Refreshment

Are you needing some refreshment? It’s only the middle of the week, but it feels like a full week of stuff.

Although I have no idea what stuff has overwhelmed you lately, I imagine you could use some refreshment. I need some too. This word of God from Jeremiah 31 has been the best bread to chew on while I drink my coffee this morning.

Refreshment brings to my mind thoughts of peace. Symbolic of peace, doves are one of my favorite visual reminders. So it didn’t escape my notice when doves began to appear on the power lines in front of our home. I recognized them as significant and a refreshing assurance of Father’s peaceful presence.

He is with me. His Holy Spirit dwells in me. And the Prince of Peace rules and reigns right where I live.

As the virus became a threat and our world shutdown, I began to pray for peace on our street, especially for our elderly neighbors. Daily as I walked and prayed for those behind the windows and those behind the masks, doves began to show up on the power lines. Doves seemed to follow me; one on this street. Two waiting around the corner, and then down into another cul de sac, I spied three more.

So obvious and significant has been their daily presence that I intentionally turn my eyes to acknowledge their presence. I say right out loud to them, “I see you doves of peace!”

Occasionally they are absent, and I am prompted to prayer. I want to know why they’ve left. I have wondered with God, “Did something happen here to break the peace.” Wondering why the doves are hidden can lead me to ask Jesus to search my own heart and bring to mind any offense needing forgiveness. I end my ponderings by asking Father to call the doves back and restore to me the tangible presence of His peace.

You might think all of this odd. It’s not strange to me at all. This communication style exemplifies the relationship I have had with my heavenly Father since I was a little girl.

Even before I surrendered my whole heart and life to Jesus, I experienced a unique way of seeing God’s interaction in my life, and subsequently developed my own way of communicating with Him. He spoke my child-heart language then and still grabs my attention decades later.

God doesn’t find His unique communication styles odd. But then again the very essence of God is wholly other. He is holy. There’s none like Him.

If you read through the Bible, you will find some amazing and rather interesting encounters God has with His creation. Check it out for yourself. God spoke out of a burning bush, in dreams and visions, through a donkey and by way of angelic messengers – just to get you started. He’s creative. He’s God!

My Creator knows me personally, and I have come to trust that He is highly personal. He designed me to understand Him in a way that is as individual as my fingerprints. My relationship with the Holy Trinity is not odd. It’s simply unique, personal and consistent.

Peace, unfortunately, has not been consistent over the many months of this strange year. Just in our tiny corner of the world we’ve experienced some of the most bizarre situations, which have threatened to pit neighbor against neighbor. However, the doves keep showing up to remind me to pray, and to remind me that my Prince of Peace is here.

Peace, I’m learning is not the absence of conflict; it’s a determined resolve to be controlled by it. Trouble is guaranteed this side of heaven. Jesus said so.

Jesus also said He would be with us always. He stands holding a firm grip on me when the storm winds howl. He’s never leaving. Jesus is never turning away. Even when chaos threatens our community, Jesus speaks, “I am here. Do not be afraid.”

I’m receiving His refreshment today. I’m watching for doves in my neighborhood. I’m thanking Him for being here.

You’re invited to receive His refreshment. Join me below for some of your own ponderings.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,
Lisa

Ponders:

1. From what do you need refreshment? Are you willing to tell Jesus how undone you feel and why?

2. What visual or what other of your five senses helps you recognize God’s presence? What symbolizes the peace of God for you?

3. If this very personal form of communication with God is a new concept, are you interested in experiencing more intimate interaction with your heavenly Father? Why not ask Him today to speak your heart language?

4. Schedule time for your favorite form of refreshment. Invite Jesus to come along. Expect to experience His presence.

Day 28: {Connect} some of the dots for me, won’t You, Lord?

“This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: ‘Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.'”  Jeremiah 33:2-3

connect – as in ‘connect the dots’ or connect the puzzle pieces.

