Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Book Excerpt #29 "A Touch of Summer in Winter"

46. A Touch of Summer in Winter

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2: 14) 

It was early December, a month when the fragrances of sugars and spices, and fresh pine boughs may waft throughout homes. Our thoughts turn to celebrating seasonal joys. Should life also present some challenges, a shift in our perspective could bring us to new awarenesses. 

Such a time greeted me one December. I was grateful when some insights emerged as I went on a solo procession. I was experiencing side effects from a new medication. Dizziness and imbalance were intensified. The week before my outing, the same effects had eased out. I prayed that same scenario would repeat itself.

 As our weather was mild, I chose to go outside and take a walk. My faith and my cane accompanied me. God led the way. 

The route I took brought me to a charming house with a white picket fence bordering it. During the summer, hollyhocks and sweet peas abound. The hollyhocks had been cut back, but not the sweet peas. Withered flowers drooped down the wire frame that had supported them when they were in their glory season. I noticed three sweet pea blooms remained suspended but upright on their vine. 

Although the sweet peas’ literal scent and colors had faded, their form and tenacity remained as if in full freshness. 

I felt the Lord whispering encouragement to me. My efforts to hang on had not gone unnoticed. He appreciated my using his strength walking out challenging steps in faith. He saw me clinging to him as my Vine, desiring to flourish when harsh touches in my body could have caused me to choose otherwise. 

Those persistent sweet peas must have drunk deeply of the nourishment their vine gave them during sunshine filled days. Likewise, as I cling to God, He offers nurture as I live in the garden of his consistent love and care.

Lord, help me persevere when weariness can overwhelm me. Lead me to the fragrance that is you. Help me breathe deeply, inhaling trust, hope, and the steadfastness that will bring nourishment throughout all seasons. Amen.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View “. 46. A Touch of Summer in Winter. . Redemption Press. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Excerpt #28 "Is the Wilderness Aways Barren?" (Advent, 2017)

51.  Is the Wilderness Always Barren?

A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare a way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40: 3) 

Waiting is difficult. Are we to view these times as completely barren? They stretch into months, even years. Such time spans can become overwhelming. God asks for our continuing trust.

Some mentors in Scripture offer us encouragement and hope. 

A few months prior to Jesus’ birth, his cousin John was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth. This faithful couple were in awe witnessing God’s miracle for Elizabeth was long past her child-bearing years.     (Luke 1). 

And what of their son, John? As a grown man, he was long in the wilderness, set apart, and being prepared to minister in proclaiming the coming of the Messiah. (Mark 1: 1-3) 

Jesus, our Savior, spent thirty years in preparation before his public ministry began. Immediately following its commencement, He was led by the Holy Spirit and tested for forty days in the desert. (Matthew 4: 1-11) Afterwards, He moved forth fulfilling his earthly destiny. 

Each lived his life one day at a time. None was idle while waiting on a promise yet to be fulfilled. They engaged themselves in a life that strengthened a personal relationship with God who was guiding them to their next steps. They served where they were and in the acceptance of where they were. They learned to listen to God for his directions. 

We see the outcome of their faithfulness. 

As we struggle with delays, we can look back to our past waiting times that led to an endpoint. We were unable to see then where our days were headed. In retrospect, we may understand how God, in his wisdom, led us to either open or closed doors. With a change in mindset, we celebrate the gift of each day. We can do all that is asked of us today, knowing that we are moving into God’s appointed future.

Lord, you ask me to walk, not in a barren place, but in a deep place with you. Our entire journey is important. Help me appreciate you as the One knowing where we are going! Any wilderness time becomes a place where my trust in you can bloom. Amen.  

I am posting this as the season of Advent begins in December, 2017. Advent prepares us for the bloom of what was was long awaited - the birth of the Messiah! 

Lynn L. Severance. "Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View". 51. Is the Wilderness Always Barren?. Redemption Press. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book Excerpt # 27 "Heartbeats"

18. Heartbeats 

You, yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. (2 Corinthians 3: 2) 

I have lettered family mementos that span nearly two hundred years. Among these treasures is correspondence between my parents during WW II. Though apart, they were together awaiting my birth. 

Heartbeats of chronicled genealogy add up to my feeling grateful for the gift of life. But first, I was in the heart of God before creation. He awaited his timing to start my heart’s beat and delivery to my earthly home. 

I came with his personalized blueprint of recorded days including his hopes as to how I would embrace his will to contribute to his world. 

I continue to desire moving intertwined with the plans He has knit for me— the joys that uplift my heart and the challenges that try it. 

He is the wellspring of my heart. 
He is near as I live my life. 

Paul wanted the Corinthians to recognize that when they entered into a relationship with Christ, his Spirit came to dwell within them. Christ’s love could then be expressed outwardly. This is true for each of us.

. . . .

As the beat of life goes on within me and around me, I want to be intentional to choose and seize with my mind, heart, and spirit any opportunity to express love.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View”. 8. Heartbeats. Redemption Press. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Book Excerpt #26 Abundance

31.  Abundance

Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, 
and righteousness looks down from heaven. 
(Psalm 85: 11) 

I read this verse and I see eternity and time meeting. I see the seasons of our earth and the need for them. I see God smiling upon me and my returning my best to him. I see what is ideal, even though our earth, and all that is happening upon it, and my life circumstances, may be far from the ideal. 

