How to be a Royal Heir; Part II

Royals Are Beautiful People. 

As a Child of God you are a royal heir. 

As I continued this lesson with my middle grade girls, they described princesses or royal people as beautiful people. 

This is one of my favorite verses about being beautiful: Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news… Isaiah 52:7 and Romans 10:15

Martin Luther King Jr. is credited with the quote “One day I hope my children can be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” However, a couple thousand years ago this very concept was recorded in scripture. “God looks not at the outer appearance, but at the heart” I Samuel 16:7

I Peter 3:4 tells us Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

A gentle quiet spirit does not mean you never speak your mind; it does not mean you will never get fired up. What a gentle quiet spirit is referring to is the attitude of your heart. 

We see many beauty products that display the word “pure.”  True beauty comes from a pure heart that seeks after God. I used to tell my children and my students to run every thought through the filter of God’s word to determine its purity. I would challenge you to do the same.

James 1:27 tells us that PURE and genuine religion in the sight of God is taking care orphans and widows and refusing to let the world corrupt you. 

OUR BEAUTY COMES FROM THE DEEP PLACE IN OUR HEARTS, MOVING US TO THE ACTS OF SERVICE AS A RESULT OF THE GIFTS HE HAS GIVEN US.

“Royalty wears only the finest clothes.” Said one of my students, with her head held high and with a mock snootiness in her voice. 

As a Child of the King, how do you dress?

Here is how scripture tells us we should dress:

Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. Romans 13: 14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3: 12-14

Let our uniform that identifies us as a Child of the King, as a Royal Heir, be one of compassion kindness, gentleness and patience. When you put on the overcoat, let it be one of love. 

Be identified, not by our fancy clothes, but by our outward actions of our inward spirit. I Timothy 2: 9-10

Oh, and don’t forget, as royal warriors, we always need to be dressed and  prepared for battle.  Ephesians 6:10-17 (NIV)

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 1

 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 

 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The idea of our beauty as a Royal Heir is not that we can’t wear pretty clothes or do our hair up nice, but that we should be identified by the posture of our hearts, by our actions that are spurred on by the gifts and faith we have been given through our salvation. 

My daughter-in-law is a personal stylist. She helps her clients dress appropriately for the job or role they have. She helps them get rid of the junk in their closets that may have worked for their “old self” but would be inappropriate for their “new self.” When they are done, they feel confident and equipped to face the day. 

To be a beautiful person, we have God’s Inspired Word as our personal stylist. He cares about how the flowers look and the bird that falls, so of course, He cares about us and every hair on our heads. He tells us to untangle ourselves from the old creatures that we were before salvation and to clothe our new selves with strength and dignity, with gentleness and kindness, to be prepared for battle and equipped with faith, and above all with a cloak of love.

I would challenge you, before you go out your front door today, make sure you are clothed appropriately to face the world. Check you “mirror” and look for the Imago Dei. I pray that when people see you, they will see Jesus shining through.

How to be a Royal Heir

I was teaching a lesson on being a child of the King to my 10–13-year-old girl’s Bible study. We discussed how a princess would think about themselves, dress, act etc. We had some interesting insights to say the least. Royalty acts snooty. They think they are better than everyone else. They always wear the nicest and most expensive clothes and expect everyone to wait on them. 

As children of THE King, how are WE supposed to think? How are we supposed to act? How do we dress?

A royal heir thinks he or she is better than everyone else and everyone should wait on them (or that is our perception anyway). But what does our Handbook for Living as a Royal Heir tell us?

Romans 12:3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

I grew up thinking this verse was only about humility and about how bad I was in and of myself. And while there is truth in that, that is only part of the exhortation. It goes on to tell us to think honestly and clear minded about the faith and gifts we have been given and how we use them. We should not pretend to better than anyone. Equally we should not act as if we are worthless.If I stayed held down by thinking I was no good, unworthy, or without value. I would be serving the Father of Lies, not the Father of LIGHT!

If I stayed held down by thinking I was no good, unworthy, or without value. I would be serving the Father of Lies, not the Father of LIGHT!

How and what I think of myself needs to be based on Truth. 

To know the TRUTH, I must spend time with Him (the Way the Truth and the Life), learning about Him, reading about Him, talking with Him, investing in a relationship with Him. The more I know HIM, my King, the more I will recognize the truth and my value in Him. 

Here is another truth about how we should think as a child of the King. 

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges[;he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

The attitude of Christ is an example of being a leader through serving, sacrificing, and being obedient to our Father’s will.

Knowing the TRUTH helps us to know our value and will keep us from searching frantically for it in what the world has to offer us. 

Next week “Royal Heirs are Beautiful People”

I Am a Child of God Part III

I haven’t had a lot of time to dig deep into God’s Word or write the past couple of weeks. God had other work for me to do. The only way I am equipped to do this work is by having my fuel tank full at the beginning of the journey, so I only needed a daily “top off” to go the distance. Knowing God’s Word, regularly digging in deep, letting my roots go down to where they find the water is the only way to make it through the times of drought or storm. 

Knowing who I am in Christ, knowing where my strength comes from, feeling confident in the work He has called me to is a work of the Holy Spirit in my life. It is from believing what He says in His Word is true and faithful, resting in Him and taking time to be still. 

I encourage you to look up these verses for yourself and find confidence in who you are in Christ. The verse link will take you to biblegateway.com which has many resources for Bible study and growth. 

I am Buried with Christ & Dead to Sin

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Galatians 5:24

I am Alive with Christ

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:12-13

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.Colossians 3:1-3

I am Known

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. Psalms 139

I am Renewed & Transformed

Put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10

I am At Peace ~ Given Peace ~Called to Peace

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15

I am Free

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

I am Made in God’s Image (Imago Dei)

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:27

I am A Holy Temple & Built for God’s Dwelling

We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:21-22  

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

I am God’s Masterpiece

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalms 139:14

I am Salt and Light

You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the world— like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:13-14

I am  a Branch Of The True Vine

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart Romans me you can do nothing. John 15:5

I am Appointed to Bear Fruit

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. John 15:16

I am Able to Approach God

Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. Ephesians 3:12  

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16

 

At the end of this series, there will be a pdf available for you to download. You can stick it on your wall or mirror to daily be reminded of who you are in Christ. 

I hope this has been an encouragement to you. Please feel free to share. This is not my work, but God’s. I hope you have a beautiful day. See you here next week for some more refreshing Soul Water from the Rivers of Life

I am a Child of God Part II

I have been told the first words out of my mouth were, “I do it myself!” I wanted to tie my own shoes, brush my own hair, and get myself dressed without help. For a child, that is really not a bad trait. We want our children to be able to take care of their own needs and become independent. 

However, as life becomes more complex and decisions are more than what to wear or whether or not I will put matching socks on my feet, I have come to realize that I cannot, nor do I want to “do it all myself.”  

