Blessed Are The Merciful

  This week in my daily devotions I have been considering the subject of mercy. The main focus of these devotional readings ( http://www.ifequip.com/category/beatitudes) has been Matthew 5:7.

   Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.

   God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!

   Blessed are those who show mercy. They will be treated mercifully.

   Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

  They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them.

  Looking at this one verse, in several different translations shows two clear points. A person will be blessed, and find joy and happiness in the act of being merciful, and God will be merciful to those who grant mercy to others.

    To whom am I to be merciful towards? Should my mercy be extended only to those who have earned it? Is there a certain type of character to whom I am to be merciful? Are there certain types that I should deny mercy to?

  I know of only one method of obtaining any kind of answer to my many questions on this subject. I go to Jesus and observe Him.

  Jesus describes mercy to us in a parable about a king and two debtors. The king forgave the debtor who owed him an enormous sum, a sum so great that it could not be paid back, but the one whose debt was forgiven by the king, ran right out and demanded a paltry sum be paid back right away by a man who owed him money. This man could not pay and begged for time, but the one the king forgave would not allow it and cast him into prison. When news of this reached the king he was very angry, and ordered the man whose debt he had forgiven to be cast into prison until the very last penny had been paid because he who had been forgiven so much, had no compassion and no mercy upon his fellow man who owed a tiny sum in comparison.

  Jesus was clearly merciful to the poor. He stopped by the roadside many times to heal beggars afflicted with leprosy, blindness, and lame. So it is clear that I am to be merciful to those who suffer from poverty or are afflicted by handicap or disease even if those handicaps or diseases are deplorable to society. (look up leprosy during the time of Christ.)

 Jesus extended mercy to the Roman soldier and restored to him his child. Rome was the oppressor in that day, the symbol of a tyrannical government. This did not stop Christ from showing mercy. I am to be merciful to those who oppose me politically, morally and to those who work in support of government and programs that oppose me politically and morally.

  Jesus was merciful to tax collectors, who were hated and despised by Jewish society. They were in a sense considered traitors. By their actions they betrayed their people and assisted the tyrannical government in oppressing them. Yet Christ demonstrated mercy to them. I am to be merciful to traitors and liars and cheats.

 Jesus was merciful to outcasts from society. Women of ill repute, lepers who were considered to be unclean and untouchable. He even touched the untouchable. So I am to be merciful to the untouchables of society.

 Jesus was merciful to the criminal hanging next to Him, one who according to scripture has earlier been mocking along with everyone else. A criminal who could do nothing at all for Christ, who could only call out "remember me, when You come into Your kingdom." Jesus was merciful. I am to be merciful to people without regard for what they can do for me, or have done for me, and regardless of their social stature.

  And last, but not least, in fact the most profound; Jesus was merciful to me! To the one who openly opposed Him, mocked Him, mocked His people, mocked His word, to the one who broke every commandment, to the one who did not extend mercy, who hated, who reviled, who stirred up trouble, who lied, cheated, stole, murdered with my words, to the one that did nothing at all, not one tiny thing to deserve mercy, to the one who earned and fully paid for condemnation with thoughts, words and deeds, HE EXTENDED MERCY. If He, in His outrageous grace, can extend mercy to me, then I should and must endeavor with all of my might to extend mercy to everyone.

 Now to some this is an unthinkable thing. But I think the distress comes from the understanding of what mercy is and how we go about extending it. Mercy does not automatically mean that we dismiss deeds committed by persons. Should someone commit a heinous crime, and murder another, being merciful to this person does not mean excusing their crimes, nor does it mean setting them free from the consequences of that crime. Perhaps mercy to this person would be to pray for them, to still see them as a living, breathing person, to see them as redeemable, to perhaps visit them in prison, or write to them.

  I think that extending mercy to all might become easy were we able to always see the humanity in another, even one who is opposed to us, maybe even hates us, or to one who has done the unthinkable, the awful, the terrible. In order to see the humanity in others I believe we have to see the capacity for inhumanity within us all. 

  There are those who murder with their hands, taking the life of another unjustly and without cause. Then there are those who murder with their lips, defiling the character, judging and condemning another, ruining their life, their peace and their reputation and refusing to extend any possibility of redemption. Both are murder in God's eyes.

  Okay, so I am to be merciful. I am clear on that, the next question is how. How do I extend mercy to the untouchables? Right now, in today's world there exists a group of persons who are hell bent to destroy us. Were I in their hands the most grievous torture would be enacted upon me, and I would most likely die, probably with my head cut off. We have all seen the countless videos and read the stories of the multitude of people murdered by the hands of Islamic terrorists. The fleshly me wants an eye for an eye, or in truth I want a head for an eye. My flesh screams out to nuke every last Islamic country that holds even a thread of terrorism within it into the stone age. My flesh cries out, assemble the armies and march upon them and bring destruction to every last living thing that stands in our path. But my soul cries out something different. I have to listen carefully, for I cannot hear it for the boiling blood and pounding heart of my flesh, but I pause, I consider, I remember the things I have been learning about mercy and I know that my cry for vengeance and destruction is not the cry of my soul. My soul cries for peace. My soul prays for the spirit of God to be poured out upon the Muslim people, be they terrorist or normal hard working folk, my soul cries for the eyes of those committing evil to be opened, for their hearts to be deeply burdened for the atrocities they have and are committing. My soul cries for the hate to stop, for the mercy of God to reside in the hearts of all men. My soul cries for peace on earth and good will to all.

