Saturday, May 9, 2020

At Home

I will not enter my house or go to my bed -- I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob
(Psalm 132:3-5).

During the years of Jesus’ ministry he was a transient. He went where directed by his Father. He preached to those who gathered. He healed many who were in need. He rested when he could with his apostles, a few close friends, or alone. When a teacher of the law inquired about following him, Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20).

While on earth, Jesus restored the path leading back to my eternal home. Completing this redemptive act, he needed to return to his Father. He promised his disciples to send his Spirit to dwell within them. He would empower them to continue sharing his teachings. Each of us can make this life-changing choice to have God’s Spirit dwell within us as well.

His Spirit within me transforms an empty space into a true home. I want to provide a place for him to rest. He wants me to be at rest. I sometimes wonder how he must feel in my fragile and challenged body. Then I remember that any strength I have is fueled by his Presence. He has turned me into a homeowner! 
He brings the seeds for our garden that will grow his fruit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)  
With his help I can be vigilant to notice anything that will disturb our sacred soil. Thieves are ever ready to break in and rip out the seeds that have taken root and are growing. These weeds of sin, doubt, fear, and self pity are only a few potential home wreckers. They need to be thwarted so that the garden thrives. 
Blooms appear. Bouquets from our home can then be shared with others. 
Prayer: Lord, thank you that your Spirit has come to make all things new, including me! As we dwell together you make our home a haven -- a home sweet home, indeed. Amen.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Springtime Reflections

 Bearing Faithfulness

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
Jesus speaks of the need to abide in him, that through him I am nourished, live, and have my being. Though I am created in God’s image, the living out of this reality unfolds slowly. Jesus modeled how it is done. I make choices to let him help me learn how to remain in him.
He died to self, in part, so I can abide in him and bear the fruits of his Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness. It behooves me not to flinch when the vine seems confining. I may not completely understand God’s ways but that he died to self means that it is part of what He asks of me. Too much of me and weeds compromise the vine.
He wants me to bear faithfulness in two different ways. First, are the times known only to the two of us -- pruning times. He knows what He is doing to help me grow, keep me clinging close, correct but never condemn my attitudes and actions, and redirect my life for his best. I will feel birth pangs. If I can remain steady, trusting him, I experience the resilience of new growth. By his grace and my stillness his work can be accomplished. 
Secondly, I can bear or carry faithfulness to those whom I meet as I share God’s love with them, or towards them. This is an outgrowth of my personal times with him. When I am in settings that make loving difficult, I can remember it is his love I bear. His unconditional love for me can shine through to others when I have experienced it myself. He gives in abundance in order for me to succeed in all He asks me to do.

Prayer: Lord, you gave your all for me when you died on the Cross reconciling me to the Father. Now, as I abide in you, your love and care flow into me. Strengthened, I go forth to share love and care with others because now I bear your faithfulness. Amen. 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

April Sunday Reflection, 4/19/20

Seeing With Emmaus Eyes

That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma′us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)

We’ve just passed the celebration of Easter, a different kind of celebrating this year but the same Easter. In the Scripture above, two of Jesus’ followers were heading home the day of the Resurrection. Even though they had heard the reports of his tomb being found empty, their grief and all that had happened those three days had them stunned and questioning, They did not recognize Jesus who came alongside them, but the Scripture also tells us ‘their eyes were kept from recognizing him’. 

It could be that Jesus, himself, allowed this, wanting them to pour out their feelings and all that had happened with his seeming not to know. It gave him the opportunity to shed light on the prophetic Scriptures that foretold of these occurrences. It was when they invited him to stay for supper  that they recognized him in the breaking of the bread. 

We, as a nation and world are currently experiencing a pandemic that daily is taking lives through a new strain of a virus. We may find ourselves stunned, wanting our lives to return to what was known before. We may have friends who have died contracting the virus and our grief is heightened. It is not a time to let ourselves be kept from recognizing Jesus, our risen Savior. He has not stopped walking beside us. His words and promises still ring true even if our eyes are dimmed from the new realities and the uncertain timeline that will bring us out of our homes and into our communities with some semblance of what was once familiar. 

Father, your Son came to our world taking on humanness, growing, feeling, eventually sharing what You gave him to share before he suffered and died. . .for each of us. He took on the sins of all to free us back into relationship with You.

We don’t understand why this time has come upon us and there is a lot yet to be revealed. We are trusting You to enter in to decisions made. Give us eyes wide open to recognize You in the midst of what could look more awful if we did not have You to cling to and trust. Reveal to us what each of us personally needs to know at this time. May we come to look back upon these days knowing in deeper ways that out of suffering and death, Resurrection glory still shines. Amen.

David Meece
Click above on song title to listen! 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

...a Saturday In-Between

Saying "Yes" At the Edge of the Unknown
I will strengthen you and help you; 
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand
(Isaiah 41:10b).

