Glory Beheld, Glory Given

What do you think about when you hear the word ‘glory’? What about ‘God’s glory’?

Really. Take a minute – What do you think of?

Glory can carry a sense of renown or fame, praise and worship, brightness and splendor. That’s a broad range. Glory can be used to describe God, but also to worship Him in the sense of giving Him glory.

In the Old Testament, God’s glory appeared to the Israelites on their journey in the wilderness (Exodus 16:10) and in a devouring fire upon Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:16). In the New Testament, God’s glory shone as the shepherds received word of the King’s birth (Luke 2:9). Jesus was also described as being God’s glory in the flesh, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

Just as God’s glory appeared to the Israelites, I believe it can be seen today – every day. When the sun rises and sets, painting the sky with irreplaceable beauty. I believe it’s an expression of God’s glory. “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.” Psalm 65:8.

There’s something about God’s glory that intrigues me. Perhaps it’s because, for me, glory seems to be something that’s impossible to grasp and fully understand. It’s something that can be seen, but challenging to embody with just words. It can’t be contained, except by one – The Lord. He is glory.

But not only are we able to witness God’s glory, we are also meant give God Glory. “Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory! Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory! Rise and shine and, give God the glory, glory, children of the Lord!” I’m guessing by the second exclamation mark, you were singing. Do you remember this song from your childhood? (If not it’s okay, a quick google search will get you there.) More than just a children’s song, it’s what we are created to do.

“I will say to the north, give up, and to the south, do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” Isaiah 43:6-7

Even the heavenly hosts give glory to God. In Luke 2:13-14 the heavenly hosts shout and reveal God’s glory, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”

Glory is something to behold and witness; and glory is something to give away, to God.

Praise is powerful, and just like the heavenly host it’s one way we can give God glory. How might you behold and give glory to God this day? It doesn’t have to sound like a chorus of angels, what matters is where that glory is directed. Rise and shine!

Lord, how may I glorify you today?

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 “You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.” Psalm 65:8.  Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

 

 

 

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A Surrendered Sheep & Shepherd

For five years now, around the New Year upon request, the Lord has given me a word or phrase to focus on. I’m not legalistic about it, just attentive to the possibility of a word from Him. However, each year it becomes something that really guides and directs me, and usually it becomes pretty obvious why.

For example, one year it was the word ‘steward’ or ‘stewardship’. There were multiple possibilities and focuses as to what I was ‘stewarding’, such as family and relationships, work, our farm, etc. But in a major hardship that year, it became obvious as to why that word would be my guide. I was learning to steward something that wasn’t mine. I had to trust God, be obedient, and then let go.

Over the course of several challenging months, I chose to ask God, “Would you help me to steward this (situation) well, Lord? I need you to guide me.” No matter what the outcome, I desired to keep watch over what He had entrusted to me. I was a sheep asking her Shepherd, to help her be a shepherd.

It’s an interesting thought, to be both sheep and shepherd. We are all following someone else, as a sheep would. In the same respect, we all have someone following us, which puts us in the position of being a shepherd. Clear as mud?

Our Messiah, Jesus, is a perfect example for us. He is both the spotless lamb (1 Peter 1:19) following the will of our Father, and our shepherd (John 10:1-18).

In order to be a sheep we put ourselves under the authority of another, for example – God. As a sheep, I listen for the voice of my shepherd and trust his leading. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3) If I don’t listen, I’ll for sure get lost and start listening to something or someone else.

As a shepherd, I don’t wish to lead people astray. It’s being intentional and honoring with what God has entrusted to me. Therefore, I must be attuned and listening to God, aware and purposeful.

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“The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3) Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

This year, my word has an associated phrase – surrender (to God), and give Him glory. At first I didn’t think they were so closely tied together. They seemed like two separate, yet semi-related ideas. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been on a mental journey in respect to surrender. The glory bit came latter. I’m looking forward to more understanding as to how they fit together.

At first, I tried to shake-off this word ‘surrender’. Who wants that one?! How about joy, gratitude, or maybe even patience. Patience is at least a fruit of the Spirit! (Galatians 5:22) But I’m grateful for this challenge. After wrestling with ‘surrender’ for a few weeks (that’s a funny thought), I’m finding this act increases comfort and trust in God. I’m discovering that surrender requires a lot of letting go, and while uncomfortable, it feels good. There is also a beginning realization that by surrendering, it allows room to bring God glory.