 And I hear that still small voice saying "yes child", "pray for them, pray for this world, pray for grace, pray for mercy, pray for peace, and be a light."

 What does the Lord require of me? "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8




 

Love One Another

      The older I get the more I realize how broken we are. How broken I am. It's not something that we like to think about, and not something we like hearing, but in truth each of us is broken in some way, many of us are broken in a variety of ways, self included.

       With that being said, I think it is so very important that we love one another. Love one another despite our individual brokenness. This life we are in is not a contest, although many of us often live it like it is one. We are not in competition with each other, it's not about who is the most holy, who is the most beautiful, who is the most successful. It's about how we love one another, or how we don't.

     I have seen firsthand how God can take the broken and make it into something beautiful. A new church is forming here in my area, and the name of the church is Mosaic and their motto is "brokenness made beautiful". I really love that, it resonates with me, resonates somewhere deep down, in all the broken places.

   It's an awesome thing when God brings together the broken and molds them into something beautiful. I have seen Him do it on more than one occasion. Sometimes it is via a church, sometimes it is just a group of people working together, and sometimes it's via social media like a Facebook page or group, or a social movement. Broken people coming together, mending into a beautiful mosaic.

  Sadly I have also seen these beautiful things shaken up by the broken. When we cling to things as if they belong to us, when we take hold of the good and call it our own and seek to possess it and control it, and take credit for it. All the good that comes from the broken being mended together is God's good. It's His work, not ours. When we seek to possess and claim that which is God's we end up hurting others. Pieces of the mosaic rejected by other pieces of the mosaic, pieces pushed away, pieces ignored and forgotten. In our own strength we often mess up the masterpiece. Thankfully God is ever present and takes even our messed up ways and turns them to good.

  Be the piece of the mosaic that God has called you to be. Be joyful as He takes the various pieces and forms then into a beautiful picture of grace and love. Don't try and fit in pieces yourself, nor remove pieces that you think do not belong, nor limit the placement of the pieces. That is God's part of the work, yours is to shine where He placed you.

 Remember that in every mosaic one thing is the same always. Each piece is broken, each piece has it's own distinct qualities. Alone they are not much to speak of, but placed together, in the configuration of God's choosing they become a masterpiece of color and vibrancy. Love every piece, love it like a brother or a sister. Recognize that we are all broken, but God loves us in our brokenness and in Him and Him alone we find wholeness and rest. Be still in His hands and allow Him to form the beauty.

"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. "

"And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them."

"If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."

"We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. "

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony."

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. ... "

"Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

  

Brokenness made beautiful............ I really like that. (Thank you Mosaic Church! Love that concept!)

Brokenness made whole.

The wholeness comes as we learn to love Him and as we love one another.

"“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
Vance Havner

“Brokenness to redemption, where mercy and grace kiss both sides of our face.
Brokenness where we are split open.
Redemption where God knits us back together.
Mercy when we don't get the punishment we do deserve.
Grace when we get the lavish love gifts we don't deserve.
So here we are.”
Lysa TerKeurst

Finding Peace Amidst the Noise

      After spending three glorious days in the high mountains of New Mexico, with the calls of the birds, the gurgles and roars of water cascading over the rocks in a cold mountain stream, and the wind as it plays across the tops of the grandiose pine trees, it has been difficult to adjust to the assault of sounds upon my ears in our return.

   The sounds of our modern life have been an incursion, and invasion, they have been offensive, brash, harsh and an outright onslaught upon my ears.

  The first invasion was traffic, the sound of the vehicles as they sit awaiting a traffic light, the horns honking, the whooshing of great trucks as our car passed them on the freeway. Poor Hektor (the dog) was most affected by these invasions of noise. I am sure his poor ears were assaulted by the screeching of modern day America as we barreled down the freeway towards home. No wonder the poor guy did his very best to hide on the floorboards of the car.

  The worst for me was the television. How it blared. How ugly it’s words. There were angry people making angry political rants, photos of violence and death assaulting my eye, tiny perfect little boys floating face down in the water, commercials blaring and demanding that I purchase and that in purchasing my problems would all be solved.  And then there were the advertisements for drugs proclaiming that my churning stomach or my constant need for the potty would all be corrected, but with this correction would come constant diarrhea, headaches, joint pain, suicidal thoughts and outright death. Advertisements informing me of wonderful sleep medications that would insure a restful sleep….but I might be running up and down the street in my underwear assaulting my neighbors while I am deep at rest.

 That first night back I attempted to fall asleep while my beloved took in an episode of the Simpsons. I struggled to fall asleep. To go from the sounds of a bubbling stream to the sound of Homer and Bart and their nonsense was a full on assault of the senses to me.

  I awoke the next day irritated and grumpy. What a terrible loud obnoxious world I have to live in. It is loud. Young men with their music so loud their vehicles are vibrating as if the vehicle itself is the speaker to amplify this horrid boom to the world, whether those in the world wish to hear it or not. Even my phone is a nuisance, with its constant pings and rings and bells and whistles. I have a message, I have a Like or Comment on Facebook, someone has tweeted this or tweeted that.

  It is absolutely amazing how loud our world is, and most of the sounds we take in on a constant basis are not soothing, they are not beautiful, they do not inspire nor comfort. They are a constant assault upon our ears.

  I have been camping many times, I have sat many hours in beautiful quiet places, but for some reason on this past camping trip I actually noticed the quiet, noticed it and breathed it in. Breathed it in deep and reveled in it. And in so doing I opened my brain up to the contrast between the peace and quiet of nature and the constant noise of our normal daily life.

