to focus upon Christ.    Christians see  great and constant reminders of  “Christ”  in the word  “Xmas” that  appear prominently in media. For Christians, the X, of course, represents Christ. The  “X”  was commonly used  an abbreviation for Christ  because it is the first letter of the Greek spelling of his name : Χριστός.  Repeated use by media of  “Xmas” re-enforces the representation.

Do you have someone in your life to whom you intimately refer by the first letter of his/her name?  Dee, Kay?  Jay-Z ?  This practice suggests an intimacy that soothingly coddles the friendship between you.  It is a direct line /short cut to intimacy with a friend/loved one.  Consider the following Christmas story as a memoir of such an intimacy.

Momma’s Last Christmas

Stricken by a major stroke seven months earlier, Momma lay motionless in her home hospital bed.  She was queenly resplendent in her turquoise silk bed jacket.  Only her mouth and eyes could communicate the strength of her eighty-year old soul.  Her eyes spoke to her nine  year- old granddaughter.  They said:

I love you.  I have lavished my love upon you since your first day on earth because I know I will not see you/ help you grow into the fine young woman that you will become.  That is why I have taught you precious lessons:  how to love your parents, how to love God and rely on him in every THING that happens to you.  Because God has shown me that you will handle money, I have taught you to be my  personal banker, and  had you depositing my social security checks—all by yourself.   The tellers know you and ,  despite your youth, they respect your serious, business-like demeanor.  I have taught you to respect and obey your parents—even though sometimes behind your back I pleaded/argued/threatened for their leniency.   Behind your back, mind you!    Yes, I have spoiled you—lovingly, as is the duty of all  conscientious  grandparents.  After all, I am spoiling you for two, since your granddaddy never got to hold you in his arms before he died.  I love you, baby girl.

Momma’s eyes spoke “Thank you” to her handsome son-in-law who quickly and dutifully responded to her every need—even before her last stroke.  His caring attentiveness made some people opine mistakenly.  “No,”  they said .  “She must be HIS mother because she sits in the FRONT seat beside him in the car.  No mother-in-law would have that honored seat while the wife sat in the back seat of the car.  No way!  She’s HIS mother, not the wife’s!”  Her eyes said to him:  You are such a good son.  I could not love you more if you were my natural son. I thank God for your presence in my waning years.  I am satisfied that you will protect/provide for my daughter and my granddaughter with your very own life.

Her eyes said to her dear daughter:  I don’t want to leave you, but my Father is just about ready for me to come home.  The glimpse I have of my new home is beautiful.  Soon I must go, and I will cheer you on your journey to meet me there.  We will be together again, never to part.  I will be leaving you very soon, but my love will remain and will sustain you for as long as you live.  What I have told you will not fade from your memory, and it will help you as you face the challenges of life.  I will always love you wherever I am, even when I go to be with my Father.

Momma’s last Christmas was filled with song.  Although her mouth could not speak to us, not even to her beloved granddaughter, she sang extemporaneously with a seemingly phantom choir.  Her voice was angelic:  liltingly loud.  “Come quickly, Momma’s singing!” someone would  say.  Members of her church family, whom she had mentored so spiritually, called intermittently hoping, requesting that the telephone be placed near her bed,   just to hear her singing.

One precious family memory is that of the St. James Church Christmas Carolers who came to her home to sing for her.  The family was used to going caroling with the group:  for shut-ins, at nursing homes, at designated locations in the community.  This time the carolers came to the family’s house, gathered outside Momma’s raised front bedroom window and serenaded her through the screen.  She heard them, and her eyes smiled as they sang familiar tunes.  A playlist of Momma’s favorite songs keeps the memory fresh.  Psalm 34 reflects Momma’s Testimony.

Hear her voice:

I bless God every chance I get;

my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;

if  things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy.

join me in spreading the news,

together   let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,

he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.

never   hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,

and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle

of   protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – –

how   good  God  is.

 Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best,

Worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,

But God- seekers are full of God.

Come,   children,  listen closely;

I’ll give you a lesson in God-worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?

Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,

and  no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.

Embrace peace – -don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on his friends,

his ears pick up every moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;

he’ll  cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help?  God is listening,

ready   to rescue you.

If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there;

if  you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;

still,  God is there every time.

He’s your bodyguard, shielding every bone;

not even a finger gets broken.

 The wicked commit slow suicide;

they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;

no one who runs to him loses out.

– – Message