With You and In You-Sheryl

I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20)

I praise Your Name, oh Lord! Holy are You.  You invite me to the lake today.  Where are You?

 

“I AM everywhere around you and I AM in you.”

 

Your Spirit is always with me.

 

“And there I AM also together with the Father and the Spirit.”

 

Yes Lord?

 

“You see Me when you quiet yourself and focus on Me, but I would remind you that you are never alone.  Never.  We love you and will strengthen and guide you.  We know your heart.  Take comfort.  Leave the big things to Us.  Just keep your heart and spirit open to Us.  Lean in.”

 

Thank You.  I do enjoy our times when I see You and we can more closely fellowship.  It seems I most clearly hear You then.  Perhaps my focus is better.  Now I see You sitting on the boat and inviting me over.”

 

“What would you like to talk about”

 

When You were baptized the Holy Spirit lit upon You and the heavens were opened to You. (end of Matt.3) That is a picture for us too, isn’t it, Lord?

 

“You know you receive the Holy Spirit when you acknowledge Me as Savior and Lord.  You obey My lead and My word and are baptized.  Yes, now you live under an open heaven.  That was further demonstrated when the curtain was rent in the temple when I died.  Those under the old covenant, like Jacob, sometimes were aware of an open heaven, but My people always live under one. They become aware under the power and revelation of My Spirit when they seek Me.  My thoughts, gifts, fruit, power are all available to you as you seek Me with your whole heart.”

Anchor [Noval]

https://gonautical.com/8610-tm_thickbox_default/black-steel-ship-s-anchor-6-.jpg

 

In Your Presence is full joy.  You are Life, Hope, Peace.  You are a Shelter from the storm, a Tower of deliverance.  Cover me with Your blood, Lord.  My hope is in the righteousness You alone can give. 

Shield my soul from the snares of my enemies-pride, greed, lust, insecurity, shame, the fear of man.  Let your shalom reign in this house. 

I spoke at length about peace on the night I was betrayed.   All hell was about to break loose on my disciples-betrayal, confusion, suspicion, fear, violence, cowardice, remorse, bitter shame.  and yet I told them not to let their hearts be troubled!

There is a place in the soul, a quiet place of connection to Me that shelters you.  My goal for you is that you get your soul so anchored in My love that nothing rattles you or disturbs your peace. 

Does this seem unrealistic to you?  I commanded My disciples not to let their hearts be troubled.  I’m not unjust or unfair-  I don’t issue commands that are beyond your capacity to keep. 

This is more than psychodynamics- trying to command unruly emotions.  It has to do with a choice of where you fix your hope.  If your hope is fixed on human institutions, human relationships, the power of your own soul to do good, you’ll get disappointed more often than not.   But when your hope is fixed on My character, My faithfulness, even your own personal history with Me- then your anchor will hold. 

You asked Me earlier not to let your enemies triumph over you- enemies like pride, resentment, the fear of man.  Those enemies are defeated by the choices you make to fix the eyes of your heart on My character.  People-including you- lose their peace and their hope when they get distracted by circumstances.  When the eyes are fixed, hope yields endurance, resilience, peace, even joy. 

Don’t let your heart be troubled. That’s a choice I’ve empowered you to make!

When grief threatened to overpower My servant Horatio Spafford at the news of the loss of his children, he chose to thus anchor his soul.  He didn’t deny the pain as he set pen to paper: 

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

Though Satan should buffet…

Though trials should come… 

But what he did was make a choice to anchor his soul in the eternal: 

Let this blessed assurance control,

that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate

and hath shed His own blood for my soul. 

It is well…

Show Me Your Face [Noval]

 

Psalm 34:11 Come, children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Who is someone who desires life,
loving a long life to enjoy what is good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from deceitful speech.
14 Turn away from evil and do what is good;
seek peace and pursue it.

You are my Shalom. Show me what it means to seek shalom and pursue it.  I know it’s more than personal comfort, inner calm and freedom from dominating passions, although I guess it includes that. 

But I know that true shalom also involves righteousness- healthy relationship between You and me and than flowing outward to my spouse, my family, my community. 

Like so much in life, the external flows out of the internal.  Shalom starts with peace between us, which starts with reconciliation and justification, which starts at the Cross.  The shed blood of My Son laid the foundation of all true peace.  Think of all the internal and external impediments to true shalom– fear, insecurity, shame, enmity, bitterness…none of that stuff was left undealt with at the Cross. 

