Coincidence? He knew.

Journal AvatarAs it happened a remembrance came to the forefront of thinking regarding a task I had desired to do a few days earlier, but had forgotten about before getting to it. On a whim I took off to do it before forgetting again. And in that task was found an answer and affirmation of things that had been on my heart for the last few weeks.Psalm 25 4 5 FB

In the midst of the mess of said task was found an old Daily Bread Devotion page -from 2015- which I had obviously meant to keep with my journals from the note written on it. How it found its way to where it was is a mystery, however I do believe my Lord knew right where it had landed. And in His goodness and grace He nudged my spirit with His that morning prompting me forward with said task knowing full well what I would find. Some may call it happenstance or coincidence. But I recognized the gentle touch of the Lord’s Spirit, as I read the words on the page…

Do not “become too attached to ‘your’ plans that ‘you’ may resist God’s direction or His timing.”
“We have no right to judge where we should be put, or to have preconceived notions as to what God is fitting us for.” said Chambers. “God engineers everything. Wherever He puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to Him in that particular work.”

Prov 3 5 6…and He comforted me in His peace of assurance with a spiritual hug that morning.

“I am with you daughter, I hear your prayer, your calling out. I am directing your path as promised, just keep resting in me daily.”Identity in Him

And my continued prayer is: “Lord, may I love and serve you with all my heart where You have placed me TODAY.”

Shell Sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trade cowardice for courage.

In Sunflower journal3journaling some experiences and thoughts recently a sentence I had written down ended with: “…I don’t have the courage to be the first to breech it! I am so sorry Father for not trading…” — {I started to write ‘my weakness for your strength’ BUT that just wasn’t EXACTLY the fit here so instead it came out as -}

my cowardice for your courage.”  OUCH! Cowardice? where did that come from?

I mean weakness is humbling enough. Trading my weakness for God’s strength. That has been a concept I have understood, experienced and spoken of to others at times. In various past circumstances I have recognized the need to surrender my weakness to allow God’s strength to carry me through. God’s strength to do the next thing when it wasn’t in my body and ability to do so. A few glimpses from the past come forward of times I have said ‘if you don’t pour strength into me I cannot go forward’.  He did and I did. Some verses that have carried me at times:

Isaiah 40:29 “He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.”

II Corinthians 12:10  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Instead of just letting the thoughts pass on by I stopped to ponder the concept of trading cowardice for courage.  And I shall confess up front  that as much as I have missed writing, there was a teensy cringe (ok, a big cringe)  at going forward with this thought in black and white let alone sharing for others to see.

Who wants to think of oneself as a coward? I surely do not. Yet, I know it is a trait I have within. And I also know that one needs to learn how to identify it accurately.  For not all restraint, holding back, or turning away  is rooted in cowardice.  Sometimes it is just plain prudent and wise for the situation or time. How to discern the difference?!

Words are such fascinating things. Imagine trying to communicate without them.

Cowardice and courage.  What do they mean anyway? Next step-word search! NOPE! I did not ‘google ’em’.

My definitions are from an old Webster Dictionary – yep, old school, off my shelf, in my hands book!

Coward: one without courage

Cowardice: dishonorable fear

Dishonorable: bringing shame or disgrace on someone or something.

Courage: fortitude, valor

Valor: bravery, intrepidity

Intrepidity: fearlessness

Cowardice =  not just fear, but dishonorable fear

Courage = fearlessness – lack of fear, no fear

I John 4 18In reading the definitions I am reminded of love in relation to fear from past Bible studies. In I John 4:18 – a verse I had memorized in years past and re-memorized in recent years – one learns: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment…”

Love has no fear; fear has torment. Both concepts I have learned as 100% accurate from experience. I dare say you have as well.

I KNOW I am loved by God with His perfect love which casts out fear. So, I have to ask where is this sense of cowardice coming from for myself? To answer that takes me back to the end of 2006 at which time my mind closed up on me. Memory was lost. Experiences, knowledge collected, lessons learned, information absorbed and filed away were GONE. In their place was stark blackness and in that blackness resided fear. Oh, how far I do I go in telling, explaining? This new concept of trading cowardice for courage grips me to the core in ways I am not able to express adequately.

Succinctly, there was an almost complete loss of knowledge base to draw information from to deal with life. All the filing cabinets of info were locked behind doors with no keys available to access them. Memories gone. Retention was non-existent. Slowly over a span of several years some of the doors opened but many have remained closed. Pockets of memory have resurfaced, but stored knowledge of things studied are mostly still locked up not to be retrieved. Retention remains an ongoing difficulty when once recall was a close friend.