I am so grateful to have a Heavenly Father who rescues me from the messes that I make; who goes before me and prepares the way for me; who walks beside me, so I am never alone. I am so fortunate to have the One who can pick me up out of the mirey pit and set my feet on solid ground. And I am humbled that the Creator of the Universe cares enough about me to slow me down and tell me, “Not that way my daughter, here is the way, walk in it.” On my own, in my own power, I can really wander, but with Him at the helm of my ship, I will stay on course. 

In this ongoing series of ‘Who God Is’ and ‘Who We are Because of Who He is’, here are a few more reminders from God’s Word.

I am Rescued

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son Colossians 1:13

I am Strengthened

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy Colossians 1:11  

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

I am Redeemed

For he has rescued us Romans the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

I am Forgiven

For he has rescued us Romans the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.  Colossians 1:13-14

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions.  You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

I am Reconciled

…and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1:20-22

And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.  2 Corinthians 5:18-19

I am Holy in His Sight

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault Colossians 1:22

I am Without Blemish or Accusation

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1:22

I am Made Perfect in Christ

So, we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. Colossians 1:28

I am Encouraged

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. Colossians 2:2

I am United

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. Romans.6:5

I am Given Confidence

I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. Colossians.2:2 

I am Rooted & Built Up in Christ

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

I am Overflowing with Joy and Thankfulness

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:7

At the end of this series, there will be a pdf of these verses available for you to download. You can stick it on your wall or mirror to daily be reminded of who you are in Christ. 

In the meantime, I would encourage you to click the link (which will take you to http://www.biblegateway.com) of any of the verses and study them more for yourself.

I hope this has been an encouragement to you. Please feel free to share. This is not my work, but God’s.I hope you have a beautiful day. See you here next week for some more refreshing Soul Water from the Rivers of Life

I am a Child of God

This morning, I woke up to a chorus of birds singing in my backyard. I was reminded how much God loves it when His creation worships Him. More than that, I thought of how much He cares for all those birds and how much more He cares for me. Because of His great love, I am chosen, redeemed, and set apart for His work.

I recently wrote a series on who God is. Last week I began a series on who we are because of Him. The next couple of weeks will be His words about who we are because of Him and in Him. At the end of this series, there will be a couple of downloadable PDFs that you can use for your own study or just good reminders of these truths.

I Am Chosen & Set Apart

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12  

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4

I Am Saved

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. Romans 10:10

I Am a Child of God

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26  

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children   of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promises to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3:29

I am an Heir of the King

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father”   Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.Galatians 4:6-7

And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

I Am Loved

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12 

Children of the King

In the past several entries, we studied who our King is. Now I want to discuss who we are because He is our King. 

A while ago, I was relating to a couple of friends that Father’s Day is kind of hard for me. You see, my parents are both God fearing Christians, and apparently many people assumed I had an ideal upbringing. I even had someone say to me, “but the Christian life is easy for you, you grew up in a wonderful Christian home.” 

My parents pointed me to the Lord from the time I was born, and I was in church every time the door was open. I had grandparents and great grandparents who also loved Jesus. However, in my youth, my father was plagued in ways, that I now know that were his human, imperfect and insecure ways of trying to prove his worth. I struggled with feeling like a disappointment and lived in fear of upsetting the precarious apple cart at any given moment. Wonderful and easy would not be the words I use to describe my youth. But the Lord used all of it to redeem and refine me.

So, my sweet friend asked me how I turned out so wonderful, her words not mine. I laughed at the overstatement and then took a deep breath and thought “How indeed?”  Having godly people in my life really helped; going to church was good, Christian education didn’t ruin me. 

But the truth of who I am, is this; when I was five years old, God became my daddy. He wrapped His gentle arms of protection around me and told me that I was special and loved. He guided me from the first moment I asked him to be my Abba. He spoke to me in a still small voice reminding me of who I am in Him.

His child 

His redeemed 

The one He died for

The one he strengthens

The one he feeds 

The one he wants to spend time with 

The one who he gives confidence to

The one he set aside for a purpose

His ROYAL heir.  

Later, I was lamenting about how I never felt like I could do enough to please my dad. If I got a B, why wasn’t it an A? If I tried out for a sports team, why wasn’t I good enough to make it? 

In that same breath, it hit me like a ton of bricks; I realized that all my life I had been seeking to please the wrong Daddy. There is only one I need to please, that is my Heavenly Father.  There is only one relationship that will satisfy that deep longing in my heart, the relationship with my Savior. 

If I really know my Abba Father, it becomes hard not to trust him with my deepest thoughts, desires, needs and emotions. The more I grow to know Him, the more confident I become in who I am. 

Like David said in Psalms 71:5 , You have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 

And the author of Hebrews encourages us with this in Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. 

If God is not already your Father, I invite you to change this today. If you struggle to feel loved and accepted, know that you can go with confidence to the throne of grace where you will be loved and accepted unconditionally. 

A side note: My dad is 82 years old now and the Lord is using this time in his life to rebuild our relationship into a sweet friendship.

Over the next few weeks, we will explore who we are because we are children of the king. 

Oh, My Lord, You are so Kind.

The Apostle’s Sister Book Review

Angela Hunt is not only a master storyteller; she is a scholar. Her latest book in The Jerusalem Road series, The Apostle’s Sisterdraws the reader into life in first century Tarsus and Jerusalem with vivid descriptions of sights, sounds, and fragrances to complete the story. The accurate use of the Hebrew language woven throughout the story immerses the reader more fully into the culture of the time and people.

The inspired Scripture gives us the perspective of the writers. It is complete and lacking nothing. Angela’s story helps the reader to understand potential perspectives of other participants in the stories contained within the Scripture. 

In this narrative, the Apostle Paul’s free-spirited sister, Aya grows up in the shadow of her brother who is a student of the Torah. We travel with her as she marries, leaves her home in Tarsus and the freedom to sing and teach others music, and moves to Jerusalem with her new husband, also a student of the Torah who has committed his life to the study. 

Through the eyes of Aya, we are given a front row seat to observe the goings on leading up to and surrounding Paul’s conversion and his impact on the known world. 

One of the most difficult aspects of writing historical fiction is studying and researching and understanding the history of the time and bringing it to life for the reader. Angela has not disappointed. Her work will teach and inspire you. It will give you a better understanding of the struggle of women, children, Jews, and believers in the first century. 

Jehovah Roi Who is God? Part V

Psalm 23 tells us that the Lord (Yahweh, Jehovah) is our shepherd, Jehovah Roi, and as our shepherd he leads us where we need to go, provides for us, feeds us in the presence of our enemies and protects us. 

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 for ever.

Growing up, I always equated the “rod” with punishment or discipline. Just recently, I learned that the rod was a type of a club that the shepherd used to fight off wild animals and predators, not a tool of punishment. Not only does He guide us, feed us and give us rest, but he is a vigilant protector. We can take comfort in the security of our protection in Him and knowing that we will dwell with Him throughout eternity.

We have a good, good Father don’t we? Here are a few more descriptions of who He is to us.