I am reminded that, although created from dust, I am also infused with the breath of God. Besides my creation in God’s image is my acceptance of his Son’s redemptive death on the cross and his triumphal  resurrection. All these gifts culminate with the indwelling of his promised Holy Spirit. 

Abundantly full of God! 

Could there be more abundance than this? 

When I read Psalm 85: 10, these reflections emerge: 

“Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.” 

How do I recognize the abundance that is within me? Challenges that arise can cloud  my view. 

How do I spring up with faithfulness and flourish right where God asks me to live each day? 

Such actions seem beyond my capabilities. 

The answer lies in my asking a different question. Am I to depend on my feelings or am I to depend on what I know is true? God created me in his image with delicate care. Daily He woos me to reach for him. It is not a reach high into the heavens, but a reach deep within where his Spirit dwells. 

That is where his abundance rests. 

That is where I get filled. 

We meet. We hold fast to each other as a day progresses. The faithfulness I need is continuing to trust God while receiving the directions He gives. He asks that I keep my focus on him, doing the best I can. We will walk through seasons, some difficult and others less so, but always together.

  Lord, as one made from earth and blessed with the abundance of all you are and give, I yield my life to you. As the earth bears its harvest in season, help me to bear the harvest of my days as they remain ordained by you. Amen.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View “.31. Abundance. Redemption Press. 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Book Excerpt #25 "The Power of Words

40.  The Power of Words

“And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” (Psalm 29: 9b, 11)

The Old Testament relates how God’s words spoke creation into existence (Genesis 1). The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among men. Some of Christ’s words are recorded in Scripture to teach and exhort us. He spoke forgiveness while dying and reconciled us to the Father. 

Christ’s promised gift of his Spirit who would dwell within us, comes to those who choose to receive him. He longs to be deeply present and a consistent source of guidance and fellowship. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13: 5). These and other amazing grace-filled words from him deserve responses of gratefulness and praises. 

And in his temple all cry,“ Glory!”

 I want my spoken and written words to enhance relationships and my internal words to bring peace, not anxieties. May I not only read God’s words in Scripture, but listen to the quiet voice within me that I have come to know is his. I want to speak honestly to him when burdens of my life  are heavy. I want to keep my heart open to receive his words of counsel and comfort. 

Words spoken in confrontation with another can lead toward resolve and peace. May I gather honest prayer-filled words to thank him for his faithfulness.

 I cherish the caring words both spoken and written from others. Reception of them has brought joy and consolation. When alone, I have passages in books that change my attitudes, enhance my understandings, and renew my hopes. I never want to underestimate the power of God’s words or the effect of my own. 

In many configurations, the power of words is revealed. Hopefully, God’s glory is revealed as well.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter - When Challenges Dim Our View”. 40. The Power of Words. Redemption Press. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Book Excerpt # 24 The Waiting Time

44.  The Waiting Time

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130: 5-6) 

These verses challenge me. Often I am waiting for the Lord, but I am waiting for him to do what I want. The years stretch on and many of my wants remain. 

Waiting is not an inactive time, although it involves stopping and surrendering my plans, allowing God to work. I am to wait “more than watchmen wait for the morning.” 

At night watchmen guarded ancient cities from atop fortress walls, alert to any potential havoc from invaders. Other watchmen inside the walls worked to keep the city safe. Morning’s light bathed many areas out of darkness, lessening some dangers. 

The Lord is a watchman for me. When He says, Wait, it is for my own protection. He sees what I cannot see. My waiting times can seem as darkness with no certainty shed on the way ahead. It takes soulful trust as I remain stationary. It is a time to hold tight to the Holy Spirit who can help ward off shadows of discouragement and impatience. 

My task in waiting is to place my hope and trust in the Lord and not hurry ahead of him. He watches for the right time to pull me out of the dark and into the morning light of his plans. He knows when I am ready to pursue them. He has prepared the way. 

There is also the perspective of time that helps me appreciate the wisdom of the ways God has guided me. This fuller clarity helps me understand how some of my choices could have been the wrong ones. I perceive anew the occasions when God grabbed me out of harm’s way because I was not careful in heeding his warning signs. Such protection and his watchful care is worthy of thanks and praise.

Lynn L. Severance. “Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View” 44. The Waiting Time. Redemption Press. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Book Excerpt #23 Planting and Harvest

45.  Planting and Harvest

How do any of us become the fertile soil where the seeds of God’s word and life remain rooted? Once it was a given in a garden, but now we must tend to our lives as we journey back Home. 

Thus, if the soil is to become fertile, it will happen along the way. We co-labor with God, the sower, making choices that lead us toward the harvest of his intent.

Lord, help me stay the course. Keep sowing the seeds that will help me remain rooted and secure in, and with you. Amen.

Lynn L. Severance. Seeking the Light of God's Comforter When Challenges Dim Our View. 45. Planting and Harvest. Redemption Press.