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Feasting on God’s Word

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Upon becoming a Christ-Follower in 1981, I knew and understood very little about God’s Word. I certainly understood that Christ Jesus came to die on a cruel cross for my sins and the sins of the world, and I completely submitted to my need of salvation, and laid my life prostrate before Him in repentance, receiving this free gift He offered…that of Eternal life.

What I couldn’t understand, at that moment, was how important it would be for me to daily sit at His table learning and memorizing all of his precepts. I honestly would not realize its importance until I was in my early twenties. I knew well the verse in Psalm 119:11,

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

But, I didn’t understand what that meant really. In my mind it was just a Bible verse I should know — there was no application or need for application.

That all changed for me when I was around 25-years old. I met my friend, Wanda, and she was a student of God’s Word. She dwelt in His Word — she devoured His Word — she shared His Word with other malnourished souls, such as I. But, one day she just got down with me and said, “You need to be in God’s Word — reading it, meditating on it, chewing on it like a cow chews its cud! It’s sustenance for a starving soul and yours is starving.”

It all became clear — I needed God’s Word as much as I needed to eat and drink to live. My soul was starving and parched — and what do you do with all of that need?? Well, I sat down with my Bible and begged the Lord to feed me and He did and He has.

The prophet, Jeremiah, declared,

“Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16

How is that any different when we feed our body?? I think you would agree that when our body is physically hungry and we satisfy it with food, we feel full afterwards, and contented. I have Type 1 Diabetes and when my blood sugar drops too low, I have to give myself food to bring my blood sugar back up and balance the insulin that is in my body. If you’ve never experienced a low blood sugar, I will tell you that when it drops you become clammy and confused…you start to feel shaky. It is imperative to bring your blood sugar back up because if you don’t, you can slip easily into a diabetic coma. This I understood and I understood it well because I’ve experienced it.

Jeremiah is saying the exact same thing, but the difference he is talking about is feeding his soul and when he did, God’s Word became a joy and a delight to his heart. Well, I am not a rocket scientist, but I realized how low my spiritual blood sugar was — that I had an imbalance! So, I just propped myself up to the Lord’s table and began to feed!

Jesus told the disciples in John,

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” John 6:63 (Emphasis mine)

As I learned to dine consistently and often in God’s Word, I became stronger, more discerning, and better able to understand the Lord’s will for my life. I began longing more and more for the Word — I couldn’t hardly wait for an opportunity to get back into my Bible and study. Peter, when writing to several of the scattered churches encouraged them to “long for the pure milk of the word,” like babies! Babies when hungry and given the breast, suckle fast and hard…they want to get out every bit of goodness from their Mommas. If you’ve ever nursed a baby, you will understand. They are so contented…it is a “delight” to their bellies and it causes them to grow strong — feeding every ounce of them.

“…like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,…” 1 Peter 2:2

The more I read the Bible…the more I studied it…the more I suckled every bit of goodness from it, my heart was delighted with pure joy — I felt full and contented. Conversely, when I do not sit daily to read my Bible, I suffer greatly and my soul does languish. David understood this and he meditated on God’s Word — he treasured the Lord’s precepts — he declared that they were pleasing to his taste buds and “sweeter than honey or the drippings of the honeycomb.”

“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward.” Psalms 19:7-11

I encourage you to make time daily to read God’s Word. Ask Him to reveal it and to open your eyes — to feed you from it — so that you may be sustained and restored by it. He will — He most certainly will!

Soli Deo Gloria

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Fat on Milk

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When I was around 4-years old, I was still walking around the house with a baby bottle hanging from my mouth — held there by my baby teeth that had protruded through tender gums. There wasn’t milk in that bottle, rather my Momma kept it filled with Pepsi Cola! Oh, how I carried that bottle around drinking that sugary soda…it was all I wanted…it kept me and my 4-year old appetite satiated!

As much as I could, I understood that I probably was too old to be walking around with a baby bottle — but it was a comfort and had all of that sweetness inside of it. Why in the world would I want to give up such a delight?? However, one day my Aunt Scarlett came to visit us. I saw her car pull up into the drive-way and she started walking toward our front door. I panicked! Totally, full-on pan…shame! I ran toward the kitchen and hid that bottle in the refrigerator so that my Aunti wouldn’t see it.

