Just stop all the fussin’

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.” James 4:1-2, NLT

 

Years ago I ran the ‘mom taxi’ for my two middle school sons and friends.  Rarely did we taxi about town sans an argument.  “I call shotgun!”  “You cheated!”  “Stop looking at me”  “You’re a ­_”  “I HATE you!”  “I’m tellin’…”

Be completely humble

I scolded, gave consequences and quoted Scripture.  To no avail, I demanded teen boys speak only edifying words to one another.  Heart-broken over these word-brawls, we purchased an SUV with three-row seating.  Problem solved.  I claimed the front row with each son one behind the other.  No more carpool unification strategies.  I simply chose to divide to keep the peace and protect my sanity.

Afraid of being awarded ‘worst mother’ designation, I’m tempted to scrap this post and pick another topic.  However, Holy Spirit reminds me of truth.  My sons aren’t the first, nor are they the last siblings to treat each other with such selfish and jealous contempt.  My brother and I were no better, but we can trace sibling rivalry through the generations all the way back to Cain and Abel.

The truth is that such behavior is the natural condition of our flesh.  Unfortunately, all of God’s children, myself included, at all ages and stages of life are capable of similar unhealthy, unproductive and simply sinful behaviors.  And it breaks the Father’s heart.

Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2 NIV

Is the Father’s solution separation?  No the plan to divide and conquer is the plot of the evil one.  Instead, our Father calls for humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance all wrapped in love.  To seek to live peaceably with all and in unity with His Spirit in love is to bless our Father’s heart and bear much fruit.  (Romans 12:18, Colossians 2:2, Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV)

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 1/13/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Do you want deep and hidden things revealed?

“Praise be to the name of God forever and ever… He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with Him.” (Daniel 2:20-22, NIV)

A year or so ago I decided to make Daniel’s prayer of Thanksgiving into my own prayer of anticipation.  I had so many questions.  My heart was torn and in need of wisdom regarding the spiritual well-being of many loved ones.

One life, in particular, a son, threatened to bring me to despair.  I remember when he memorized Bible verses for VBS, his profession of faith in front of the church and his baptism.  And then what happened?Reveal the deep and hidden things

I wanted God to reveal the deep and hidden things.  I asked Him to uncover the truth and give me the wisdom to pray against the schemes of the enemy.  Most importantly, I praised God in advance for His answers and His power to save lives.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to pray this for people you love.  My imagination wanted to run to all the most horrible things that could be uncovered.  That’s a tactic of the enemy.  He hopes we’ll be afraid to know the truth, and so we’ll just leave it covered up.  Demons already know the truth on which we should stand firm: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32, NIV)

Recently, in the process of cleaning out closets, my husband dug through a suitcase left behind by this same son after graduating from college.  He sensed Holy Spirit prompting him to keep digging.  What he pulled out was a precious treasure.  It was his Bible, and tucked inside was written our son’s declaration of faith to the Lord God.Are we willing suitcase.png

Our son is on his own faith journey.  His story isn’t complete.  Mine either.  And we have hope because God revealed a deep and hidden truth.  Are you seeking truth and wisdom from God?  Don’t be afraid to ask for the hidden things to be revealed.  Trust Him.  He is faithful.  The truth God reveals will set you free, especially from fear.  Be free in God’s truth and light!

 

 

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 1/06/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Have you ever felt restricted?

Have you ever felt restricted by your circumstances?  I know you have, and me too.  So, here’s some good news from God to us.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15, ESV)

I’ve been pondering the idea of feeling restricted – stuck even – in circumstances which seem to be diametrically opposed to the accomplishment of God’s mission for us on earth.  Certainly, Mary could have felt this way at times.  I sometimes look at what’s happening in my life and wonder how the losses could lead to victory.Baby Word became flesh

And then I realize my focus is wrong.  Through scripture reading and prayer this week, Holy Spirit pierced my anxious and sometimes hopeless feelings with the light of God’s truth.  Jesus is our example, not Mary, for the way God fulfills His absolutely incredible plan of perfection through our restrictions and limitations of the flesh.

