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Sunday grace

“Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways! How faint is the whisper we hear of him! But who can understand the thunder of his power?”  Job 26:14 NET

The Clouds, Blue Sky, Nature, Storm

The news reports of winds and waves and power that unnerves us all, a power that is uncontrollable. Predictions are updated as the power directs its own course, and no one really knows where the wind will blow.

I understand that the God of creation made this world in beauty and perfection with all things in proper order for life and health and prosperity. But something went wrong, sin entered the heart of man, and all creation groans under the weight of it.

Yet, God provides grace upon grace, mercies unlimited, and a love that is everlasting. Even when the winds blow and the sea rages, He is God and His dominion has no end.

He is all-powerful and deserves our reverence, our awe of Him who holds all things in the energy of His hand.

Man was given a limited creative power that is wonder-filled when it is used for goodness. Beauty and ingenuity result. But his power unleashed with selfish intent leaves devastation in its path.

One day the Father of creation will make all things new again.

We must bow to the only wise God whose power is perfect, whose goodness is inherent, and who works all things according to His good plan.

Give Him the glory due His name. Trust His heart. Lean into His love. Believe in His salvation.

It is the only safe haven in the power of the storm.

Sunday grace.

 

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The glory of today

It is a practically perfect day in my old Kentucky home.

Late last night I sat on the deck, the blustery wind blowing in what is today’s low 60 degree temperatures. Humidity moved out and gentle breezes are left this morning. The sky is blue with puffs of cotton ball clouds.

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I sit long this morning, the second pot of coffee brewed and in my cup. The yard could use some attention, but it is a practically perfect day. I will “waste” the morning in quietude, contemplation, writing in my journal, and pondering life.

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But my heart hurts today. A cousin died this week. Sweet William and I will attend a funeral tomorrow, and a young husband feels like half his body has been torn away from him. Two children are left behind, and they are too young to be without a mamma. I know that feeling.

The young woman who died was born the same year as my son. And how does a mother deal with that kind of loss?

My cousin’s struggle with cancer was hard-fought and faith filled. Yet she is gone and we are left with our grief. And our questions.

Life is hard.

I talked with a friend last night, one who is closer to my age. She also battles cancer. I listened as she expressed concern for her husband and for the grandchildren she loves. She fears she will not see them grow into adults. She faces the uncertainty of her life with courage. I admire her for that, for her openness as we talk about the days ahead.

She probably does not see the strength that is in her right now. It is the strength that is made perfect in weakness, when the power of God rests on a life He holds in the palm of His hands.

I visited another friend yesterday. She is dealing with a different grief and struggle. We drank coffee and tea, chatting as tears filled our eyes. I shared my own battles and my crises of faith, hoping it might help. She texted later that it had.

This morning, as I recall painful experiences in my life, I see opportunities God has given me, just this year alone, to offer an understanding heart. My heartaches identify with someone else’s heartache. And I wonder if this is part of the redemptive process?

The comfort I was given from the God of all comfort is tenderly held out to another through shared experiences, the sweetness of His Word, and the promise of hope.

And do I see some sort of beauty rising from my ashes? Is this a way God redeems the hard places that tested my endurance, when I felt like there was nothing in me to go one step further? Is this the chance to give my testimony that the strong arm of the Savior was holding onto to me all along, when the rope I tied a knot in to hang on for dear life frayed to its very end?

I recently read again the story of Lazarus, his sickness and then him dying while Jesus waited days, not responding to Mary and Martha’s appeal to come heal their brother. His actions seemed callous, uncaring. Haven’t I felt that way about Him myself?

” . . . it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it,” Jesus told the disciples (John 11:4).

How often I am self-focused, centering on my pain and my problem, left wondering why this is happening to me. After all, isn’t it all about me, even sometimes?

What if the road, strewn with rocks and entangled with thorns, where we are led to walk is for the glory of God? What if these times are meant to point to a higher power, an omnipotent, all-knowing God who has a plan so enormous that we cannot possibly comprehend? What if these things we wish had not  happened or would go away are like arrows pointing us to a Savior who took on our flesh and blood and walked the hard places Himself and says to us, “I know. I know how you feel,”?

What if this life I live is about the glory of God?

Jesus preached an upside down gospel, after all. He said things like the first shall be last. Love your enemies and do good to those who hurt you. If you want to be great, then serve. Give to others without expecting anything in return. Forgive. Love. Believe.

He was the Master who stooped low to wash dirty feet of those who would betray, deny, run away, and lose their faith. Jesus lived a contrary-to-what-we-think kind of life.

If I could begin to see with spirit-eyes, beyond the present suffering and into another dimension where death becomes life everlasting and tears are wiped away for good, perhaps it would change things for me.

If I could grasp the finite-ness of my earthly days and compare them to what comes afterwards, perhaps I would be less concerned about the cares of life and the problems here that trouble me so.

Perhaps I would arise each morning with the hope of seeing God’s glory in the daily events of an ordinary day.

My cousin seemed too young to die. There was too much living yet to do. Yet this very day, she lives in a way I can’t even fathom. She sees what I long to see. She knows things I want to know. She understands what I wrestle to understand. Her faith has become sight and the questions, they don’t matter any more.