  We have been back five days now, and I have struggled to balance things. How does one have quiet time with God when you are surrounded by noise, assaulted by the constant moving pieces of the world around you, how do you sit at His feet when you are waiting in the VA emergency waiting room and you cannot help but overhear the conversations going on around you, many of them sad and tragic, how do you be still and know that He is God when the sirens are going off outside and the television is blaring out an assault upon your ears? More importantly, how do you hear Him speak amidst all the noise?

 I was reading several articles on the subject of quiet times with God and how to do this in the middle of the chaos of life. One had an excellent point. “The greatest “noise” that hinders us from hearing Him comes from our own minds”. For me, that was a very sobering point. I prefer to blame all the noise, blame all the hectic things going on around me, but upon reflection I must confess that the statement is true. I and my mind are what most often get between my soul and God communing. 

 For three days I dwelt in the beauty of nature, in the clear clean mountain air. I walked through beautiful green fields full of wildflowers, I sat and I slept beside a clear mountain stream that sang a beautiful lulling song as it tumbled over the rocks. I lounged on the banks of pristine mountain lakes where the pine trees sang in harmony their song of the wind as it whistled through their branches. One could not ask for a more perfect setting to commune with God. There was nothing but His glory all around, there was nothing harsh, nothing ugly, nothing pressing and no reason to do anything at all but BE STILL and know that He is God………and yet there were many times,  stretches of time, that I did not think of Him at all.

 So I sit here this morning, amidst an assault of sound, air conditioners blaring, people talking, traffic moving, dogs barking and confess that the problem is me.  He is constant. He is available. He always shows up when I just still my heart, still my soul, and listen for that still small voice.

 In order to hear Him, I need to develop the habit of acknowledging that every single place I go, He is right there with me.  In truth ignoring Him would be like you and I going shopping for the day and yet during the entire day I ignore you, never speak, never ask you your opinion, never even acknowledge that you are right there with me. That is what we do when we forget that as believers God is always with us, He is our constant companion.  

Meditate on God, remember who He is, what He has done already, what He has promised to do. Meditate on His word, read it, study it, ponder it. 

“What we focus on is what we make room for.”

 I plan on seeking the quiet moments and reveling in them when they are found, but we must be honest and confess that often in our busy chaotic world it is difficult to find real quiet. We have the noise of the world we live in and the clamor of the pain and suffering all around us and in us. It is difficult to live in quiet serenity. We must remember and live in the truth that God is with us amidst the noise. He does not require perfect quiet in order to hear us. He listens always.

 As Jesus slept in the boat, the wind was howling, the waves were crashing, and the disciples were being tossed to and fro inside the boat. There was probably a lot of yelling going on, their hearts were filled with fear, the thunder was booming, the lighting was cracking across the dark sky. There was a lot of external and internal noise going on…….yet God was right there with them, right there in the boat, all they had to do was ask Him.

 “When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Be still, amidst the clamor all around, amidst the clamor inside you, be still and remember, He is with you always, even to the very end of the age.

It is well, with my soul.

 

http://www.godvine.com/Jesus-Is-With-You-in-Every-Moment-a-Touching-Video-2921.html


Do Not Be Anxious……Lessons from a Big White Dog

We recently took our big white dog Hektor camping. He is getting on up there in years and it had been some time since he traveled anywhere farther than a local walk across the mesa or a stroll along the Rio Grande.

  Hektor was purchased as a pup, but in many ways I view him as a rescue dog. He was 16 weeks old when we delivered him from bondage. He was the sole remaining pup from a large litter. Bred by a hunter with no breeding experience, Hektor was the runt of his litter and most likely had to hustle for food. He had developed a small bald spot on his body and his breeder decided that dipping him in gasoline would alleviate the problem. When my son and I arrived to pick him up he had been washed spotless clean of the mud that had covered him, the kennel where he had been living was basically a massive mud puddle where he had been standing in water a few inches deep. As we talked to the breeders and paid the necessary monies I observed the children “disciplining” the little pup with a slap across the face. So needless to say I think if Hektor could speak he would consider himself to have been rescued.

  From the time we got him, despite a lot of hard work trying to socialize him he has always been my nervous pup. He worries about breakfast, he worries about dinner, he worries about new places and new people and he just doesn’t care much for strangers or strange places.

  Observing him over the course of the three day camping trip I pondered the similarities between myself and Hektor as compared to myself and God.

  Hektor worships me, he believes that I am, he wants desperately to have total faith and trust in me. For the most part he does. With coaching I can get him to do new things, go new places and even allow strangers to examine him and care for him……but he does not rest in that trust. There is always a little piece of him that doubts. Will it really be okay? Will I really get my breakfast this morning? Is it really true that I do not need to fear this new thing? Is it really true that I do not need to attack this scary thing myself? Can I really rely on her to take care of me? Can I really rest in her presence assured that no harm will come?

  As I pondered these things, I heard the still small voice in my soul say “yes child, you do have a lot in common with the big white dog.”

  You see, I worship Jesus Christ, I love Him. Sometimes just thinking about what He has done for me brings tears to my eyes. I desire to follow Him ANYWHERE, to do ANYTHING that He asks me to do. I believe that HE IS! He is EVERYTHING! There is nothing above Him, nothing that comes close to Him. I believe all these things and yet sometimes I still fret.

 It is my desire to walk with Him, wherever He might take me, be it the normal everyday places that I am comfortable with, or some new and frightening place to which I have never been. Yet I expect should that be the call that I will be like my big white dog, happy to be with Him, excited that He is taking me somewhere, but a little anxious about where we are going…….do they serve breakfast there?