Suddenly it occurred to me – our uncontainable God, the Word Who spoke all the vastness of the universe into existence, purposefully restricted Himself inside Mary’s womb.  Today, I am freshly amazed that God’s plan was for Jesus to experience the fullness of our limitations in broken flesh. Yet, Jesus perfectly and fully accomplished the mission for which God sent His Son.  The really good news is that Jesus is able to help us through the stuck places and the temptation to doubt God’s good plan. (Hebrews 2:17-18, NLT)

Therefore, it was necessary for Him to be made in every respect like us, His brothers and sisters, so that He could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.  Then He could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.  Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.  Hebrews 2:17-18, NLTRestricted

So, when the lies of the enemy whisper constant accusations against God’s faithfulness, run to Jesus.  When your own self-talk screams hopelessness and failure, run to Jesus.  Tell Him everything.  He understands.  He will help you.  And His mission for you will be accomplished just as He promised – even when it looks different than you imagined.

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” (Luke 1:45, NIV)

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 12/23/2017.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

If they are all, am I not without excuse?

For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.  For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  Romans 1:19-25

flower without excuse

Kate’s word for Five Minute Friday, which was three days ago, was {excuse}.  I think most of us saw the word and wondered if the word was intended to be: {excuse} as in “please excuse my child’s absence” or {excuse} as in “I have no excuse”?  Or maybe I was the only one who needed to ponder this word for several days before setting my timer for five minutes and write.

The only conclusion I have been able to come to is that God says we are all without excuse – that I am without excuse – if I do not recognize and honor and glorify and offer thanksgiving to God because of Who He is, The Creator, and who I am, the created.  His word in Romans 1 declares that He has made Himself known to me by all He has created.

I’ve been pondering my faith a lot lately.  As I zoom toward my 55th birthday, particular memories keep playing through my mind.  It’s as if Holy Spirit has put together a childhood memory book to remind me of all the times and places and people He brought into my life to reveal Himself to me.

I recognized at an early age I “just intuitively knew” things were true or not.  And I realized at a young age that someone was speaking to me in my dreams.  Now as I look back I recognize God had given me discernment, and He was teaching me about His presence in my dreams even though I really had no understanding or validation that He was God.

I am sure I had been to church and had probably heard about Jesus before the age of 9, however, it was then I found out I could choose to invite Jesus to live in my heart.  Guaranteed, if He lived in my heart by my spoken profession of faith and public baptism I would go live with Him in Heaven after I died.  I wanted that.  I did it.  I meant it.  And in my youth, I was sealed with the promised Holy Spirit and received the guarantee of my inheritance.

And then came the part of my life filled with excuses.  No one else is going to church.  Everyone else is doing this or that.  I’m a good person.  I don’t have to go to church to love God.  At least I’m not like them.  I haven’t done that… or this other thing.  I believe in Jesus I just have to work on Sunday.  I would go to church if the people were not such hypocrites. (5 minutes)

On and on I made excuses.  And for a season of my life, this was me…

For although (Lisa) knew God, (she) did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but (Lisa) became futile in (her) thinking, and (her) foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, (she) became a fool and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for … the idolatry of her flesh.  (Romans 1:21-22 paraphrased as a confession of my own life)

Until I found myself deep in the pit of my own making… of my own foolish thinking… of my self-absorption… of my own desperate attempt to disappear from life because all I had chased after was meaningless.  God came to me once again in a dream as He had done when I was a small child.  He spoke to me of His great love for me, and His purpose and His good plans for my life if I would once again bend my knee to His authority as Creator – me the created.ocean without excuse

I awoke and remembered all the times in the past when He had made Himself known to me.  He was God and He was speaking to me.  I had asked Him to live in my heart, wretched dwelling as it was, and could He still be there.  Surely He had moved out by now.  But no, He stayed and I had a choice to make…

I knew.  I recognized.  I confessed.  I bent my knee.  I was without excuse…

Ponders:

This idea of living {without excuse} has so impacted me the last few days I am now asking Holy Spirit if these are my words for 2018 into which I am to pray and seek wisdom for my life.  Perhaps 2018 is the year I am to live – eyes on Jesus – without excuse and learn practically on my faith journey how to walk it out.

  • As you ponder the truth of God’s word that we are without excuse, what truth is highlighted to you?  What is your first inclination – first reaction to this scripture in Romans 1?

bright without excuse

  • No matter the atmosphere or culture in which you were raised, can you think of specific instances and the ways in which God made Himself known you?
  • Are you living in the Light of God’s presence recognizing He is Creator and you are created?  Let us give thanks to God and let us give Him honor and exalt His name above all names.
  • Have you exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator?  
    • Will you confess today before God that you are without excuse?
    • Will you obey the truth of Isaiah 55:6-7?  Will you:  Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways, and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon.
  • How does this truth – we are without excuse – impact the way you desire to live your life today?  This week?  This new year coming up?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!