As I ponder the word connect I’m reminded of individual pixels connected together to form a whole image on a computer screen.  The individual pixel by itself or random pixels spread out on a screen and disconnected would be confusing – unrecognizable.  And yet, connected we see the full picture – the whole and not the many individual pixels.{connect}

Another metaphor comes to mind, my parents’ dining room table covered with individual pieces of a 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle with just the beginnings of connected pieces.  It will be a recognizable and beautiful picture when all the pieces are connected, however, in the process, it can be frustrating and difficult to grasp.  Individual pieces can be fun and pretty to look at, but where and with what does this piece connect?  How does this piece relate to all these other pieces to form the whole?  And finally, what is the big picture?

Right now, you might be asking, what does any of that have to do with gleaning truth from the book of Ruth?  Well, I purposely didn’t start out with the genealogy scriptures because I was afraid I might lose some folks.  Though clearly when we read the end of this true story of Ruth, we see God connecting the dots.

 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed.  He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.  This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:

Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.  Ruth 4:17-22 NLT

And if the dots stopped there with David who became king we would have an amazing picture of the American dream.  We could, as westerners – Americans, put our pioneer spin on the story and declare (in a John Wayne cowboy kind of accent):

See, if you just use some elbow grease, put your nose to the grindstone and dream big every day even a shepherd boy can work his way up to being king!cowboy

But that’s not God’s idea of me being a pixel in His Grand Design.  He is God and He does as He pleases.  God is Creator and I am the created.  He has had the Masterpiece in mind from before the foundation of the earth was spoken into being by Him!  And so, I am reminded today by the word connect that God is the One and the Only who is able to see the whole of His design.

Therefore it is in my best interest to place my trust in Him when I have more questions than answers.  When I cannot fathom how my small pixel of a life could possibly count for anything amazing, I have to stop and ask:

“Lord, will You connect some dots for me?”

So then I read on from Jeremiah 33:3 and run into these words, which help to connect the dots from the end of Ruth.

 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.  In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

“For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,    Jeremiah 33:14-17 ESV

So what about this righteous Branch springing up from the lineage of David?  God breathed these words to further connect more dots and help our understanding of His bigger picture of redemption – the plan He’s always had in mind.

The first book of the New Testament, the first gospel, the book of Matthew – chapter 1 – begins with the genealogy of Jesus Christ beginning with Abraham and then we read these familiar words only look how God connects the foreign women grafted in:31 days of gleaning

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.  Matthew 1:5-6

He doesn’t stop there though as He did in Ruth.  The generations are recorded one by one all the way to the birth of Christ.  And we read the individual dots coming together to form a bigger picture of God’s good plan…

and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.  Matthew 1:16

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about:  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Matthew 1:18

I still have so many questions.  Grateful, I am, my Father created me with a curious mind.  He is the One who gave me the idea to spend 31 days gleaning through His true story of these ancient people – Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz.

The harvest of understanding has been abundant for me as little by little more of the pixel dots have been coming together.  I pray I’m not the only one who has gained a clearer vision of the way my one little pixel of life fits in with God’s Grand Masterpiece.

For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.  1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV

Ponders:

  • Do you have more questions about your life – life in general – than you have answers?  Do you feel privileged to be able to take all your questions to the Living God to find out His perspective?  What do these words from Jeremiah 33:2-3 mean to you?
    • “This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: ‘Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.'”
  • Is it confusing to you – or difficult, as it is for me – to see your one little pixel of a life as an important piece of God’s grand masterpiece?
    • If so, will you ask Holy Spirit to meet you in your questions and help your understanding of your true value and worth and true identity as God’s creation and His adopted child?
    • Perhaps read through Ephesians 1 placing your name over every pronoun so you are able to read what God says about you in His word.
    • If you don’t see yourself as a part of God’s plan, could it be that you’ve not accepted His offer of adoption into His family made available to you by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross?  Will you reach out to a friend who is following Jesus (or me through this blog) and allow someone to introduce you to the Living Jesus who is the Son of God and has defeated death, who intercedes for you and desires all will accept His free gift of salvation?
  • Are there pixel dots which have been connected in this study resulting in your better understanding of the Scriptures today?  OH, I hope so!  Will you share a truth you’ve gleaned today?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

Day 12: Before I was formed, did you {write} my story?