Lamentations 3:24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” 

Psalm 18:2 Says He is my Rock and Redeemer, Psalm 61:2 Says when my heart is overwhelmed, please lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I.

Psalm 62:6 Says He is my Refuge

Psalm 71:3 He is my Fortress

Habakkuk 1:12, Exodus 3:15 He is Eternal

Romans 10:13 He is my Savior

Hebrews 13:8 He is the Same yesterday, today and forever.

John 14:6 I am the Way, The Truth, and the Life 

Isaiah 64:8 tells us that he is the potter, and we are the clay.

Psalm 68:5 He is a Father to the fatherless, defender of the widow.

Isaiah 54:5 Your Maker is your Husband, “The Lord God Almighty” is His name.

Who is He to you? 

Who is the God you need today? 

In times of uncertainty, (which we have certainly experienced in abundance these past two years) there is absolute certainty, when you call on God as Creator (Elohim), Provider (Jehovah Jireh), Healer (Jehovah Rophe), God of Peace (Jehovah Shalom), or our Shepherd (Jehovah Roi),  you will be heard. 

We have been taught to not trust strangers, but our God has offered us the privilege of knowing Him, our King and Creator of the universe, intimately and personally. We learn to trust Him when we grow in revelation, knowledge and understanding of His great name. We do this through studying scripture, listening to sound teaching, and praying. God invites us right where we are to know and trust Him and to become a Child of the King.

You may know the name Yahweh, I Am that I am, but can you call him ABBA Father (daddy)? If not, right now is the time.   

Will you be one who diligently seeks to know Him, know Him better? 

As it says in Colossians 3:10, Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator (Elohim) and become like Him. If you need to, seek someone out to pray with or just make your heart right with God right here and now, and feel free to tell us about it so we can rejoice with you. 

For further study:

Becoming a Woman Who Knows God by Name by Jan Harrison 

Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Joy Bethke 

Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn 

The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards 

Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver 

Worshipping God by RT Kendall 

The Books of Psalms and Isaiah  

Resources: 

Bible Gateway at www.biblegateway.com – Various versions of the Bible – check out the “Names of God” Bible, the NLT and others. This is a great study resource. 

Bible Hub at www.biblehub.com

Have a very blessed day. I hope to see you back here next week.

Who is God? Part IV

Who Redeems Your Life From Destruction, Who Crowns You With Loving Kindess And Tender Mercies – Jehovah Nissi God Our Banner and our Go’el, God our Redeemer Psalm 103:4

Many of us still have times when we strive and struggle because we revert to a mindset of having to earn God’s grace. We fight our own battles and take care of our own problems. We think we are the one who is in control of the battle. That is wasted energy, and I don’t know about you, but I do not have energy enough to waste it. 

We need to release the lie and embrace the truth that we are made worthy in God, through Christ, so that we can walk unencumbered in the Way the Truth and the Life. Jehovah Nissi is raising the banner of victory, over our lives.

He replaces the shroud of shame and guilt with the crown of loving kindness and tender mercies. (“Shame off me Grace on Me” Robin Jones Gunn)

Our spirits should be bursting with gratitude as we consider how God chooses to bestow his benefits on us. 

Who Satisfies Your Mouth With Good Things So That Your Youth Is Renewed Like The Eagles – El Shaddai – The Lord God Almighty & Jehovah Jireh our provider Psalms 103:5

What does He provide?  

                                    Salvation Romans 3:23-24

                                    A way out of temptation and sin I Corinthians 10:13

                                    Freedom Galatians 5:1

All I have needed thy hand hath provided

The fruit of being satisfied by God’s goodness is that we will share His love. Our life will become a living testimony. We need to know and trust God’s name for our every need so we can authentically speak words of hope, life and comfort into someone else’s life. When His loving kindness is shown through us, His benefits multiply.

The ENEMY wants us to forget all these benefits. He wants us to base our relationship with God on feelings and emotions. He frequently reminds us of our failures, mistakes, and sins, but Jehovah Rophe (our healer) has redeemed us from all our iniquities. Jehovah Shalom (our God of peace) alone can bring us the peace that passes all understanding. 

We may become distracted or disillusioned about who our King is and what he has done for us. But remembering His benefits will remind us of His character. It will empower us to rejoice and share His goodness and those benefits with others. 

John 7:38 tells us, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 

As the river of living water flows into us, as we know God more intimately, the natural (or supernatural) action is for the Living Water to flow out of us.

You may be feeling a bit thirsty, or like a mud caked stream or dried out riverbed, but Matthew 5:6 tells us “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled.” (NKJV)

And the Holy Spirit, our Paracletes, our counselor, comforter, keeper, and helper is alone the one who fills us with all good things. (John 15:26)

John 4:13-14 (NLT) Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water (the water the world offers) will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

I am praying for you today, that if you are hungry, you will be fed and if you are thirsty you will be satisfied, and that the wellspring of God’s goodness and faithfulness can flow through you in whatever work He has called you to today.

We have one more week in the “Who is God” series, and then we will take a look at who we are in Christ.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who can be encouraged by it. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to receive more encouragement like this right in your email inbox. Just hit the follow button and fill in your information.

Have a blessed day.

Keri

Jehovah Rophe/Rapha Who is our King? Part III

My daughter has spent much of her adult life as a medical ICU nurse. After some time off for having a couple of major surgeries, she dove back into the deep end, serving in a very COVID populated ICU throughout 2020 and 2021. As proud as this mama’s heart was of her, it was hard to grasp what she was dealing with daily. 

As a nurse, she is tasked with caring for her patients’ entire well-being; physical, emotional, and even spiritual. Her patients were alone without family or friends to sit beside them, encourage them, or hold their hands. Many of them could not communicate, because they were intubated. Most did not realize the blessing of the tender loving care of this nurse, placed in their lives by the Great Healer, as she administered lifesaving medications and breathing treatments. 

They did not know that as she quietly went about her work, caring for their every need, she was beseeching Jehovah Rophe on their behalf. Many did not know she was silently singing the songs and hymns that have comforted her throughout her life. Some heard her humming and asked her to come closer and sing to them. She did. 

God, Himself, has given her the gifts that she uses every day. He has given the doctors skills and knowledge, but still, much about the human body is a mystery. 

Throughout Scripture God is referred to as our healer. He is the God who heals. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Psalms 103

PSALM 147:3 Says He is the Rophe (healer) of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds. 

We don’t know what healing will look like. Maybe God gives you grace to endure. Maybe you or a loved one enjoys physical healing. Maybe God chooses to remove your thorn in the flesh.

Paul was given a thorn in the flesh to remind him of his redemption and his dependence on God.

Our healing may not be from a physical ailment; it may be spiritual healing, release from a bad habit that has had a strangle hold on us. It may be emotional healing or a supernatural ability to forgive others as He has forgiven us. 

My dear Aunt Jean loved Jesus more than anything in this world. Her life reflected that, but it was not without trials or pain. When she was at my home for her very last Christmas on earth, as I helped her into bed, I asked her if I could do anything else for her. She said “pray for me to not be in pain.” I prayed for her that night and continued to in the months to come. 

