Beauty in the Fire-Pit

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Our warm summer sun continues to march forward toward fall as its rays have allowed sunflowers to flourish in my yard this year, like no year previously. Its rays have also limited our ability to burn our fire-pit – it sits unused, filled with scraps of yard wood, weeds etc. To my great surprise my fire-pit now boasts of a single beauty – yep – a sunflower. Right there in the midst of all the debris – right there where no water has been provided – right there where only rock supports its roots – there erupts a single beauty, her head held high – a single sunflower.

 As I contemplated this flowers unusual bedding choice I began to see a spiritual abstract. Beauty can come out of the midst of chaos, out of the midst of barren dryness, out of the difficult places we live in. From the depths of our pain and loss beauty can emerge.

     How does that happen in our lives?

It comes from the exceptional quality of seed that the cross of Jesus provides us, as well as a choice of our heart. Being willing to allow the Spirit of God to heal, strengthen and mature the seed of faith that’s been dropped into our mess is a decision. If we look to Him right there in the midst of the chaos, right there where all is barren and dry, right there where all is hard and difficult – suddenly there will erupt a single beauty, her head held high. A victorious example of who He has created you to be will proudly stand in the middle of your fire-pit.

Your God is faithful to bring beauty out of the most unexpected difficult situations in your life. He has lovingly offered you the seed of His son, it’s been placed within your heart – you only need chose to receive it, believe it and wait. Trust Him to complete the work – His time is perfect – His time produces the beauty hidden in that dark barren place.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Where is Your Trust?

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     Fear has become a constant whispering companion as destructive acceleration surrounds us…global warming, earthquakes, famine, increased hate and violence as well as the rumors of a possible approach of nuclear war. It is so easy to “buy in” to that fear and panic, that “be prepared” mentality that is erupting all around us. Here – in the midst of this chaotic surge – is our place to walk in a different spirit.

     It is now that the LOVE of Christ is needed to dispel that fear. It is now that FAITH in Christ can shine in the darkness – teaching and building hope in the confused. It is now that the HOPE in Christ within us must stand firm, declare and encourage in the midst of what is seen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.              Psalm 91: 1-6 (ESV)

     Let these words infuse in you today the strength to stand firm. Find rest under His wings – find peace in His refuge as you trust in Him. Remember in HOPE the goodness of your God, remember in FAITH you are called to proclaim that goodness, and remember in LOVE all that Christ did for you and those around you.

     Fear not what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears – look only with your Spirit to the promises of His faithfulness. Breathe easy today as you walk in peace in the midst of this storm, finding refuge in Christ – for there is where your trust dwells.

Who’s In Your Boat?

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The darkening clouds began to swiftly swirl around them as the waves surged. The sea had been tame as the short journey began but now waves crashed over the bow and threatened to take their lives. They had seen His hands do many miracles – how and why was He sleeping as they struggled in the midst of this aggressive storm? Waking him from his slumber brought rebuke – first for their lack of faith but then of the very wind and waves that threatened their lives. Quickly the tumultuous sea became still as they stood astonished at His authority.

As we walk through life’s journey we are also surprised by storms that threaten our lives – some mild, some crashing the bow and some that have begun to sink our boats. How we respond – How we get through it depends on WHO is in our boat.

     All of us – in the midst of the storm begin to falter, question and grow weary. However, if we know Jesus is our rock – our salvation – our hope; we know He is in our boat. He is always there for us and has our back! Going down with the boat is NOT His plan! We need to wake up – look up – and with faith reach out for His hand.

     It’s not in our ability to silence the storm. We only need to look to Him and He steps in. He rebukes the winds and waves – He calms the storm.

Matthew 8:26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Fluff & Stuff

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     The perfectly un-scarred teddy bear is unceremoniously opened from the center as stuffing is revealed. Then to my horror the insides are pulled out as if a search is on – looking for the unknown, down inside that fluff. Piles of “fluff and stuff” begin to accumulate – down into the hard packed head, arms and legs the search continues as the pile grows. Then I hear it – “thump, thump, thump”! I can see a small pulsing red light that corresponds to the sound and realize it is a small-computerized heart that had been placed inside long ago but had stopped being heard. Over time its sound had disappeared in the midst of the all the “fluff and stuff”.

     This was just a dream the other night but as my morning and day progressed it soon became a very real analogy that God was speaking into my own heart. All our “fluff and stuff” builds up, packs down tightly, stifling the beating of our heart – the love inside has a hard time being heard, felt or extended anymore.

       We need our own un-stuffing process. How do we get there? It sounds like a big project but it’s the easiest surgery you will every have – just look up, see His face and say YES.

       Our Heavenly Father is faithful to hear. He will reach down and open us up as the Holy Spirit begins un-stuffing all that we have packed in around our hearts. All the hurts, worries, and distractions; along with past regrets and future anxieties – physical and financial burdens – unproductive activities, ministries and relationships – wow and the list goes on. That unpacking can look overwhelming but the process is rather simple. Once His unpacking is complete, the renewal and restoration of Jesus will instantly flood back in – His love saturates and you begin to hear “thump, thump, thump” as the small pulsing red light comes back to life.

