Uncategorized

Contentment in Christ – Letting Go of Bitterness

yellow daisy flowers in bloom
Photo by Brandon Montrone on Pexels.com

 

Bitterness has a certain ability to take root in the depths of our beings.  When we have experienced woundedness in our lives (and we all have), often we allow that woundedness to cause us to be bitter and it seeps into other areas of our lives.  Bitterness can keep us from being overcomers in Christ Jesus.

I have experienced in my own life things that have caused trauma and disruption.  I have allowed it to affect many places — relationships, experiences, and peace.  There have been times when it has kept me from getting involved in ministry, as I should.  Too often, I’ve allowed it to hedge a barrier around my heart so that I would not be wounded again.  This is not how we are intended to live as followers of Christ.

When Joseph was left for dead and then sold into slavery by his brothers, he proclaimed to them years after serving in Pharoah’s court in Egypt:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”  Genesis 50:20

However, he did not say this to them in a vacuum — he said it after he had been mistreated, accused of rape, imprisoned for that false accusation, and seeing his brothers again.  Before he could even reveal himself to them and upon seeing his favored brother, Benjamin, we are told that:

“Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.” Genesis 43:30

Joseph most assuredly missed his family — he had been treated horribly by others and his brothers and in Pharoah’s court, but he didn’t allow bitterness to take root in his soul.  After he wept, the Scripture tells us that:

“Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.” So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians. Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment. He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.” Genesis 43:31-34

Imagine inviting the person or persons who have caused you great distress and woundedness to come and dine with you in your home!  Beloved, only God can work such an invitation and response.  The change is wrought by Him and He only; for to take on the image of our Father, requires Him to change us — He is the one who is loving and merciful and gracious, and when we mirror those attributes of God, we can forgive!  However, not just forgiveness, but restoration.

This is what Christ has done for us!  He has taken our sin upon Himself, forgiven us when we repent and restored us to a right relationship with the Father.  Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross — because Jesus has forgiven me and restored me — I can forgive and should!

I pray that you can find healing with the balm of forgiveness and root out the bitterness you may be harboring in your heart.  It is possible, but only through Christ Jesus!

Solo Christo!

Uncategorized

A Tool for His Workmanship

brown hammer near silver nail
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There are times that I simply get in the way of God’s work…it is true.  The Holy Spirit lays on my heart a work that God wants to accomplish and rather than realizing my role as His tool, I try to affect the work in my own humanness and striving.  Then in His mercy and love, the Lord chastises me to remind me of my purpose.

This all became more evident to me today, as the chastening rod came across my heart.  I have been diligently working on a very important project…necessary Kingdom work towards the saving of not only lives but souls.  So, this morning as I was making calls and purposing to get the matter all settled today, I hit a brick wall. Not any brick wall, but the same one I have been hitting day, after day, after day!

Honestly, hitting the same brick wall continuously starts to hurt!  And, feeling battered and bruised from the perpetual beating did not bode very well with my spirit.  I became angry and confused.  I was really mad!!!

Well, I don’t know that getting mad was very effectual for me.  In fact, it was just the opposite of effectual — it was quite ineffectual.  After stewing for a few minutes in my pride and sin, the Lord came over me with His righteous discipline.  Oh, if you could have heard the conversation!

“Tam — why are you so mad?” He said to me.  “Are you trying to get lauded with praise because you did a mighty work?”  “Did you take on this for Me or for you, Tam??”  His questions made my cheeks hot with shame, and I knew that I had sinned against Him.  I realized that I forgot that I am His tool to perform His work and in His time.

In 1 Corinthians 3:4 through 7, Paul addresses this very problem with the Corinthians.

For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (Emphasis mine).

I had forgotten my function and my purpose.  I, quite pridefully, had put myself as the head and in turn, left the sovereign work of God completely out of the equation.  Truly He is the master builder and I am His tool to be used at His will…not my own.

I repented and asked His forgiveness and I am thankful and grateful that He arighted me quickly!! Even more, that I allow Him to chastise me from time-to-time, as needed for His glory!  We are reminded in Proverbs,  that we are to not reject that reproof or chastisement from Him.  His correction and discipline are demonstrations of His love toward us.

My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof, For whom the LORD loves He reproves, Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.
(Proverbs 3:11-12)

I will continue to work on this project that the Lord has graciously given me to do, but with added humility and understanding that I am only an instrument of His will and for His glory.  Should I ever forget who I am, Who He is — should I ever become so full of myself that I am no longer of use to the furtherance of the Gospel, I pray that He will take me Home.  My purpose is to only serve Him, and that is for what I was redeemed to do!

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Uncategorized

Threads of Time and the Crimson Blood

arrangement coil colorful colors
Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

My mother loved embroidery and purchased a rather pricey embroidery machine to fashion different gifts.  When she first started this new found hobby, she made hand towels with monograms for the whole family one year at Christmas.  The next year we all received blankets with flowers and our first name embroidered on them…and so it went year after year receiving one of Momma’s creations.