I had sought refuge in a small memorial chapel during an unexpected heavy rain shower. Very minimal daylight was present inside. Tapered candles, lit and placed in trays of sand were the first images I could see. Then I saw her in sculpture, bathed in this candlelight -- Mary holding Jesus in her arms at the foot of the Cross.
God had chosen Mary to birth his son, Jesus. An angelic encounter brought this news to her. Anointed words had greeted her bewilderment, "Do not be afraid" (Luke 1:30). 
Humbly, Mary said yes in agreement. How could she have deeply known what that yes would mean? We now know it was a pivotal moment for all of mankind.
In this sculpture image, I viewed a mother looking at the mutilated dead body of her son. This occurred before a Resurrection Sunday. Mary was human and so was her grief. She may have wondered how much more she could withstand from that, yes, murmured thirty-four years earlier.
Each of us can have our beginning moments of saying, yes, to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our spiritual womb fills with his Presence. How can any of us know where our yes will take us?
Such a vow places us at the edge of many unknowns. It will mean yes to plans bigger than our understanding, yes to times of both ease and difficulty, and yes in faith to follow a risen Lord in trust, regardless of what occurs along the pathway of our life. The One we follow assures us that there are no unknowns to him.
Mary’s years of love and faith were not in vain. Neither are ours. With each yes we gain strength. It may seem as weak as a small flickering candle’s flame but we have the grace to continue to move into God’s wider light. One day we will step into the eternal Light of Home where there will be no more unknowns.
Prayer: Yes, Lord. As those who have gone before me and who were upheld as they walked in your righteousness, I choose to do the same. Amen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Remembering to Sing!

Singing a Song of Zion

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land (Psalm 137:1-4)?
Those who sat and wept refused to sing their sacred songs away from Jerusalem, the city where their God dwelt. Similarly, when the intense challenges of life are upon us we feel catapulted into a foreign land. The temptation to give in to the physical and emotional captors can become very real. 
The messages in the Psalms express the highs and lows that are a part of our life events. Knowing that down through the ages others struggled with our same cries may help us feel less alone.
 “Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord” (Psalm 27:6).
“Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre” (Psalm 33:2).
Our faith and trust in God has been established through the years either through a chronic illness or in different crucibles and within shorter seasons of challenges, God forges a deeper reality of himself. He understands. He notices. Rather than hanging up his harp of love and comfort He is ever ready to soothe our soul and heart. He rejoices over us with singing. 
We can rest in this calming reassurance. If we are to be held captive by anything, let it not be by uncertainty and fear but by the One who dwells with us in the midst of them.
Prayer: You have entrusted us with your Presence, Lord. We can choose to walk forward with you and be nourished by the new songs awaiting us. We can excel and sing with you as our maestro! Amen. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

. . .for such a time as this!

One thing remains constant during this current time in our world. The One who created is still overriding all that is going on and we, with Him, can trust Him as always. That includes following the directives that are to keep us, and others safe.Bless you all - Lynn

Let All Creation Sing! 

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. 
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 150: 6) 

When God created his works of creation, He declared everything He made as very good (Genesis 1: 31). In Psalm 150, every part of God’s creation is exhorted to give him praise. God is immutable, incapable of changing (James 1: 17; Hebrews 13: 8). He looks upon the good in his creation, yet acknowledges the evil that exists from the ways mankind has marred his work.

 In Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, the heroine, Much-Afraid, is on a journey guided by her loving Shepherd. As she travels, God’s creation is prominent in the lessons she learns as she encounters flowers, waterfalls, rainbows, mountains, and deserts. 

My perspective thrives when I read this book. It handed me strengthening lessons before chronic illness became my constant companion. Now, insights go deeper with each reading, encouraging me to stay focused and strong. 

One lesson connects to Psalm 150. 

Much-Afraid discovers a single small flower in the desert. It is sustained by keeping its face toward the sun and drinking an occasional drip of water coming from a leak in a pipe. The flower’s name is Acceptance-With-Joy

Unlike mankind, all other creation dwells contentedly in being. Its existence breathes out its praise. Mankind alone chooses if he will respond. From a worldly perspective, this is often viewed merely through one’s accomplishments.

God asks that we be content in him. He looks on each heart’s intent. There is a place and a balance for both accomplishments and stillness. I am not to shy away from tasks He equips me to perform but they do not identify me. He does. I often need renewal in understanding this as there are limitations to what I can now do. 

I want to accept with joy each season in my life. My Creator asks that I turn my face upward to be nourished by him. Throughout all seasons, one constant remains for me.

 I am his.

This is my praise and He declared everything 
He made as very good!

Lord, I join in the chorus of your loving creation that praises you with joy! May you delight in the gift of songs that breathe out our thanksgiving. Amen.