How about you? Is God placing something on your heart right now? Something to focus on, guiding you through this season or this year?

With Gratitude, Amy

Hidden and Seen

Scripture is full of paradoxes, things that don’t seem to fit together in our human understanding. Like the Savior of the world, coming in the form of a baby born in a manger. Another example being in Matthew 14: 11 when Jesus states, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

One of our deepest human desires is to be seen and known by others. Yet sometimes, the first thing we do is run and hide. I desire to converse with friends and family at a gathering, having relationship, yet when I walk into the room I feel awkward and shrink away – hiding. Meet my frequent, internal and paradoxical wrestling.

Adam and Eve, after sinning, hid from God. I’m guessing that they had a desire to continue relationship with Him, but hid in shame. (Genesis 3:8) We desire to be seen by others and known, yet hide.

We hide in sin, embarrassment, uneasiness, judgment. We hide from situations, others, and ourselves. We hide from El Roi, the God Who Sees. (Genesis 16:13) In truth, with all of those things mentioned, it would make more sense to go to the Creator in full disclosure and repentance if necessary. It would make more sense to dispel the darkness (hiding), and step into the Light (being known in relationship).

Over the past few months, the word ‘surrender’ has been very present in thought. I’m learning that one of the pieces of being surrendered, is not withholding myself from God – hiding. It’s impossible to completely hide from El Roi, though I try to do a good job. In reality I’m not really hiding, but rather withholding relationship. Withholding a completely surrendered heart, willing to be held and seen by the One who created me. When I’m not surrendered, I’m not posturing myself to God’s will. It’s harder, dare I say impossible, to fully trust when my heart and mind are withholding and hiding thoughts from El Roi.

Who am I hiding from? What am I hiding? Why?

It can be scary to be known and seen. But the truth is that I don’t desire to hide from God; He sees me anyway. (I may desire to hide from others, but not God.) He sees the real me, the one he fashioned in the secret and hidden. The one He brought into the light, to be seen and known. My desire is to be fully known (seen), living freely in and with Him.

Would it change if we knew who God is? His character? Would it be easier to trust Him, and fully surrender a heart and life to Him?

He is good. He is love. He is light and life and just. God is accepting of the true me, uglies and all. God is safety and protection. I can surrender and open up to that. How about you? And when we do – we can be both hidden in Him, and seen by Him.

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“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1 (ESV)

In that hidden place, what are you willing to surrender to God? What are you willing to trust Him with seeing? You don’t have to fully comment here – but are you with me?

 

 

Wrap This One Up

Over the past few years Christmas has been such an interesting holiday, for me. Interesting because I’ve had a hard time really feeling the joy and excitement of the season. It’s a little embarrassing to admit. As a Christian, this time of year is holy and sacred, it’s supposed to be full of joy! But as I mature in faith, celebrating Jesus’ birth has become just as important as his death and resurrection. They go hand in hand. It’s come to the point where I can’t really think of this time of year without also thinking of the sacrifice he made for me, and you.

It’s been a while since I really took the time to posture my heart and mind towards the coming of our King this time of year. I’ve known the story most of my life, but it’s been a while since I really had a fresh understanding and revelation about our tiny Savior and fully present in the story of Who he is.

However, this year is different and I think it’s sourced in a song and the posture of my heart. Before ever hear the song, Wrap This One Up by Christy Nockles, I heard the story. It captured my thoughts. I didn’t really dive in to studying, I just sat in awe. I sat in awe at how God so delicately orchestrated the story of Jesus. He orchestrates the story of our own lives the same way, every detail purposed.

You see, not far from where Jesus was born, is a place called Migdal-eder or Tower of the Flock. As temple worship in the Promised Land was established, a field just outside of Bethlehem was designated for sacrificial lambs to be raised. With at least two sacrifices per day, there would need to be over 700 lambs each year. When lambs reached one year old, they would make their way to the altar.

Special shepherds kept watch from the Tower of the Flock, caring for these sacrificial lambs. As ewes approached birth, shepherds would bring them in close, perhaps even inside. Upon the birth of a new male lamb, the shepherds would inspect the new baby for blemishes – designating the spotless ones for sacrifice. These sacrificial lambs would be wrapped up in swaddling clothes, keeping the sacred baby safe, warm and dry.