 In all seriousness, Christ calls us to follow Him, to do so willingly and in full trust of His ability to provide. Sometimes the places He calls us and the tasks He calls us to are scary, in some cases even life threatening. But we know, we can have full assurance that whatever comes, He is right there with us, and He will provide all that we need.

   Hektor had his anxious moments, those moments when he was not real sure if I had all this, not real sure that he was safe and could relax, but when he finally decided to trust me in these things he had peace and was content to just be with us and relax in our care.

  Hektor was blessed in his journey with me. He got extra breakfast, extra dinner, he hiked at a leisurely pace in cool mountain air, he slept beside swift flowing mountain creeks, he got to sleep by my side in the tent and all in all he enjoyed his trip. Hopefully he learned to trust me just a little more.  Hopefully I can learn from him to trust my Master fully. To have no anxiety about tomorrow, to not worry about what we will eat, or what we will wear, or what choices others we love might be making or not making.

 

 

 Lord, help me trust You in all things, still my anxious heart, calm my restless worried spirit. Help me to rest in the knowledge that wherever I might be led You are right there beside me, and You are my Rock of refuge, there is nothing that I need fear.

 

 

 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.






Beside Still Waters

    The sky was a vivid blue, and the waters of the peaceful mountain lake reflected in duplicate the vivid blue sky and white fluffy clouds. It was a picturesque setting, pleasing to the eye, therapeutic to the soul. My husband and I, and the old faithful big white dog Hektor had hiked through a dense pine forest, lush with ground vegetation, moist with the recent summer rains, filled with coniferous odors pleasing to the nostrils. As we came to the end of our trek we looked down upon the waters of Little Blue Lake, a tiny natural mountain lake, elevation approximately 8500 feet. The scene was breathtaking and we were utterly alone in it.

   As my husband fished, I and the big white dog lounged and took in the scenery. I was struck by the utter quiet of the place. Other than the occasional call of a bird it was pure silence. A silence so deep and rich that had someone dropped a pin on the other side of the lake I would have heard it crashing to the ground. About every ten minutes the wind would stir through the tall pine trees, and they would gently sway and sing, a symphony of branches gently rubbing against each other, as they swayed I watched the gentle ripples cross the lake from shore to shore, and then everything returned to silence.

  God had for whatever reason many years ago had the sense of humor necessary to gift me with the spiritual gift of mercy. I who for the most part was a fairly selfish person, not really caring much for people other than a select very small group of mostly family members. I was an introvert, and preferred to keep to myself and my own personal business. Yet He, perhaps it was due to His capacity for humor, decided to grant me the gift of His mercy. Now I fret for others, am moved to compassion by any and all signs of pain and suffering and feel compelled to assist in any manner that I can. Although I am still somewhat of an introvert by nature, I love people, I hate suffering of any kind be it human or beast and I spend most of my time assisting others, whether by befriending and intervening in a physical manner or by prayer.

  Strangers whom I have never met in person consume my days, my heart feeling burdened by their plight, my soul being constantly prodded to pray for them and to engage others to do the same. Needless to say if someone I do personally know happens to be suffering it brings me to my knees, wakes me in the night and consumes all my waking thoughts. It is a gift given by God, one I confess to sometimes wishing I did not have. My soul cries a lot, sometimes my eyes do too. Yet I believe it is a blessing to be given a tiny piece of the heart of my Lord Jesus the Christ who always looked upon the crowds and had compassion for them.

  The past several years have been a whirlwind of emotion. Personal pain and suffering within my own family, loved ones lost to suicide, loved ones sent to war and loved ones trying to come back from war. Sons of other mothers lost to war. Add to it the many friends and families suffering the same, or worse. Homeless people, refugees fleeing atrocities, turmoil on our streets, an increase in the general cruelty of man, against his fellow man and against God’s creatures, all collaborating to bring me to a constant state of feeling burdened. There is always somebody ( or some creature) suffering, always, and very often it is someone I love very much, but regardless of whom it it, watching it, hearing of it, being burdened for it, praying for those afflicted by it, all takes a toll on the soul.

   I hadn’t really wanted to go on this three day camping trip, but had done so for my husband’s sake. And yet standing there, at the top of the ridge looking down upon Little Blue Lake I was so very glad we had come. Every care faded, every concern, every burden lifted, and I simply sat and enjoyed the peace and tranquility of that beautiful scene. Psalm 23 came to mind and I spoke the words softly under my breath as I had memorized them long ago as a child.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  The waters of that mountain lake were still and peaceful and I quietly prayed to God thanking Him for this deep sense of peace, telling Him how much I had needed this, and how wonderful it was. And then I told Him, Lord I wish I could stay here forever, build a cabin right here and never leave, take in this peace You have given and sit forever beside these still waters. And He said “Child, I am your still waters, I am your peace and that peace is available to you in the midst of calamity, at work, at play, at rest, it is available to you as you pray, available to you as you watch and come alongside the suffering, the wounded, the grieving.”

 I sat silent for a moment and then turned on my Kindle and opened up the Message translation of the Bible and it opened to Matthew 11, verses 28-30.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with mewatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

  I heard Him, the still small voice that speaks to my soul, heard Him as He said, “daughter come to Me, get away with Me, I will show you how to rest. Walk with me. Work with me. Watch how I do it……watch how I do it……watch how I do it…..learn the UNFORCED rhythms of grace. KEEP company with me.”