~Lisa

 

 

Book Review: Walking on Water by Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D.

The title intrigued me first – Walking on Water – in reference to Peter’s bold request to walk out on the stormy sea to meet Jesus in the darkness. The subtitle also caught my attention – experiencing a life of miracles, courageous faith, and union with God – because this is where I’m walking in my real life. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a miracle or courageous faith or union with God. Certainly, I need all of the above.

Jennifer A. Miskov did not disappoint as she boldly and honestly shares her journey with Jesus into deeper water and stormy seas resulting in a more intimate trusting and productive walk of faith.Matthew 14.28

In addition to the power of scripture combined with Jennifer’s real-life testimony, she offers activation exercises at the end of each chapter. These life applications of scripture caused me to pause and ask Holy Spirit for deeper application of God’s word in my life. 

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will simply highlight a couple of my big takeaways from Walking on Water.

The Art of Letting Go (pp. 51-61) – “Just because others are not stepping out of a boat you feel  you are supposed to step out of does not mean that you cannot or should not.”  Obviously, Peter was the only disciple to climb overboard to walk out toward Jesus, but I’m not sure I’ve ever thought through the practical truth of the scenario.

All the disciples were in the boat.  They were all afraid.  Peter was the only one who asked to walk out to Jesus and meet Him in the water.  What Peter didn’t do is even more compelling – He didn’t turn around to recruit anyone else to go with him.  He wasn’t clinging to anyone else or even the boat for security.  Peter just went.

I tend to look around to see who will go with me.  This is a tendency if which I want to be free.  I believe Jesus calls me out alone and expects me to obey whether anyone else comes along or not.

Resilience (pp. 118-129) – “If you can learn to navigate through disappointment, get back up, learn from the experience and move forward, you will grow in faith and be better prepared to step into the impossible in the future.”  In this chapter, Jennifer introduced the idea of ‘falling forward’.  We will all fall down on our journey of following Jesus as His disciples.  The critical point is that we fall toward Jesus as Peter did in the water.  Yes, Peter looked down to the waves and doubted, but when Peter fell, he fell moving toward Jesus – not running away.

I recognize my tendency to run and hide when life, ministry, and in general, simply following Jesus gets really challenging.  I have a fear of failure and so I tend to want to play it safe rather than risk falling at all.  This picture of Peter falling toward Jesus out in the open water is one I will carry with me as I seek to venture into unchartered faith territory.  Yes, Peter fell, but he fell doing the miraculous and Jesus was there to catch him.  I think I want to try too.

silence martha martha

There’s so much more wonderful, life-giving and challenging teaching packed into Walking on Water.  Jennifer’s style is conversational and so it’s easy to read one chapter after another.  However, the activation exercises at the end of each chapter are so thought-provoking and transformational I found myself spending a day or two on each chapter.  In my experience, it was helpful to marinate in the activations over a day or two in order to fully experience truth.

My journey through Jennifer’s book has been interactive, encouraging and life-changing. I can’t wait to pass this book to a friend and have already recommended it to several others. Most likely, Walking on Water will be a Christmas present or birthday gift for family and friends in the near future.

I pray you will jump out of your boat and enjoy Walking on Water.  Thank you, Jennifer A. Miskov, Ph.D. for blessing my life and enriching my journey with Jesus.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

A heart longing for HOME

I wonder… Where is your heart home.png

if we were sitting around my favorite room of my house in our pajamas enjoying our favorite hot tea {mint for me please} and eating popcorn laced with plain M&M’s,  how many different responses would result from this question:

What is HOME?

I imagine we would hear as many different responses as people willing to answer the question.

The definition of home is dependent on geography, culture, and generation.  And in various seasons of life home may take on a whole new look, size, and feel.  Simply contemplating home can evoke some strong emotion – whether positive or negative.

The concept of home, I think, is closely tied to our hearts.  And as such, the idea of home has to do with family, tradition, belonging, growing up, provision and participating.  Home is a memory induced feeling we long for when we go out into the big wide world on our own.  Or a fairy tale fabrication of what we always wished home would be for us with a vow of creating our own one day.

Where is your heart HOME?

Scripture abounds with stories of home.  Homes lost, left, destroyed, battled over, redeemed and rebuilt.  Homes filled with families, faith, fear, obedience, and deception.  There are the elaborate homes of kings and the tents of the wandering nomads.  Reading Scripture with an eye for home, it’s amazing and comforting to recognize – HOME is God’s idea.

