Tag Archives: reflections

1 Samuel 10; Romans 8; Jeremiah 47; Psalm 23,24

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.

This was never clearer to me than sitting on a hill in Rwamagana Rwanda watching a group of 6 to 9 year olds play with beach balls. We were there to participate in a vacation bible school for the younger students that attended the school during the regular school year. They had never seen a beach ball before but quickly caught on to the concept of keeping it in the air and volleying multiple balls from one side to the other. I sat down for a moment to catch my breath and take in my surroundings.  There was joy and laughter that rang through the hills surrounding the Kigali Christian School.  Beyond the hedge that outlined the property was a banana field on one side and farmland to the rear.  Goats ran freely up and down the roads.  While the parents worked in the fields, their children poked their heads through the hedge that outlined the property.  You could tell they wanted to be included in the fun.  While we sang songs and recited bible verses, the children watching us soaked it in.  I have no doubt they went home singing about Jesus.

beach ball

The leaders of the VBS would burst into song and sang many of the same praise songs I knew. As we lifted different words to the same tune, I had a picture of eternity and how every nation, tribe, and tongue would bow before Jesus.  He would understand us all no matter what language we spoke.  The words merged in perfect harmony lifting up as incense before the throne of God.  I knew He was pleased!

After the classes ended and all the students had been dismissed, we did a prayer walk covering every inch of the campus asking God to continue to bless Rwanda, their school, the students—anything that came to mind. Again, there were different languages lifted in prayer but we were crying out to the same God.  We were united as one Body with many parts.

I’ve always heard the term, “God’s Country.” As I traveled to the other side of the world, I was able to see and experience the reality that it is ALL His and the vastness of what He has created.  Each country is unique and has a beauty of its own.

Lord, there are times the beauty of your creation is overwhelming and we can do nothing but sit and gaze at your glory. There is such a variety of plants, birds, wildlife, and people—each unique to its own environment, each created to praise you.  Thank you for sharing it with us.  In Jesus name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Jeremiah 37, 21, 34; Psalm 79; James 5

The space between spiritual blessing and divine conviction: what am I doing when there? Working five days per week yields structure, routine, and purpose for me. Yet, come Friday, I’m like a child brought to the playground, letting loose of his father’s hand, running off to play. Well, almost. In reality, on Friday afternoon I eat a meal that I didn’t make, take up residence on the couch, and basically waste time dozing off and on while a mesmerizing box pours nonsense into my depleted, vulnerable brain. I started this habit several years ago when I lived alone and was suffering from loneliness and sadness.  It was my way of forcing the noise in my head to die down and the tension in my limbs to relax. Somewhere in this space, I hoped to find peace. Not unlike the drugs of addiction, really. A chemical solution to a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual problem, drugs anesthetize the hurt and pain or ignite and explode the numbing depression.

This space is, of course, a false interlude before the crashing realities return. Take for instance, the promise of peace when King Zedekiah commanded people to free their Hebrew male and female slaves, brothers to their Hebrew masters. God commanded that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after six years of servanthood, and for a brief time the masters let them go. Yet, it wasn’t long before the people were rounded up and taken back as slaves.

What went on between that time? Where did these Jewish slaves go? What were they doing? Did they lie on the beach each day, just thankful for a day without stress? Did they spend their days visiting family and eating home-cooked meals, or did they start projects around the house?

You may think my wandering thoughts are mundane and of little consequence, but let me ask you, “Do you look for that personal space where you can just do nothing if you want?” Why?

Why do we feel the need to get away? Why do we become weary? What disturbances in our world destroy peace in our hearts and why? James 5 has an interesting take on that space between suffering and salvation. Verse 7 – 8 says, “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

This Scripture explains why on the morning after Friday’s down-time that I feel sick at my stomach (too much spicy food?), condemned in my spirit (seeking peace from a box on a stand?), confused in my mind (professing one thing, but doing the opposite?), and depressed and/or anxious in my emotions (wasting time, wasting energy?). I did not wait with the expectation that God may come right then. I did not establish my heart by seeking God’s instruction.