On the night of his birth, our Savior Jesus would be wrapped up by his momma. He was probably inspected and found to be perfect, complete. This song painted a picture of what it would have been like to be Mary, wrapping up her baby boy on that very night of his birth. Mary knew. She knew Jesus was Messiah, the Son of God. You see, as Mary wrapped up her baby – she was also wrapping up our Sacrificial Lamb.

“…but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:19-21 (HCSB)

Jesus would once again be wrapped up.  “So, Joseph took the body, wrapped it in clean, fine linen, and placed it in his new tomb, which he had cut into the rock. He left after rolling a great stone against the entrance of the tomb.” Matthew 27:59-60 (HCSB)

There are so many little details throughout scripture that put me in awe. As you read the story of Jesus’ birth this holiday, I pray that God’s well-orchestrated and perfectly timed plan restores a fresh sense of wonder in you. As we wrap and unwrap the gifts under our Christmas tree this year, let’s unwrap the gift wrapped up by Mary so long ago – Jesus. Knowing, believing and trusting the King in an intimate and personal way is the greatest gift we could ever receive.

For the sake of trying to keep it short, I’ve left so much out of this story. But I pray that Christy’s song, Wrap This One Up, blesses you as much as it does me. It’s a beautiful picture of the reason we celebrate Jesus’ birth – in full circle. Along with a link to the song on her lovely Christmas album, here’s a little clip of Christy’s song story.

Blessings for a joyous and holy Christmas, dear ones.

With love and gratitude, Amy

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Christmas Treasures

Do you ever sit back and really take the time to be in awe of God? His creation, and who He is? This time of year, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus coming in flesh, so that he might shed His blood as the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a time set aside, to remember and celebrate. But it always seems like the pace of life quickens, and the time to be in awe gets cut short by the long shopping list. I know the hour’s tick by at the same rate of speed as they did when Messiah was born, but our world seems to be spinning at a dizzying pace these days.

I think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, and what that time must have been like for her. There weren’t 25 people to buy gifts for with various houses to visit. They settled down. It may have been in a manger, filled with the excitement of a birth, but I think they stopped. They paused, and fully enjoyed His presence.

I believe this to be true because of one little piece in Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth. To me, it’s become one of Mary’s ‘words of wisdom for mom’s’. Luke tells of Mary and Joseph’s traveling to Bethlehem, the shepherds and the angels. Then he writes, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, ESV)

You’ve probably heard the saying about the minutes drag on, but the years fly by? It’s so true, and now that we’ve reached the middle school era in our family, things seems to have been taken to a whole new realm. Even our son comments on it. Be still, my heart! I think there must have been something special stirred by the Holy Spirit within Mary’s heart. She knew to treasure up all these things, that special time. I envision Mary taking the time to be in awe of God; not only this precious little Lamb, wrapped up in her arms, but the Creator.

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Mary didn’t have a cell phone to click pictures and share with her friends back home. She didn’t have the ability to rely on a picture to conjure up all the warm fuzzies. All she had was the gift of those thoughts and feelings being stirred in her heart and mind, treasured up. She may not have remembered every little detail, but I’m certain she clearly remembered the thoughts and feelings she experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, I love walking down memory lane with the pictures on that little rectangular device. And I wouldn’t trade the message, and seeing the beautiful new born face of my sweet niece today, for anything! But when I’m wrapped up in getting the right picture to capture the moments of Christmas, it’s hard to really capture it with my heart. It’s hard to simply be in awe, and let myself feel the wonder, mystery and freedom of the season.

As the days click by to the time we celebrate Jesus’ birth, I desire to posture my heart and mind towards our Savior. What would it be like, for you, to slow down and simply be in awe of Him? What would it take, to posture yourself before the Lord? What would it be like to stop, and treasure up in your heart the events of this season? What do you need from God, and what do you need to give God?

I want to challenge you, as I do myself, to stop this season and be still. Take some time to rest in Him, the gift of a little baby, treasuring it all up in your heart.

Fruit in the Wilderness

IMG_6860Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my kids and I made the easy four-hour drive to Peoria, IL. We like to take the back roads as it always makes for better scenery. This time, the trees had leafless branches and fields had been harvested. Vast acres of bare ground were the canvas for much of our journey. But on this particular trip, I didn’t peer over the blank fields with winter doldrums; rather, it was with a new appreciation and expectation.