At the beginning of Genesis, we should be in awe of God’s purposeful and loving creation of a perfect garden dwelling for His first man, Adam, and his first woman, Eve.  God delighted in His people and the home He provided for them so much so God, Himself, would meet up and walk with them in the cool of the evening.

Adam and Eve forfeited the only home they had ever known with their rebellion against God.  They were forced to leave home, but God didn’t leave them.  Where was the first couple’s heart home?

What about God calling Abraham, out of the blue, to pack up and leave his homeland not having any idea of his destination.  Abraham might be the original pioneer, taking his family, their belongings and livestock on a continual journey across foreign territory until God said, “Welcome to your new home, Abraham”.  Abraham chose to believe God for His promise, so where was Abraham’s heart home?

Moses, a Hebrew baby in a basket, was taken into Pharaoh’s home and was raised to manhood as a royal son of a foreign father.  Later in life, Moses found himself caught between his bloodline and his adopted culture.  After killing an Egyptian man, Moses fled to make a home of hiding in the desert.what is home.png

God called to Moses from the burning bush and told Moses to go back to Egypt.  Way out in that far-off land God commissioned Moses to lead the Hebrew slaves out of captivity and into their true home – the Promised Land.  Where was Moses’ heart home?

David’s home was first a sheep pasture and then a battlefield and finally a King’s domain.  Where was David’s heart home?

And what about Jesus, Who willingly left is heavenly place as the Word of God and took on flesh to live on this earth and call it home for 33 years.  Where was Jesus’ heart home?

Does your heart long for home?

When I ponder the word HOME, scripturally my mind automatically turns toward Naomi whose story is told in the book of Ruth.  Naomi left her home – her people – in Bethlehem of Judah.  Surely this was Naomi’s heart home.

I wonder about the ripping of her heart – obedience to her husband, leaving loved ones behind in a famine, obedience to God, a mother’s desire to save and protect her children.  I wonder… did Naomi pack only her physical body, but leave her heart behind.  Did she agree with her husband’s decision to leave their spiritual heritage – their culture and tradition?

I read the words of Scripture and I feel Naomi’s pain – the last hugs of family and friends, the heart-wrenching tearing away, and the tearful sobs deep in the gut.  Surely, Naomi wondered if they were doing the right thing.  Why would they leave their heart home?  Why would they leave God’s people in Bethlehem to live in a foreign land?  Would they allow their children to be raised on unfamiliar food amongst a pagan people?

Did Naomi’s heart ache with a longing for home?

Later, after the men were buried, three women remained as widows.  Naomi, who understood the searing pain of leaving everything familiar insisted the younger women return to their families and stay in their homeland.  Yet, Ruth dramatically clung to her mother in law in love and devotion.  Did Ruth’s heart long for the homeland of promise she had so often dreamed of through Naomi’s reminiscing?

I wonder…

Have you ever left your heart home to make a home in a foreign land?  Maybe your heart home is in the northern United States and you left it for the foreign land of the southern US or vice versa.  Perhaps you pioneered your way from your heart home in the east to make a home in the west.  Or left your country of origin, your heart home, to live in another country – a foreign culture.

heart long for home

I know.  It happens to me.  Often.If you’ve ever left your heart home you feel that familiar tug – even as you read these words.  Perhaps you find yourself flipping through an emotional photo album of familiar memories.  The emotions are tangible – you can taste the food, smell the flowers, see your old best friend and hear the accents of your former neighbors.

My heart home is the state of Florida where I grew up, went to college, began my career and got married.  Twenty years and almost all my memories are saturated in humid, salt breezes.

One day my newlywed husband asked excitedly, “Do you want to move to Atlanta?”  My response did not share his enthusiasm, rather I squeaked out a panicked, “NO!”

Why would I want to move up north?  It gets cold there and it is far from the ocean.  My head was spinning as I wondered why this was happening.  A move north had been nowhere on my radar.  Nowhere in my plans.

The answer to why was that my husband’s position within the bank was being relocated from Orlando to Atlanta.  He was excited because he had previously lived in Atlanta, and since he was originally from Dayton, Ohio, Atlanta was still considered living in the south.

I knew immediately there was no point in arguing or negotiating.  This had to be a test… a newlywed test of the vows.  I had just a month previous promised to go wherever he would go, live with my man in peace and assist him in his life’s work.  But.  Wait.  This isn’t fair.  I didn’t know I was promising to… leave. my. heart. home.