I prayed that she would be free from pain and that she would be able to have joy in her circumstances. Months later, as I prayed for her to be free from pain, I immediately had an overwhelming thought. For Aunt Jean to be completely healed, she would be in Heaven. In my heart, I knew this would make her joy complete. The very next day she met Jehovah Rophe, her healer, face to face, never to experience pain again. 

Our bodies and minds are human and frail. We are all in a state of diminishment, but 2 Corinthians 4:16 says “We do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”  Every day in these messed up earthly bodies is one day closer to heaven because we are redeemed. 

Whatever season you are in, know that Jehovah Rophe is the God who heals because He is the God who hears. He hears your cry, knows your pain, and wants to bring you peace even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Psalms 23

Know that if you are reading this, you have been prayed for.

Feel free to connect with me by leaving a comment, signing up to receive this blog right into your inbox or email me at soulwater@kerilynnwillis.com.

If We are Children of the King, Who is our King? Part II

If we know that God is absolutely trustworthy, then it is our responsibility to grow in our trust of Him. This takes time and investment and will lead to understanding of His nature and character which will allow us to more fully be dependent on Him. 

Over the next several weeks, we are going to dive into scripture and look at some names of God and other descriptions of our indescribable God. As a disclaimer, I am not a Hebrew or Greek scholar. As I did my research, I found that several names were written and spelled several different ways. Original Hebrew, translated to English, Old English translated to new English etc. What we do need to know is that the Hebrew people used names of God to describe the attributes of His character they experienced or knew. These names help us to better understand who God is.  

Then Elohim said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domestic animals all over the earth, and all the animals that crawl on the earth.”GENESIS 1:26 (Names of God Bible, http://www.biblegateway.com)

ELOHIM is the plural form of EL or God, indicating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit co-existed as one from the beginning of time. Of all creation, They chose humans to make in Their image. Throughout Scripture there are over 2000 uses of this name of God.

Exodus 3:5-14 (NLT)“Do not come any closer,” the Lord (Yahweh/Jehovah) warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God (Elohim) of your father —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

God appeared in a burning bush that did not burn up and told Moses who He was, why He was there, and what He wanted from him, but Moses needed more convincing to go face to face with Pharaoh. 

12God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am that I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.”

15 Again Elohim said to Moses, “This is what you must say to the people of Israel: Yahweh Elohim of your ancestors, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my title throughout every generation. (Vs 15 from the Names of God Bible www.biblegateway.com)

Yahweh or Jehovah is the same name of God, translated it means “The Existing One” or Lord – I am that I am (Ehyeh) – indicates that He has no beginning and no end, is all powerful and needs no further explanation. In Revelation 22:13, He says “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

Some of us are like Moses, we think we need to see a burning bush to really believe in God. Elohim came to Moses and introduced Himself in a very powerful way. The power of God and His name does not come to us in a burning bush today, but He has given us sixty-six books to explain Himself and His work and all of creation reveals His majesty.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:20 (NIV)

What is your burning bush? Where do you see God? Has God done something to prove Himself real to you? We would love for you to share it with us in the comments or send me an email at soulwater@kerilynnwillis.com.

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Grandmas, Cranberries and Cinnamon Rolls Part II

Reposted as a tribute to my grandmothers on Mother’s Day 2022.

My favorite Christmas memories from childhood stem from the heritage of faith and love shared by my grandparents.  As I remember my Grandma B, this scripture comes to mind, clearly articulating her testimony as being a woman of faith. 

II Timothy 1: 5-7

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Gram was a tiny, meek, compassionate lady. Her favorite Christmas carol was, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” written during the Civil War. Take a minute and look up the words. It is a pretty powerful song.  She was born during WWI and had her babies during WWII. She truly desired peace on earth and had goodwill toward men.

She was plagued by MS and depended on a wheelchair by the time I was in high school. She loved and prayed for us as long as she lived.  When my sister and I were little, she would encourage us to make cards for the elderly and frequently took us to sing to Granny Thompson, who was over 100 years old and lived in a rest home. I remember her pushing us up closer to the railing of the bed and encouraging us to “sing a little louder” so the sweet granny could hear us. 

Grandma B was always prepared with a meal for a shut in, often took in laundry to help out a friend and showed love in every way she knew how. She was a living picture of James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.(NIV)

From the time I was able to reach counter, she would give me free reign of her kitchen. About eight years old, making a cake, waist length hair hanging down in front of me, the mop of hair caught in the hand mixer. The mixer rolled my hair right up to my scalp. All I could do was scream for help. My mom rescued me, calmly unplugging the offender and retreating to the other room to laugh in private. I still have a dent in my forehead! … One of my best Grandma’s Kitchen memories.

Every Christmas, we would grind cranberries for Gram’s special cranberry relish. Eventually, the cranberry relish became my job. When I made it for about 150 senior citizens, they recognized it for the “old fashioned” recipe it was but didn’t believe that I made it.  Since then I have found a much easier way to make her special recipe without using a grinder. I use my Vita-mix, but any blender will work. 

This recipe is not a gourmet dish, but it is my grandmother’s recipe, and in making it every year, I honor her and share the love of cooking and sharing my heart with my family and friends as she did for so many years. 

GRANDMA BONEBRIGHT’S CRANBERRY RELISH

  • Grind (or blend in your blender) one bag of cranberries 
  • Mix with one can of mandarin oranges (don’t blend these)
  • Add one large package of orange Jell-O prepared with called for hot water and no cold water
  • Add sugar to taste. 
  • Refrigerate until firm.
  • ADD-LIB 
  • Add raspberries or other fruit 
  • Garnish with fresh mint and oranges
  • Put in a Jell-O mold & make it fancy

Grandmas, Cranberries & Cinnamon Rolls

Reposted May 2022 in tribute to my grandmothers for Mother’s Day.

It is still dark in the house. The warmth of the fire crackling in the fireplace and the delicate lights on the Christmas tree spark memories of my youth. Cinnamon and vanilla scents wafting from my oven kindle the comforting nostalgia growing inside of me.

As a child, we would spend a quiet Christmas Eve with my paternal grandparents. Fire in the fireplace and a lovingly prepared meal greeted us. They loved us so much and loved to lavish us with special gifts and treats as only grandparent can.

Christmas morning would take us over the river and through the woods (or down the street) to the other grandmother’s house. The quiet and meekness of Christmas Eve was replaced with raucous laughter, food frenzies, games, and spontaneous trips to the beach. Grama Sandy would be singing Christmas carols in her rich, contra alto voice, as she prepared the Christmas feast for us. Aromas of her cinnamon rolls, with sometimes more than twenty of us waiting for them to come out of the oven, built anticipation of the day to come.  

I was very blessed to have both of my grandmothers well into adulthood. They were as different as could be, but their love of Jesus and their families united them like sisters. I don’t remember my tiny little Gram B ever singing. I don’t remember robust Grama Sandy ever NOT singing (My secret dream is to be able to sing as beautifully as her).