I think much of this new perspective has come from reading through the book of Isaiah. This book of the Bible has long intimidated me, but now I’m captivated. This treasure in God’s Word has caused me to ponder and re-read portions (multiple times!) that at first didn’t make any sense. For me, this prophetic book has changed my beliefs about wilderness seasons. It also changed what I saw while peering over those bare acres of crop land.

Everyone has been through a “wilderness” season. Whether it be due to circumstances, or choices we’ve made and the consequences which follow. We’ve all had times of drought and wandering, seasons when nothing seems to be right, or fair. Seasons when our hearts are broken and shattered. Seasons of hardship, disappointment or confusion.

During these wilderness or desert seasons in my life, often I just need encouragement and support. For me it’s not about anyone ‘fixing it’, it’s having someone willing to be present with me and acknowledge that it’s hard. History tells me things will change, it will get better. But with all that said, if you’re like me, I just want the desert season to be over. I just want to be on the other side, and pray that I don’t have to go through it again.

Desiring a wilderness season is not something most people want. Generally, our flesh wants to run in the opposite direction. However, with this new understanding of wilderness I may not go so far as to desire it, but to be thankful for it and expectant in it. When we’re in the middle of a desert (and middles are often the hardest), it’s a challenge to be thankful. It’s not natural to be thankful for drought or wandering.

How can we possibly be thankful for and expectant in, the wilderness?

Take a look at these verses. “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.” Isaiah 41:18 (ESV)

That ‘I will’ statement – it’s a promise from God. We have a promise that He will provide in the wilderness, there will be relief in our parched places. We

“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing.” Isaiah 35:1 (ESV)

There will be abundance come from our desert times. I can attest to this. Some of the biggest change in my life, has come directly after a hard and challenging season. My heart was not the same, but life was put back together in a new and beautiful way.

Throughout our drive, I looked over the empty fields and rejoiced over the coming winter. We can trust God that a barren and desert-like season, will eventually spring forth new life and become spring. The soil of our heart having been prepared, ready to receive the seed. The earth will patiently waits; but the bitter cold, wind, ice and driving sleet must come first.

“until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest. And justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.” Isaiah 32:15-17 (ESV)

Contrary to how it feels in the middle, there can be a fruitful harvest from a desert. It seems counter intuitive. Similar to the Consecration and Wonders we considered a few weeks ago, we will receive the wonders of our Almighty in the gathering of this fruit. The wonders of righteousness, a peace that passes all understanding, and a trust in our Savior that lasts forever. I am expectant for these things! I am expectant for growth in my wilderness, a fruitful field to burst forth.

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I want to encourage you to be curious. What are your beliefs about the wilderness? How have you, and how do you experience it? What is your response to being in the middle of it?

I want to challenge you to read Isaiah 43, focusing on verses 1-2 and 15-21. Take a look at James 1:1-3. This concept is hard, but it’s so rich. And it’s interwoven throughout all of scripture. Let’s be thankful for, and expectant in the hard stuff. Tending our soft hearts for the Lord, winnowing the chaff, ready to receive the seeds and gather fruit.

Love & Gratitude,  Amy

 

Arches of our Faith

Over the past few years, my husband and I have made it a point to take our family vacation right when school lets out for summer. Otherwise, it doesn’t happen. We get wrapped up between softball, baseball and our little berry farm. Our summer 2017 trip was a quick one, Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and then up to Louisville for a visit to the famous Louisville Slugger Museum. We had a great time!

Visiting with Park Rangers always seems to be a highlight for us. One year it was the Ranger on horseback at the Petrified Forrest, this year it was a Ranger at one of the night chats. However, something one Ranger said during a our cave tour continues to intrigue my thoughts. He was teaching us about the natural arches which make up some of Mammoth Cave’s structure, and went on to say something to the effect that arches are one of the strongest architectural forms found in nature. It sparked my interest, and triggered thoughts of a spiritual reality.

First of all, the physical strength of an arch. Turns out that arches and domes have been used for thousands of years in architecture, in addition naturally occurring formations. The Roman aqueducts and Colosseum or Arches National Park in Utah for example. And think about an egg! A chicken egg has a natural arch form, and they can actually withstand a tremendous amount of weight. (I stack stuff on the eggs in my fridge all the time.)