Just as the external flows from the internal, so the horizontal flows from and is supported by the vertical:

                                                      GOD

                                                        P 

                                                        E

                MAN          P          E          A          C        E              MAN

                                                                                       

                                                        C

 

                                                        E

                                                      MAN

 

The best way to put down the gavel of angry self-righteous judgement is to meditate on how I put down the gavel of holy, righteous judgement at the Cross. 

The best way to shed the debilitating cloak of fear and anxiety, including the fear of intimacy, is to meditate on how, at the Cross, I secured an eternal future for you of complete shalom– perfect security and inner freedom.  As the soul gets settled in eternal shalom, so you are able to love without conditions, serve without expectations, live in joy that transcends circumstances. 

So, seeking shalom means, first and foremost, seeking Me. 

Lord, let Your Presence so transform my heart that it transforms my lifestyle and relationships.  Show me Your face so that I might reflect Your love to those around me! 

I showed My face when I sent My Son to humble Himself and take on the sin and brokenness of the world as the ultimate Servant and Burden-bearer, all for the sake of love.  You want to see My face?  Look there.

Holy, Holy, Holy [Noval]

COLOGNE CATHEDRAL

In my mind’s eye I stand in one of the great cathedrals of Europe, maybe Notre Dame, or Chartres, or Cologne.  Massive granite walls, soaring columns, huge stained glass windows with images of saints, their hands raised in blessing. 

Isaiah sought comfort in such a holy place when King Uzziah died.  He wasn’t looking for an unsettling encounter with My holiness, but that’s what he got. 

I’m guessing he felt pretty vulnerable- frail and insignificant- as he considered the impurity of his conversations! 

Many of the old European architects were men of faith. They built as acts of worship- to remind themselves of My transcendent holiness, purity, wisdom, righteousness.  Recall the Greek root for holy means to cut or separate.  I’m altogether Other from your comprehension.  I’m better than you think- and bigger and wiser.  My anger at sin and my love for the sinner burn hotter than you think. 

So the Apostle Paul prayed for his disciples, that the “eyes of their hearts” would be lit up with a deeper comprehension of who I Am.  One of the purposes of worship is to help you move closer to reality in your thinking and comprehension.

The fuller your awareness is of who I really Am, the healthier your soul becomes.  Fear, pride, lust, obsessive thinking, greed- all flow out of a kind of spiritual amnesia.  Truly knowing Me is the answer to every malady and distortion of the human heart .

Isaiah initially flinched when I got near him in the temple.  But once he submitted himself to My cleansing, healing, atoning, transcendent authority, he stepped into his destiny:  “Here am I, send me!”  

Lord, I want to understand Who You really are!  Let me taste and see Your goodness.  Let me tremble at Your righteous judgements.  Permeate my soul with the awareness of Your holiness.

I AM With You-Sheryl

images

I need Thee, O I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee
O bless me now, my Savior
I come to Thee

Lord, I am heartsick for America.  We are on a path to the destruction of our original values and Yours in this country and not even all of those who call themselves Your people see it.  We need You.  If ever we needed You, oh Lord, it is now.  Keep us and deliver us for Your Name sake and for the sake of Your people here.  Guide us, direct us, strengthen and uphold us in Jesus’ Name.

In my heart I am kneeling before You, resting my forehead on Your knees.  Would You mend my heart and set me on Your path?  I am Yours.  Build Your throne in my heart.

Peace child.  Allow My peace to envelope you.  You don’t need more favor from Me .  You already have it.  You are one of My favorites, don’t you know? 😉  I love you with an everlasting love. I see you.  I see My people in America, in the world.  America has made it for 245 years and there will be changes–many of them.  Those changes will go back and forth.  As long as My people are present I will be present among you. Pull together not apart.  You will begin to see who is really for Me and who is against Me.  Keep spreading peace.  Speak My Word as you can.  Continue to be light and salt.  There are many who are losing their saltiness, allowing their light to grow dim.  Continue meeting together in My Name. When you meet each other in whatever place encourage one another in My Word and in love.  Bear one another’s burdens and rejoice with one another.  Go forth in victory and expecting victory for I am with you.”