 Oh Lord I see, I so often run into the fight, desperate to help and often doing so on my own strength. I so often feel as if the burdens that come, because of the gift You gave, are mine to solve, mine to alleviate, mine to fix. Yet they aren’t mine. They are Yours. I just need to be Your willing vessel and watch how You do it........... “Walk with Me and work with Me.” I hear You Lord.

   We enjoyed the peace and tranquility of that beautiful mountain lake for most of the day, just me, my husband, the old big white dog…….and God.

 

 He is our peace (Ephesians 2:14), He bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19),  He does the work through me. (Philippians 2:13) Rest is found in Him, hope is found in Him, He is the Rock upon which I stand, He is the Fortress that I shelter in. {Psalm 62: 5-12}

 

Beside the still waters! O infinite peace!

When God leadeth me there, my troubles all cease;

And my feet, by the thorns of life’s wilderness torn,

Are bathed in the dews that are wept by the morn/

 

Beside the still waters, where pastures are green

And the glad sky bends o’er them in shadow and sheen;

I think of the glooms through whose terrors I fled,

And bless the dear Hand which my footsteps hath led.

 

Beside the still waters my cross it grows light,

That fainting, I bore through the storms of the night,

The same, through another it seems; and I pray

No more that my burden be taken away.

 

Beside the still waters, ah! Ripple and gleam

A thousand fold rarer in loveliness seem,

For the billows and foam, and the tumults of wrath

In the tempest of trial compassed my path.

 

Beside the still waters my hunger is fed,

And sweeter than manna drops daily my bread;

While of Christ, the great Rock that shadows their brink,

The full flowing streams of salvation I drink.

 

Beside the still waters! Ah! Why should I know

Rough ways for my feet, and the torrents wild flow,

When He who still leadeth me morning and night,

Could hold me for aye in the spell of delight?

 

Beside the still waters, shut in by God’s hills,

The exquisite sense of protection that fills

My bosom is born of the perils o’erpast;

As He led me at first, so He leads me at last!

(Poem is Beside Still Waters by W.C. Richards)


El Roi.......The God Who Sees

 

 It gets so cloudy down here Lord, thick dark clouds of pain and suffering, pending death, fear for those we love, grief and loss and the general decent of the world into chaos can and does cloud our eyes making it difficult to see the light of Your majesty.

  Shine through these clouds O Lord! Burn them away with the heat of Your love and the power and majesty of Your glory!

  I have dear friends suffering today, suffering in terrible pain. They are lights in this world of darkness, they pour themselves out bringing joy and beauty to others, but the clouds are thick of late. Pierce through these clouds of pain O Lord, bring relief to my suffering friends.

  One of my friends is dying Lord. I don't like saying that, I don't like confessing it, as if the act of saying it will make it a firm fact and the act of denying it will somehow chase death away from her door. She is a beautiful light Lord, roll back all the clouds Lord, and shine upon her like the light of the rising Son as He ascended into heaven! Make her light so bright that it pierces through the clouds with such beauty and grace that it takes folks breath away and they are left with naught but awe of You.

   A great many of my friends are grieving Lord, a deep grief that they carry with them always, and the clouds of grief are sometimes so difficult to see through. You lose sight of the light and all you can see is the darkness of grief. Pierce through these clouds and shine upon them that they might more easily grasp the joy in each day, that they might see You, hold onto You and behold the light of Your mercy and grace.

  Another of my dear friends suffers Lord, she worries and frets for a son who is incarcerated. It's a long thick cloud that hovers over her, one that we know is going to be there for some time. Lord pierce through and shine Your light of grace and mercy upon her, grant her a window through to heaven, a great and mighty light to guide her through these coming years. No matter how dark the clouds become or what storms fall upon her, may her eyes be fixed on the window of light.

   This world of late has been covered with thick dark storm clouds. Evil runs amok in various places about this tiny round globe, murdering, raping, enslaving and forcing people to live in a constant state of danger. The people's of this world and our own country are divided by a multitude of things, and of late it seems the things that divide us become more frivolous. As a people we argue and fight over everything. Hate runs strong and apathy runs close behind it. Crime and cruelty seem to win the day more often than not. Lately it has been a test of my resolve to even look upon what it is going on, for all I seem to see are stories of pain and suffering, whether it be human or beast, suffering is all around me, and often it is difficult to see through the clouds.

  And then there are those that I care deeply for, who have never beheld Your light, never felt the touch of Your mercy, never understood or acknowledged Your great grace. The clouds of unbelief, past hurts, and preconceived notions of who You are have blocked out the sight of You. They are struggling with a multitude of problems, life always has it's storm clouds, but I fret for them, for walking through the storms of life without the light of Your grace is a dark and terrible thing. I remember what it was like before You pierced through the clouds and touched me. Don't forget them Lord, though they walk apart from You, remember them in Your great mercy and shine down upon them.

   My heart was heavy this morning as I walked out on the back porch with the dogs. I looked up to the East, as is my custom each morning and saw the thick cloud cover, the sun rising, and a hole in the clouds with the light of the sun flooding through. You spoke to me in that moment, assuring me that Your light will always pierce through the clouds, reminding me of Your faithfulness, reminding me of past storms and how You carried me through them, reminding me that You are the God who sees me, who sees them, the ones I pray for. As You saw Hagar in the desert, when all was lost and hope was gone, when death hovered over her, and the child that she loved so, You saw her, You pierced through the darkness and despair and restored life to her and the child.

    El Roi, the God who sees us, shine Your grace and mercy upon all those who are suffering this morning. Shine upon the ones in pain, pour out grace upon them, bring comfort and relief, whether it be by Your miraculous touch, or through the ministering grace of doctors and medicine. Strengthen them that they might see Your grace even through the pain.