Gram B was quiet and kept her opinions to herself. She kept a beautiful home, towels folded just so, sheets ironed, widows and orphans fed and cared for. Grama Sandy conducted a symphony of her seven children who always brought strays and wafts home with them, for which I am grateful, because I married one of them. She impacted every single person who entered her home.

Both grandmas instilled in me the joy of serving as a means of worshiping the One who gives us every good and perfect gift. 

Psalms 103:17 (NIV)

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children

Because of their amazing cooking, I am a food snob. I make almost everything from scratch. There are two exceptions; Gram B’s cranberry relish and Grama Sandy’s cinnamon rolls. The best kind of gifts are the ones that don’t wear out and that you can share. Today I am going to share the timeless gift of Gram’s cinnamon rolls, and tomorrow you will be blessed to receive the recipe for Gram B’s cranberry relish and a tribute to this special lady. 

Turn on your favorite Christmas music and sing along with Grandma Sandy while embarking on this sentimental journey with me. I believe Gram would choose Andrea Bochelli or Josh Groban and harmonize with them all day long. I never saw Gram Sandy measure anything. She baked from her heart as much as she did from her memory. She made do with what she had available and improvised whenever necessary. So, add your own flavor or twist to this recipe, and make it your own.

Grandma Sandy’s Cinfull Cinnamon Rolls

1 package Bridgford frozen bread dough

(3 loaves; each loaf makes 8 rolls)

1 cup or so of brown sugar for each loaf

3 Tablespoons or so of cinnamon for each loaf

1 cube of butter or so for each loaf

About 1 Tbsp vanilla or other flavoring

NUTS & RAISINS TO ADD-LIB

  • Let bread dough thaw on a cutting board 
  • In the bottom of the pan cut enough butter so you have about one chunk every inch
  • Sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon and brown sugar
  • Shake some vanilla over all this and set pan aside
  • Smash bread dough flat so you have a rectangle 
  • Spread a little butter on the surface 
  • Sprinkle cinnamon & brown sugar, nuts, raisins or any thing else on that. 
  • Start rolling & stretching until your loaf is completely rolled
  • Slice in half, then in half again, then in half again until you have eight even rolls
  • Place on top of cinnamon & sugar in pan 
  • Spray sides of pan with cooking spray
  • Let rise until light & fluffy (I usually let them rise over-night and bake in the morning before everyone gets up, so they wake up to the smell of baking cinnamon rolls and coffee).
  • Bake at 325* for about 30 min (The middle roll should kind of thump when you tap it, and they all should be a golden brown)
  • Immediately turn over onto prepared platter or plate, scraping all of the caramelized sugar and cinnamon syrup onto the rolls.
  • Eat up!

Feel free to make your own bread dough if you don’t want to use the frozen bread dough. I just run out of time and energy by Christmas Eve when I make Cinnamon rolls for the entire neighborhood. I also have found this method to be consistent even when I am off my baking game.

What is your favorite family holiday tradition or grandma memory?

 

Lessons From the Moms in My Life

Updated May 2022. The moms mentioned in this blog are my own sweet mom, Marci Bonebright who is still a fun and influential person in my life, my mom-in-law, Elizabeth Willis, who is worshiping in heaven with my grandmothers, Sandy DeBruyn and Eleanor Bonebright. I will be reposting several tributes to these ladies in the next few days.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I try to take time to step back from the daily chores and reflect on the impact my mother had on me and that I have had on my own daughter. One of my earliest memories is going to church as a family. Learning to love Jesus was at the top of Mom’s priority list for her girls. Memorizing Scripture was a daily practice. Cooking… well, she says she just got out of the way when I entered the kitchen, except the time that she had to rescue me from the eggbeaters that wrapped my waist length hair in them all the way up to my forehead. Arriving to my pleas for help, she just calmy unplugged the offending appliance and unraveled my hair and sent me to the sink to wash out the cake batter. “Respond don’t react,” were words that she repeated to me often, especially after I became a mother. James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

In a college writing class, I was required to write a ‘descriptive’ paper. I didn’t even hesitate. My descriptive paper would be on a virtuous woman. My mother would be my muse. If you read Proverbs 31, and you know Mom, you would agree. There hasn’t a day gone by that she has not worked hard. She has supported her family spiritually, emotionally, and financially. She sewed so well that she even made my dad’s suits. I drew a picture of what I wanted for a wedding dress, and she made it without hesitation, exactly as I had dreamed. Her children call her blessed. She fears the Lord. She deserves to be honored and praised.

Proverbs 31:13-17 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

I have been so blessed to have a heritage of Christian women in my life. As early as I can remember, my Grandma Bonebright (my dad’s mom) involved me in and set an example of Christian acts of service. Whether it was taking a meal to a sick person, doing somebody’s laundry, or singing to Granny Thompson, Gram planned her life around meeting the needs of others as her service to Christ. She did not make a big deal about it. She did not preach to me about why I needed to serve. She gently and quietly just set an example of godly living and self-sacrifice. She often took my sister and me to visit “shut ins” We sang all of the sweet Jesus songs we could think of, always being encouraged to sing louder and get closer. I still remember the soft- hands of Granny Thompson reaching out to hold my hand. These served as her eyes, because her 101 years had robbed her of her eyesight. Even though her eyes were not seeing her physical surroundings, they were still the window to her soul, as the joy of the Lord beamed from the inside out as the light of the world.  

As the MS set in, my Grandma Bonebright was afraid to go out in public for fear of falling or causing an accident. The last time I remember her driving was when I was in Jr High. She picked me up from school and headed out onto the freeway. We topped speeds of 20 miles an hour, and that was with me sliding over and putting my foot on the gas! Dear Grandma was transitioning from the servant to the one being served and needing care. A few of her friends were not too shy to come around. Some were afraid of hurting her or embarrassed at her inability to take care of herself as she once had. For those who could not get over their own uneasiness with Gram’s condition, they missed knowing one of the most wonderful ladies with a most godly, gentle and quiet spirit.   

She taught me, from her recliner and wheelchair, how to cook, how to serve, how to love my neighbor as myself. I learned compassion, patience, and true joy of serving through practical experiences of lifting, transferring, schlepping wheelchairs, bathing and grooming, cleaning her house, shopping for my grandparent’s groceries and cooking their favorite foods until they no longer needed the foods and trappings of this earthly life.  

One of the greatest blessings of building this kind of a relationship with my grandmother is that she knew me well. She knew my weaknesses, my strengths, my likes and dislikes, but more than any of that, she knew how to pray for me. I am confident that I was one of the main beneficiaries of her prayers. She did not always know what my every need was, but she daily placed me and my needs at the throne of our Savior. 

Proverbs 31:25-27

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.

In several scriptures referring to older believers or wise women we see the word dignity. One of my greatest challenges is protecting the dignity of the grandmas. There is nothing dignifying about having someone else have to take care of your personal needs, dress you, bathe you, feed you, and tell you what to do. As I meditated on these scriptures and what I would be sharing, I thought about what dignity must really mean. 

