Splendor and Majesty ~ Absence of Light

This is part of a series, Splendor and Majesty, Knowing God Through His Magnificent Creation. I hope this encourages you to see God throughout your day in His General Revelation of Himself through His creation. 

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2

I am a bit of an outdoor enthusiast. This summer I got to play in King’s Canyon, home to Boyden Cave. We were on the way to the river but took a detour to explore the cave. The stalagmites (they might grow up from the ground) and stalactites (they hold tight to the ceiling) were beautiful, forming shapes that resembled Christmas trees and bridal veils. The park had installed lights that enhanced the beauty, shapes, and shadows of these rock formations. 

If you have ever gone on a cave tour, you know the guide will usually turn all the lights out and try to scare you. So as expected, the lights went out. It was pitch black. Strangely, it also became very quiet. It was all I could do not to start singing…

“He wraps himself in light
And darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God”

Click here to listen to the whole song. “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin

Our guide proceeded to tell us the story of Mr. Boyden who discovered the cave and how he had been lost for two days in the pitch black of the cave. Sporting a broken leg, he eventually found his way out of the cave by following the water and light leading to the entrance to the cave. 

I must admit, I was a bit claustrophobic thinking of poor Mr. Boyden searching endlessly for a way out of the seemingly eternal cold, wet, and dark cave. And then the verses came pouring in my head and washing over my heart.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5

There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night, shuffling through a room and kicking your toe! If we are wandering around in the suffocating darkness of this world, we are sure to meet with obstacles in our way or stumble and fall. But we don’t have to live as those who have no hope. We have the Light. He has come into the world so we do not have to live in darkness, so we do not have to stumble, so that we can escape the suffocating world of darkness that wants to suck us in to its despair. 

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.John 12:46

A friend shared a story with me about her adventurous father. He would take her on his thrill-seeking explorations. As a little girl, my friend was quite fearful. She did not inherit her father’s enjoyment of all things adrenaline inducing. However, just as the fear would begin to overtake my friend, she would feel her daddy slip his hand into hers and hold on tight, assuring her of his presence and that he would never let harm come to her or let her face her fears alone. 

For I, the Lord your God,
    hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
    I am the one who helps you.” Isaiah 41:13

The companionship and protection provided to my friend by her father helped her to have a picture of how God is always with her, always holding her hand, always providing comfort and confidence to take another step, knowing that He is her guiding light. 

Your word is a lamp to my feet
    and a light to my path. Psalms 119:105

If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:9-12

Our world may seem dark to you today. Let the words of God’s light fill your life. Know that He is with you, guiding you and holding your hand. In Him there is no darkness. Rest in His magnificent light. 

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. Ephesians 1:18 NLT

…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

If this was meaningful to you or you know someone who could benefit from reading this, please feel free to comment or share. If you are not already signed up to receive my blog right to your inbox, just hit the follow box in the bottom right of this page and fill in your information. 

Splendor and Majesty ~ Light

This is part of a series, Splendor and Majesty, Knowing God Through His Magnificent Creation. I hope this encourages you to see God throughout your day in His General Revelation of Himself through His creation. 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:3-5

Have you ever stopped to consider why, before God created anything else, He said “Let there be light?” God, in His infinite power and wisdom, did not need the light to see what He was doing, yet the moment He spoke light into existence, He saw that it was good. 

Maybe God created light first because everything else in creation is dependent on it. Anything with life, plants, animals, and people are dependent on light to live, grow, and thrive. Did you ever do that science experiment as a kid where you put one plant in the sun, one under a light and one in a closet? The plant with just the right amount of light is the one that would thrive. We are like those plants, and God knows just how much light we need to survive. 

Since creation, light has signified beginnings; beginnings of a new day, more light signals a new season, and less light does the same. When we get up in the morning, we turn on a light and when we go to bed, we turn off the light. God gave us light to wake us up, and darkness to help us rest. 

God is a God of order, and we see that from His very first act of creation. 