Abba, Father, you understand and know better even than myself. You experience with me the frustration.  You understand the fear which grips me, the cowardice that overcomes when faced with conversing with the others.   For though I believe you are able to put words in my mouth when needed I still hesitate to open my mouth without having the words thought out in my head beforehand. Fear whispers in my ear with a voice of its own:  “Why try? Just keep your mouth closed and you won’t have to worry about making a fool of yourself when nothing comes out. Or that what does come out is incoherent babble as you furiously attempt to find the words to string one complete sentence together.”

Though I have tried diligently the last several years to re-build a knowledge base in different areas again – it does not remain.  Info slips away like sand through the fingers. Lord, You have brought me so far from where I was and I have shed so much of the fear that had wrapped itself in my soul but there is still a chain of bondage. For though some doors are opened, the info stored behind them is a chaotic mess. The cabinet drawers are empty with all the files lying on the floor in a jumbled pile. Without your direct intervention nothing can be found. ONLY you know where ‘the something’ that is being looked for is located in this mess in my mind. I accept this and ask for your help to trade my cowardice for your courage.  Courage to be the first to breech the silence when confronted with conversation opportunities; courage  to reject guilt if I do not breech it. The thoughts will come or they will not. Either you will pull it out for me to find and share OR it will stay concealed and not shared. It is out of my control.

Regardless, another link in the chain of fear has been broken. I am more free to go forward in my Savior’s Love trading the cowardice to speak with courage to trust.  I shall write/speak when it is available in my mind to give out and not fret the timPsalm-31-24es there is nothing there.

Until next time, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart…

Shell Sig

 

 

Mary or Martha? or BOTH!

Everyone has the tendency within to be either and to be both.Sunflower journal3

Today’s reading from the Turning Point Devotion brought them to mind.

Yes, one time Martha was concerned with getting the tasks done to feed the guests in her house above spending time with this special guest. (Luke 10) Yes, Mary chose the better response to take advantage of the time and sit at Jesus’ feet to learn and worship.

There is an example in their 2 choices. We have choices to make daily, weekly, monthly, throughout our whole LIFETIME.  It is a part of life. Choices. Sometimes we make the best choice, sometimes the better choice and other times the wrong choice. None of us gets it 100% accurate every time with every choice that is put before us.

In the book of John (John 11:18-35) we read  about another day when Martha’s faith came to the front above Mary’s. Their brother had died. Jesus was out of town. They had sent word to him of Lazarus’ illness. Most likely they had thought that Jesus would either heal Lazarus from afar, or come to them to heal him. He chose neither of those responses. When he did return to their city Lazarus was dead. What was the response of Martha and Mary? Who was it that went out to meet Jesus on his way? Was it Mary who sat at his feet at an earlier time? NO. It was Martha, the one scolded for not sitting at his feet at an earlier time. Then she was encumbered with the cares of the day. Now, there is a glimpse of her faith not seen then. For though she does seem to scold Jesus as she says, ‘If you had been here he would not have died’; she also does not stop there. ‘But even NOW I know that…’ Do you hear those words? BUT EVEN NOW I know… In the face of death Martha has faith that Jesus can still do something.

Rabbit trail: As I type that I am reminded of what I wrote in the front of my recent study book Uninvited, (by Lysa Terkeurst) as a personal take away thought: “I feel this…BUT I know this… live in the KNOW and not in the emotion. Live loved!”

Martha is choosing to live in the KNOW, not in the emotion.

Where is Mary? She stayed in the house when she heard of Jesus’ arrival. And when shThe beliefs we holde did go out to meet with him what was her response? ‘If you had been here he would not have died.’ Same words as Martha’s. HOWEVER. Mary stopped there.  At this time the roles are reversed. Mary chose to believe in the circumstance above what she knew about Jesus. She seems to be choosing to live in how she feels (emotion) rather than in what she knows. All she could see was that her brother Lazarus was dead and they were getting ready to bury him.

Martha chosFaith is toe to continue to believe in Jesus and what she knew about Him – even in light of seeing her brother was dead and they were getting ready to bury him.

Oh the difference a day makes, a circumstance makes. Everyone of us has a Martha and a Mary in us when confronted with each day’s events. And like them we have a choice to make. Will I worship at Jesus’ feet despite the circumstances facing me at this particular moment? Choose faith above sight. Or abandon faith because of sight. What circumstance are you facing today that requires this choice to be made?

