Saturday, December 30, 2017
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
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.
Redeemed:The person of God, the Father (Creator) designed the plan to reconcile me (each of us) back unto himself within time and into eternity.
Teamed: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.
Seamed: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
48. Let Light Dispel the Darkness
An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around then,
and the glory of the Lord shone around then,
and they were terrified. (Luke 2: 9)
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.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
47. As We Journey Toward Bethlehem
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2: 7)
This word, when referencing the city in Palestine— a short distance from Jerusalem— has deep meaning for Christians as the celebration of Christ’s birth marks our calendars. His birth is cause for joy during any season, but Christmas time brings forth a focus of more intentionality.
Many festivities commemorate the event. There will be gift giving, card sending, and love abounding as people get together. Music may fill homes as it brings messages of the season to our hearts.
Birth. Wonder. Hope. Fulfillment.
One song that settles deep within me is “Breath of Heaven (Mary’s Song)” by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. The lyrics convey Mary’s thoughts on her journey toward Bethlehem and as she struggles with the weight of the imminent birth of the Child she is carrying.
Heavy, too, is the responsibility she foresees in raising him. Mary senses the need for the breath of heaven to hold her together and be forever near her. As she surrenders to God’s plan, she recognizes the grace she needs for each of the days to come has also been entrusted to her.
The same weights that overcame Mary can be echoed in the lives of any of us who are living with a chronic condition or working through the trauma of a life event. “Can I bear this burden for one more day? Can I see the gift in this pain entrusted to me?
Can I overcome the grief and fears that
loom up large engulfing me?”
God’s breath of life created us. We carry the breath of heaven within us. His life sustains us. We do not journey alone.
As we ponder Christ’s birth, we can commit to a renewal in allowing him to rebirth us. We are as dependent upon him as He once was dependent on Mary. We also share in the grace-filled promise that He is forever near.
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". 47. As We Journey Toward Bethlehem. Redemption Press.
Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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
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.