     All our “fluff and stuff” – stifles and wears out the pulsing movement of His love in our lives. We have made this journey complex – the reality is as simple as just loving God and loving those in front of us – everything else really is only more “fluff and stuff”.

   Look up, ask and in an instant you will be able to see those you encounter, with renewed love – all the “fluff and stuff” gone as you hear the beat of His heart – His love for each one of them as it begins to pulsate again within you.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (ESV)

The Sounds of Summer

Tuning your spiritual ears to hear the very whisper of the Holy Spirit requires a deep place of contentment to rise from within. This contentment comes as you willingly choose to listen.

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     Our senses play a large part in how we experience things in our lives. Summer explodes with sounds that create lasting life memories. Summer erupts on the scene with the sound of chirping birds, buzzing bees, scurrying rabbits and squirrels. With it begins to stir anticipation of new life as summer unfolds.

     As we listen we hear the contagious joyful laughter of children, the clicking metallic sound of a sprinkler that delivers life-giving water to foliage, as well as the gurgle of streams and the crash of waves.

     These sounds are only enjoyed if we listen and respond. If the busy activity of life overtakes our thoughts we can miss the enjoyment provided by these gifts of summer.

     Sound can come in thunderous explosions or in the slightest whisper. One is heard and felt – easily not missed. The other – is missed by most.

     Tuning your spiritual ears to hear the very whisper of the Holy Spirit requires a deep place of contentment to rise from within. This contentment comes as you willingly choose to listen.

     As you surrender your busyness in exchange for His plans you will step into a life that He directs. When you consistently spend time in His presence with a cry of “less of me and more of you” the listening process unfolds. These decisions will allow you to begin a journey of His direction – one that will contentedly produce a courageous life full of faith.

     Listening and responding in your spiritual life is often missed or lost because of distractions. Taking time to stop and listen to what the Holy Spirit speaks to you through the direction of Christ – requires time where you choose to stop and sit at the feet of Jesus.

     Choose today the ONE THING that is important – to sit at the feet of your Lord. Then you will truly enjoy the gift of sound – hearing Him call your name!

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I Have called you by name, you are mine. (ESV)

 

 

(Revised from Summers Stirring of Our Senses – The Gift of Sound  Summer’s Delight Majestic Reflection Devotional Series-Book 3 J.K.Sanchez 2015)

Stronger & Higher Together

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With a 6ft wooden fence between them my 20ft majestic Purple Robe tree stands beside my neighbor’s spectacular Wisteria vine – both prolific in growth and multiplication. Shoots abound underground – both ways – between the fence line. Each spring to early summer both flower with intoxicating floral blooms that are glorious to behold. This summer, however, I have noticed an exciting merging of the two. The Wisteria, now strong and flourishing, has “jumped the fence” and has begun intertwining with the strength and height of the Purple Robe, reaching its tendrils higher then it previously could. OH, MY – anticipation waits for next springs glorious sight as they erupt – stronger together – each increasing the others beauty – transforming from glory to glory.

Spiritually, we too are meant periodically to “jump the fence”. Those who believe in Christ are many – many different individuals in many different buildings – each prolific and multiplying in their own sphere. As one body through Christ – it’s ok – to “jump the fence”: to intertwine and to bring the beauty of one into many.

We, individually plant our roots into a single place of growth. There we are safe, nurtured, grow, and produce; reaching the top of that 6ft fence, our strength then can be shared, expanded, enlarged into the body of Christ around us.

We as a body require and thrive in unity and connection to each member – whether that is individually or as complete groups of believers. We are all one in Christ!

Just as the strength of the Purple Robe will support the continued expansion of the Wisteria vine (even over the fence) so should we strengthen and support our sisters and brothers in faith. Together we will produce the glorious sight of growing from Glory to Glory. We will grow stronger and higher as we become one body – loving and walking together.

I Corinthians 12: 12-13As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. For we were all baptised by the Spirit into one body, whether we were Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free men, and we have all had experience of the same Spirit. (Phillips)

Just Add Water

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     Most kids are fascinated with things that grow. Mine were the same; over the years we had countless “experiments” to watch things grow. Washcloths, rocks, crystals, submarines, dinosaurs and a myriad of other gimmicks that came up – all changing what WAS into something NEW. The experimentation always began as water was applied.

     Even in these childhood experiments the key began with the water. Water is our life source that transforms and without it dehydration quickly begins.

     Spiritually we too need water – we need to be immersed, saturated, engulfed in the water of the Spirit and the Word. The transforming presence of God must be continually entered into – it is the key that changes what WAS into something NEW. His presence is our life source and we quickly find that when we step out of that place of His presence – dehydration begins.

     You often don’t even realize you have stepped out of that flow; dehydration is a slow process. You suddenly awake to the feeling that something is missing. How did this happen? Life just got busy, distracted, overwhelmed and here you are. But, just like those tiny cardboard washcloths, the transformation can swiftly take place. You need only to submerge into His presence to watch the transformation occur – renewal begins and the old is refreshed.

     Pursue, wait and be engulfed by the presence of God – stay saturated in the water of the Spirit and the Word as you allow that water to continually change what WAS into something NEW.

IICorinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.