He not only created light first because everything else is dependent on it, but without light, we cannot see. Even though God didn’t need the light to see, He gave it to us and all of creation as a gift so that we could revel in the beauty that surrounds us. Without light, we wouldn’t see color. Without light we would not witness the masterpieces created at sunrise and sunset. Without light we could not gaze into the eyes of our children or spouses. 

There is so much we would miss out on without light.

While in Yosemite, I had the opportunity to observe a beautiful Steller’s jay. The colors were breathtakingly deep and vibrant. I just had to be still and observe this simple yet beautiful creature. Eventually, I whipped out my phone and started taking pictures and sending them to the family chat. My park ranger son-in-law, quickly replied with a link to a blog and a picture of two feathers. One was gray, another blue. But interestingly, they were the same feather. 

This is an excerpt from the National Park Service blog that he sent me. 

The Steller’s jay is one of the more common birds Yosemite visitors see. It has beautiful blue feathers that aren’t blue at all–that is, they have no blue pigment in them. This is also the case with Yosemite’s mountain bluebirds. Birds with yellow or red feathers usually get their color from pigments in the foods they eat, but the digestive process destroys blue pigments. So how do feathers on mountain bluebirds or Steller’s jays get their blue color?

Feathers are made of keratin, the same stuff your fingernails are made of. As a feather that will become blue grows, keratin molecules grow inside each cell, creating a pattern. When the cell dies, a structure of keratin interspersed with air pockets remains. As sunlight strikes one of these feathers, the keratin pattern causes red and yellow wavelengths to cancel each other out. The blue wavelengths reflect back, giving the feather its color. Different shapes and sizes of air pockets and keratin make different shades of blue. This is what scientists call a structural color (as opposed to pigmented color.)

Next time you see a Steller’s jay or a bluebird consider the amazing way nature has colored its feathers.”  NPS

I would encourage you to not just consider the way nature colors the birds but recognize the way God colors the feathers of every bird, the leaves of every tree, the brilliance of every flower, shades of the purple mountain majesty and gorgeous hues of the ocean. See all that God, The Intelligent Designer, has made and, like Him, acknowledge that it is very good. 

When I read that quote from the National Park Service, my heart immediately had a flood of scripture and biblical application for understanding this phenomenon that wouldn’t have occurred without light. 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

When His light is shining in us and on us, we are made beautiful. The Light brings to life all we are meant to be. We who were once dead, now live. We who were once blind, now see. 

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

He lights the path we are to take and gives us light to do the work He has planned for us. This light is what points others to the Light of Life. 

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Then you shall see and be radiant;
    your heart shall thrill and exult…

Who are these that fly like a cloud,
    and like doves to their windows? 
For the coastlands shall hope for me..
.

for the name of the Lord your God,
    and for the Holy One of Israel,
    
because he has made you beautiful.

Isaiah 60

Without the light we would not see the brilliance of that Steller’s jay and all his radiant color. Before the light was in us, we were without life, one dull gray color. When we have the Light shining in us, we become beautiful, vibrant, brilliant, colorful reflections of the Imago Dei… the Image of God. 

Oh Lord, help me to let your light shine through me. Please allow your image to be reflected in my life, so that others may be drawn to you. In Jesus name, Amen. 

Do You Have FOMU (Fear of Messing Up)?

Hi Friends, I was planning a whole different post today, but this message is timely for me, and I hope it can be an encouragement to you as well. I will be back to my Splendor and Majesty series post haste! Thanks for being here with me. If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Do you have FOMU? We all know about FOMO, fear of missing out, but how does FOMU impact your work, your ministry, your productivity, and your joy? I am talking about the FEAR OF MESSING UP. 

One of my greatest stressors is the feeling that if I do something wrong, everybody will know what a fake or fool I am. I have a stinkin master’s in education. How on earth can I use the word thrown when I mean throne or profit when I mean prophet?! (I could bore you or boar you with the details of how, but not today.) And don’t even get me started on the missing or over use of commas.