    El Roi, the God who sees my friend with cancer. May Your grace be poured out upon her, like a mighty river, may it be unending, may it be constant, may You grant her all that she needs and more as she walks through this valley. May the Light of You be so overfilling that it spills out of her for all to see. May the valley she walks through end in victory and life, life here is what we all want Lord, we don't want to lose her, we don't want her to leave, but the life she walks into when she exits the valley is in Your hands alone. Whatever comes Lord, strengthen her, shine upon her, give her peace and joy and a sure hope.

  I give thanks today for the sun that pierced through the clouds this morning, and for the still small voice in my heart that said "look child, look how the light pierces through the clouds, behold how even though the clouds cover the sky, day still breaks through, I will always break through your darkness, I will always shine upon you, I am the God who sees you."

 

Jesus or Nothing; Reflections on a book I am reading.

Dan DeWitt wrote a little book called, Jesus or Nothing, which I am currently reading. It has brought back many memories. The book is very well written, and concerns the subject of atheism, and the choices many make as to either place faith in the existence of God or to discard it and choose instead to believe in nothing.

  I can relate too many of the atheistic views discussed in this book, and Dan asks some very valid questions of those whose faith is in nothing. Why do we often choose to reject God, to discard the concept of God? One phrase leapt out at me as the author discusses a man named Zach, who has chosen to believe in nothing.

“But I do think Zach should honestly consider whether his trajectory away from Christianity is based on the central claims of the gospel or on the all-too-often ridiculous nature of many who profess faith. These are two very different claims.”

 I personally once called myself an atheist, although in retrospect I believe I was just an angry agnostic, a disillusioned believer. I grew up in Christianity. I grew up the daughter of a pastor. I grew up watching my dad constantly suffer, and be so often mistreated by “pillars” of the church. I experienced very judgmental people, and a lot of “thou shall not’s”. These things, and my life experiences, drove me to reject the church and to develop a disdain for most Christians.

 Fortunately for me, I saw true faith in my father; sadly there are folks out there that did not have that experience. For them, most everything they have experienced has been negative. Consider the words of Paul in the book of Colossians 4:6, where he states “Let your speech always be seasoned with grace, as though seasoned with salt so that your will know how you should respond to each person.” And in 1 Peter 3:15 we have  “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”.  You see, we, the people of the cross, the ones who say that we follow Jesus Christ; we are a type of gospel, to those who do not know Him. We may be the only gospel that some people ever see. If my words, my life, my actions are such a contradiction to the message of the gospel written in scripture, people will reject my message, and may never even make an attempt to understand the true gospel that God has given in the pages of scripture.

 In the book, the author quotes a minister who said these words; “The single greatest cause for atheism in the world today, is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. This is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”

  I can only tremble at the thought of how many folks, across my 26 years of walking with Christ I may have turned away from the gospel, where my actions, my words, my blindness preached something else to them and therefore helped them along the path of rejecting God. It’s a heavy thing to reflect on.

  Going back to the quote that I shared, from the book, I can say for certain that my path away from faith, away from Christianity was based on the all too often ridiculous nature of those who professed faith. It was the judgments, it was watching a deacon in church stand up and pray, and talk about grace, while knowing that it was his voice on the phone that I answered, his voice telling me that “they would run my dad out of town on a rail for hanging out with #$^% (not even gonna share the word used.) Here was a “pillar” of the church, and he was a racist. Also included in my choice to walk away, was the church lady, whose favorite song was “How Great Thou Art” and who informed me that she did not believe black people had souls.

  Now one thing I must point out, before I lose the thought, is not everyone was like these two I have mentioned. There were a lot of decent persons in my youth, who did display Christ to me, my dad being one among them, but the truth of the matter is, and it’s especially true for young folks, is one negative can outweigh a hundred positives. In the mind and heart of a zealous young person, one negative can send a powerful message. For me, the message was clear, decent, kind, uneducated folks, mean well, but they are ignorant of truth, there is no God, because look at how people who say they believe act, look at the pillars of the church. It’s all a farce, a crutch created, because the world is harsh and dark and we need something to believe in. That was pretty much my view of Christianity.

  Fortunately, the God of the universe, the One who spoke all things into being, is gracious and kind, and continued to pursue me across the wastelands, and brought me to an understanding and knowledge of the gospel, and I realized that it is Him that I must consider, it is Him who sets the mark, and that every last one of us, from Mother Theresa on down, miss that mark. As to why we have so many harsh, mean and judgmental people within the walls of the physical church, I cannot say for certain, only that perhaps they are not yet in the place that God wants them to be, in their walk with Him, for it is a process of growth and understanding, or perhaps they are the ones that He speaks of in Matthew 7: 21-23, but for me, it matters not for I know Him now. My faith is firm, it is unshakable. I may falter in walking it out, I may not speak when I should, or as I should on any given moment, but my belief in Him cannot be shaken. As Job cried out, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

  I understand what it is to have no faith in a personal God. I have been there. I have been atheist, I have been agnostic. I pray that all those who struggle, all those who have rejected, will be moved to deeply examine their reasons for so believing.  Do not let life experiences or broken people be the cause of your faith in nothing. Examine the scriptures; examine the historical reasons for believing, examine the scientific reasons for believing in a Creator. Examine and I will trust God to do the rest.