 

 

We’ve now lived 29 years away from my heart home.  How can the tug to “go home” still be so strong when I’ve lived away longer than I lived in my heart home?

We visit, of course.  We dream of one day pulling up roots and returning to my heart home along one of the coasts.  We say we will, but only God knows if this is His best plan for us.

It’s here that I recognize the deep longing for our heart home is knitted into the fabric of every one of us by our Creator, Father God.  We were designed for perfect garden living in a Kingdom as princess or prince forever in the worship of our King Jesus.  And yet for a little while, we have been assigned to live here on this earth as Ambassadors of our King in this foreign land.

Yes, we are a people with hearts deeply longing for our heart home.a heart longing for home

Though I want to go, I’m willing to stay put as a matter of obedience.  With this new perspective, 29 years in the development, I see my time here has been beneficial.  There’s been Kingdom work to do here.  I see more clearly today Atlanta is home because this is where we are family – biological, faith, and neighborhood family.  Our roots are dug deep.

In truth, the idea of hearing my husband say, “How would you like to move to South Florida?” sends a hopeful thrill through my spine.  And yet the true revelation is in my soul’s anticipation of finding my forever heart home with God.  I’m not ready to leave this earth yet, but when I do…

The deep longing for my heart home will be finally and completely fulfilled.

I’ll be forever HOME!

 

Ponders:

  1. What emotions surge to the surface when you think of HOME?
  2. When you visualize home what do you see? smell? hear? taste? feel?
  3. Where would you say is your heart home?  Is there a Scriptural reference to home in which you strongly relate?
  4. Why not take your heart home longings to the Lord asking Him for wisdom, discernment, healing and His good plans for you.  Will you journal your conversation with Jesus?

 

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 30: I yield & You {refine}

Refine: to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities (dictionary.com)

In all this, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy  1 Peter 1:6-8 NIVrefine

On this 30th of 31 days of gleaning with Ruth – questioning my way through my own personal famine season, I ponder the word {refine} with a hopeful heart and a refreshed spirit.  Yes, without a doubt, I am – we, my husband and I are – in a season of refinement and it’s a painful process, yet clearly, throughout God’s word, He assures us it is for our good and His glory!

To Peter, Holy Spirit inspired an illustration of refinement by fire, which we can read also in Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the Psalms just for starters.  I’m also reminded of the words in Hebrews 12:29, which harken back to Deuteronomy – for our God is a consuming fire.

Those are the illustrations to which I’ve grown accustomed.  They speak mightily to me because of growing up near the Everglades in Florida.  I’m well aware of the devastation a fire will cause over acres upon acres of land, and yet there’s something miraculous that happens as a result of all the extraneous foilage being burned away.  The seeds hidden down under the ground’s surface are broken open by the heat of the fire and soon green shoots of new life spring up out of the ashes.  New life – cleansed and purified.

Through my gleaning up and down and around again through the scriptures in Ruth I’ve been challenged with a different illustration of refinement.  God, by way of His Holy Spirit living in us and teaching us, has the best ideas for expanding our understanding in the various seasons of our lives.  His goodness is evident in that He really wants us to understand we are never alone.  Never will He leave us…never will He forsake us.

refine wheat - square

So, gleanings of refinement from the book of Ruth:

Famine – we begin with a time of trial.  The people of Israel were living out cycles of disobedience, consequences, crying out to God, turning back to Him in repentance and peace.

Similarly, the agriculture, all of God’s creation, experienced cycles of drought, famine, rain, refreshed soil, seed, and harvest.  It’s a natural process because we live in a broken, sin-soaked world.

And so, even though at times we are tempted to believe God is doing something terrible to us and the enemy takes his best shot in our weakness to try to convince us God is not good, we need to go back to what we know is true.

We have to remember the truth of Who God is, and who we are redeemed in Him.  We need to remember the seed of His word sewn deep in the soil of our hearts.  We choose to resist the devil and draw near to God.  We yield our dry hearts to receive His Living water and in time the harvest will come again.

God refines us through the cycles of famine and harvest.

Harvest – this is the time of refreshing, returning for Naomi and adoption for Ruth.  This is the time of plenty.  Food is gathered and shared with the poor, the widows and foreigners inhabiting the land.