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!   Psalm 139:16-17

I was pondering the word for today {write} from Kate’s list of 31 Five-Minute Friday prompts, and reading again through Ruth I saw two paths for this word {write}.  I pondered and I read and I chewed on various Scriptures.

One train of thought – God writes His Word on our hearts.  Jeremiah 31:33.  Another train of thought led me toward Psalm 139 – all the days for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  poppies and wheat 31 days

I prayed.  I added the Scripture above to my post last night.  I went to sleep believing Holy Spirit would speak to me about His direction this morning.  As my alarm went off at 5:30 AM and I silently awoke to the Lord’s thoughts for me today, the words of a song on the radio next to our bed pierced my consciousness.  She was singing the words to Psalm 139.  I’ll have to research later today to find this beautiful song.  What’s clear to me this morning is that God has a story to write today.  He had already written it.

Psalm 139 – Was this true of Ruth?  I have to be honest this morning, it kind of blows me away with excitement the Psalm was written by Ruth’s great-grandson, David.

Is this true of me?  You?

I think this might be the essence of faith.  Do I believe I was God’s idea?  Do I believe, as God was writing His grand narrative of all creation, God decided to create me?

What does it mean – all my days were written in His book before I was formed?  And what about free will?  I wonder if I am the only one who feels a prick in my flesh when I ponder the idea of God writing my story.  The “hey, that’s not fair” prick that somehow feels cheated if I don’t get to write my own story.

In the book of Ruth (I’m still marinating in chapters 1 & 2), I see a foreigner, an outsider, who was purposely chosen by God to know Him, to be adopted into His family, and to become a mother, grandmother and eventually great-grandmother of a king.  She couldn’t possibly have known the story her creator was writing – had already written – for her life.

Yet, I see Ruth – called by name by God to be His own.  It is tempting to believe Ruth chose God as we read her famous words to Naomi.  “Your God will be my God.”  But here, Ruth is using the formal name of God.  To me, it is as if Ruth doesn’t know Him yet.  She’s been introduced by Naomi.  Maybe if Ruth goes to Bethlehem with Naomi, she will meet her God.  Maybe she’ll be accepted in…

But God has already written the story Ruth cannot fully see because she’s living in the middle of it.  Later, as we listen in on Ruth’s conversation with Boaz, we catch a glimpse of the budding relationship between Ruth and God.  God is becoming personal to Ruth through her interpersonal relationships with God’s people.  Through Boaz (someone other than Naomi) Ruth learned she truly had found favor with God’s people and God Himself.  Ephesians 1

Her story – Ruth’s – was being written moment by moment.  She had free will.  And yet her story – the days ordained for her had been written (by God) before any of them came to be.  I don’t come close to grasping this truth.  However, I receive this truth for myself.  In this truth, I am filled with hope, joy, and peace believing my life was chosen, my story was written by my creator and I was God’s idea to be included in His story.

Before I was formed, my Creator wrote my story.  It must be GOOD.

Ponders:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12  

After reviewing 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 and reading the whole of Psalm 139 I wonder what Holy Spirit wants you and me to know about the idea of God being the author of our story.  I think I am going to chew on these truths for a while.  How about you?

  • Will you enter into a conversation with Jesus?  Lord Jesus, what do You want me to know for my life?  I recognize in Hebrews 12 You are referred to as the author of my faith.  In Isaiah, You have chosen me and called me by name.  Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening.
  • Will you ponder and journal the Author’s response?  Will you allow Holy Spirit to write the Word of God on your heart?  This is the way of true transformation and with it comes peace in knowing you belong to the One who fashioned you and is continuing to fashion you after His own heart.    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Jeremiah 31:33
  • I wonder if you might share in a comment something the Lord, the Author of your life and faith, is revealing to you at this place on your journey.  I appreciate you adding value to our conversation.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

Saturday Share: Ruth Snell – Seeking to Live in Abundance

So, who is Ruth Snell?

