Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Excerpt # 36 Ultra Sounds

27. Ultra Sounds

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3: 17) 

God consistently ministers to me through music. It can come via classic hymns, current praise songs, or secular music with spiritual meaning arising from its lyrics. Understandably, this Zephaniah verse is a favorite of mine. 

Here is how other translations 
present its end-point message. 

“Who will sing joyfully because of you (NABRE). 

He will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing (KJV). 

With his love, he will calm all your fears (NLT).“

As a lover of words, I find the lyrics in a song can reach the deepest parts of me. I have known difficult times when I endeavored in prayer with no evident relief. Then I would hear or remember a song and the needed encouragement emerged. These verses state that God sings joyfully because of me. 

Imagine that! 
He wants to calm me. 

He is content just to be with me— a quiet calm, soft as a feather sheltered under peace-filled wings. 

During the days I was preparing this writing, a medical test required an ultrasound for further evaluation. The test itself was not unnerving to me, but anxiety arose as to what might be wrong. Listening to music the morning I prepared to leave my home for the appointment, I heard a perfect song. I carried it within me.

 Could this be God’s song during the long test? 

Medical ultrasounds penetrate deeply into a physical body, discovering details undetected otherwise. 

For some reason the vestibular dysfunction condition I live with escalated to fearful heights during this test.

 Could I feel God or hear him singing over me? No. 

Did I keep singing internally? Yes. 

Did his care penetrate deeply as the medical equipment 
did its work? Yes. 

Was it a duet? It surely was!

Lord, I am aware that the ultra sound I need most to hear is the whisper of your presence in the midst of my turmoil. Thank you that your songs of delight are not dependent on my feelings. Your love and faithfulness is resonating at all times. Amen.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View”. 27. Ultra Sounds. Redemption Press. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Allowing Jesus to Turn Water into Wine

This devotional is from the “Rest Ministries” vault and showed up as a ‘memory’ on Facebook from January 27, 2014!!

It seems as relevant as an encouragement now as it was then - at least in my life where much transformation is going on!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).

Scripture’s account of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding feast at Cana is compelling. Jesus loved a celebration. Although He felt that his time to manifest God’s glory had not yet come, He knew His Father’s heart that the celebration not be spoiled.

Jesus and water are themes throughout Scripture.

Immediately after His baptism in the Jordan River, He was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where Satan tempted Him for 40 days. The anointed waters of baptism surely nourished Him to resist.

When adversities pound into my life, I am exhorted to: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (James 1: 2).

How can I count the daily afflictions “as joy” had I not the strength of the Holy Spirit’s blessed presence–a wine transforming my watered weaknesses for God’s purposes? It is a surrender impossible without my trust in Him.

My life, no longer full of vitality that I once knew, can cause me to feel much like the jars of clay filled to the brim with plain water. Though water is life giving, when celebration is the dress for the day, what am I to do with the feelings that I have been left out?

I can remember Mary’s words to the servants at that Cana feast. “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).

God asks me to trust the miracle of His living water within me, more powerful than wine, but also the fruit of the Vine I cling to.

God trusts me! Best I keep learning by trusting Him so that I can can be ready for His transformational miracles that will change my life.

Prayer: Lord, only You have the power to make the changes in my heart and life that will most richly honor You. My heart’s desire is to be still and to let Your power unfold miraculously. Amen.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Book Excerpt #35 "Serving the Lord with Gladness"

25. Serving the Lord with Gladness 

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 
(Psalm 100: 1-2 ESV) 

As I read this verse, I recall early August of 1987 when I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I was emotionally numb, awakening from surgery to this startling news. The following day, after a sleepless night, a stirring turned me to a flicker deep within. I whispered, “Lord, help me. My eyes are upon you.”

 I had a deep encounter with the Lord, who came gently with his still small voice. He had to reveal to me what I was feeling. Each emotion was addressed and counsel given. I later realized that He had personally taken me through the first part of Scripture’s 2 Chronicles 20. 