Not long after that confrontation with my shame, one morning I walked into the kitchen and asked Momma for my bottle and she announced that there were no more bottles — the rats had eaten them! I do not remember crying over it or throwing a fit. I must have just taken her word that rats had eaten my bottles and they ceased to be. I had finally out grown the baby bottle and was expected to now eat and drink the same things the rest of the family did.

I remembered all of that when I was studying in Hebrews this morning. The writer in Hebrews 5 and down in verses 12 through 14, speaks of the the Body of Christ needing milk again, even though by then they should be teachers.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14 (Emphasis mine)

When I read that passage, I felt such overwhelming conviction in my heart. There are many days when I do not feel that I’ve had any recent or sustainable growth while following Jesus. I find myself back in a place when I first came to Christ when I was 15-years old — having trouble discerning God’s Word and applying the wisdom I should have gained by now in my life. Truly, I feel malnourished and lacking the discipline I should have as a disciple of Christ…I’m still sucking on the bottle of milk rather than chewing on the meat and marrow of His Word.

I keep falling into the same ole’ sins — sins that keep me from a deeper fellowship with the Lord. Paul addressed this very thing with the Romans,

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2

My heart felt such defeat because I am still stumbling over the same sins that were forgiven and not living in the newness of Christ. Paul said,

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14 (Emphasis mine)

…and, as I asked the Lord to forgive me for falling back into the slavery of sin, I realize that I need to drop that bottle I am sucking on and pick up a fork to start eating the meat of His Word.

Milk certainly helped me to grow when I was a babe in Christ, but in order to strengthen my faith and walk, I must suck that rich marrow out of God’s Word that will build me and make me “an instrument of righteousness to God.” I no longer need to be weaned…I am more than ready to masticate on His Word…it’s really the only way to keep me mature in Him, discerning of His precepts, and more able to apply wisdom in my decision making.

BUT, it’s not just about me — nothing is ever just about us alone. When I allow God to feed me that which sustains and strengthens me, I can then be the teacher that Hebrews 5:12 declares I should be. We are not here to live like fat little babies, but we are here to be tools that God can use for His glory…we are to bring others to Christ. We are here to share the Gospel — that Good News — because HE is not willing that any should perish!

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

My encouragement and prayer for you, dear friend, is that you will lay that baby bottle down and pick up your fork and sit down and feast on God’s Word. Learn His precepts…love His law…ask Him to feed you generously at the table of His Word and to forgive you for not supping there, as you should have. He will not despise your contrite heart…in fact, He loves a contrite heart!

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalms 51:17

One day we will all meet at a Banquet Table set by Holy Hands and fellowship together with Christ at the center. Oh, how I look forward to that day!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he *said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he *said to me, “These are true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9

Soli Deo Gloria

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Irises and Pinions

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I have many memories of my childhood from growing up in Virginia. Some of the fondest I have were spending time with my grandparents. We spent the summers running the fields and fishing and playing…they were full, and welcomed each year.

When my Momma’s mother died, it was the first time that I had ever lost one very close to me. I was 15-years old when she passed. I loved her ever so dearly…and as I remember her I can still smell the Oil of Olay on her skin and how soft she was when I touched her and hugged her. I smile as I remember how she would giggle and cover her mouth as she did, or how she crossed her arms together when she was sitting and listening or talking. I do not remember what her voice sounded like, but I can almost hear her say my name. I stand in her 4’10” shadow and know that I will never be half the woman that she was — she was so strong — like the Appalachian Mountains she called home for so many years.

I do believe that the hardest thing I ever had to do was bury my Momma. She was another strong woman — not letting much get the better of her. However, our relationship (as close as it was) was tumultuous at best. There was a deep need within both of us for someone to love us without condition — that need rose above everything that we did or touched.

Oh, we would fight…almost to the death…but I was tethered so tight to her that the our need for each other outweighed the angst between us. She resented my pulling away from her in every way I could and I resented her tight control of me that was suffocating much of the time. Yet, still, she was mine and I was hers and we stayed tethered so closely in angst and love all wound up together — sometimes resembling something beautiful and other times revealing an unfathomable mess with knots and frays — that neither of us understood how to unravel — so we loved because honestly, there was no other choice. We were tethered to each other until death.