  1. a formal, stately, or grave bearing: he entered with dignity
  2. the state or quality of being worthy of honor: the dignity of manual labor
  3. relative importance; rank: he is next in dignity to the mayor 
  4. high rank, especially in government or the church
  5. a person of high rank or such persons collectively

I like the second definition and the word origin. It implies that dignity does not come from being “haughty” or even “private” but in being worthy of honor and accepting of one’s role in life, like Paul being content in whatever state. I will probably continue to try to protect our grandma’s dignity, because I think that is honoring to her and to God, but also because we live in a sinful world that despises being inconvenienced or uncomfortable. 

26 When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness. 

One time I heard Grandma Willis(my mother-in-law) “teaching” in her sleep. What an amazing and encouraging teacher she must have been. In her conscious and subconscious, she loved the little ones that came to her. As each of her students brought her work, she told them how hard they had worked and how beautiful this or that was. She also guided them gently and lovingly in correcting their behaviors or schoolwork. God can use even these moments to teach us, moments that we might, as humans, worry about her mental or emotional state. Not only did I hear her teach, but I heard her pray. I have never heard anyone beseech God on behalf of her family the way Grandma Willis did.

What a joy it was for me to have my own daughter be able to experience this relationship with her grandmother. So many times, we wonder why God allowed a saint like Grandma Willis journey for 100 long, hard years on this earth. My daughter, Jordan called me from Virginia her first year in college. Hearing from her was like water to my soul. She explained, (paraphrased) “I know what Grandma’s ministry is. Her ministry is to pray for me, and I need that a lot! I am so fortunate to have someone so close to God, be so close to me.” 

Not too much later, we went to visit my mom’s mom in Washington. Before we left, Grandma Sandy grabbed Jordan’s arm and pulled her close. She said “take a look around this room and know that there is not a day that goes by that you do not have a lot of people praying for you. Sometimes it takes me a while to get to you because my kids and grandkids need A LOT of prayer, but you do get prayed for every day.” Now Grandma Sandy is interceding for us in Heaven

So many times, we are just too busy to even notice when there is a learning opportunity. We often don’t engage our aging fellow believers in conversation for fear of being uncomfortable or weighted down by their burdens, or we may even think that they don’t have anything meaningful to share. 

A while ago, I decided to start making notes on the amazing treasures that Grandma Willis had to share. I would like to share a few of them with you:

One time, when I stopped to see her, I commented that the trees outside her window were beautiful… She replied, “Yes they are, when I see the trees, the remind me of the strength of the Lord.”  She was like a tree planted by the river. This experience led me to Psalm 92: 12-15 But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.  13 For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.  14 Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.  15 They will declare, “The LORD is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”

Another time she told me: “Every day when I wake up, I wonder what the Lord has planned for the day.”Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

On her  90th  birthday she prayed… “Lord help us to do more and better for you each day”

She later told me, I don’t know why the Lord chooses to keep me here on Earth, but I guess my work is not done.

Proverbs 31:27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness

I too, have questioned what the Lord has for me to do… On one particular day, He gave me this verse: John 6:29 (NLT) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

My daughter, Jordan, called me with relief one day.  It is so wonderful when your children ‘get’ the lessons you have been trying to teach and live. She said “I understand James 1 so much better because I see you and daddy put it into practice by taking care of Grandma.” Practicing true religion is taking care of widows and orphans in their distress and by keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.

I can never remember a time in my life when I did not have an older believer, often a widow, that I was participating with in ministry. Whether it was my grandparents, Alma, or my mother-in-law, I have seen the impact of their seemingly invisible ministry and, I have to say, it grieves me when we see them as “no longer active” in their walks with the Lord or we dismiss them as old and not as useful anymore.  

My challenge to you is, if you are not seeing this, if you are not experiencing this, then go looking.  Seek out those who have gray hair, drink in their wisdom.  Go for a walk, take them to coffee or treasure hunting, LISTEN to them.  You would be surprised how much they may be ministered to, if only you allow them to minister to you.

Proverbs 31: 30-31 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

None of us can, on our own, live up to the standard set in Proverbs 31, but with God’s help, we can be who He created us to be and use the gifts He has given us. 

Take time to read Proverbs 31 for yourself. Who do you picture? Give honor to that person this week.

If We are Children of the King, Who is our King? (Part I)

If we are Children of the King, why do we so often live like paupers? Why do we look to the world for our satisfaction and comfort? 

I am not talking about the house we live in or clothes we can afford to wear. I am talking about taking the leftovers this world has to offer and never having enough of it to satisfy our deepest longings and fulfill our greatest desires. 

I think the answer is that we don’t know our king. We must know someone to trust them. Today, I want us to begin a dive into God’s Word to discover who He is and why we can trust him. 

How many of you know the name Ronald Reagan? From what I know, I have a lot of respect for him and how he led our country. I have even driven past and seen the rolling hills of his Santa Barbara ranch, been to the Reagan Library and read his autobiography, and yes, I voted for him. But I don’t REALLY know him. I don’t have a heart and soul relationship with him. 

We need to do more than know God in our minds, we need to know him and have a heart and soul relationship with him. Fortunately, He has offered us that invitation and there are no secret service or bodyguards between him and us. 

Let’s read this together, slowly, considering each line:

Psalms 103 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Adoni, El Elyon, El Shaddai )
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits: 
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,  (Jehovah Rapha)
Who redeems your life from destruction, (Haago ‘El)
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things, (Jehovah Jireh)
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Our circumstances might tempt us to believe we have been abandoned, neglected, overlooked, or ignored. Our minds will tell us not to trust; our flesh is weak, but our spirit, our souls can be at rest with God when we stay fixed on His presence and who He is. 

Psalm 9:10 says Those who know your name will put their trust in you. For you Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Knowing God by name will help us understand His character, knowing his character will help us trust Him more, and trust is at the center of any good relationship.

Think about your good human relationships. Trust is there. Think about the bad ones; trust is absent.

The Bible tells us in Numbers 23:19 (NLT) God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Sometimes (good and bad times) we forget that God is not a person like us, muddling along; He is the Almighty, Elohim, El Shaddai. God is who he says he is “Yahweh, I am” and does what He says he will do. It is His character to fulfill His will. 

If we know that He is absolutely trustworthy, then it is our responsibility to grow in our trust of Him. This takes time and investment and will lead to understanding of his nature and character which will allow us to more fully be dependent on him. 

For the next several weeks, I will be sharing more about who God is and why we can trust Him. If you have not already, I invite you to click the “follow” button and enter your email so you can receive this encouragement directly in your email inbox.

Know that if you are reading this, you are in my prayers. Have a blessed week.

Behold The Lamb

Behold The Lamb of God

… John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29

Abraham and Isaac must have been dumbfounded as they trekked up the mountain where they would build an altar and make a sacrifice. They brought wood, a coal to light the fire, and the other necessary tools, but no lamb. 

