Stuck in the Brush?

He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him, can not separate you from the love He has for you.

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Landscape Water *JKSLW047 (Quiet Resting Place)

The darkness is filled with silence as the chill of the night causes him to pull a woolen blanket close around his shoulders. Tonight, his awareness of creatures quietly waiting and watching is heightened. The stones piled high make a quasi-safe barrier encircling his flock but experience warns him that hidden danger waits all around – hungering to make a meal of his little ones.

The open entrance gives access not only to those who are permitted but to those who would steal and kill; so here is where he sits on this dark night, here is where he will lay down across this entrance to rest, as the night wears on.

His mind wonders to the afternoon’s activities. As he had begun taking stalk of his sheep, readying for his evening gathering – one was missing. He thought of nothing but that one lost sheep. He searched through the brush, down the mountain side, by the river, and anywhere this little one might have gone. He never once thought of the ninety-nine others that he had left behind as he searched for his lost one. He knows each sheep personally – its looks, characteristics, habits, and movements – to this shepherd, each sheep is as individual as a human. Each one holds a special place in his heart. This has happened many times to him and each time the love he has for that lost one overwhelms him as he persistently traverses dangerous terrain, never thinking of himself – only that one.

Thankfully, today the lost one was found. It had wondered off, all alone and soon had become tangled under brush and was unable to free itself. The shepherd called it by name and with loving hands reached down and set it free. He lifted this tired little one out of the entrapment, drew the quivering body close and with joy, placed it over his shoulders to carry it back to a place of safety within the flock. 

Just like that little sheep, we can find ourselves tangled under many different entrapment’s, unable to free ourselves. We wonder off – away from the safety of the flock; or even worse, are snatched from the flock by claws and jaws desiring to steal and kill us. But look up, for you have a good, good shepherd. He knows you by name and without hesitation; with great love, He will leave all the rest, just for you. He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him cannot separate you from the love He has for you.

If you find yourself stuck in a lost empty place – listen and look up – you will find Him calling your name and He will be right there to free you, draw you close and with great joy He will place you over His shoulders and triumphantly carry you to safety.

Luke 15:4-6 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was last.’ (ESV)

The Waiting Game

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Life is all about waiting. We begin that “waiting game” within the womb – waiting to make the first appearance into this world. From then on, it’s as if we are always pushing forward – waiting for the next big life experience. To walk, to talk, to go to kindergarten, to go on a first date, get a first kiss and graduate high school; life is always rushing forward. The list goes on throughout our lives: we are always pulling at the harness to go faster and sooner.

Human nature doesn’t like to wait. However, to wait is necessary in every arena of life. All of those “hurry up” things, that we feel are just not happening fast enough, are only good when received at the God ordained time.

If a cocoon is opened early or a bird egg is helped to hatch – the butterfly and the bird will die. The same is true of the plans God has for us. Often, we jump in, run ahead and find ourselves crying out for Him to fix the mess we made by our impatience. The true answer is to wait!

Waiting is not the same as inactivity!

Seeds that are planted wait as the germination process takes place, each having a time table that is appropriate to its ultimate production – only producing what it was created to. But that germination process is not inactivity.

Though nine months is required for a baby to develop, every second of that time-frame it’s cells are actively working, creating a miracle of life while we wait.

Jesus waited, listened and moved only where and when He was directed by the Father. Learning this discipline requires just that – discipline. When our tendency is to move forward, to do something just because we always have or others expect it, often we are stepping out from God’s planned purpose for us.

If you feel rushed to make a decision or pressured to move forward (from any outside expectation) – slow down, stop and wait. If your next step doesn’t find you at a place of confident inner peace, be aware – this could be that God hasn’t directed you yet. Only when He has spoken will you find anxiety lift and peace flood in. I am not saying that it won’t be difficult, stretching or that you will have all the answers; that’s not how He operates. Just as a baby doesn’t jump up and walk or talk in full sentences at birth, we must grow into who He has created us to be.

Waiting is the key! Learning to wait and listening for the Spirits stirring and direction will bring you to a life where you will see the Father working and your next step will be to go there. Until that direction is heard be committed to the last thing you heard Him say!

Join me in the “waiting game” as we wait in His presence – listening and moving only as He speaks.

John 5:19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (ESV)

Ecc. 3:1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven (NASB)

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)

“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)

And the Walls Come Down!

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     Walls are meant to protect, to keep out or to keep in.

 But unbeknownst to us we find that outside forces have placed walls around us. Walls that set limitations on who we are – such as physical or mental illnesses, financial barriers, broken toxic relationships, and even environmental constraints; these are walls that must be broken down to allow freedom in our lives.

The story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho is a great example for us to consider. Joshua knew Jericho was promised territory but with thick tightly shut walls there was no way in. They had natural options just like we have – battle through with all the weapons and strength available, negotiate and manipulate to make a deal that allows a win or to listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

Here, for Joshua and for us lies the rub! To run ahead and do all that is naturally possible makes the most sense – for isn’t that what makes a strong independent people?

The hardest thing to do is to choose to believe what you cannot do or see! Having faith in God – stopping your own striving, working, and trying – it is not easy but it is the only way that HE can come in and show himself strong on your behalf.

And the Walls Come Down!

 Joshua and all of Israel chose to listen and obey – to do what didn’t make sense. They were to quietly walk around the city once a day for 6 days then on the 7th day walk around it 7 times and at the sound of the trumpet shout and rejoice that GOD was delivering the city into their hands. Now remember, they did these things before they saw those walls start to shack, crumble and fall down – they rejoiced BEFORE – for they knew a God that was faithful to His promises. That sound, the sound of rejoicing erupting from them was the key! We too, can listen and obey – and as we rejoice BEFORE we see results the shaking is occurring in the heavenly’s .

And the Walls Come Down!

Freedom can be found! The walls that have blocked you in – limiting you in that which God has chosen for you to do must come down.

The lies of the enemy of your soul can be set back! As you accept and stand up with the authority that you have been given as a child of the King of Kings, a believer in all that the blood of Christ purchased for you, you too can listen and obey the voice of the Spirit of the living God.

And the Walls Come Down!

Rejoicing BEFORE you see the outcome because HE is faithful, because He is a good father and because He is always for you – that is where freedom begins, that is where the battle is won, that is where peace in all circumstances begins!

     Only then do you look and find that the miraculous has occurred.

And the Walls Come Down!

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)