 For “if the resurrection is true, then racist deacons and anti-intellectual Christian teachers don’t negate its authority and power. They do however illustrate that we are unworthy and that we all have a long way to go. At the same time, no faith is more multi-cultural and has motivated more intellectual inquiry than the worldview whose story of creation, fall, and redemption through resurrection wrestles honestly with our failures—and the process of overcoming them.”

 

  It is my prayer that; You will know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. Philippians 3:10; and I pray that Christ may live in your hearts by faith. I pray that you will be filled with love. I pray that you will be able to understand how wide and how long and how high and how deep His love is. I pray that you will know the love of Christ. His love goes beyond anything we can understand. I pray that you will be filled with God Himself. Ephesians 3:17-19

 

Jesus or Nothing, a great little book and well worth your time in reading it, regardless of whether you are a believer firm in your faith, or a skeptic, or a seeker.

Jesus or Nothing

Product by Brand: Crossway ~ Dan DeWitt (author) More about this product
List Price: $10.99
Price: $9.34
You Save: $1.65 (15%)

 

 Here is an older post of my personal testimony, for any who may be interested.

http://allisgrace.posthaven.com/confession-is-good-for-the-soul

 

 


Taught Wisdom By a Dog

 I sit here on the back patio, my devotional book in hand, a cold Birch Beer on the table, and a big white dog at my feet. As I read and pray I gaze up at the Sandia Mountains, and the vivid blue skies, communing with my Lord, and she sits and gazes up at me.

 This dog is one of the special ones. All that know me know I love all dogs, and that I love the three that reside at my house and are part of my family. But every now and again there comes along one that is special. This one is one of the special ones.

 She is not much to look at, and any enthusiast of her breed would be quick to point out all her many faults. She looks like a Great Dane, with the head of a Boxer, her backend is higher than her front end, her legs and toes are all gangly and crooked, and she has the worst under bite I have ever seen in a dog. No she’s not much to look at…….but neither am I. She and I have a bond, and she is dear to my heart.

 She has known sorrow in her life, she has suffered, she has known days where there was no love, no breakfast and no dinner.  She first came to us, skinny, browbeaten, with rotten toe nails that fell off her feet if she knocked them against something…….but despite it all, she had a huge heart and all it needed was a little love for it to blossom. She loves big, one must be careful speaking to her as if there is any excitement in your voice she will burst into dance, her entire body wagging, and she will leap with joy, and furniture and plants and drinks on tables will go flying. She loves big.

 As I sit here praying, and as my gaze shifts from the bright blue sky, to the hazel eyes of the big white dog at my feet, I think of my Lord, and how much this big white dog is teaching me about worship. I want to be like her, I want to be content to sit at His feet and gaze upon Him, I want to listen attentively for the sound of His voice, I want to please Him, I want to walk with Him, commune with Him, to live every moment of my existence fully aware of His presence with me. When He speaks I want to be so full of joy at the sound of His voice that I cannot contain myself, bursting into dance, with no thought or worry as to whether I have the rhythm required for such antics.

 I call her to me, as I get ready to leave the house for work, her head in my lap I gently rub her ears and tell her she is good and that I love her. I tell her everything is going to be okay, and she trusts me, she stands sure upon my every word, she looks at me with eyes that say, “Just say the word, and I will lie right down and die for you, if that is what makes you happy”. I truly believe she would, were she able to understand such a request. I want to hold and keep that kind of faith in Jesus, a faith so certain that if he simply says “lay right down and die”, I would do it willingly, gladly and with a song on my lips.

 The older I get, the more I realize that this world is full of instruction, if we only pause and look. Creation really does cry out “there is a God, come and know Him!”   The heavens declare Him, the mountains declare Him, the trees declare Him, and the creatures declare Him!  I look upon this big white dog, and her ungainly body, her bulldog face, her trusting eyes….and I see the hand of our Creator God.

 

““Lord, we thank you for our dogs — your simple gift to us. Open us to what they teach. We thank you for the grateful exuberance of our dogs.

“We thank you for the way they bound across the hills, splash in the waters, chew on sticks, and roll in the dewy grass. Teach us, every day, to say our own ‘thank you’ with every fiber of our being, for the wondrous works of your creation.

“We thank you, Lord, for the honest, direct loyalty of our dogs. We thank you for the wag of their tails and the offer of a cuddle for friend and stranger alike, the way they make people . . . into our neighbors, the way they regard not body type, color of hair, or color of skin. We thank you for the easy way they forgive faults — the way they love us, not because we can love back, but because of our need for love. . . .” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2013/04/a-prayer-for-dogs/)

 

“I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog.
Simple spelling G O D, same word backwards, D O G.
They would stay with me all day. I'm the one who walks away.
But both of them just wait for me, and dance at my return with glee.
Both love me no matter what - divine God and canine mutt.
I take it hard each time I fail, but God forgives, dog wags his tail.
God thought up and made the dog, dog reflects a part of God.
I've seen love from both sides now, it's everywhere, amen, bow wow.
I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog.
And in my human frailty...I can't match their love for me. “ (God and Dog, by Wendy Francisco)

 

  The above are lyrics to the song “God and Dog”, but few are aware of the story behind that video and song.  The below link tells the story and also has links to the video. Enjoy.

 

http://www.guideposts.org/pets/story-behind-god-and-dog-youtube-video



 

Creation Groans for Deliverance

   In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. On the 5th day God created the creatures of the water and the birds of the air. On the 6th day he created the animals……and man.

He was pleased with His creation, and He called it all good.

He created man in His own image and gave them dominion over all the earth, over the creatures of the sea, the birds of the air and over every animal that lived upon the earth.