And I am envious of that.

I want to see the glory, to perceive beyond the surface and into the deep things of God, things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined. These are the things God has prepared for those who love him.

I pray to see His glory, to endure with faith today and live with hope for tomorrow.

Lord, show us Your glory!

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Sunday grace

I awake to the alarm, think of people needing prayer, and pray for them. Always we are in need.

I long for God’s presence, to draw near Him as He draws near to me. It is a shared running to one another.

I want to hear His gentlest whisper, His most tender love song, feel the nudge of His Spirit urging me to move in His direction.

I want His glory – show me Your glory, Lord! Like You did for Moses, that it may be reflected in my own countenance.

I want to see with eyes of faith today and be filled with hope. I want to learn contentment a little more, living with little or much.

I want to see and be grateful for all the gifts I have received and that continually fall like showers of blessings.

I want to love like I am loved, without prejudice or judgment, giving grace out of the bounty I have received beyond measure.

I want to show kindness and be tender, to feel compassion and offer mercy as it has been dealt to me.

I am a needy soul, longing for much, the nearness of Jesus my Savior. To know His love and be filled with the fullness of God. To experience communion with Immanuel.

This is my prayer to the One who is able to do more than I can ask or imagine, according to His power at work in me.

To Him alone be glory, both now and forever. Amen.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

Show me Your glory Lord!

It is a prayer, my heart’s cry. I want to see Him, see Him in the splendor of who He is.

I am awed by the beauty of creation, the work of His hands. I witness the reflection of grace in the faces of Sweet William, my family, and friends. I experience the joy of salvation and the peace that passes understanding.

Oh, but I want to see more.

I read of Jesus’ transfiguration in the days when He walked with men, and for a few fleeting moments “the appearance of His face changed and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”

Peter, James and John were there at this grand occasion. They had come to pray with Jesus, but as happened to them sometimes, as happens to me, they were very sleepy. Sleepy with the cares of life, the deceitfulness of possessions, the issues of the world, the images that vie for attention and crowd out the true heavenly visions.

“But when they became fully awake, they saw his glory . . . ”

And I pray,

Lord, let me come fully awake to Your presence all around me, the goodness of Your person, the love You pour out lavishly on me. Help me to know the love that surpasses knowledge that I might be filled to the measure of the all the fullness of God.

As Moses asked it of God. I ask it of Him too: Show me Your glory.

Sunday grace.

 

When we wait for the glory

I’ve had some prayer requests that turned out differently than I planned. And I have prayers for which I am still waiting to see the answers come to pass. Perhaps you have too.

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Zachariah and Elizabeth, characters in the Nativity story, would have understood. Luke’s gospel introduces us to them.

” . . . there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”

These were people who followed God, exemplary in keeping the regulations given by Moses to the people. They had intrigty. It would seem they would have been rewarded for such dedication.

Instead, they were childless. And children were the reward, the heritage of a family who was blessed to have “their quiver full.”

Elizabeth’s fertility problem had affected them both. There were the years of hoping this month there would be a delay in her cycle. Disappointment met them again and again.

Heartbreak and grief were Elizabeth’s companions. Not only were her own desires unfulfilled, she was unable to give her husband an heir. And then there were the implications, the remarks whispered among the family, the community, their Levitical tribe. Comments perhaps like, “They appear to follow the law, but why is she barren?” While Elizabeth probably tried to carry herself with dignity, walking with her head held high, her heart must have been broken by the weight of not having the one thing she desired: a child. It was the one prayer she kept repeating.

She had given up long ago. She was old now, her childbearing years well past, and this was her life. The sadness still lingered. Her hopes were dashed. She would go to her grave with her prayer unanswered.

Sometimes we have to wait for the glory.

Zachariah was appointed to his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter the Holy Place to offer incense at the time of prayer. How many times had Zachariah prayed for a child, a son to carry on his name and the priestly duties. When did he give up on that hope?

As he offered the incense on the Golden Altar, Zachariah was greeted by the angel Gabriel and told his prayer had been heard. I wonder if Zachariah thought “Which prayer?” The prayer for a son, the one he had presented to God over and over, remained unanswered and it was now years too late.

It is never too late with God.

There is no evidence that Zachariah told anyone of his vision. The people waiting for him outside the Holy Place simply recognized something significant had happened because he was unable to speak. But surely he managed to share some of the angel’s message with his wife, that they were to have a child in their old age. What in the world went through their minds?

It was impossible. But with God nothing is impossible.

I wonder how Elizabeth knew she was pregnant. There were no quick drugstore pregnancy tests or doctor visits. The monthly period had ended years ago so no early physical sign would give a clue. What would be her first indication that there was indeed a new life growing inside of her?

Did she believe immediately with her heart that the angel’s words were true? Or did her struggle with her faith like Zachariah? Did she fast and pray one more time for the child she longed to hold? Did she read Scripture and renew her hope in a God who hears prayers and answers?

