In Season and Out

 
I guess you could call this my debut piece. I wrote it way back in 2008 when writing ‘notes’ on Facebook was the cool thing to do. It’s now here for safekeeping and for your benefit.

Mark 11:12-14

Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, ‘let no one eat fruit from you ever again.’ And His disciples heard it.

Mark 11:20-24

Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’

I don’t want to be a withered fig tree. When Jesus walks beside me, I want His hunger to be satisfied. I want to be fruitful in season and out of season.

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

These are the fruits that we should be producing. Not just when we need them, but all the time. In season and out of season.

 

Which King do You Seek?

Got your steel toed boots on? Good, you’re going to need them. I’m wearing two pairs, one right over the other! You know for that extra protection needed for those toes that are about to be stomped on.

I’ve been reading Lisa Bevere’s book titled Girls With Swords. After coming across this line; MY toes are throbbing…so much for those steel toed boots!

“Let us now compare two warring kings-Israel’s first king, Saul, and her final and forever King, Jesus. Israel’s soldier-king, Saul, was anointed as both king and deliverer because Israel wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted a king to call their own-a figurehead of sorts that they could point to with pride. Rather than submitting to the invisible, invincible, eternal God Most High, they wanted someone they could see and touch. They wanted a human champion who could lead them into battle rather than a heavenly King who would fight for them.”-Lisa Bevere

OUCH! That one hurt!

I’m just like them. I want tangible. There are days when His invisible presence just isn’t  good enough. At least that’s what my flesh tells me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that it’s wrong to desire a tangible, affectionate relationship because it’s not. But it is wrong to place that desire above the desire for deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.

God did give them the kings they wanted. But if you look at the lives all of those kings led, they had faults. They let the Israelites down.

Saul committed suicide. (1 Chronicles 10:4). David committed adultery. (2nd Samuel 11:2-4). Solomon had multiple wives and concubines. (1 Kings 11). Herod led an infanticide. (Matthew 2:16).

What we want isn’t always what we need. We don’t need a king; We need Jesus.

“God is everything we need but He sent His Son, Jesus, to be everything we want.” -Lysa TerKeurst

So which king do you seek? The one who will often fail you; or the One that will never leave you nor forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5).

Please excuse me while I go ice my toes.

 

Stones of Remembrance

Joshua Chapter 4:Long Story Short

Joshua was instructed by the Lord to tell the priests to take up the Ark of the Covenant and walk out into the flowing waters of the overflown Jordan river. Then the waters dried up and the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry land. Joshua was instructed to have one man from each of the twelve tribes to “take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.(Joshua 4:3)” They were told to take the stones with them so that they won’t forget what God did for them! They were told that their children would ask them what the stones meant to them and they were to tell them that God dried up the river so that they could cross safely on dry land. Then Joshua set up twelve stones where the priests had stood. “The priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished.(Joshua 4:10)” Once everyone had crossed over then the priests carrying the ark of the covenant crossed the rest of the way. As soon as the priest stepped onto dry land the waters flowed back into the overflowed banks.

I encourage you to read Joshua chapter 4 in it’s entirety.

The ark of the covenant contained the presence of God. Notice the location of the ark through the whole event. God went before them, God stayed in the midst of them, and God followed behind them! Just as He did for them He does for us. That was a monumental event! So monumental that  He told them to take a stone of remembrance with them.

We have events like that in our own lives. Our stones of remembrance come in other forms though. It may be a photograph or video taken at the event. It may be a scar left behind by the event. It may be something you wrote in a journal about the event. It may be a miraculous healing. It may be something that was provided when it was needed.  Whatever the form our stone of remembrance takes, someone at some point will ask about it. And we can be prepared with our answer ” God was with me”.

I encourage you to write down your “God was with me” moments so that you have them to remember what God did for you.

Relentless Pursuit Continued

I originally wrote this post for a devotional contest. (Hence my absence from here). However my piece was not selected due to an uninteresting title. Here it is below as is. I figured I might as well use it somewhere so here it is because it technically is a continuation of my previous post. If you can think of a catchier title that would have drawn you in, I would love your input!

Where is my Beloved? (original title)

“I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. He feeds his flock among the lilies.” Song of Solomon 6:3 (NKJV)

Tokens of His affection are scattered all around us. We need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

Those were the words cycling through my mind that day. I had two miles of walking before reaching my destination. With every step I took and every breath I exhaled those words made themselves known.

I had started that morning out with the ever-present longing for that fairy-tale romance. That sweep you off your feet tangible love. That someday my prince will come mentality.

During my walk, my someday dreams were brought to a screeching halt by those words. Words that could not be ignored any longer.

So I asked Him, ‘What do you have for me today? Open my eyes to see it and my heart to receive it.” And He did. He wrapped me in warm sunlight and soft breezes. Cotton-tailed rabbits hopped along beside me. Butterflies flitted and birds twittered about me. The sky was my favorite color of blue and I passed by a field full of my favorite flowers. And this was just my walk to my destination! My walk back brought me cool breezes laced with the scent of rain and a rainbow off in the distance. He surrounded me with things I love that day. And He does so every day.  Those are His tokens of affection that He scatters around me.

As long as I can remember, I have been asking Him ‘where is my beloved?’. That day He answered, ‘I am your Beloved and you are Mine.’