I broke my parents’ hearts so many times over their lifetime of raising me. I caused them to walk the floor many nights and days too. One of the most poignant struggles was August of 1981 when I attempted to end my life. I was only 15-years old…confused and I desperately needed someone to somehow show me how to aright my life. I felt so lost and in that lostness there was so much unbearable pain. So, from there began years of pain for me and for them.

Daddy died about 10 years before my Momma did and it was hard. However, in 2009 when Momma suddenly died, a pain entered my soul that I had never experienced before. I was living in Florida by then with my husband and we received the call that we needed to get to Richmond and soon. However, the morning my plane landed and unbeknownst to me, Momma had died.

The journey from Richmond to Powhatan, where my childhood home was, seemed so much longer than it ever had before. Every thing I saw betrayed my senses and the world was so unaltered by my grief and her absence. I couldn’t breathe really — air betrayed me — my chest was so tight with pain. How was I supposed to go on from here without her? Because I knew that the tether that kept me planted on the ground was now irreparably severed. Who would I be without her? Was I now an orphan??

There were no answers to my crushing questions — only darkness — only grief.

As we climbed the little hill and turned toward the house — we descended the next hill — there was her home and at the end of her drive-way, the loveliest Irises were in bloom. The purple and lavender hues reached toward the Creator of all things and I knew at that very moment that I was tethered to Christ.

I understood at that very moment that I was not orphaned at all — but I was rooted in Him — in the midst of grief and pain and sorrow beyond measure that my roots were firm and sure because He is my surety. I was so grateful for that reminder in simple Irises and took my breaking heart and hid it under His pinions — my Refuge and my Strength!

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

“He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.” (Psalms 91:4)

The Lord reveals Himself in the beauty of Irises and grandparents and Mommas — He tethers us to earthly things while we are learning Kingdom things. He demonstrates His great love for us through the death of His son and the beauty of earthly relationships.

He is faithful to care for us in these things — He is faithful to me —- and YOU!

Soli Deo Gloria

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Fractured Light

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There are days that I just want to throw in the towel…I’m done! My mind and heart become so darkened by the daily-ness of living and being and existing. There have been days when I do not want to breath or blink or even think of breathing another breath.

My mind has felt so fractured — so full of things that distract me from the work I must do in the name of Jesus. My mind fills with constant noise and red bouncy balls that are incessantly maddening — it is hard to catch my breath. I feel like I’m drowning in an ocean so very deep that I find the light almost impossible to distinguish.

I cry out to the Lord minute-by-minute and beg Him to help me — beg Him to hold me up out of the depths of the depression and darkness that threaten to end me. David cried out to the LORD in his darkness,

“O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am pining away; Heal me, O LORD, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O LORD—how long? Return, O LORD, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your lovingkindness. For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks? I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries. Depart from me, all you who do iniquity, For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. The LORD has heard my supplication, The LORD receives my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and greatly dismayed; They shall turn back, they will suddenly be ashamed.” Psalms 6:1-10

When I read David’s prayer to the LORD, which is prayed from the depths of his utter despair, I do not feel so far away in my own despair. I believe God recorded David’s prayers in His Word so that we wouldn’t feel so foreign and worn and fractured when life weighs heavily in on us. God gave us more than David’s laments, He also recorded David’s declaration of God’s faithfulness to him. “The LORD has heard my supplication, the LORD receives my prayer.” One can draw such comfort from those words — words of promise — words that ensure we’ve not been forsaken or ignored.

In fact, God assures Joshua through Moses,

“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

He assured Jacob,

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15

In Isaiah,

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

With all of those assurances God has given in His Word, I am most comforted by Solomon’s words upon bringing the Ark of the Covenant into the Temple,

“May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.” 1 Kings 8:57-58

As the doubts and darkness and aloneness found in sleepless nights invade my fractured and splintered mind, I am reminded that in the depth and midst of those fractures their is Light breaking through. The Light is Jesus and He dispels the darkness with Hope and urges me to persevere…even when the very next breath is difficult. He is my Light and my Breath — amidst a fractured and broken mind. David again reminds me of this truth,

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” Psalms 27:1

However, as I look through the fractures and through the lens of God’s all-knowing, eternal Word, I cannot help but see the Eternal Promise God has given us in Revelation,

“There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-5

As I eagerly await Christ’s return, I will allow the Light to seep through the fractures in my mind and heart — I will hope — I will persevere! There really is no other way and how sweet He is to allow me to rest here until then!

You can too!

Soli Deo Gloria