As I was contemplating an upcoming event, the FOMU started overtaking my thoughts. Then defeat inched in, disabling my forward momentum. Sometimes that inner critic saves us from embarrassing ourselves, but sometimes is keeps us from being fruitful, fulfilled and successful. If we never step out in faith, with courage, we are not only robbing ourselves of the blessing of a job well done, but we are robbing those around us from benefiting from our wisdom, knowledge, or creativity, or even our mistakes. 

Pay careful attention to your own work, 

for then you will get the satisfaction 

of a job well done, 

and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 

For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Galatians 6:4-6

We know David as “A Man After God’s Own Heart.” We also know him as one of the biggest blunderers who ever lived. I am not saying to go ahead and send someone into battle and then steal their wife. But I am trying to communicate that we cannot let the fear of messing up paralyze us, because even as much as we blunder, God’s grace is more. We can blow it big time, but He can make a masterpiece of our mess. Not because of David’s disastrous choices, but because of his contrite and repentant heart, we see how to have a blessed life and beautiful walk with God. 

What if David feared Goliath to the point of not going to the battlefield? What if he feared the lion or the bear? What if, when he was confronted with his sin, he refused to be humbled and corrected? What if he did not face his fear while hiding from Saul? He would have never written “Where does my help come from? It comes from the Maker of the heavens and the earth.” (Psalm 121) We wouldn’t have the example that says, “against you only have I sinned.” (Psalm 51) We would not have the comforting words of so many of the Psalms.  

I have FOMU. I worry too much about what people will think, how they will perceive me or do they “get me.” I fear messing up. However, I cannot let that stop me from speaking or writing the messages that the Lord puts on my heart. Oh, it would be so much easier to keep my faults all to myself and never risk putting my oops on display. That is just what the Enemy wants… to silence me. I worry about spelling a word wrong or mispronouncing it, when I should be more concerned about serving those who need the Living Water. 

Go ahead and edit; check your work; proofread; use the best keywords, phrases, and hashtags; make memorable taglines and headlines. (I pray God edits my thoughts, my words, and my mouth every day!) But please don’t let FOMU keep you from sharing your heart, God’s word, or using the gifts and creativity that He has put in you.  

I will bless the Lord who guides me;
    even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me.
    I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. 
    My body rests in safety. Psalms 16:7-9

Book Review ~ A Grace Filled Homestead by Lana Stenner

What a fun and inspirational book. Lana blends her love of life on the farm with practical and biblical application. Her writing invites you into her home and heart in a way that makes you appreciate God in the simple things of life, like baby goats and fluffy chickens. Her recipes are simple and delicious! I have already used her bread dough recipe for pizza and cinnamon rolls and made her super easy goat cheese. The pictures are beautiful and make me want to go out and buy a goat and a good camera to take more pictures. Every time I pick up this book and read a section, I find myself smiling. Now that is the kind of book we should all be reading!

Splendor and Majesty – Be Still and Listen

Have you ever felt like Elijah? Alone, dejected, fearful?

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” I Kings 19:9-13

Have you ever gotten yourself worked into a frenzy just to get shaken back down to reality? I think that is kind of what happened with Elijah here. He was afraid. He ran to the desert then to the mountains and landed in a cave, sure that he was the lone believer in God left in the world and that everyone was after him to kill him. 

God used the wind, an earthquake, and a fire to get his attention and THEN He spoke very gently and quietly to Elijah, giving him direction for what he was to do next. 

Sometimes, I think I would like it if God spoke that clearly to me. And then I remember, He has. Through Scripture, His Special Revelation, and through His creation, His General Revelation. It is up to me to be still and listen; to respond; to worship.

Our culture has ruined the art of being still and drinking in the goodness of God through unplugging and listening to nothing but the birds, the crickets and frogs, the rain, the wind, and the waves, through taking a day off from the crazy and reading Scripture that declares His glory over and over again.  He made all of this for us and invited us to enjoy it with Him

Even Jesus went away to commune with the Father and to be recharged for the next leg of His journey. 

What does God have to do to get our attention?

Was COVID 19 enough?

Were the subsequent earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, and riots enough?