And part of the harvesting process is threshing.

to thresh – to separate the grain or seeds from (a cereal plant or the like) as in wheat – to separate the edible part (the grain) from the stalk – as with wheat or barley (dictionary.com)

I’m going to need to chew on these truths awhile longer because I’m fascinated with these few details Holy Spirit is unveiling for me in the idea of threshing coming with the harvest.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Who was responsible for the threshing of the wheat and barley harvest?

The Kinsman Redeemer – Boaz

Why was threshing necessary?

To refine the wheat/barley for making bread with which to feed the people.

In this we are able to see Jesus – our Kinsman-Redeemer – who allowed Himself to be threshed, broken open in our place.  He didn’t need the refining and yet He took it in our place.  Jesus told us – and tells us still through His living and active word – He is the Bread of Life.

Every table is an altar – please enjoy this worship of Jesus, the Bread of Life broken for us that we might be revived and live free – yielded to His refinement.  Receive the Glory Lord.

 

Ponders:

One day Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, I must find a home for you, where you will be well provided for.  Now Boaz, with whose women you have worked, is a relative of ours. Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor.  Ruth 3:1-2 

Then she told her everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”  Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3:16-18

  • Will you ask Holy Spirit what He wants you to know about your current season of refinement?  Possibly past seasons of refinement are still a mystery and painful.  What healing do You want to bring to us, Jesus?
  • Will you?  And will I yield to our good God and Kinsman Redeemer so He might refine us for our good and His glory?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining!

~Lisa

Day 17: Women, to {grow} and bear good fruit, don’t you see we need each other?

“I will do whatever you say,” Ruth answered.  So she went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.  Ruth 3:5-6 niv

Afterwards, Naomi said to Ruth:  “How did it go, my daughter?”  Then (Ruth) told (Naomi) everything Boaz had done for her and added, “He gave me these six measures of barley, saying, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”  Then Naomi said, “Wait, my daughter, until you find out what happens. For the man will not rest until the matter is settled today.”  Ruth 3:16-18 niv

Women, don’t you see?  To grow and bear good fruit, we need each other.

As I peek into the window of Naomi’s house, I see two women who have chosen to intentionally follow provisions set forth in the Law of Moses to {grow} a family.  Naomi, firmly rooted, knew the way for Ruth to be redeemed by a near kinsman.  Boaz, was Naomi’s choice because of the kindness and honor he had shown to both Ruth and her entire family.  Over a longer period of time, I think Naomi had been lovingly teaching her daughter the way to set the redemption process in motion.grow tomatoes.png

Ruth listened.  She obeyed her mother’s instruction exactly.  After Ruth had done all she was told to do, Boaz gave further instructions, and she obeyed him as well.

The seeds of a new family had been sewn.  The soil was rich and the family name would continue with firm roots, grow and in time bear fruit.  Boaz promised, one way or another Ruth would be grafted into a new family.  Though to grow means to wait.

Well, I’m thinking specifically of the time I decided I wanted to grow tomatoes.  Visiting with my parents and checking out their new garden, my dad offered me three of his leftover tomato plants.  Though I had been unsuccessful at growing tomatoes in the past,  I decided to be more intentional and give it another go.

I mean, if I followed the directions, how hard could it be?  The easy part was following the directions.  I was purposeful this time.  I did my research, and I followed every detailed instruction.

The tomato plants were carefully planted in the sunshine, staked for potential growth support, and I watered them only once a week per the directions.  I couldn’t wait to walk out my door, pick and eat juicy red homegrown tomatoes.

So, what’s the hard part?  Waiting.pablo (87)

Every morning, for weeks,  I walked outside, inspected my little plants for any obvious growth, measured their growth, observed new leaves and inspected the plants for any signs of buds.  I watered the plants once weekly and pulled weeds from around the roots.  And I waited… waited…  waited some more…

Do you know how long it takes to grow tomatoes?  Yes, but it’s worth the wait because there’s not much better than stepping outside the door to pick juicy red tomatoes, wash and eat right off the vine!

I see a similar {grow}ing process in Ruth and Naomi.  They are family, closer than blood relatives, daughter and mother.  They are a beautiful example of discipleship.  Truly, I think if I could be invited into their home I would see iron sharpening iron.  Naomi diligently taking time to teach her daughter.  In the waiting, Naomi was preparing Ruth for her new home.  Yet, in the process of preparing, caring for and waiting for the right time to be fulfilled, Ruth was breathing encouragement, renewed vision, and purpose into her mother, Naomi.

Ponders:

As you read through Ruth chapter 3, what truth regarding growth stands out to you?