Therein, Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah are awaiting enemy armies that totally outnumber them. Feeling powerless, they turn to the Lord for help. 

He tells them not to be afraid: 

“For the battle is not yours, but God’s . . .You will not have to fight this battle . . . stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you . . . Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”  (2 Chronicles 20: 15, 17)

I relaxed knowing I could confidently face 
my overwhelming enemy. 

The rest of that Scripture has Jehoshaphat instructing his people to go forth to meet the armies, singing praises to God. This became my stance during my months of chemotherapy treatments. 

The people of Judah and I experienced victory 
over a beaten foe.

As to the above psalm’s verses? I came to recognize more deeply that I serve a faithful God. He continues to uphold me as I face challenges, some lasting years beyond the cancer diagnosis and triumph. 

He reminds me very often that the enemy is beaten. 
I am not. 

He is worthy to be served and praised. He first served me as Savior. Now I serve him with a spirit of joy, gladness, and song because He has shown me that is how one celebrates knowing the Lord is the One securing the victories.

Lord, help me continue to make a joyful noise, praising you. Your faithfulness is known, received, cherished, and everlasting. Amen.

Lynn L. Severance.”Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View” 25. Serving the Lord with Gladness.” Redemption Press. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Excerpt #34 Promises, Promises!

58. Promises, Promises 

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. (Psalm 119: 76) 

Each day brings variants to what we may experience. There are times that stun us in what arrives unexpectedly. We cry out for a place to turn for comfort and calm. 

This verse is a plea to access God’s unfailing love, a promised comfort. 

For some, their challenges create intentional daily pleas. Others will plead as challenges  emerge. 

Here are a few of God’s promises. 

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. 
(Hebrews 13: 5b) 

For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29: 11) 

Nowhere among these and other promises from God’s Word, does it say how He will fulfill them. My life’s road may twist and turn causing me to wonder how He is working. I may not sense his presence or have any sense of hope. 

My body and heart can become weary.

Yet I know God is love— the greatest of his gifts. I know He is faithful. I need but look back to promises fulfilled from my past pleas. They are recorded in my daily journals and are embedded within my heart. They give cause for praises, thanks, and hope in knowing that I can confidently trust him. 

“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5: 3). 

I desire to be his devoted follower. Even when I falter, He never does. His love never fails nor do his promises. God is honing my unconditional love for him as He fulfills his promises. He’d rather I focus on this than on my feelings or understanding of how He will bring fulfillment. 

With my trust and faith in him, we share confidently on the road to his revelations. I have made a promise to follow him, no matter the cost. 

Indeed, both of us are promise keepers!

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter - When Challenges Dim Our View” 58. Promises, Promises. Redemption Press. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book Excerpt #33 "Seasoned"

60. Seasoned 

But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. (Deuteronomy 11: 11-12) 

On the first day of each new year, I read this Scripture passage. It is a reminder that another year has arrived. I know it will hold seasons of days. 

Before I look forward, I look back on the highlights from the year just completed. Yes, there were mountains and valleys. I came through them! I will face joys and challenges in the year ahead. I intend to walk into the unknowns of each new day aware of God’s faithfulness. He guides me if I choose to let him.

 True. The Lord cares about the land and the year. But He cares about me more. 

His presence is steadfast. His eyes are continually on me. He desires my cooperation as He accompanies me daily with his grace. I best not dwell on each day of the whole year. That would be overwhelming! God sees those days ahead. I release them into his caring hands.

I commit to accepting his grace as I live out one day at a time. Will I discover it to be a mountain or a valley day or somewhere in between? Maybe it will be a day comprised of all three! 

As I read this Scripture, I know I will have questions as some of my days arrive. That is alright. Seasons from other years in my life have helped me recognize that my not-knowing is simply part of God’s all-knowing. He sees the land’s obstacles. I trust and follow his lead. I become a seasoned traveler by choosing to accept both the mountain days and the valley days. 

Each nourishes me as I drink the rain from heaven— 
God’s presence itself.