Just like God spoke to Elijah, He has spoken to us. He tells us we are never alone; “I will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5) And that He is enough: “Lord you are my portion” Lamentations 3:24) and that He will walk through the water and fire with us. Isaiah 43:2-4

“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Take a minute and enjoy Nicole Mullins’ song, “I Know My Redeemer Lives”

Isaiah 55:3a Incline your ear and come to me; hear that your soul may live… He has spoken to us. It is up to us to listen.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please allow our eyes to be open to your wisdom and words through every gift of creation you have given us. 

If you have enjoyed this, please feel free to share it and drop your email to me by clicking the “Follow” button in the bottom right hand corner of this page.

Splendor and Majesty ~ Knowing God Through His Magnificent Creation.

In the words of Maria Von Trapp, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”

It would be great if you had time to click on the link below and read the Creation account before moving into the next message. 

Genesis 1:1-31Genesis 2:1-3

As I read through Genesis one, the phrase that kept jumping out was “And God saw what He had made and behold it was good.” And after He created, He rested. Psalms 121 tells us that God, the creator of the Universe, never sleeps or slumbers. Yet God took roughly 15% of the recorded time in creation to rest. He did this not to take a nap, but to enjoy the fruit of His labor.

When was the last time you took a moment to rest, observe all that God has made, take a deep breath, and say “This is very good?”

Why should we study creation? 

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him, all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. And he is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV)

It seems that creation is a pretty big deal to God, so maybe it should be important to us as well. He created all of this to point us to Him.

They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature so they have no excuse for not knowing God. Romans 1:19-20 NLT

Like the Giant Sequoias in Kings Canyon or the breathtaking Redwoods along the Northern California Coast, all creation points upward to our Creator. Creation was given to us as a gift so that we may know our Creator. The Heavens declare His glory.

In speaking with Job, God said this: “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:7-10 ESV

If the animals know their creator, well enough to teach us about Him, how much more should we, the first fruits of all creation, seek to know Him?

We study God’s creation so that we can know Him and the power of His might, so we can trust him; so we can enjoy everything that He made and say “that is very good.”

And if all of that is not a good enough reason, finally friends there is this:

Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

I know I am not the only one who has trouble sitting still. But I can sit for hours with my feet in the sand, listening to the waves or in the mountains listening to the wind blow through the trees and the birds sing, because it is then that I can clear the clutter out of my brain and my heart and truly listen to the voice of my creator and worship along with all of creation.

I like Daniel Darling’s four point explanation of why we should study creation. 

“The Bible asserts that a loving Father formed the universe and carefully crafted the human beings who bear His image… Creation matters because it helps correct ideas about God, about humanity, and about the cosmos…. Creation is a powerful way in which God communicates” 

1. “Creation reveals a God who is not like us. When we create, we use materials already in existence…” 

We use fabric, paint, wood, flour and eggs, but when God created, He simply spoke it into existence with all of the intricate details already in place. 

If you have ever visited Disneyland, you will be awed by the detail that goes into every inch of the park. In many places the detail mimics nature yet it pales in comparison to the intricate design and detail God has put into every hair on our heads, feather on a bird, or the flowers in the field

Daniel Darling says  “It should bring us comfort to know that there is a God who is above the messiness of this world. In our culture, we sometimes want a God who we can reduce to our size, a God who overlooks our flaws and blesses our indiscretions. We want a god we can shape and shift… but is this what we REALLY want? A god who is limited to our limitations. A god who is subject to our fears and captive to our whims? When we are praying at the bedside of a loved one, over our children, we are praying to a God we need to be bigger than we are.“

This makes me think of the song we sang when my kids were little “My God is so Big so Strong and so Mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do” As we get older and face bigger problems, we tend to forget that. 

Darling goes on to explain,  “A big God, A God I can’t understand, a God I see with a holy awe, is a God whom I can trust is managing a world I cannot control, a God who can uphold the universe as I lay my head on my pillow and as I send my children out into the world and as I huddle in the darkness during a violent storm. Deep down in our souls we don’t want the cheap plastic gods of our age, but an all-powerful God who is bigger than the problems we face and can defeat the things that haunt us.” 

2. “Creation reveals a God of order and beauty. – God is not a God of chaos or division, but a God of beauty, unity and order.” 