When Isaac, Abraham’s son, questioned why they did not have a lamb, Abraham replied, “God will provide.” Genesis 22

Abraham had been asked by God to sacrifice his son. As a parent, I have never been able to get my mind wrapped around this part of the story. The climb up that mountain had to be torture, knowing what was to come. But Abraham did not question God; he made the journey in faith, knowing and believing the promises God had already made to him. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

As he laid his son on the altar, he heard it, God telling him to stop and not lay a hand on the boy, and he heard a ram rustling in the bushes. 

I can only imagine the relief Abraham felt when he heard the ram bleating, there right in front of him and as he released his son from certain death. Abraham believed God and it was counted as righteousness. Genesis 15:4  

He was called to sacrifice but only required to surrender.

Abraham was so overwhelmed with gratitude that he named the mountain “Yahweh Yireh” or “Jehovah Jireh” which means the Lord will provide. To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” Genesis 22:14

In the Old Testament, to make amends for sin, to worship, and for purification, individuals and families would bring a sacrifice of a pure, unblemished lamb. The most well-known story of this is when the Israelites were asked to sacrifice a lamb and put the blood on the door post to show their obedience and to protect them as the “death angel” descended and passed over Egypt. The celebration of “Passover” began then and is continued today as a remembrance of God’s deliverance. 

“In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 (NLT) Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us. I Corinthians 5:7 (NLT)

Forty-two generations after Abraham, God sent another sacrificial lamb, His son Jesus. 

Jehovah Jireh saw the way things were going in the world and wanted to provide a new way and new covenant for there to be forgiveness and reconciliation.  On another mountain, He  provided a perfect lamb that would end the need for sacrifice once and for all time. He gave us His precious son to pay the ultimate price for sin, past, present, and future. 

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.  Hebrews 2:14-17 (NLT)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17

In a conversation with my middle-grade Bible study girls, I asked them what was the same and what was different between the ram Abraham sacrificed and Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died on the cross. They enthusiastically started throwing the answers out. Both provided a “blood offering.”  The ram nor Jesus did anything to deserve death. It was clear to the girls that the ram only provided atonement for one man and his family, but Jesus’ death on the cross provided the sacrifice for all mankind. Also, the ram died and stayed dead. Jesus conquered sin and death and rose from the dead on the third day and lives still today.

 And when God counted him (Abraham) as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. Romans 4:23-25 (NLT)

Sometimes, as adults, we get caught up in the details and culture of the Gospel. We can think we are so sinful that we are unredeemable or that we are good people and don’t need saving.  Then we forget the simple truths contained in the Gospel: We have all sinned. God loves us. Jesus died for our sins, was buried and rose again so we can have life, life more abundant. (Romans 3:23-24, John 3:16-17, John 10:10) All we have to do is trust in Him alone for our salvation.

If you haven’t already, please receive this precious gift of salvation today. If you already believe, I pray that you truly have a life more abundant and full of the peace that passes all understanding. 

I hope you have a blessed celebration of His Resurrection this Sunday. 

He is Risen!

Book Review The Grumble-Free Year

The Grumble-Free Year by Tricia Goyer

 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16

Driving to the airport this morning, the book “The Grumble Free Year” started echoing in my head. I buy into all of Tricia’s ideas of how not to grumble, but, honestly, it is almost too much to ask for me drive on our Southern California freeways and not grumble. 

All of that to say, Tricia reminds us of what it means to have a heart of gratitude and grace rather than one of grumbling and grumping. Rather than grumping about the crazy flow of traffic or the lack thereof, maybe I should be grateful that I have a car to drive my husband to the airport where he will be able to take a plane to the other side of the country in a couple of hours where he will learn and teach new skills to help him be more successful in his job. 

Tricia is a full-time author, homeschool mother of nine and minister’s wife who understands the benefit of having a home and heart of peace and lack of grumbling. Each of the family members helped to identify their own ways of grumbling; eye rolls, crossed arms, whispering words of criticism, outright complaining etc. They all agreed to work with each other to encourage hearts of gratitude. After a while it became a habit to NOT complain, and Tricia was able to see genuine change in her family and their home. 

We get to receive the benefit from their work. Tricia journaled the family progress, what worked and what did not. She challenges the readers with activities after each chapter to help us also become grumble free.

I recommend this book to people of all ages with 5 stars. 

The Ultimate Act of Worship

The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, I got out of the car, looked over the Rim and the liquid worship began to flow from my eyes. I was so overwhelmed by God’s handiwork – his masterpiece – that I was immediately drawn into worship. However, a few years later, I had one of those moment. I don’t live on the Rim of the Grand Canyon. So, as I was cleaning up after my dog in the backyard, I began a journey in finding worship in my heart not in my surroundings, not only in song, not only on Sunday… I had to choose to make my heart a sanctuary and my focus, my Ho’Omana, on God.

I love to be creative – decorating, working in the yard, sanding wood and seeing the intricate and unique prints within the grain. I love to sing and play the harp. I am definitely not a musician, but I really enjoy making a joyful noise unto the Lord, and a Harp almost can’t sound bad. When I use the gifts and talents He equipped me with I am reflecting Amago Dei – The Image of God.  He is creative, and He made me in his image to also be creative. 

How do you worship? When do you worship?

When a choir director assigns music to the choir, he or she would be sad if the members only sang those songs when the choir was together. Or the musician only played the instrument when they were with the orchestra. It takes practice to perfect the song. We are His choir, His orchestra. He wants us to be practicing the “song”, the “mele” with every Aloha – every breath

What do you do that would change if you could do it with an attitude of worship? 

Instead of scrubbing the toilet, we could be polishing the throne. Instead of yelling at the stupid drivers on the road, we could pray for them. Instead of wallowing in our frustration, we can lay that burden at the feet of Jesus. 

What prevents you from worshipping?

Could it be our Expectation: what if we woke up every morning and thought “Wow, I can’t wait to see what amazing things God is going to do today?” Or Show me Lord how I can worship and serve you today?” 

I was visiting with a friend recently. She was conveying a spirit of unrest and told me she just wanted to know her purpose, what is she supposed to be doing with her life. I could not give her specific direction; However, I was able to encourage her that every day she should wake up and say ok, Lord what do you have for me today, how can I bring you honor, how can I serve, how can I worship? Sometimes we must come to the complete end of ourselves and our own resources and strength to see that our only peace comes through an absolute focus on God. 

What if we woke up in the morning with a song in our hearts?

In The Morning When I Rise Give me Jesus”

“I Stand in Awe of You”

“Praise the King, Praise the King”

We should expect our hearts to be moved and changed and our prayers to be answered!

We must put our immediate focus on God. We must take our focus off what lies ahead: work, kids, trouble, challenges, or even fun stuff and put our eyes on Him. Remember Peter… he probably was not worshipping very well as the water was inching up his legs, encroaching on his little late night wild water walk. He was falling because he was failing to keep his eyes on Jesus.