Well, one more Friday has vanished along with the regrets of a life that would have been better spent eating the Word which is sweeter than honey, looking for all that is lovely and uplifting, and waiting on God’s instruction for the night (might be sleep, could be holy visions…).

So I pray Psalm 79:

Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us… Help us, O God of our salvation…For Your name’s sake! So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.

I ask, Lord Jesus, that I learn to wait with hopeful expectation of Your very presence, and to participate in the sweet joy of living in peace with You now, and definitely next Friday!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, James, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

2 Chronicles 36; Revelation 22; Malachi 4; John 21

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Let the one who hears this say, “Come!” Let whoever is thirsty come; whoever wishes may have the water of life as a free gift. Revelation 22:17 (NCV)

Jesus said to them, “Come and eat”…Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, along with the fish. John 21:12-13 (NCV)

The end of the year is a perfect time to remember my past, not in such a way that bogs me down and makes me depressed over my failings, but in a way that lifts me up and gives testimony to God’s goodness in my life. It is a time to reflect on His timely provision, His faithfulness, and His constant beckoning.

This year has been a difficult one for me. Spending the first half of the year in the U.S. as a single mom to my two daughters while my husband ministered in India and then spending the second half of the year re-adjusting to life in a third world country has made for a lot of stress and struggle. I have dwelled much of the year in a desert place – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – hungry and thirsty for more connection, especially with Jesus.

“But for you who honor me, goodness will shine on you like the sun, with healing in its rays…” Malachi 4:2 (NCV)

As I look back, I am reminded of the oases that God offered me throughout the year, havens that allowed me to be refreshed, to heal, to be encouraged, to taste and see that He is good:

  • My family’s support. Though my parent’s house became overrun with baby paraphernalia and toddler’s toys, Nick Jr. and Sprout cornered the TV airways, and temper tantrums and time outs were a moment by moment occurrence, they welcomed us with open arms. They helped me love my kids on purpose and made it possible for me to care for myself as I transitioned into a mom of two.
  • My friends’ encouragement. I was re-united with women I’ve known for years and I experienced divine encounters with new friends. Bonding over coffee, playdates, and MOPS meetings gave me time for adult conversation and helped me remember that I am not alone in my journey as a woman, as a wife, and as a mother.
  • My church body’s acceptance. I am blessed to call many places of worship ‘home’; communities where I am readily received whether I’ve been there every week or only visit once in a blue moon. The people are caring, the corporate prayer and worship is a breath of fresh air, the pastors’ messages fill my spirit, and the nursery workers are God-sent, allowing me precious moments to spend time with God without worrying about my children.
  • My husband’s and in-laws’ provision. I grappled with the thought of returning to India because our living arrangements in the past had been less than ideal (150+/- square feet of living space without a place for a kitchen and without running water). When my daughters and I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by an apartment on the second floor of my in-laws house which tripled our living space and provided a kitchen, a bathroom on the same level, and running water.
  • My daughters’ unconditional love. No matter how unruly and high-spirited my girls are, no matter how many times they do things that infuriate me and break my heart, there is nothing in the world quiet like the sweet, and sometimes sticky, hugs and kisses from my children. Their expressions of love melt my heart and strengthen my revelation of love with the Father.

The end of the year is also an opportunity to think about my hopes for the coming months. It is a time to make future plans, to make choices about what paths my journey will take. It is a time to listen to what the Lord is saying about His will for my life.

The Lord has been whispering the word ‘COME’ to me recently. “Come near to Me. Be connected to Me. Position yourself in My arms. Let Me be your priority. Let Me give you what you need, the desires of your heart. Let Me give you joy. Let Me show you the truth about who I made you to be. Let Me be your fulfillment. Let Me feed you and give you drink. Let Me give you peace, freedom. Rest in Me.”