Everything that He created has a unique and intricate design, yes, an intelligent design. You only have to look at the leaves of a tree or the shape of a snowflake or look at your DNA sequence and your network of veins and arteries to know that we have an intelligent designer.

He made us with five senses to use in our observation of His creation. Eyes to see and behold all he has made, ears to hear all creation singing, the sense of smell to enjoy the scents of flowers, trees… and coffee… the sense of touch to feel the soft downy hair of a newborn, the sense of taste so we can enjoy the task of what we need to do to stay alive… eat. He also built into those senses a level of protection. If something is bitter, maybe we should not eat it. If something is hot maybe we should not pick it up. We could do a whole doctoral dissertation on this one intricate design element of God’s creation.

GOD IS UNDERSTOOD BY THE “SIMPLE” BUT CONFOUNDS THE “WISE”

As much as they have tried, even the most intelligent scientists and mathematicians and artists have not been able to understand or recreate the mysteries of creation. 

I Corinthians 1:27 tells us But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Psalm 19 spends the first six verses telling us how all creation (what some would say is “natural order”) declares the glory of God and then verse seven tells us this:

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

I want to be that simple…

3. “Creation reveals a God who is personal. ~ God can be very hard to see in a world gone mad.” 

So, look away from the crazy and go to the mountains lest you be swept away. In Genesis 19  The angels were speaking to Lot  ~  When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be swept away (destroyed).”

He is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in a time of trouble. Psalms 46

He is our very personal help and strength. I might need strength in ministering to my parents, while a new mom might need help in ministering to her children. Or someone may need Him to take their hand and drag them out of the ‘city’ and tell them to run from the sin lest they be swept away. He is our very personal helper and walks every step with us.

4. “Creation reveals a God of the beginning and end. ~ Beginnings are only beginnings because they have endings”. Sandra Richter writes “Everything that lies in between Eden’s gate and the New Jerusalem, the bulk of our Bibles, is in essence a huge rescue plan. In Genesis 3 humanity was driven out of the garden. In Revelation 21-22 They are welcomed home.” 

We study Creation to know more about God and ultimately join with the rest of creation in worshiping our Creator.

The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Job 38:7

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12

He gave us creation as a way to explain himself to us in terms we humans can understand. What does anything need to live, grow, and survive? Food, water, the sun, and shelter. He is the bread of lifeliving water, light of life, and a shelter in a time of storm. 

If you have enjoyed this, please feel free to share it and drop your email to me by clicking the “Follow” button in the bottom right-hand corner of this page. Tune in next week for part two of “Knowing God Through His Magnificent Creation.” 

The “four points” and some of the text is from Daniel Darling’s book. “The Characters of Creation.” I used his points and added my own thoughts and narratives and scripture to further explain and understand why we should study creation.

To read more from Daniel Darling click here on his name.

Splendor and Majesty

Hi Friends, I am sorry I have been absent the past couple of months. Sometimes life gets in the way of our well ordered plans. When that happens, it is always good to take a break and revel in God’s magnificent creation. To help you do that today, I have created a video using pictures from my phone, my kids and Amy Grant’s Psalm 104 . Enjoy the video and then read Psalm 104 with me. Take a deep breath and breathe in the goodness God’s creation and breathe out the Good News of His salvation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6nCDQ3UqXc&t=8s

Psalm 104 (NIV)

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations;
    it can never be moved.
You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
But at your rebuke the waters fled,
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight;
they flowed over the mountains,
    they went down into the valleys,
    to the place you assigned for them.
You set a boundary they cannot cross;
    never again will they cover the earth.

10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
    the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
14 He makes grass grow for the cattle,
    and plants for people to cultivate—
    bringing forth food from the earth:
15 wine that gladdens human hearts,
    oil to make their faces shine,
    and bread that sustains their hearts.
16 The trees of the Lord are well watered,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 There the birds make their nests;
    the stork has its home in the junipers.
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
    the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
    and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
    and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
    and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
    they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
    to their labor until evening.

24 How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
    and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.

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?

 

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