Luke tells us Elizabeth hid herself away for five months. As she experienced morning sickness and a growing baby bump, the extreme tiredness that accompanies pregnancy in the first trimester, did she recognize the symptoms she had seen in other women? Did her faith grow as her body changed and rounded and began to show evidence of God’s word being fulfilled?

Those who have experienced the heartbreak of infertility can feel Elizabeth’s pain and longing all those years. Imagine the joy she experienced in the reality of God’s promise coming true before her very eyes.

I love the part of the story when Mary, pregnant yet unwed, came to Zachariah and Eliazabeth’s home. At Mary’s greeting Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. The aged form of God’s faithful servant experienced the power of the Holy Spirit as had her young companion. These two women had a lot to talk about.

Zachariah and Elizabeth’s baby was always in God’s plan. They just didn’t understand the plan or the timing. This baby had a special purpose, to prepare the way for a Savior who is Christ the Lord. He would be neither early or late but right on time.

Sometimes we have to wait for the greater glory. Our prayers seem to go unanswered, even unheard. And we wonder where God is. We wonder what is keeping our petitions from coming to pass. We wonder.

And yet there is wonderful glory ahead. The purpose God has for each of us will be fulfilled in His time, not ours. But His word is true; His promises are sure. And He can be trusted with our prayers and our lives.

In the waiting we will see the greater glory.

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Light shining

It is frigid outside.  But the house faces east, and morning sun rises in that direction.  Even on a day like this, I feel the warmth as I open the wood door and the light shines through the storm door.  It’s a beautiful day, and I’m expecting my neighbor to stop by.  The open door will welcome her.

As I start preparing breakfast, I glance where the shining light now floods the hall and kitchen floors.  There is dirt everywhere, particles of food, hair from our heads, and didn’t I just run the battery vac over this area yesterday?  Where has all this come from already?

I begin to wipe up (because Heaven forbid my neighbor might think I’m not the perfect housekeeper).  I would not have notice the dirt but for the sunlight showing it up so glaringly.

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How often the light of His glory has shown up the dirt in me, the particles left from my humanity and sinfulness, the places where I have struggled today. Yesterday. Last week.

If I remain in the dark, I’m not so quick to see those things that need attention.   God does not intend for me to remain in the dark.  He calls me to the light. The light of His presence. The light of His Word. The light of the cross.

And when I stand there in the light of who He is, I see myself, really see.  The faults, the failings, the imperfections that keep showing up too frequently.  (And Heaven forbid that my neighbor or anyone else should think I’m not doing well, not living right or holy or perfect, for crying out loud!)

I bow low knowing He alone can wipe the slate clean.  Again.  The mercies and grace that were fresh for me yesterday are fresh for me today as well.

Oh how I need that.  Oh how I need to remember it.

God of the second chance, it’s me.  Again.

Light of God shine on me.  I open the door of my heart to You.  You are a safe place for me to fall.  You know me better than I know myself.  You love me in spite of myself.  And Your love covers a multitude of my sin.

Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.  The light of His grace.  The light of His glory.

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Awesome God

 

Rich Mullins

Rich Mullins wrote a song in 1988.  “Our God is an awesome God.  He reigns in heaven above with wisdom power and love.  Our God is an awesome God.

Rich was taken from this earth before he turned 50, leaving behind a legacy of music.  He also leaves us something to consider.

Who is this God we worship?  We see only the whisper of His power, only the fringe of His creation.  He cannot be contained.  He is higher than the heavens.  He fills the earth with His glory.

The strangest puzzle of it all is why He condescended to humanity, seeking out the rebel, the hateful, the bigot, the murderer, the thief, the adulterer?  Why did He seek out me, the sinner?

Because He is an God is awesome.  He is . . .

A – Alpha and Omega, beginning and end

B – Beautiful

C – Comforter

D – Deliver

E – Eternal

F – Faithful Father

G – Good

H – Holy

I – I AM

J – Jehovah

K – King of kings

L – Lamb of God

M – Mighty

N – Name above all names

O – Omnipotent

P – Peace Speaker

Q – Quiet Place of rest

R – Righteous

S – Savior

T – True

U – Unequaled

V – Valiant

W – Warrior

X – X-alted

Y  – Yahweh

Z – Zealous for me

And because of who He is, this is who I am . . .

A – Apple of His eye

B – Blessed and Beloved

C – Comforted, Cared for, Created for a purpose

D – Daughter, Delivered

E – Eternally His

F – Favored, Friend of God

G – Grace-filled

H – Heaven bound, made Holy through Jesus

I – Image Bearer

J – Justified

K – King’s daughter all glorious within

L – Light set on a hill

M – More than a conqueror

N – Numbered with the saints

O – Orphaned no more

P – Purchased at a great price

Q – Quieted by His love

R – Robed in Jesus’ Righteousness

S – Saved!

T – Tested and Tried to be purified

U – Undeserving yet brought into His presence

V – Victorious

W – Waiting expectantly for His coming

X – X-cited!

Y – Youth renewed like an eagle

Z – Zealous for Him

Our God is an awesome God.  His love is everlasting.  His mercy knows no end.  His grace is sufficient.  His forgiveness is inexhaustible.  He is God.  He is awesome.