Momma had her machine in a rather small little corner with endless spools of thread.  I was quite fascinated with all of the hues of color there were and how pretty they looked lined up on wooden spokes ready to be beckoned to the machine.  Each design with someone she loved in mind — certain to bring warmth and love — something she could give to demonstrate her love.

It calls to my mind a “thread” that is embroidered throughout the Old and New Testament.  A crimson thread sewen through the fabric of God’s mercy and love toward us…a thread of redemption.

The first stitch begins in Genesis after Adam and Eve sinned — blood, shed to cover the nakedness of that sin.

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Then for the Hebrew Children — Israel…God instructed them to apply blood to their doorposts so that when He sees that blood of the Passover lamb He would not allow the destroyer to come into their homes.

“Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. “You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.” Exodus 12:21-23

Throughout Scripture, that thread weaving and shuttling, by a merciful Father, toward the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ!  It was the plan all along — from the Creation to the Fall there was Jesus!  Isaiah prophesied Him…

“But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:10-12

Christ Jesus came to save man from his sin!  Then He spilled His blood and as that crimson flow from Calvary came to cover our transgressions — to wash us whiter than snow — to redeem us to eternal life.  The Psalmist said,

“Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”  Psalms 51:7

As the Israelites applied the blood with hyssop branches to their doorposts the smell of hyssop permeated their homes, David prayed that the LORD would purify him with hyssop, and then as Jesus hung dying on the Cross of Calvary He said, “I am thirsty.”  The Roman soldiers lifted a sponge full of the sour wine on the branch of hyssop —

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, *said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:28-30

The smell of hyssop would bring to mind that the blood had been applied — forgiveness and redemption of sins … “it is finished.”  And, death and the grave had been defeated when He rose again as He said!

The weaving, shuttling, detail of the crimson thread in the Master’s Hands — a beautiful gift for all who would accept it!  God’s work and restoration have been offered you only need to apply that crimson blood to the doorposts of your life.

Uncategorized

Pursuing Holiness and Holy Week Musings

crown of thorns (3)

I am sorry for being a bit absentee, dear ones.  I have been experiencing a bit of a brain-cramp when it comes to writing.  There are always thoughts, lessons, and words running wild in my head…much like a red bouncy ball on a sidewalk.  The pressure to be able to write something profound for Holy Week hasn’t helped me in the least to put something concrete on paper…no, not at all.

Surely I could write something new or not yet said about Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem a week before His death!  Maybe I could explore Zechariah’s prophecy,

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9) 

What about the Hosannas and the Palm Branches??  Certainly, there is something to be said that hasn’t been said about those.  I have nothing…no new wisdom…no new inspiration.

The Holy Spirit, rather, has been working in the privacy of my thoughts and heart regarding holiness and obedience.  What am I to do with Christ riding humbly on a Colt, knowing (as He knew then) that this was a funeral procession more than a triumphal entry?  This road that would lead Him finally to Golgotha.  Jesus was making His final entry into Jerusalem as the God who became Man.  He would stand before men who would condemn Him to death!  He would face the Roman scourge and the Roman nails.  He would be beaten beyond the recognition of a man, His beard plucked, His brow pierced with a Crown of Thorns and all so that I might gain eternal life!  And, so, through the washing away of my sins and the redemption of my soul through his precious blood, I have been called to live a Holy life.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1 and 2)

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:14 – 19)

Pursuing and living Holy in obedience to Christ means I must put away those sinful deeds.  It means that I am no longer living in futility for myself.  I have been bought with a price and that is the precious blood of Christ.  I am no longer my own!  

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19 and 20) 

Therefore, pursuing and living and walking in obedience is something I strive for daily.   Paul said in his letter to the Philippians,

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12 – 14)

During this Holy Week, I pray that He will continue to help me pursue Holiness and that on Resurrection Sunday I can celebrate knowing that He promised to return — not as a Lamb to the slaughter, but as the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to whom all glory and honor shall be given.

And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘”KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”‘ (Revelation 19:16)

Glory to God!  Hosanna!

 

Uncategorized

The Shelter of God

Mary and Joseph
Artist: Tameasa Shook Provencher Copyright: 3/4/2019

This is a piece that I have been working on for several months.  I began during the Christmas season — became frustrated with my feeble effort and set it down — a couple of weeks later, I would pick it up and begin working again.  The pace was slow and wrought with a lot of misgivings and trepidation.  It was difficult to concentrate and even more difficult to allow the strokes of the charcoal and pencils to move across the paper with ease.  I erased…I sketched…erase…sketch…oh and how many times I wanted to rip it out of my art pad and throw it in the trash…but I did not.

I prayed often throughout this sketch!  I prayed about the darkness that enters my soul all too frequently.  I prayed about the despair that threatens to erase me…rip me up…throw me in the trash.  It was painstaking!

Between the time lapses of this sketch, I worked on watercolors — trying to train hands that are not gifted with skill to blend, and accept what has been placed on the paper.  I have boxed up my art supplies at least six times since December…to send them to someone else who can draw and paint with ease…but I did not.  However, today I finished my sketch and I will bravely share it with you and why I sketched it out the way that I did.