The follower whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Peter heard him say this, he wrapped his coat around himself. (Peter had taken his clothes off.) Then he jumped into the water. John 21:7 (NCV)

When I hear these words spoken to me, I want to dive into His Glory. I want to drink His living water, His new wine until my thirst is abated. I want to be renewed by the rivers, baptized in His restorative blood once again. I want to run toward my Creator, my Savior. I want to embrace Him and never let go. I want to abide in His oasis and be filled by His daily bread. I want to draw close to His heart and rest forever in His presence. And, I am grateful that I am His daughter, His beloved.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May it be your best year yet, full of abundance and blessings!

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 66 Books, John, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Malachi, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation

2 Samuel 10, 2 Corinthians 3, Ezekiel 17, Psalms 60,61

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL, WHOSE REFLECTION IS SHINING THROUGH TO ALL? I have always enjoyed going to the carnivals and entering the fun house only to be surrounded by the goofy mirrors! Each one shows a completely different distorted appearance causing laughter accompanied with a twinge of embarrassment, thus forcing me to quickly find the “normal” mirror to ensure that my true image has not been altered.

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2 Corinthians 3:18 “And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord.  And as the spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.”

COURAGE:  Confronting Opposition Under Restraint Accepting God’s Endurance

In 2 Samuel 10, Joab is confronted with having to fight not only the Arameans, but also the Ammonites.  he spoke to his brother, Abishai and in verse 11 he says, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me. and if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will come and help you.” 12) “Be courageous!  Let us fight bravely to save our people and the cities of our God.  May the Lord’s will be done.” 

Joab knew that the final outcome was in God’s hands, yet he stepped up in obedience and used the strengths and intelligence that had been given him to fulfill the Lord’s will.

Up until a couple of years ago I was extremely nervous to pray in public places for fear of what someone might think.  I had raised my boys to pray before meals and bedtime, yet when out and about I realized I was not being consistent.  It was then that I began in more confidence praying aloud at restaurants, at the bus stop asking God to give them a good day, in the car when passing an accident, and even in the stores when we encountered an argument! (Which, because I raised such awesome kids that last part rarely ever occurred.  HA HA!)

One Sunday, shortly after I began implementing this outward prayer into our lives, a man approached me at our church and said, “I was at the pizza place the other day and I did not know who you were but when I watched you and your children bow your heads and give thanks for your meal it brought me to tears.   I have been undergoing some rough times lately and your action caused me to seek out a church to begin finding deeper connection with God.  It wasn’t until I saw you here today that I realized you were that woman.”  He went on to thank me for standing up for Jesus by that simple action and shared that He believed I was used  to bring about God’s will in his life.  I am still in contact with him to this day and he has an amazing walk with the Lord and has been used in great ways to bring others to Christ!

I was not called to fight an enormous battle in the desert to exemplify bravery, but I have been called to draw closer to God and stay courageous throughout the attacks.  I also must remember that HE is in control and has a victorious plan in sight.

Psalms 60:6-9

“God has promised this by His holiness: ‘I will divide up Shechem with joy.  I will measure out the valley of Succoth.  Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine.  Ephraim will produce my warriors, and Judah will produce my kings.  Moab will become my lowly servant and Edom will be my slave.  I will shout in triumph over the Philistines.'” 12) “With GOD’S help we WILL do mighty things, for He will trample down our foes!”

Father, thank you for the gift of freedom in which I can come to you anytime, anywhere and fellowship directly with you.  I pray that if that freedom were ever to be taken away, that I would remain courageous in speaking and praising your name regardless of what outcome I humanly feel may occur.  Allow me to rest in you and obey your word so that all distortions of the truth that may surround me will be deflected as I stand and solely reflect upon you.  Please, open up the eyes of others to reveal to them the answer to the question of ‘whose reflection is shining through to all!’  May it always be yours and not my own.  Giving you thanks and praise God, in your precious name, Amen.

Live2love4Him4ever

Erica~

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