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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.

god is light

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.

 

 

Be the vessel

Sometimes it’s something someone says.  Sometimes it’s a sermon I hear.  Sometimes it’s both.  And the thoughts begin to form in my mind.  Such was the case yesterday at church.

Be the vessel that God uses to display His glory.

Do you sing, teach, speak?

Do write letters, write manuals, write a blog?

Do you fix things, build, inspect?

Do you advise, manage, organize?

Do you sympathize, empathize, cry with and pray for?

Do you offer a healing touch, listen with your heart, touch tenderly?

Do you nurture, give care to children or the elderly or a family member?

Do you discipline, disciple, instruct?

Do you make people laugh, make them think, make them feel at home?

Are you a true friend, a good neighbor, a loving parent or grandparent?

Then you are a vessel for the glory of God to shine through.  As His glory filled the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple built by Solomon, His Spirit now fills each believer. We have the potential to unveil the glory.  Think of it!  His glory in us.  Declaring Him to the world.

It is in our brokenness, our poorness of spirit that He shines bright, offering light for the lost world to behold Him.

All that we have, each and every gift, talent, and experience is designed by the Creator on purpose. It comes from His hand.  Out of the abundance of His love He supplies our strength, our thinking processes, our ability to do anything.  Shall we not then return it to Him by being the vessel through which He displays His glory and His love?

Whatever it is you do, let it be to the praise of His glory.  And be the vessel.

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Sunday grace

To God be the glory!

He has done great things.

He will continue to astound mankind.

He has given us great and precious promises.

He will fulfill each one in the fullness of His time.

The earth declares Him, in the smallest arthropod and the grandest nova.

We see Him in an infant’s smile and the aged’s wrinkled expression.

The heaven of heavens shout His existence, the thunder resounds His awesome power, the lightning flashes His majesty.

And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him!  Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

To God be the glory!  Let us give Him praise!

Sunday grace.

glory-of-god

The goal

Goals for a new year can be concrete like “loose 20 pounds” or they can be indefinite like “be a nicer person.”  Whatever the goal, there must be a plan to carry it out or it just becomes words in a list, a wish, a hope for.  Maybe it will happen.  Maybe it won’t.

To Do List taped to a wooden board

I’ve written pages of goals.  Some years it was a waste of paper because life took a U-turn and derailed all my plans.  It was either adjust or roll up in a fetal position.

We do not know what a year will bring.

I ponder the coming year with all of it’s untouched days before me.  Writing in my journal on January 1, I count my blessings first:

  • Relatives who gave us a week down south
  • Walking on the beach, the grandness of the sea reminding me of the grandeur of my God
  • An umbrella in the rain
  • Warm fleece shirt, a barrier against the wind
  • Sound of ocean waves, its crashing, its ebb and flow
  • A snugly throw made for me by the mom of one of my piano students
  • Water birds – pelican, sea gull, sandpiper – each one unique and fascinating
  • Simple days, relaxing and moving at a slower pace
  • A new year offering a new beginning, a fresh slate, a clean white page of life

Then these thoughts begin to take shape:

  • I want to live the next year, 2016, as if it were my last, making the most of every single day.
  • I want to spend my time doing the truly important things, not just what seems urgent.
  • I want to speak words that will be kind and tender, as if they were to be the last ones heard, the last remembered by my loved ones.
  • I want to walk fearlessly and make progress on my journey, to live the prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-19.
  • I want a fresh passion for my Savior, a love that is deep and wide, that finds my delight in Him.
  • I want to love others without prejudice and judgment, with acceptance of the persons they were made to be.
  • I’d like to learn to be more content in every season, in each present circumstance.
  • I’d like to live abundantly, each day, as long as I have breath.
  • I’d like to view every situation as an opportunity for God to show up and show off.

These are lofty goals, and I quickly realize my limitations to accomplish them.  But they give me ideals to seek after in the reality of a living relationship with the God who is bigger than me, loftier than my thoughts, and able to accomplish something huge in me, through me, and for me.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”  The Message, Ephesians 3:20

Then to Him and Him alone will be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever.

And isn’t that the real goal after all?

Sunset in Destin

photo by Louise Wright