Prayer: Lord, you are my constant Comforter as I face the seasons of my life and the unknowns of each day. Thank you for being my hope, my trust, and my guide as I treasure you in each of my moments. Amen.

Photo Credit: Mt. Baker from atop Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island, Washington (2010)

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter- When Challenges Dim Our View”. 60. Seasoned. Redemption Press. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Book Excerpt #32 "The King and I"

56. The King and I 

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. (Hebrews 4: 16) 

Visualizing a throne, various images from films or storybooks come to mind. I see an elaborate room where those present are either in awe, or in dread of a king seated before them. This verse refers to a spiritual throne room where God, the one eternal Being, the King of Kings, has always existed. 

Within him are three persons (the Trinity), each coequal and coeternal with the other. Though taking on different functions, each remains fully God and becomes known to me because of his role affecting both my natural and eternal life. 

The person of God, the Father (Creator) designed the plan to reconcile me (each of us) back unto himself within time and into eternity. 

The person of God, the Son became flesh (Incarnation). He entered time, teamed with me in humanness, and carried out the Father’s redemptive plan. He took on my sins (all mankind’s), died and conquered death (resurrection), so I could be reconciled to God. 

The person of God, the Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God, freely sent after the Son of God completed his redemptive act and returned to the Father. He seams up and completes the Trinity’s presence in my spirit. The Spirit of truth, proceeding from the Father, testifies about the Son of God (John 15: 26). With his grace-filled guidance, I can choose to walk out God’s plans for my life.

 What a throne room! With the King’s compassionate love, gifts abound. I am saved, have an eternal destiny, and am forgiven when I confess my times of failure. 

There is restoration as I walk through times of questioning and sorrow-filled grief. 

Throughout the events in each season of my life, grace flows during times of fellowship in the throne room. Rejoicing arises as there becomes a singleness of purpose and agreement.

Prayer: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity . . .” (John 17: 22-23a). Amen.

Lynn L. Severance. "Seeking the Light of God's Comforter - When Challenges Dim Our View" 56. The King and I.  Redemption Press. 

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Book Excerpt #31 "Let Light Dispel the Darkness"

48. Let Light Dispel the Darkness 

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, 
and the glory of the Lord shone around then, 
and they were terrified. (Luke 2: 9) 

Imagine that special night. Sheep were sedate from a full day of following their shepherds and ready for rest, as were the shepherds. The night was clear except for a brilliant star. All was still.

Then— a burst of light, angels speaking, glory outshining that brilliant star— and the shepherds were terrified. Some translations record that they were sore afraid. That is mighty scared. That is scared to one’s innermost being. It is a huge surge of fear!

A few verses later Luke records, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2: 14).

Why was this unexpected honor given to the shepherds? Their work was not a job of high profile. They lived solitary lives caring for their flocks. Yet God saw their faithfulness and chose to honor them. His favor rested upon them.

How can these thoughts be of help to us when the unexpected happens in our lives? We feel far from favored, often solitary, and set apart. We tire before day’s end. We expect too much of ourselves, often sensing we have disappointed our Shepherd.

Yet He knows each one of us. He knows the longings of our hearts and the times we are sore afraid. He knows something else. Light, his light, always dispels the darkness.

How long did the shepherds stay terrified?

Once the message being heralded became real to them, they rushed off to Bethlehem. They found the Messiah, a babe in swaddling clothes. Then they proclaimed to all who would listen the wonders of what they had seen and heard.

The stars in heaven continue to sing the same glory. The favor of our Shepherd rests upon us. We can spread his good news to those we encounter during our hardest moments because God’s light dispels the darkness. It did long ago and gratefully, it still does today.

Prayer: Lord, in unexpected places, open my eyes to behold your glories. In whatever ways you choose, help me rush to a Bethlehem near me, proclaiming as I go the wonders you have displayed. Amen.
Watercolor image by Dave Peterson
sketched specifically for Lynn's book

Lynn L. Severance. "Seeking the Light of God's Comforter - When Challenges Dim Our View". 48. Let Light Dispel the Darkness.  Redemption Press.