  • I remember the day I boldly proclaimed to the Lord, “I want you to {grow} me up!”  I think I wanted all the benefits of growing into His likeness, but I had no idea the difficult training course of becoming like Him.  I also didn’t factor in the “waiting” time involved.
    • Jesus said we would encounter trouble in this world, but not to worry because He has overcome death and defeated satan already.
    • Jesus also said that if we are going to follow Him we will have to deny ourselves, take up a cross and go where He leads.
    • Considering the cost, do you want to ask Jesus to {grow} you up into His image?
  • Is there a woman in your life who is mentoring you on the journey with Jesus?  And just as important have you extended your hand back to a woman coming along behind to mentor her?
    • It’s a beautiful picture of women – each extending a hand – one in front of another and alongside, linked up arm in arm, persevering, caring, loving and pointing toward Jesus as we run the race marked out for us.
  • If to {grow} means to wait, what do we need Holy Spirit to teach us about cultivating relationships, walking the Jesus journey together and anticipating the coming fruit?

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

~Lisa

 

 

Day 11: {Remember} when… ?

 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.  She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

“Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”  So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

“May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”  Ruth 2:17-20

{Remember}

To recall, be reminded of, look back.  To remember is a purposeful choosing.  It’s an action step on our journey toward our forever home.  And I am mindful today, remembering is a privilege.

pablo (70)

On this day 11 of our 31-day journey through Ruth, it seems fitting to take a rest stop and {remember}.

We began to walk with Naomi during a famine… and now she is experiencing harvest.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons to death in a foreign land… and now she is experiencing ‘family’ with Ruth and her kinspeople back at home in Judah.

Naomi changed her name to bitter – Mara… and now she is blessing Boaz as pleasant – Naomi.

Naomi poured out her heart and held out empty hands in her grief… and now she has her heart filled with the love of a daughter and holds out hands to receive abundant grain provision.

Naomi declared her inability to provide for her daughters in law… now she offers Ruth a home, a people, and most important the One True Almighty God.

Naomi’s life, understandably after such great loss, seemed doomed and hopeless.  She had lost everything… except God had never left her.  In a sense, she and her family may have left God.  They may have believed they could make a plan of escape for themselves and avoid the famine season.

However, I believe God wants us to know there’s a desert walk, a famine season, a wilderness experience on every one of our paths toward HOME.  God intends this part of our life experience to be purposeful.  It’s part of our pioneer training.  He leads us into it for our good – for our strengthening.desert plants

 

I was reminded this past weekend… Jesus, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, was led into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.  If the wilderness experience was a part of Jesus’ training, strengthening and considered purposeful by the Father, why wouldn’t I think the same is true for me?

Lord Jesus, help me {remember} to put my eyes on You today.  Help me to {remember} to follow You wherever You are walking and to stop and rest with You too.  You are my Great Pioneer of faith.  You are my Good Shepherd.  I want to follow You.  Thank You for reminding me to sing of Your goodness, to meditate on Your faithfulness in Your Word, and to recount Your abundant benefits and blessings I’ve received in my own life.

I bless You, Lord, O my soul and all that is within me.  I bless Your Holy Name.  Amen.

 

Ponders:

Below is a portion of Psalm 77:  a prayer of anguish in the dark night where sleep will not be found.  Let’s read through this Psalm either recognizing this scenario as our current circumstances all too familiar or {remember}ing a time in the past – a season of our lives when this could have been our own prayer.

  • How good is it to cry aloud to the Lord?  Have you?  What release did you experience when you poured your heart out before the Lord?  Do you think this is what Jesus meant by casting our cares on Him?
  • The psalmist writes, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.”  Do you have a go-to hymn or praise song for the middle of the dark night?  Have you memorized certain Scripture on which to meditate, repeat, chew on during the long night of anguish?
  • From Psalm 77 and from your own experience, what happens to us as we begin to {remember}?  When we begin to sing that song in the dark?  When we begin to repeat the Scripture we know?  Or maybe the only word we can eek out in despair is the Name above all names, Jesus, what happens to our soul?
  • If you haven’t made use of God’s limitless resources, His amazing benefits – will you begin today?  If you are in this season, just choose to remember God’s goodness in the past.  If you have come out of that season, maybe now is a good time to remember, the dryness, the pain, the wandering, and then the good and loving way your Shepherd led you through safely.
  • This is your testimony.  This is the story of your life God is writing.  Will you write it down?  Will you share something of your own experience with {remember}ing the goodness of the Lord?