He showed me that I had got so caught up in the someday dreams that I failed to see the today realities. I failed to see that He not only pursues me but He makes Himself tangible. He showed me that I was wasting my time looking for what might be when He wants me to experience fully what He has for me right now.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t have my someday dreams in His someday timing. It just means that I am learning to be content with what He has for me right now today. I am choosing to see and receive the tokens of His affection. Because tokens of His affection are scattered all around us. We need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

Relentless Pursuit

I took this photo on my birthday last year. That day I had woken up to gray skies and threats of rain. That just made what I just knew would be a horrible day even worse. I kept thinking about that dreadful 30  coming next and the countless ways my life had gone so wrong. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be, hadn’t accomplished the long list of things I wanted to do with my life. I felt as if I was going nowhere fast. Twenty-nine wasn’t looking so good to me that day.

As my family and I were heading out the door that day, my mood was just as gray as the sky. I remember leaning against the doorway and thinking “Once, Just once; I would like to have blue sky on my birthday!” But blue sky in November just wasn’t going to happen. At least I had convinced myself of this.

On our drive to dinner and a movie, this woe is me self was staring out the window when all of a sudden  the sky opened up and a shaft of light shined through. And there it was, a patch of blue sky in the shape of a heart!

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And I didn’t even directly ask God for it. But He knows our thoughts. (Isaiah 66:18). He knew how desperately I needed that piece of blue sky.

It was as if He was saying, “I see you, I know, I am here, I love you.” In that moment I realized that God pursues us. He was pursuing me that day.

His pursuit of us is relentless. It is “immovable in purpose or will” and “occurring without interruption or end”.

These past couple of years for me have been about pursuing more of God. But in the midst of my pursuit, I failed to see the moments when He was already there. He’s already here!

Tokens of His affection are scattered all around us; we need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:5

 

 

In My Father’s Arms

I will never forget that day I climbed into my father’s lap and asked him why we were not packing his things in boxes. I was five  years old and didn’t fully understand what was going on. But I was observant. I knew enough to know that we weren’t packing his things. I looked him square in the eyes as he gave me a half-truth. The army wouldn’t let him go yet. He still had another year of service left at Fort Leavenworth. I will never forget looking into his eyes that day and seeing the heartbreak pooled there. It would be years later that my mother would reveal the full truth to me. She had every intention of filing for divorce that year. I am so thankful she didn’t. He may have been gone for that one year but by the grace of God, he won my mother’s heart back and is still here with us today.

I don’t know if it was because of that ‘lost’ year or those few scary times when we thought we might lose him to one health problem or another; but to this day my favorite place to be is in my father’s arms.

There is truly nothing like the sound of my father’s heartbeat.

The sound of his heartbeat takes away all the fear and melts away the stress. There, I am safe and secure. I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

As much as my earthly father loves me, there will be and are days when he will fail me. I will be let down. Promises will be broken. His arms will fail me. He won’t always be there to catch me when I fall. I won’t always have the sound of his heartbeat.

But there is One whose arms are everlasting.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27New King James Version (NKJV)

26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun (the upright one),
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

My heavenly Father desires me to depend on His everlasting arms more than I desire my earthly fathers arms.

Everything I need can only be found in my heavenly Father’s everlasting arms.

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

 

A Heart of Value

Your heart is of great value to you. From a medical standpoint, it is of high import. As long as your heart is beating and your blood is coursing through your veins; all systems are go. A heart that stops beating typically results in death. We know to take care of our hearts for this reason. We even have the medical technology to see what our hearts look like, how they are functioning, and what might be blocking them or keeping them from functioning. We do everything we can to keep them going strong.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 KJV

As important as our heart is to our physical life, how much more important it is to our spiritual life!

The Darby Translation says to “keep thy heart more than anything that is guarded”. In addition to guarding (keeping) our heart we are also told to guard our mind (see Romans 8:5-6) and to guard our mouth (see Ephesians 4:29). All three are important. But the heart is of high import. I love the way the Living Bible puts it. “Above all else guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life”.

What you do with your heart affects everything!

 What if we had the imaging technology to see our hearts through God’s eyes. What would we see? Would it be well guarded as He advises us to do? Or would there be missing pieces, blockages, malfunctions or death?

Have we given our hearts to people it should not have been given to, only to be returned with pieces missing. Have we allowed things/sin into our hearts that have caused us to die a spiritual death. Have we held onto things we should have let go of that create blockages in our hearts. Have we let lies and doubts plant themselves in our hearts like seeds causing our hearts to malfunction.

Examine your heart. What you’re storing there comes out.

Luke 6:45 ” A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

 

A Heart to Know Him

Jeremiah 24:7 KJV “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

Today this verse strikes a cord with me. For the longest time, I knew about God. I had a heart to know about Him. I loved hearing the stories about him. I loved memorizing and reciting His word.

 But I didn’t know Him. I didn’t  have a heart to know him. I am discovering that there is a big difference between knowing Him and knowing about Him. Knowing about him is good but it doesn’t really mean anything until the head knowledge turns into heart knowledge.

Sometimes I look to other translations for different wordings for better understanding. In the amplified bible it says “a heart to know, recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Him”. Contemporary English version says “a desire to know him, and a want for him to be our God”. International Standard Version says “the ability to know him”. The living bible says “a heart that responds to him”. That’s a lot of responsibility on our part! But he’s already done His part.

He desires to know us! So much so that he gives us a desire to know him. It’s a relationship that requires communication and action! Let’s not be one-sided in this! We get more out of him than he gets out of us. Let’s make this personal. (He will give me a heart to know him, that he is my Lord: and I will be His, and He will be my God: for I will turn to him with my whole heart.) This implies an intimately close relationship. He desires to be with us in that secret place, the place that only He should ever be allowed to go.

See  Psalm 91:1

Do you know Him? Or do you just know about Him?