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)

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.

Wildlife *JKSWL049 (Resting In HIS Provision)

     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)

Keep Out the Weeds

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Weeds, Weeds, Weeds! If I desired to grow only weeds, I would have a garden paradise with no effort. I could choose to let those weeds go, flourish in their own right – many even are pretty as they bloom. But I love flowers, so spring through fall requires a continual effort of picking, pulling, and digging. Keeping my flowerbeds happy and productive proves often to be back and knee breaking work. The effort has it’s own reward though, as my plants and flowers are freed from the weeds that steal their nutrients and space – they begin to flourish and grow into what they were created to be.

Awe…..just like us! Weeds crop up, often unbeknownst to us. We can indulge them, allow them to grow – it’s easier – maybe no one will notice – it is our choice right? Or, we can grab the garden implements and get them out.

Your choices each day can allow the seeds of many types of weeds to be distributed all around you and suddenly you will find those weeds chocking out your life nutrients and crowding out what is important. Many of those choices are good, they don’t look bad, won’t hurt you; but deep down in the roots they are determining how and if you will grow to be all you were created to be.

Pulling, picking and digging those weeds out of your life will take effort – back and knee breaking effort. In fact, to keep the weeds out requires a daily diligence of looking to and listening to the Holy Spirit as He enlightens exactly where the weed needs to be attended.

Thankfully, cleaning out the weeds of wrong choices is well worth the effort and really rather simple. Begin making all your life choices as you abide in His love, choices that speak loudly of your desire to serve Christ and not your own desires. These types of choices will allow the weeding process to become easier. The reward will become apparent as your life begins to flourish and grow – showing forth the beauty of whom you were created to be.

Choose today to keep those weeds out and become His Kingdom garden.

John 15:8-9 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (ESV)

Joshua 24:15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(NASB)

“You Better Soak That”

As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

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Today words that I have spoken probably a hundred times in my lifetime – “You better soak that” – jumped out at me as a source of pondering.

To soak something means that it becomes saturated for a purpose. We soak a grim covered pan, a stained piece of cloth, and even a dried up pot of soil. The purpose is to change it – remove the grim, the stain or, in the case of soil to till it – prepare it for something new to take root.

In the Christian church culture the word “soak” has run its course of the “in thing” – but in reality it is where we are changed. As we wait at the feet of Jesus, as we are still in his presence, as we listen in our prayer closets – we are “soaking” in the very present environment of a life giving, life changing, life speaking Holy Spirit that loves to speak. In this place we receive the peace that passes all understanding.

Our busy lives find it difficult to slow down and take that time to be still but if we don’t, we live in a constant spin of chaos. Peace comes from that quiet place of trusting our Jesus.   It is during these times that we allow our grim and stains to be removed and our dried up soil to be saturated and tilled; then we are ready to receive something new that will take root and bloom in our lives.

Take time to “soak” – sit, be still, listen and receive – you will be amazed how his presence will refresh you, give you strength for the day ahead, and transform all areas of your life.

Ps. 46:10a “ Be still, and know that I am God.” (ESV)
Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

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)

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