Secondly, the word ‘arch’. And this one is a big tease, because there just isn’t time in the space of this blog post to review the origins of the word ‘arch’. But if you’re into words, it’s a good one. The word ‘arch’ ranges in definitions from a segment of a circle and bow, to describing a someone as cheeky, clever or cunning. It’s fascinating.

Third, and most important are the spiritual thoughts this Ranger’s comments stirred in my mind. I’m certain that if my brain could shoot fireworks, my husband and kids would have run for cover. The idea that arches are architecturally sound and capable of withstanding a massive amount of weight astounded me. One of God’s greatest promises to man was made with a visible sign, still to this day, in the form of an arch.

As the Lord fully engulfed this earth in a flood, His servant Noah was faithfully on board the ark. Afterwards, God made this promise to Noah and all generations to come.

And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all future generations: I have placed My bow in the clouds, and it will be a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all the living creatures: water will never again become a flood to destroy every creature. The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all the living creatures on earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have confirmed between Me and every creature on earth.”  (Genesis 9:12-17, HCSB)

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Our Creator lay down his bow, which is represented and attached to our present word of focus, and gave us a promise. God is the Promise Maker and the Promise Keeper. Just like His promise confirmed with a rainbow in the sky, His promises are strong and unbreakable. God’s promises can carry more weight beyond our comprehension, and they are never broken.

When life gets challenging, it’s the foundation of God’s promises that have the ability to hold us up. His promises can carry the load. His promises can provide the architecture of our faith.

One of the promises, or arches, I hold on to the most is Joshua 1:5-6a. “No man shall be able to stand against you all of the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave or forsake you. Be strong and courageous…”

The Holy scriptures are full of promises from our Creator, some of which I hold on to when the ground beneath my feet seems a little shaky. What “arches” can you hold on to in scripture?

(Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.)

Hello – My Lovely, New Friend!

Hey friends, so this is post is a little different than the norm – but I couldn’t help it. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity for a little get away to Springfield, MO. It was great! But one of my favorite things is that I got to visit the local LifeWay Christian bookstore. And, I had a 40% off coupon for one item. (Score!) The minute I saw that coupon, and realized it would be valid over my trip – my one item was pegged. A new Bible. The She Reads Truth Bible.

I didn’t really need a new Bible – I have 3 sitting on a shelf in front of me, and another one to my left hand. I use them all, but did I really “need” another? But it’s pretty! And…it’s the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) translation I’ve been desiring, especially for study. Did I say it’s pretty?

Well, I got it. So now I have two Bibles sitting by my left hand, with three more in front of me. It feels slightly selfish, but I use them all!

IMG_6442What a gift. You see, a sweet friend had the opportunity to do some of the artistry within its pages. To me, this Bible is more than just a pretty, and new-to-me translation. It’s tangible evidence that God goes before us, His plans are good, and that He has an abundance of good gifts to give his children. And those gifts aren’t necessarily the tangible gift of a new Bible. It’s His love, and watching His plans unfold before us, it’s the gift of forgiveness and new mercy each day.

Not only have I been enjoying the story behind this Bible – but the devotionals, maps & timelines (I LOVE maps & timelines!), and there’s even space to take notes or journal. The extras are super enriching.  And even better, God is confirming messages to me within it’s pages.  Praise you, Lord!

Looking for more info on this little treasure? You can read Carrie’s blog post and visit the She Reads Truth website.

I’m not being compensated in any way to promote this Bible, just wanted to share my excitement with you. Happy studying!

Waiting Well

Waiting on God vs. Waiting for God

School-day mornings around our house just bring out the best in everyone (insert ample sarcasm). We’re often waiting on one person or another. The right outfit isn’t clean, we can’t get the pony tail just so, the sleep just wasn’t enough. So, there we are. Waiting. Very, impatiently.

It seems like this life is full of waiting. In fact, you might be waiting this very moment. I can almost guarantee it. Waiting to use the bathroom, waiting on someone to complete a project, waiting on your favorite show to start or a ballgame to begin, waiting on test results, waiting on a phone call, the list could be extensive. The more our society as a whole is conditioned to immediacy, waiting-well seems to become like an extinct dinosaur. Impatience runs rampant, and even blind-sides us at times.

When we’re in relationship, it often includes waiting. Our relationship with the Lord is no different. How often have you waited on an answer to prayer? There are some prayers, I’ve whispered for years, that I’m still waiting for answers to. How many times do Christians say, “I’m just waiting on God,” with a hint of sarcasm and impatience?