Ruth Snell is an adventurous follower of Jesus, mother of three beautiful seeds and Nana to three more beautiful seeds.  She’s a daughter and sister from Illinois as well.  Ruth has been wife to John for forty abundant and mostly joyful years.  Life long tennis partners still, they’ve navigated some rough terrain together, especially the part when they said, “See you in heaven” to two of their three children on two different days and years.

Ruth and family

I didn’t know Ruth then, but I know the variety of experiences in her life story have all been combined by our loving and living God to sculpt Ruth into the “going for it” woman she is today.  Her testimony is wonderful, joy-filled and enough to bring tears, so I hope you’ll get to read it here sometime in the near future.

Better yet, maybe Ruth will dust off her blog and write her own e-book one day only because so many of us face these “valley of the shadow of death” stops on our journey, and wonder if anyone else has ever crossed this way before.  She has, and she has a word for those of you who are in the valley or on your way.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13 esv

Now that I’m a knitted heart friend of seven or so years, I can testify Ruth has gained exceedingly abundant life through her surrender to God.  She’s suffered loss and has learned through the travail how to sing praises to God through tremendous pain in the dark; and yet, Ruth desires more from her journey with Jesus.  She is asking, seeking, knocking on her Father’s door for more love for others, more joy, more Holy Spirit power in her prayers, more of God’s creative gifts, and more encounters with empty people into whom she will be able to pour the more.

Ruth kisses

I am continually amazed by Ruth’s desire to learn something new.  In one of our first conversations, Ruth expressed a deep heart desire for God to grow her up.  I remember thinking (and maybe I said it out loud), “Now that’s a prayer Father’s going to delight in answering!”  And He most certainly has grown His daughter up with abundance.

In these few short years, Ruth has written several songs and is learning to paint in watercolor.  She’s bought a bicycle for prayer riding exercise in her neighborhood.  Through our abundanceshared Community Bible Study leadership experience, she’s become an inspirational truth-soaked speaker and has shepherded many women with love, compassion, and grace. Additionally, Ruth eagerly pursues opportunities to share Jesus with strangers on airplanes, which she calls, “flying by faith”.

Most recently, Ruth decided to try on her writing hat.  She’s heard me talk about Five Minute Friday free writing, and the faith based community of writers who weekly participate.

In case you’ve never heard of a five-minute free write here are “the rules” for playing.

Read the word prompt.  Think.  Pray.  Perhaps sleep on the word prompt.  Ask for revelation.  Finally, set a timer for 5 minutes.  And write about the word prompt.  In the original intent of a free write, there are no edits, no spelling or grammar corrections. Just post.

In her growing pioneer spirit, Ruth set a timer today and wrote for 5 minutes.  I’m so honored she emailed me with the beautiful result of her “do it scared” first try.  You really have no idea how difficult it is to post without editing unless you’ve done it.  I’m so proud of you, Ruthie!

And so without further ado…

Ruth SnellI am absolutely thrilled to welcome my sister of another mother, Ruth Snell, to the sharing place with her debut Five Minute Friday writing on the word prompt {collect}.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many people collect things –salt shakers, seashells, accomplishments, awards. I’m not a collector of things but I am a collector of encounters in the middle of life circumstances with Jesus.

Several years ago I was playing, The Question Game, with family. The question that left me wondering, others answered quickly.  What accomplishment are you most proud?  They both had accomplishments that honestly they were proud to acknowledge.  But in a moment of sensing lack of accomplishments the Holy Spirit highlighted this for me, my greatest accomplishment was experiencing the Lord in the middle of life. FMF Collect

I realized in this word, “collect” that I do collect encounters with the living God.