Our God Still Reigns-Sheryl

Header Christian Glory in the heavens

           But as He Who has called you is Holy you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written you shall be holy as I am holy.                           (1 Peter 1:15-16)

Lord, You have been having me read 1 Peter over and over for weeks.  With the results of this election it stands out even more when I consider the Roman emperors who ruled when Peter wrote his epistle.  Your people have been crying out to You for our nation for a long time, even more as the election drew near.  We don’t understand how You are working or what You are saying especially in light of 2 Chronicles 7:14.  Would You please talk to me about this?  I feel so sad and grieving for my nation.

 

“Come walk with Me.”

 

We are on the dirt path or road.

 

“But there are whole cities and nations just over the horizon.  There are many waiting for Me, waiting to hear, waiting for they don’t know what.  Many have taken My Word out.  Many have sent them.  Many never think of those waiting but only of themselves.  I do have a large remnant who are awake, aware, praying, and going, but the body has been slow to move, having lost momentum long ago.  This is the fallout.  The Tower of Babel arises again.  Night is returning.”

 

Is there no hope?

 

“Of course there is hope–always.  There is local hope, one on one hope.  There is hope surrounding each one of My people.  You can each reclaim or at least influence the garden or world around you.  You may not influence the world on a large scale, but the world around you can still be thankful that you are there representing Me, bringing hope and love that some may believe.  Your assignment hasn’t changed.  Times can be harder or easier due to governments and leaders, but you are still the Light of the World.  I passed that mantle on to My disciples before I returned to heaven.  You are still My ambassadors.  I still send you out to tell the good news, heal the sick, and yes even raise the dead.  Get your news and assignment from Me and not from the world.  You don’t have the right to change it because you may not do it well.”

 

Strengthen Your people, Lord.  Equip us for every good work.  Send home those who are out of place.  Send forth Your missionaries and ambassadors.  Give us Your heart, Your joy, Your love because we know Who truly rules and reigns. I ask in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Attitude is Everything [Noval]

Wisdom’s Worth

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

I see a grand old Victorian mansion, sitting atop a little hill, surrounded by a vast, green manicured lawn.  It’s painted in bright colors.  The windows are clean and sparkle in the sunlight.  It’s a stately picture of prosperity, establishment.  There’s something solid and wholesome about the whole scene.  

In My Sermon on the Mount, I compared a life well-lived to such a house- sturdy, built on a solid foundation.  For most folks, adversity, misfortune, rotten luck, whatever- isn’t their biggest problem.  Storms come for everyone.  Heat and drought occur for all.  As Solomon put it, time and chance happen to everyone. 

The big problem is the foundation.  Foundations for a successful life are built in the mind.  The key is attitude. Bitterness is an attitude. Paralyzing fear is an attitude.  Pride, greed, lust are attitudes- symptoms of an unrenewed mind.

The keys to fruitful, productive, overflowing life are not in events- what happens to you- but in how you handle events, and how you handle events flows out of how you see them.  Perspective is everything.  So Paul argued that transformation of your life comes through renewed thinking (Romans 12:2). 

The purpose of My word is to transform how you respond to life by transforming how you perceive.  Think of II Timothy 3:16-17:

All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

In teaching, the word shows you what right thinking looks like.  In rebuking, wrong patterns of thinking, relating and behaving are confronted.  In correction, you are invited into new, healthy ways of thinking.  and in training in righteousness, you are invited and guided into new patterns of behavior, of relating and living, based on your new outlook and thought patterns.  The essential meaning of repentance (Greek, metanoia) is a change of behavior based on a change in thinking.  The Proverbs describe a similar process (see the text at the top of the post):  

Based on exposure to true knowledge, the mind gets renewed (understanding- synthesis of knowledge into new patterns of seeing the world), with the outcome of a transformed lifestyle- wisdom (Hebrew chokmah, skill in living).  Elsewhere in Proverbs, these three elements are described as the components of building a house. A house- and a life- well- built, built on the Rock- stands when the storm comes.  Attitude is everything.

Field of Hope

 

 

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1 CSB

I keep seeing a cemetery!!  What are You saying, Lord? 

I like cemeteries.  People see them as a place of mourning, of grief, of sadness.  I see them as a place of hope.  Because of My triumph at the cross, death never gets the final word!  Those who rest in the blanket of My salvation wll be raised again to full, glorious, overflowing life. 