Isaiah 30:18 tells us, “Therefore, the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are those who wait for him.” (ESV, emphasis mine)

Have you ever thought of the All Mighty, powerful God, as having to wait? I believe that God’s timing is perfect, and sometimes waiting is involved. We don’t have the big picture, and typically, we have to wait for our pieces to fall into place with everyone else’s.

This verse is so exciting to me because it lays out a win / win situation! The Lord is waiting to be gracious to us, he desires to do that. Sometimes, it’s all about timing. In our waiting for Him, we will be blessed. So not only is the Lord going to be gracious to us – we’re going to be blessed in our waiting.

I want to offer a thought, and it may just be splitting hairs – but I think it could be powerful. It’s my desire that this may just help us to ‘wait well’. When we’re waiting on the Lord, it carries a sense of impatience. (Like me, tapping an impatient foot with kids on a school-day morning.) When you’re waiting on God to act, how often do you catch yourself impatient, arms crossed?

When we’re waiting for the Lord, it carries an expectancy and hopeful anticipation. Waiting for God requires us to exercise trust in Him.

The word in Isaiah 30:18, wait, is châkâh in Hebrew. It means to await: – long, tarry, wait; to be patient.[i] To me, this word carries a sense of abiding, drawing near and tarrying.

In my life right now, there are a lot of things up in the air. A lot that requires me to wait. It’s an active waiting, but I’m still waiting. I’m anticipating that a hopeful attitude in waiting, rather than impatience, will alter my experience in the process. What would be different if you chose to patiently wait for your Creator? What would it be like to draw near with hopeful anticipation? Would you be more open for the next step? Surrendered?

When we wait for the Lord, we will be blessed. God is gracious.

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Amplified

[i] Strong, J. (2009). A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible (Vol. 2, p. 39). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Marinate In Jesus

On a recent Sunday night, steak was on the menu for supper. Thinking that it was supposed to marinate over night instead of a just a couple hours, I prepped the ingredients and decided to set it all together in the fridge. But, at 5:00 p.m. Sunday evening, I realized a vitally important step was skipped. We got busy doing other things and I forgot to put the steaks in the marinade. Whoops.

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It wasn’t the end of the world, we’re used to eating late – no big deal. But it got me thinking. As those steaks just sat next to the marinade, they weren’t able to pick up any of the flavor prepared for them. In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (ESV) I may be taking this verse a little out of context, but it came popping into my mind. In order to be the salt, seasoned and flavorful, we have to get in the marinade! Soaking-in the Lord.

 

We can attend church all our life or go to conferences all over this country, but unless we really dive-in to God’s word and soak in His presence on our own – we’re just like those steaks, sitting next to the marinade. It’s hard to soak up the flavor of God’s love, if we’re just getting a “talking-to” once a week. And that spiritual-high from a conference, it doesn’t usually carry us all the way through the wilderness wanderings or fiery trials. What really carries us, is a personal relationship with our Creator. That is developed over time and personal commitment, spending time in prayer and worship, being devoted to His word for you. It’s being willing to change, be refined, and learn who God is.

The next part of that verse in Matthew 5 goes on to tell of a light under a bushel basket, and letting your light shine before others for the glory of God. (Matt. 5:14-16) Whatever we are flavored with, is what will shine through to others. Just like those steaks, the saltiness and seasoning in the marinade is what’s meant to come through. (I burned them on the grill by the way…it just wasn’t my day to fix steak.)

At 5:05 p.m., I put those steaks in to marinate, and closed the refrigerator door on them for nearly two hours. Matthew 6:6 encourages us, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (ESV)

In secret, that’s where some serious soaking can occur. Don’t mistake me, I love the cooperate church body, there is no substitute for a healthy body of believers working together. But there is also no substitute for that personal, secret time with Jesus.

What are you soaking in?

How do you “marinate” and soak-in God?

IMG_6068My guess is, that just like my marinade with various ingredients – that’s what it might look like for you. Worship + Scripture + Prayer + Fellowship for good measure. Whatever the recipe is, that’s between you and the Lord. But let’s not wait and then rush at the last minute, when the grill is fired up (testing & trials). My challenge to you, today, is to not let your relationship with our Creator be an afterthought. No time spent on the Lord is wasted, especially that secret time. He is the Redeemer of all.