Up from the Ashes

In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

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I often ponder the parallels found in the truths of scripture shown through the natural and spiritual. Many such, have been in the forefront this year.

As last spring began, the lush tall forest trees of the west coast stood strong and vibrant, never knowing what the next season would bring. Spring soon led into a scorching summer as flames consumed over 8 million acres that now lay in ashes – those same lush forests destroyed.

An interesting fact occurs in the midst of forest fires – the seeds of life are spared, hidden and protected – they are surrounded by a hard safe shell that allows them to spread, land and in the midst of the nutrient ash – in time – they will bring forth life. Seedlings of life will begin to turn the black and gray colored hills and mountains into soft green life.

These last 6 months have left much in ashes across our country. Thousands of lives will never be the same due to floods, fires, and hurricanes but also from accidents, drugs, suicides and disease. They too, never expected to have their lives lay at their feet in ashes.

However, strength and new life will arise. If the ash lies at your feet it doesn’t look or feel possible, but somewhere deep inside faith stirs, then rises up to keep moving forward. Somehow that seed of faith has been hidden and protected. In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

In the midst of the ashes believe that Jesus has a plan – a protected, hidden seed within you. Your story is not over – trust in your Heavenly Father. He loves you, never leaves you, walks with you, is faithful and good all the time. Trust Him to bring life up from the ashes.

Is 61:2b-3 He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’(ERV)

Psalm 30:11 Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (TLB)

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)

Experiencing His Fire – Open the Door!

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I stand outside – the howling wind and the cold drizzle of rain a constant discomfort. The flickering glow, the desire for warmth, the obvious peace that waits, draws me to the window like a “peeping tom”; looking through the glass that separates me from what I desire.

I am acutely aware that warmth, dryness and contentment are available if I chose to open the door.

Making the choice and opening the door allows a new adventure to materialize before me. What could be seen from the outside does not compare to the experience of hearing the fire crackle and the sizzle of wood in the hearth that begins igniting new senses; the smell never experienced before now swirls as smoke and wood meld together with bone deep warmth in this new atmosphere.

What I thought I understood about this experience – this presence of fire – its warmth, light and peace – are nothing like its reality; an outside looking in experience is like experiencing a mountaintop through a photograph. This new experience of the very presence of God has exploded into a new inexpressible encounter at the feet of Jesus.

Have you chosen to open that door?

In church, never churched, or anywhere in between; you may find yourself still looking through the window, thinking you understand all that is inside but never partaking of all that is available to you free of charge.

Don’t wait outside, cold and wet, wishing for something more; yield to his call to open the door and walk into His presence. Come join him in front of the glowing fireplace that is filled with a roaring crackling fire – just waiting for you to experience and enjoy with Him.

 

Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you;seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.(ESV)
(Revised excerpt from Fall’s Yield – J.K. Sanchez “Yield to the Call and Open the Door” 2015)
Photo courtesy of Geerati@Freedigitalphotos.net

Cloud By Day – Fire By Night

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As Israel was led into the wilderness the very presence of God was visually present to direct their way. A cloud by day to lead them and fire by night to give them light, both leading them into the purposes of God, being a people who belonged to a living God.

The Holy Spirit presents as a type of internal ‘cloud by day and fire by night’. Now dwelling within us, a gift given, a helper introduced, a comforter placed within, that small still whisper, a light leading us into the purposes of God, our true purpose being found as a child of the living God.

That voice, my internal ‘cloud by day and fire by night’ has been present in my life for decades, bringing me comfort in the midst of loss, direction in the center of chaos, peace and joy through this life’s journey. His presence is a source of continual strength, that whispered warning, that voice of instruction and encouragement, a presence that leads me daily into the purposes planned for my life before I was born.

As you hear a whisper beginning to stir, silently pulling your mind to its presence, the still small voice of the Spirit of God is drawing your attention. He is present to bring you direction – both to lead and to warn, a constant presence of a loving God.

That voice, the voice within, the voice of the Holy Spirit, dwells in each of us and becomes louder as we listen. His presence can shape, correct, and lead our lives as we step into a place of believing, receiving, and anticipating His whispered voice.

Today I walk as one who desires to follow that ‘cloud by day and fire by night’, whose presence now resides within me, whose voice I lean into daily, whose warnings I take seriously, whose instructions I endeavor to follow spontaneously, living as one who belongs to my savior, Jesus Christ – a true and living God.

Exodus 13: 21-22 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (ESV)
John 15:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (ESV)

(Artwork courtesy of D.L. Sanchez)

Purifying Fire!

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Let the glory of your purifying fire reign over my life Lord!

As we enter into the grace of Jesus Christ, yield to his Lordship, accept his claim of possession over us, long for and dwell in His daily presence, we begin a process of being refined in the presence of His consuming fire.

This lifestyle costs us everything! It is when “more of him, less of me” gets real, as we proclaim – Yes, Lord! Send me!

Though the cost is great, it is in this place we begin a life of overwhelming abundance. In this place we dwell on His heights and depend on his provision for all that sustains us. On Christ, our rock, we lay strong defenses for all of life’s circumstance – for He alone is our strength and joy.

When we enter this yielded consumed place we find our lives are no long ours but belong wholly to the one who paid in full the debt we owed. This is the place where we step into the works of the kingdom of heaven, we begin to see the river flow out of us, the lame begin to walk, the blind see, the oppressed and captives are set free.

With great joy and in complete abandonment, I willingly, longingly wait in His presence to be so consumed by His fire that there is nothing left of me!

Yes, Lord! Come Holy Spirit and let the glory of your purifying fire increase and reign over my life Lord!

Mal. 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiners fire and like a fuller’s soap.  He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. (ESV)

Titus 2:14  who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (ESV)

(Image courtesy of Toa55 @ freedigitalphotos.net)