For My people, death and resurrection are historical events.  They’ve already been completed.  Yes. the earthly body will eventually be shed like an old set of clothes, but that’s only a step of preparation, of anticipation of the fullest expression of Kingdom life.  You taste it now, by faith, but you live in hope of a fuller resurrection to come, when life, love, joy, peace and holiness are unveiled in their fullness. As you observed at Betty’s (my mother-in-law) burial service, a cemetery’s like a field, waiting for life to spring forth, ripening, maturing, ready for the harvest at the last day.

As I said, you have a foretaste of this now.  As you lay aside more and more of the old life of the flesh, the new life of the Spirit emerges. 

My servant Paul used the term “crucifying the flesh”.  That implies some pain, but it’s also an act of hope.  As the old self-life decays, the green shoots of new life emerge: humility, service, joy, hope, love without a pricetag. 

A lot of headstones have the inscription, “R.I.P.”  As you rest in My finished work at the cross, trusting in My righteousness and none of your own, your life will be marked by increasing rest and peace.  But this rest isn’t passive or inactive. Au contraire, it’s active in love, service, praise and joyful proclamation of Hope.

 

On the Development of Wisdom

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                                    MENDENHALL GLACIER

1 By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
5 A wise man is strong,
And a person of knowledge increases power.
For by wise guidance you will wage war,
And in an abundance of counselors there is victory.

I’ve written about these three qualities before…Their interrelationship fascinates me.

Wisdom is sort of the end product: skill in living; a life well lived, marked by good, prudent, righteous choices.  

Understanding is a synthesis process, organizing what you know in a way that gives you a deep heart-grasp of what the rules for living (what the psalmist calls “the Law of the Lord”) are all about- the “why” behind the “what”.  It’s developed through meditation. 

Knowledge is information- what you’ve learned.  It’s input gained through reading, studying, listening, observing. 

It strikes me that underpinning all of this is the rare and valuable quality of humility.  It’s the humble mind and heart that are teachable, willing to learn from others, willing to let go of presuppositions, prejudices and assumptions that won’t stand up in the face of better data.  

Why the metaphor of “building a house”?   I wonder if Solomon (or whoever the writer was) wasn’t alluding to the reality that for many of us, God has chosen and anointed a special individual to speak into our lives, bringing us important information, challenging our hidebound ways of thinking and living, breaking through our narrow-mindedness and expanding our horizons: our spouse.  God has uniquely placed them to bring us new knowledge, understanding and wisdom, because nobody (besides Him) knows us better.  So, to get the maximum benefit of this special relationship, we need to embrace humility, put down the shields of defensiveness and listen intently. 

This all reminds me of the premise of practical theologian Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage, which he posed as a rhetorical question: what if the main purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy but to make us holy?  Iron sharpening iron and all that.

I’m publishing this reflection and Sheryl’s going to read it.  This could come back to bite me in the…..well, so be it.

 

Steadfast Love-Sheryl

For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burn offerings. (Hosea 6:6)

God wants our steadfast love and for us to know Him.  More than any sacrifice He wants relationship with us.

 

“Calm yourself. Do not fret or worry.  Am I not still in charge?  Are not all the angels at My command?  I am above all earthly rulers.  I reign from above.  I see men’s efforts but I add My might where I will to accomplish My purposes on the earth.  I will always be present and available to My people.”

 

But we harm each other and pull further from You.  Your people are persecuted across the earth.  Save us!  Help us!  Deliver us, oh Lord!

 

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the wonders I have prepared for My people.  It hurts My heart, too, when My people suffer but I will avenge them and I will reward them.  They will be welcomed into heaven by hosts of little ones sent before them.  My courts will be full.  My halls will echo with life, joy, and praise.”

 

Jesus underwent a lot for the joy set before Him.  We do need Your help, Your strength, Your protection now.  It may be temporary but it is still really hard sometimes.

 

“Live from where you are currently seated with Jesus towards earth, not from earth towards heaven.  Go forth in the power of My might.  Go forth in love and in joy.  Shed My light around you.  Those who can, make it easier for the others.”

 

We feel like we aren’t doing enough but we don’t see what else to do.  Help us see and hear clearly and have the strength and courage to act as You want us to.

 

“I love My children and will supply all you need.  Your prayers activate hosts of guardians and messengers and ministering spirits.  Rejoice and pray without ceasing.  Tend the garden around you.”