In the Passion Translation Ephesians 4:23  says “Now it’s time to be made new by every revelation that’s been given to you.”

I collect encounters with the living God when He meets me in the middle.

Stop.

 

A personal thought on being His lamb

Psalm 23 is one of the more well-known and popularly quoted Psalms.  And most likely for that very reason, I have tended to avoid quoting it or even committing it to memory. That is until this past year.**  I’m suddenly taken with this short soothing psalm-like a child’s prayer or a night-night lullaby.

I did not set out purposely to memorize this Psalm, however, I have pondered the words and made them my own personal prayer over so many days and nights I feel the words have inscribed themselves upon my heart.  I am grateful!

Psalm 23 is tethered to the phrase I’m living in and learning about during 2017 – feast on joy.  Continually I am seeking Father for understanding, wisdom and a new level of faith through this phrase, so I have accepted His invitation to the table He has set for me in the presence of my enemy – the liar, the devil.  And on occasion, I have written out a letter of love and devotion to my Shepherd for choosing me to be His lamb.

I pray through this letter you are refreshed in a desire to know Good Shepherd and in awe of being chosen as His lamb:

You are my Shepherd.  I’m ecstatic You chose me to be a part of Your flock. Sometimes I just can’t believe how fortunate I am to get to be in Your pasture…to belong to You as Your lamb.

lamb in safe boundary

 

You are the BEST!  You have given me a safe pasture with boundaries guarded by Your presence.  You are so good to me.  I shall never want for anything as long as I remain in Your good pasture…in Your presence.

You, because You love me, make me lie down and rest.  You lead me to drink from the clear, clean still waters.  You walk with me on Your path, guiding me on the Way of righteousness.  Only You know the Way You have marked out for me, so today I gratefully choose to follow You.

I am Your lamb.  I belong to You.  I am marked with Your name.

lamb in the valley of shadows

Oh, and even when You say we must walk through the valley of dark shadows I will stay close to You so I won’t be afraid.  I know You will never send me into the valley by myself.  You will never walk me through the scary place of evil where the enemy prowls about except that You corral Your lambs with Your staff.  I know You are ever alert to the plans of the prowlers for destruction, but with Your rod, You protect Your lambs.

Good Shepherd, my Shepherd, You prepare for all Your lambs the best foods – no matter the pasture land.  And I get to come to Your banquet table to dine with You in Light, Peace, and JOY because You Shepherd have commanded the enemy to stand at bay while we feast together.

Oh Shepherd, my Lord, how can it be?  You anoint my head with oil.  You take time out, with all the lambs belonging to You, to care for my personal needs.  You touch me and heal me and set me on my feet again.

How I thank You for Your goodness to me – Your little lamb!  Truly, my cup overflows!!

How can it be precious Shepherd?  I have been chosen to bear Your name; to be known as a lamb in Your flock.  Surely goodness and mercy surround me wherever I go with You.  I will journey with You Good Shepherd all the days of my life and I will dwell with You forever…kind shepherd feeding

Wherever You are so shall I be…

You are my Shepherd and I am Your lamb.

Thank You forever…thank You for choosing me and all Your precious lambs. Thank You for giving me the love in my heart to love You back.

I give thanks to You, God, for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever and ever and ever.*  Amen!

Ponderings:

  1. Psalm 23 is full of the character of a good and caring Shepherd. Which of these characteristics of Jesus, Good Shepherd, comforts you most?
  2. Have you ever written a Psalm or another section of scripture as a prayer or a letter to God?  Would you be willing to share your favorite prayer or letter scripture?
  3. Have you been encouraged to ponder a section of scripture as a long term devotional?    as a prayer?    for memorization?
  4. How will you express your delight in the idea of getting to be His lamb and He your Shepherd?

*1 Chronicles 16:34

Psalm 23 Shepherd Book

** A special thanks to W. Phillip Keller for the blessing of his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23