But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death. Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me. Psalms 141:8-9 NIV

Where is your focus?

 Is your daily life bogging you down in your walk with God? Scripture gives us a multitude of examples of praising under arduous circumstances. 

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT)

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Is there something buried deep in your soul that you need to reconcile with God or someone else? 

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Hebrews 12:14-15

What is your response when one more thing goes wrong? 

Job 1:20-21 Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and WORSHIPPED God. He said, naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord 

How can you change your response?

It can be as simple as turning off the TV – we can hear God better that way. – In quietness and confidence is my strength. Is 30:15

It could be we need to change our reading habits.

Maybe it is sharing with someone in need. If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.

Sharing the gospel… living the gospel.

Maybe it is as earthshaking as giving up your dream of ____________ a new car, a career, a perfect family. Romans 12:1 Present your bodies a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your true and proper worship.

Whatever it is we must put our own selfish desires and dreams aside and let God make us into who he wants us to be so that we are a reflection of Him.

Do you need to change your focus from your circumstances to giving your full attention to God? 

Because we have these promises dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit and let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

What do you need to “surrender?”

          * Worry about my children

         * TV or reading habits

         * Career

         * A relationship


Write down in your journal or Bible as a reminder to daily surrender these things. Are you willing to give that burden to Jesus? Are you willing to refrain from taking it back out of His hands? I encourage you to unburden your heart so that you can worship, worship in Spirit and in Truth.

Growing up, I never really listened to the words of the song I Surrender All.  The song was usually an alter call, just another song we sang at the end of the service. I did not realize that surrender was my ultimate act of worship. Read through the words of this song and worship with me in surrendering it ALL to Him, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Friend.

I Surrender All by Judson W. Van DeVenter (Public Domain)

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

Refrain:
I surrender all,
I surrender all;
All to Thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame;
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

Worship is More Than a Song

Worship is more than a song; it is the posture of our hearts. 

I had an ah ha moment last week during a writing workshop. The discussion was on who is our reader. It dawned on me that I am really putting down in words lessons that I, myself, need to be taught or reminded of. So know, that as you are reading this and any of my other posts or blogs, I am looking in the mirror and preaching to myself and just hope someone else along the way can use some of the same encouragement I need. 

I often sing and pray with my eyes closed. I do this to block out the distractions (And I am so easily distracted! I am sitting in my yard right now experiencing the worship composition of the birds and trying to identify them instead of doing my writing assignments). around me and to focus on the words of the song and meditation in my heart. I also need to be able to focus my worship on my Audience of One.

In my college days, there were only two students in the entire body of several thousand who raised their hands in worship. We prayed for them. It was not something I, for one, (insert self-righteous attitude here) was comfortable with. Honestly, I am still not “comfortable” with it, but in my thinking this occurred to me: 

What do our little children do when they want to be close to us? They raise their hands and say, “Can I hold you?” They want to cling to us and holding their hands out to us shows us that. Doesn’t God want us to hold our hands up to him and tell him how much we want him to hold us? Doesn’t He want us to cling to Him? 

I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely. Psalm 63:8 NLT

And when we need comfort or a hug, don’t we reach out to a friend, spouse or loved one?

I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Psalm 88:9  NIV

What do we do when we have a question? Raise a hand… 

“To you, O LORD, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary” (Psalm 28:1 NIV).

What do we do when our sports teams score? We hold up our hands in celebration. Isn’t salvation and the defeat of The Enemy worth celebrating? 

Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies… Micah 5:9 NIV

When we want to be picked for something, we raise our hands and say oo oo pick me. Don’t we want to be among the chosen?

What do criminals do when they surrender? They hold their hands up. Doesn’t God want us to worship through surrender? 

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2 NIV

Our “song” is only evidence of what is in our hearts. It is a vehicle transporting our hearts to the throne of God. – What we think all day, what we do all day, how we act all day should be out of obedience and worship to God. Our song is like outwardly saying “I Love You.”  

But it is the posture of our hearts that is the true measure of our worship.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight oh God my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen

I hope to see you back her next week for another meditation on worship. Feel free to poke around on my website for other messages to refresh your soul. If you would like to receive this directly to your inbox, fill out the “follow me” box that pops up in the bottom right hand corner of your screen. See you soon.

Ho’Omana…

I watched in curiosity as a fellow teacher walked across the playground with arms lifted high. Entering the teachers’ lounge, I inquired what was going on. “Was a fly after you?” I said, “it looked like you were having your own private worship service.” Her face lit up the room when she replied, “It seemed like a good day to worship.” The joy of worship erupted out of her. She didn’t need a song. She didn’t need to be in church. She lives life believing that it is always a good time to worship. She lives a life of worship and her light shines everywhere she goes. I want to be like her when I grow up, joyful and unhindered in worship! 

What is the theme of your life? As my mind scrolls through my list of friends and family, themes begin to reveal themselves to me: Service, Worship, Mercy, Joy, Overcoming, Contentment…  

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work; it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do. It is the Hawaiian word for worship. 

Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people

Before you can give full attention and presence, you need to know the One you are giving that consideration to. If you don’t know Jesus as your friend and father, now is a good time to introduce you to my best friend. 

Romans 5:6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.

Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

Romans 10:9 -10  If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

I will pray that through these words and scripture you will feel “safe in the arms of God” fully experiencing Ho’Omana. 

As we commit our whole selves to Jesus in obedience, He meets us, and then we truly know what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24

There are around 500 verses in the Bible with the theme of worship. Abraham worshiped in sacrifice, building an altar to God. Genesis 21:33. Moses pled for the release of the Israelites – he said, “Let my people go so that they may worship.” Exodus 10. He also worshiped in repentance, often building an alter to remember who he was worshipping. Exodus 34:8 David worshiped in song and dance, even to the point of becoming undignified. 2 Samuel 6:22

What is Worship?  

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission (Webster’s Dictionary,1828).

Ho’Omana: It is the value of worthwhile work, it is an attitude of intention and full presence in whatever you do.

My pastor and dear friend Steve Whitten describes worship like this: Every act of obedience is an act of worship.”

RT Kendall says “Worship is any activity which is carried out under the impulse of the Spirit of God.” 

It is a state of our hearts.

It is a lifestyle.

It is serving.

It is obedience.

It is healing.

It is a living sacrifice.

It is communion.

It is using our gifts.

It is creative.

It is longing.

It is faithfulness.

It is listening.

It is expectation.

It should be every breath every Aloha of every moment of every day

It is Surrender…

It is Colossians 3:23 

What is one word that comes to mind when you think of worship?

How do you worship?

What are the things you do that make you mindful of God, His presence and the need to have a heart of worship?

Do you have a song in your heart today? If not here is a good place to start.

“Is He Worthy” by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkRiYsTN7KY

Every day is a good day to worship our God, our Father, our Creator and Friend.

Check in next week for another message to prepare your heart for worship or better yet, drop me your email and it will arrive right in your mailbox.

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