Dominion. That word we so often believe is to dominate something, to stand over it as it cowers beneath us. We do that well, but that is not what the Lord intended. He gave us authority, ruler-ship, stewardship, over the earth and all His creation. We created in His image should therefore exercise this authority as He would. We as a species fail utterly in so doing. Instead we crush the earth, we crush the creatures, we abuse our authority and wreak havoc and suffering upon our fellow man and upon God’s creation.

  We read in God’s word the story of Balaam and of the donkey he rode upon. God was opposed to the thing that Balaam was about to do. The Angel of the Lord, a pre-incarnate representation of Christ, stood in the path to block Balaam’s way. But he was blind to this and when the little donkey he was riding upon stopped, Balaam became angry and beat her. Three times she refused to pass the path blocked by God, and three times he beat her without mercy. God in His compassion opened the mouth of the donkey and she spoke to Balaam saying “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” And then God opened Balaam’s eyes and he beheld that which the donkey had seen all along, the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with sword in hand, and Balaam bowed face down upon the ground and the Angel of the Lord said to Balaam, ““Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

 

God defends the little donkey.

Later on, in the New Testament, we read of the account of our Lord as he rides into Jerusalem upon the back of a donkey. We are told that this donkey was young and had never been ridden. Those of us who have had dealings with equines can tell you one thing true. One does not go and take hold of a young equine that has never had a person sit upon him, and take him and ride him in a parade. It just does not work out well for you, or for the equine, or for the folks standing along the parade route waving and shouting. But that is exactly what our Lord does. He sits down on this young donkey, who has never before carried a person and he ride’s into Jerusalem with throngs of people waving palm branches and casting them down upon the ground in front of the donkey and screaming Hosanna at the top of their lungs. And the donkey carries our Lord with grace and dignity……..the word does not speak on this, but it is obvious that the donkey knows exactly whom he carries.

The Bible does not say a lot about animals, but it does not need to. God stated that creation was good, it pleased Him, He stated that we were created in His image, to be like Him and that we were to care for creation. Really nothing more needs to be said. But there are a couple of things in the scriptures that shed more light on this subject.

Proverbs says “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”  And “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.”

Yet cruelty towards God’s creatures abounds. Both willful cruelty and ignorant cruelty exist in abundance.

We read in Romans of how the creation groans for deliverance, groans and cries out to God for deliverance.

In Genesis we read of how the blood of Abel, cried out to God from the ground. The first murder and the blood cried out, can you even imagine the cry that rises up to heaven each day now? We murder each other, and we crush the creation. These things ought not to be.

Each of us, who are called by Him, should look upon others, and upon the creatures of this world, as important to God. We should interact with the creatures of this world with love and with mercy. We should endeavor to care for the creation as people who are made in His image. Animals raised and slaughtered for food should be well cared for, and slaughtered as humanely as possible, giving thanks to the Lord for His provision. Animals slain for food in the hunt should be done so under the laws that protect their numbers and as quickly and humanely as possible, again with thanks for the provision provided.

 Greed fuels cruelty. The desire to process more and more to fill the consumer who in most cases thinks nothing at all about where the food he or she is consuming comes from. As you fry up your hamburger tonight, thank God for the cow that died to provide it.

 Christians should be about alleviating suffering, both in our fellow man and our fellow creatures. Just this past couple of months have brought to light some of the most grievous cruelty against helpless animals that I have ever witnessed in all my years. Dogs brutally sexually assaulted, dogs dragged behind vehicles until their toes and flesh were ripped off, suffering grievous wounds, dogs with their heads caved in by a shovel, walking about with terrible wounds, these but a handful of the thousands of stories out there untold. If you have no compassion for a helpless animal, how can you have compassion for your fellow man? Do not think for one moment that God looks down upon the wanton cruelty displayed across this world and thinks nothing.

No matter what we do, the creation will continue to cry out, continue to groan and wait for deliverance, but as children of God, we should be about lessening the suffering, of our fellow man and our fellow creatures until such time as the Lord makes all things right again.

Creation groans for deliverance.............

 

All of Creation

I would begin this post by thanking my Facebook friend Chipster, as it was several posts that he did today that led to this posting.

 A few months ago I was sitting outside, praying, my heart was discouraged and I felt a call to be still and listen. I closed my eyes and opened my ears, and I could hear the wind as it gently stirred the branches of the Sycamore tree I was sitting under, and all of a sudden, it was as if the trees were singing. Each one had a slightly different sound to it, the Sycamore the loudest, the pines more stoic and reserved, and the Japenese Maple very gentle.........and my heart was lifted and I was filled with a sense of wonder, at how all of creation really does praise Him!

 My friend posted two Psalms. Psalm 19 and Psalm 148. Read through them, let the words of the Psalms resonate with your soul. And then listen to some of the wonderful sounds of nature lifting its voice in song to the King!

Psalm 19

 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky aboveproclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech,and night to night reveals knowledge.There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun,which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens,and its circuit to the end of them,and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

 The law of the Lord is perfect,reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;  the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rulesof the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned;in keeping them there is great reward.

 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 148

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together,
old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints,for the people of Israel who are near to him! Praise the Lord!

Crickets and female opera singer (slowed) Thank you Chipster!

 

Trees and Wind

Earth sounds

Sun sounds

Moon sounds

 

And the best saved for last, Louie Giglio combined the radio waves from pulsating stars, with the sound of whales and human voice in praise. The video is 14 minutes long, but it is 14 minutes well spent. (Thanks Chipster for sharing this one! It is awesome!)