BE 2017

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The Father’s Restoring Love

dry-bones

The Holy Spirit has been impressing on me the Father’s restoring love.  Throughout Scripture, in the testimonies of His saints, we see His restoration…His love.

The particular passages that led me to these thoughts were those of Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.  There are so many lessons to feast upon in Ezekiel 37; however, I think Ezekiel’s tellings of God taking him to the Valley of Dry Bones is so rich.

BEFORE CHRIST (B.C.)

There is such a beautiful picture in this passage of our lives before repentance…when we are dead in our sins.  Without Christ, we are dead…we are dead spiritually…there is no life, no hope, and we are nothing but a Valley of Dry Bones.  BUT GOD, sent His only begotten Son (John 3:16) because He loved us.  He desired in that GREAT LOVE to restore us to Himself through the death and resurrection of Christ.  He pursues us, relentlessly, because He desires a relationship with us.  When we repent of our sins and allow Jesus to be Lord of our life, He restores us…completely…and finally.

IN CHRIST (I.C.)

Restoration doesn’t stop after we accept Christ.  Chuck Swindoll once said, “Life is so daily!”  I love that because it is true!!  Life can sometimes come crashing upon us and shaking us to our very core.  It can be finances, the death of a spouse or a child, a job loss, or, even as we are facing today in Florida, a Hurricane Matthew.

Sometimes these “shakings” can seemingly plant us right back into that Valley of Dry Bones…we might feel that God has forsaken us..but I assure you HE.HAS.NOT.  He said, “I will never leave you; nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)  This is a promise with certainty.

Keep pressing on…God has promised that He will restore you…as He did with the death of His Son…but He also promised it in Ezekiel.  When you feel that you have no usefulness to God or even, as sometimes I can feel, unworthy to be used of God, don’t forget that He has set you a part…He has called you out of that valley.  He is our Restorer.

Sometimes He allows us to walk through valleys to teach us –to make us stronger–we need to be refined.  However, He DID NOT call us back to that valley of dried up bones…HE.DID.NOT.  We are no longer dead…we are ALIVE in Christ Jesus…”O you dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord!  Don’t just hear it only, apply it!  God is not slack concerning His promises.

Fall into the Father’s Restoring Love –let Him breath a fresh wind into your dried up bones!

 

 

Lessons I Learned from the Nursery Rocking Chair

Joshua and Mommy

 

I remember the special-ness and sweet-nesses of rocking my Joshua at night…the smell of him (all of it…even his breath)…he would say, “Mommy, rock-a-me” and I would oblige with all of my heart. “Singing Jesus Loves Me” and a song I made up for him that goes likes this: “Mommy loves you Joshua, Mommy loves you Baby boy, Mommy loves you Joshua! Joshua, Joshua, sweet baby boy.” The song continues with Daddy loves you and then Jesus….in the stillness of evening….after the busyness of the day….I held a wee bit of Heaven in my arms…somehow my heart, so wooed by the Holy Spirit Himself, understood Solomon’s words, “Life is a vapor” and I clung to Joshua…breathed him in….and let the “irritation and exhaustion” evaporate before the moment did. Solomon was right, I found, and now my Joshua is a man…making man decisions in a much crazier world than I had hoped for him….and, so, the moments, laughter, tears, boo-boos, first fist-gripped weeds of adoration, first words, first haircuts, first refrigerator pictures, first lost teeth…they are securely locked away with the key of gratefulness…grateful that God entrusted me with that little soul in the first place. So, now, I get the grand privilege of storing away new memories…those of earthly value and most importantly those of eternal value — his Salvation (I am so thankful he came to Christ early in his life), his surrendering to full-time ministry, watching him serve the Lord…here and in China….studying him, as he begins to seek God on a future wife. As mothers, aren’t we blessed to have a special lens to view our children with? We have a God given, special capacity, to see our children’s souls, I believe….when the day is done…when the babies are fast asleep, when the dishes have all been tucked away in the cupboard, when the toys have been picked up and we…when we are at full capacity….God refreshes us with Himself….His tenderness toward us moms….because He knows we are exhausted and at full capacity…He then allows us to “Be still and rest in Him” because He knows He gave us the most difficult and special job assigned on earth and that is to prepare little souls for His Kingdom! What a blessing! Thank you, Father! I pray, sweet Momma, that you awoke this morning feeling a new energy for your day and those precious, little souls that you get the grand privilege of cultivating!

Joshua working in China

To China with Love

My son, Joshua, spent his summer in China on a mission trip with Teen Missions Int’l.  Tomorrow morning in church he will share his testimony and the video I am sharing here that he made.

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”  Isaiah 52:7

 

 

At Full Capacity

This morning, as I’m reflecting on Scripture and King David, I asked the Lord to examine my own heart.  He showed me the capacity of my heart — how full it is — what it is full of, as well.

David prayed:

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! Psalm 139:23

I wonder if he was prepared for what God would show him, upon searching his heart?  I wonder if he was prepared for God to truly see the capacity of his heart — what it was full of — and then prepared for what God would do to change it, even if he thought that far ahead of his prayer?

We know from Scripture that David was an adulterer, murderer, and deceiver.  We know that he struggled greatly with depression and that he was also a warrior.  He had enemies that sought to destroy him, including some in his own ranks.

However, we also know that he was full of compassion, he loved, he worshiped God liberally, and he danced!  The capacity of his heart was full of life but, he desired it to be fuller with God; and, so, he sought that same God, which pursued him.  He sought Him in shame — repentance — joy — mourning — but, mostly he sought God authentically.  We know this because he cried out to God in prayer:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.   Psalm 51:10-12

So, what of my full heart, and am I much different than David?  The answer is, “No!”  My heart, too, is at full capacity.  My heart is full of sin, depression, heartache, grief, compassion, love, and worship!  I am, much like David, a broken Believer that lives in a messy world with broken people — but, mostly I am seeking God authentically and at full capacity.

My prayer echos David’s prayer.  Further up in Psalm 51 David said:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. vss. 7,8

When I come before Him humbly and authentically and repentantly, He will purge me of myself.  My heart, as long as I sojourn in this fallen world, will always be at full capacity.  For in that fullness we learn to walk with others in their brokenness.  Paul spoke of this in  2 Corinthians 3-5:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

The full capacity of our hearts allows us to share in Christ’s sufferings and to abundantly share in His comfort, too.  Is that not the grace of our Savior?  As followers of Christ Jesus, we get the grand privilege of loving one another and limping along together, as He is daily restoring and sanctifying us unto Himself.

We are all cracked pots — cracked by the fullness of life — the capacity of our hearts — in all HOPE.