Which Will Refresh?

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Sometimes I just need a Coke – nothing else will do. I’m thirsty but choose something that actually defeats the purpose – something that dehydrates me. My body is asking for water – my flesh chooses wrongly.

We have become a “thirst-less” bride of Christ – dehydrated from choosing wrongly. We live an ineffective lifestyle – no longer true ambassadors for the Kingdom. So many of us have chosen wrongly – chosen that which has dehydrated us.

How do we become thirsty if we have allowed our thirst to be quenched with other things?

Once again we need to turn – stir up what has been lost – pant as a thirsty deer after the presence of a living God. Drink deeply from the rivers that reside within us – then we will be the bride that has made herself ready, the bride that will pour out healing for the nations, the bride whose heart overflows with living water to all those around her.

Today chose to put down the Coke and drink deeply of the water of His presence.

Psalm 42:-2a As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirst for God, for the living God. (ESV)

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day; Jesus stood up and cried out, “if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (ESV)

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We Are Never Empty

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As I wrestled with sleep through the late hours into the morning, I dreamed. I woke over and over from a similar dream – quickly falling back to sleep to dream another version. This puzzling dream was filled with only one thing – open boxes. All the boxes were different sizes, construction and material but all were empty. I began to question God and wait for an answer as to “what does this mean and what do I do with it?”

That morning, I soon found myself listening to my pastor explain a tradition of the Feast of Tabernacles regarding drawing of water and empty cisterns. (In Latin, cisterns translates to boxes) My galloping heart sat transfixed, waiting for God’s revelation.

Now, days later as understanding has marinated in my spirit, His direction brings expectation in my heart. We the bride of Christ have allowed our cisterns (the place of His indwelling presence) to grow cold and empty – thus many empty boxes.

How easy we trudge through life in the midst of chaos, pain, and distraction; never realizing that each hit we take from those we love, our physical ailments, financial struggles and living in a crazy “on the edge” world; sucks the water from our own cisterns. We live in a state of constant empty boxes – our cisterns have been depleted – and that is the insidious lie! We have been given full cisterns – ALL the time – it’s a sustainable promise! The Spirit dwells within us, we are never empty – we just don’t take time to dip in and drink.

Within each of us resides the Spirit of God through Christ – we have all we need within us. Jesus has given us a river of living water that is available to us ALL the time. We don’t have to live a life with dry empty cisterns. Just stop, dip in and you will find water available! Begin to walk in a life filled with thanksgiving and praise – yes in the very midst of all that sucks you dry – there you will soon find that your cistern is no longer dry but will begin to flow. Joy will bring relief – and though life may still be in the same state you will find the journey now flows differently within your heart.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “if you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4: 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Grandma Blankets

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     Pregnant with my daughter, I began a craft that has covered babies for over 40 years. Now hundreds upon hundreds of blankets made from yarn or fabric, covered with love and prayer have warmed so many little bodies.

     Recently I have begun to hear and see what I never expected – those much older children and adults still have their “grandma” or “Judy” blankets. Tattered, torn and covered with patches they still cherish those “blankies”.

Why?

It’s just a piece of fabric long outgrown.

Secondhand stores are filled with old beat-up blankets.

But these seem to be different, held in unusually high regard.

     As I pondered this I felt the Spirit of the Lord speak – encouraging me that each act of love poured out will reap a harvest and that is what I am now witnessing. He reminded me that every blanket I have made specifically for that one “special” little one – or now “special” loved one; is soaked in prayer as each stitch is added.

     It’s that Love that is felt – as it saturates and covers them right there, as they cuddle down into its warmth. It brings peace and comfort – so years later when hard, painful times are faced – the heart, the mind and the emotions return to think on the “blankie” and what comfort was found there. So they keep it – treasure it – fold it away for another time – a time to be reminded of the comfort found there.

     Those “blankie”s are simply an earthly example of a heavenly, eternal comfort available to us all. So for now, I have been blessed to pass on a little bit of heavens love to the “littles” around me – those “grandma” blankets.

II Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (ESV)

 

Together As One

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     This morning I watched as my arbor became filled with fluttering activity. All different species of birds together – flying in and out taking a waiting perch for their turn to be filled with the juicy ripe grapes that now dangle ready for consumption.

     When we have forgotten to fill their bird feeders they will group together and come asking for help – in their lack; but what a joy to watch it when there is an abundance. You can hear the chatter and singing, you can feel the anticipation and joy as they hop from one place to another waiting – anticipating – sharing.

     In lack and abundance they group together not caring about size or difference but together united on a focus for the good of them all.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

     In the midst of the chaos, anger and hate currently harbored in our nation we have seen a momentary glimpse of what I witnessed with the birds this morning. A compassionate flood that has surfaced in the heart of people as images of great pain and loss have triggered a unity that only a few days ago was devoid. Now the united focus does not care about difference but to help those hurting and in lack. Together they are pouring out help – sharing from their abundance and even from their lack.

     Isn’t this the heart of Christ? To care for the hurting and broken? To pour out love and compassion on the most vulnerable?

     Stepping up, setting “our” lives on hold, giving from our abundance and our lack, helping in any way possible is what it is to be a loving human being. But we, as believers in Christ have a bigger assignment – it’s not just for a disaster – it is a lifestyle! A lifestyle of sharing our abundance into the lives that surround us that walk daily in lack.

     Unfortunately – just as the birds will revert back to their natural thinking – most people will quickly become cold to the needs and revert back to living their “own” lives with no thought to those still hurting and continually living in lack.

     But for now my heart smiles as I watch the birds united and full of joy sharing with one another – just as Our Heavenly Father must be doing now too. But also, with a renewed outlook on what my lifestyle needs to shift to – one of daily walking in a lifestyle of sharing – hopping from place to place waiting, anticipating and sharing as HE directs.

Isaiah 58:10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

When You’re Broken Beyond Repair

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     Football practice wouldn’t be the same today. With the snap of his arm bones, my grandsons’ hope for a winning season was broken before it began. Silence and chaos broke out all at once; covering the field quickly as realization of the accident spread. In the midst of the shouting and ambulance ride comes a calming voice from a trusted friend, “It’ll be alright, it’s a clean break – it will heal.” Surgery waits, not once but twice to repair this double bone compound fracture but in the hands of a skilled orthopedic surgeon it will heal, he will play again – life and his arm will be “good as new”.

     There are times in your life when you feel that you have been broken beyond repair. The tragic loss of a loved one looms over your heart. The betrayal of a trusted friend crushes your spirit. The angry vicious words spoken against you grip your mind. But through the pain there is a calming voice that can be heard – He is speaking in the midst of that pain – “It’ll be alright – you will heal – life will be good again.”

     Your brokenness can heal – It’s not quick, it’s not painless, it’s not easy – but the skilled hand of a surgeon can repair it. And you have a skilled surgeon waiting for you – one who knows intimately the pain and hurt you are walking through. Jesus is waiting; His surgery heals, restores and gives new life. He is there wiping every tear, whispering His love back into your broken heart, pouring restored trust into your broken spirit, eradicating lies from your mind – whispering “Life will be good again.”

     When you feel you have been broken beyond repair – remember – in the hands of a skilled surgeon you will heal, you will play again and life will be good. Trust your brokenness into the hands of your surgeon – He is waiting for you.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (ESV)

Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.(ESV)

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.