I cry aloud to God,
    aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
    my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
    when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah

 

You hold my eyelids open;
    I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
    the years long ago.

I said,“Let me remember my song in the night;
    let me meditate in my heart.”
    Then my spirit made a diligent search:
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
    and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
    Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah

Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
    to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
We give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever! Amen.

Walk-Talks: Learning to swing

Walk-talks:  a time set aside for a long walk and conversation with Jesus and a friend. Anyone who asks me out for a walk-talk is likely to get a “yes” response from me, but my most faithful walk-talk companion is Ruth.swing girl

Why?  1. The girl can move quickly over a long distance while 2. maintaining challenging ‘iron sharpens iron’ conversation with Jesus and me.  At the end of our walk-talks, driving home sweaty, I feel like I got my cake and the ice cream too.

Lately tho (due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control) I find myself, more often than not, walking alone with Jesus.  It’s a season.  Don’t get me wrong, I love conversation with Jesus, however, I know He’ll talk with me anywhere & anytime.

I’m convinced a primary reason for this season of walk-talks with only Jesus is to highlight for me how easily I am drawn to fellowship with people rather than solitude with my Savior.  I don’t like to admit it, but I have to confess, it’s unfortunately true. Thank You, Jesus, for making me aware of my default patterns.

Recently, with new insight, I refused to let myself off the hook.  The rain had stopped. Temperatures were a bit cooler with less humidity, and I really felt the nudge of Holy Spirit to go for it.  A walk-talk after work – me and Jesus.

Walking the oval track around our local park I could hear a mother teaching her child how to swing – the mechanics of creating momentum.  Instantly, my mind searched old files to recall similar times of enjoyment with my own two sons at this same park – learning to swing.swing at the park

“Pump your legs… pull back with your legs.  Now push forward – legs out.

Again.  Pump your legs.

Pull back.  Push forward.  Pull back.

Push forward.  Pull back.”

Not watching, only hearing the mother instructing her child as I walked, I could picture the scenario in my mind’s eye.  I could see her coaching her child with a sparkle of delight in her eye, and I could see chubby child legs pumping with all her might – pulling back and stretching forward.  The scene, current and in my memory, caused me to smile.

“Come on…pump your legs.  You’re doing it!  Good job.  Pull back.  Push forward.”

Pondering in my walk-talk with Jesus, I began to glean a spiritual metaphor.

but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles…    Isaiah 40:31 esv

As a child, hopping onto a swing – pumping my little legs for all their worth – I challenged myself to soar ever higher.  I gained momentum.  The wind stretched my face and caused my long hair to wave like a flag.  I was free.  I was flying!

swing flying high

The physical actions of swinging – pulling back and stretching forward – remind me of following Jesus as His disciple.

Yes, I want to feel the fullness of living free.

I want to fly high…soar on the heights…feel the wind of Holy Spirit on my face…delight in His presence…experience the abundant victorious life.

Don’t you?

At least on this side of Heaven, we are not able to sustain a constant soaring up and forward journey with Christ.  Just as gravity pulls us back toward the earth, the daily struggle with our flesh tends to pull us back from the mountain highs of victorious living. When we’re flying free, enjoying the heights of blessing and abundance, we have a propensity to think we’re doing it on our own.  If all we experience is soaring, it will be easy to lose sight of our need for Jesus.

To pull back is to remember.  Remembering is a necessary aspect of our Jesus discipleship journey.  Pulling back from the high places, we remember the times of need and lack and dependence.  Pulling back, we remember the Lord, Good Shepherd, and His care for us.

Pulling back, remembering our inability to soar on our own, we become grounded again.  And in the pulling back further, remembering God’s consistent faithfulness to us, we build momentum.

To push forward is to believe.  Believing afresh is what takes the momentum of remembering and pushes us forward to stretch in faith toward a new height.  Faith and trust are strengthened with each repetition, and we’re spurred on to follow Jesus to heights yet unreached.

It’s exhilarating once again to believe, to know experientially, our Savior is enough to reach for.  Chasing after Jesus with renewed vigor fulfills our deepest longing – the abundant life of being in His presence.swing learning how

We’re joyful with Holy Spirit wind blowing across our faces and through our hair.  Like the swing seat holding a child, truth undergirds us. Like the chains which hold the seat, faith and love hold us secure.

All of a sudden we recognize we are flying, experiencing the full freedom of the abundant victorious life – following Jesus.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits,                 …who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.    Psalm 103:2 & 5 esv