Mary found herself with an unplanned pregnancy — she was no more than 13 or 14 years old.  Oh how I can feel the fright in her heart — the uncertainty of Joseph’s reaction…her betrothed.  We do not have to go much deeper to know that the LORD made sure that they both knew of His plan and we know nothing more than that Joseph did indeed marry her…and as Paul Harvey used to say, “That’s the rest of the story.”

Yet as my sketch unfolded, took form, and developed it began to tell a story.  Not of the Nativity or Mary or Joseph or the Christ Child.  It began to sing of God’s sheltering love to me.  I chose not to draw their faces (truth is I probably would have made them look more like freak show stars if I had) — I wanted to show their countenance.

Mary is holding her Child — the Savior of the world — close to her bosom.  The child wrapped in the shroud that would cradle him at death.  Joseph — oh, Joseph — sheltering them under his strong arm.  A mirror of God as He cloaks us in His sheltering love.  Mary and the Child can rest easy in this God-given shelter of love.

The psalmist, David,  said that we can seek refuge under God’s wings — we simply need to abide there.  He will cover us with His pinions — a beautiful shelter from those things that seek to overcome us and try to destroy us.

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

Beloved, abide there…abide in the shelter God has supplied through His loving kindness and tender mercy for you.  It is sure — you can rest in it — just as Mary and Baby Jesus are resting in Joseph’s cloak in my sketch!

 

 

Uncategorized

Healing Oil and the Balm of Friendship

purple flowers beside clear glass bottle
Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

The soul’s wounds can carve out a hollow and leave you lost and longing for a healing that seems so elusive to pain.  Despair and deep sadness can come in and solace is desired, but none can be found…or so it seems.

King David spoke of such despair in Psalm 6:6 and Psalm 13:2,

I am weary with my sighing; every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?

David’s weariness came from battle, sin, betrayal of friends, grief, and the list continues.  I am sure that we do not know the half of all he faced and the loneliness he experienced in the depths of his soul!  However, David was never left in this darkness…his hope was renewed time and again through the Lord’s sustaining mercy and grace.  In fact, he sings to the Lord in Psalm 40:1-3,

I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD. 

While David was experiencing all of this, along with renewal, he also had the love and companionship of a trusted and faithful friend, Jonathan.  In I Samuel 18, we can read about the bond between David and Jonathan, but the first verse tells us of the depth of this friendship,

Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself.

That knitting together of two souls…the covenant that Jonathan made to David…it is a legacy to us on friends and the love God brings between fellow sojourners.  I Samuel 18 continues and shows us this covenant,

Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.

In the act of this covenant, Jonathan stripped himself of his worldly protection and gave it to David.  Isn’t that amazing — “Here David, I love you with my very soul and I want you to be protected in battle with my armor and my sword and my bow and my belt.”  It was a demonstration of Jonathan’s love and affection for David.  It was selfless and self-sacrificing.  Jonathan could have reacted so differently, but he did not.

Several years ago, I was visiting a dear and lifetime friend in Virginia.  She has been a friend and also a spiritual mother to me.  As I sat on her couch that day, she could see some wounds on my arms — wounds that spoke of some deep pain that I was going through — a valley we had walked through together many times.

She excused herself to another room and she came back with an essential oil.  She opened the bottle and poured out the oil into the palm of her hand and began caressing and massaging the oil into my right arm and then into my left.  She took her time and gently applied it so that it would be absorbed deep into my soul — not just the essential oil  —  but the love and care and a sweet balm of friendship that is unequaled in this world.

We both sat quietly — no words were needed between us — the Lord was filling our hearts with Himself.  He had given us to each other for those times when the battle had been hardest — what a good and precious gift!

Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.
Proverbs 27:9 (NASB)

Do not grow weary in the journey, beloved, cling to Jesus.  And as God sends others on your journey with you and as you comfort one another, thank Him for such goodness to you.  Our journeys here can be dark and difficult at times — but God has given us a soul that can withstand the difficulties when we put our trust in Him.  We are being pefected in Christ Jesus.

In the series, Call the Midwife, mature Jenny said this at the end of Episode 8, Season 6, “There are so many secret wounds, so many types of hidden scar.  The soul, being stronger than we think, can survive all mutilations.  And marks upon it make it perfect and complete.”

A very true and profound thought for us to remember.  In the paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, I think the way they paraphrased II Corinthians 2:4-5, sums up all that I am sharing with you here:

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort; we get a full measure of that, too. (Emphasis mine.)

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Abiding Savior

man sitting on edge facing sunset
Photo by Abhiram Prakash on Pexels.com

 

Dark are the shadows invading my mind.
Relentless, foreboding – they capture and entwine.
Sleep so elusive and fears gripping cold.
Oh, Jesus, my light, please shine in my soul.

Your light is a lamp – Your mercy divine.
Grace, please enshrine me, Lord please abide.

Morning dawns brightly – my Help and my Stay.
Jesus so sweetly showed me the way.
Never forsaken, no never alone.
He is my refuge – He leads gently Home.