Perhaps the reason these thoughts came to me as I read the devotion is because in the last 2 days – I have been both Martha and Mary. (I dare say though it has been true on numerous occasions through the years!)

One moment I am worshipping at Jesus’ feet & learning. In another I am sitting where I am rather than  going out to meet him. Reality has stepped in unexpectedly and overshadowed my faith. – Like Mary.

One moment I am encumbered with the daily cares not taking a time to stop and worship; later I am confessing as Martha: ‘but even now I believe…’  Regardless of circumstances I believe – YOU.

Praise God – He loves me just the same! Whether being a Martha or a Mary! When I am basking in who He is, sitting at His feet worshipping and learningHebrews 6 17-19 3 as well as when I am hit broadside by life and my faith is weakened- HE LOVES ME JUST the same.

Martha and Mary. Each had her strength of faith as well as her obstacles of faith to deal with. As do we. Father I believe, help thou my unbelief. And thank you for being the anchor of my soul regardless.Shell Sig

Until next time may the reality of who HE is overshadow the difficulties of life you may face at this time. May you LIVE LOVED!

 

Forgiven. Sweet memory from heartache to Delight.

‘Stone of remembrance’ verse from long ago.

Came across it in my daily reading thisSunflower journal3 morning. It had a vagueness of familiarity to it so I stopped and thought for a bit. What is in this verse? That feels so familiar and soothing!

From the NLT I was reading in it was worded:

“When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name,” Jeremiah 15:16 NLT

As I first memorized it in KJV:

“Thy words were found and I did eat them and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart for I am called by thy name.

Ahhh…. yes a time of finding His Words and devouring them after searching, looking for that thing needed for the ache in my heart. And finding it in His Word! A sweet memory that broke through the mental darkness that has become the state of my memory bank nowadays.

Actions and circumstances in life had brought me to a place of sorrow, heartache, regret, and in need of forgiveness. From another, for myself, but ultimately from God. For He is the one truly offended in our actions of wrong doing and hurting others, i.e. sin. Though others usually are involved as ones offended by our words or actions, God is the foremost one we are offending by not heeding His ways, His Words. Though in those moments I hadn’t yet grasped the full understanding of that truth, that need. I just knew there was a need, for something to be made right. And God was part of the answer.

The memory goes back to a day LONG ago. At that particular time I was not walking in relationship with The Lord though I had come to Christ in salvation many years before in High School.  For whatever reasons at the time (youth, immaturity, life) I put Him aside to go my own way with no thoughts to His ways or Words. Enter the the mind frame, the actions producing this sorrow, heartache, regret and deep seated need within!

Then, came this day. Realization dawns. What I was seeking and needing at that point was God. There was the understanding that my actions had been a direct result of turning away from God and not allowing Him to be part of my daily life.  At the time the bulk of our belongings were in storage in another state. And my Bible had been packed away not used for several years anyway. No idea where it may be. But His Word was found in the form of an Army New Testament given to my husband whepsalm 103 2 alonen he enlisted.  I sat down to read soaking in all I could and then – these next words – I devoured these
Words:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

THAT WORD –
Alljumped off the page into my heart with such joy and delight!  There is nothing God cannot or will not forgive for in His Son we receive forgiveness of sin. PERIOD. ALL – past, present, and future! At the moment of my salvation I had not committed ALL the sins I would commit and God knew that. Salvation does not bring perfection in this life as much as we would like it to be so.

In that one word was the healing balm for the sorrow, heartache and regret stored within my heart. ALL is forgiven. What a glorious day that was. Today,  as I read Jeremiah 15:16 and stopped to ask the Lord what was there that felt so familiar, it was the same joy and rejoicing of that day 30 or so years ago. For all who are called by His name, have His forgiveness. Not just in the moment of initial belief and salvation but FOREVER! Through the remainder of this life into eternity. Forgiveness of sin IS what salvation IS all about. The blood of Christ covers it ALL!! It matters noAllt the sin committed or the time it is committed. ALL is forgiven.

I hope you have experienced the joy of receiving His forgiveness. It’s there for the taking for any and all who will confess and believe.

” …that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  Romans 10:9

“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law…” Acts 13:38

Until next timeShell Sig

I AM (Pt. 5)

The next 7 I am sI AM declaration by Jesus is the prelude to a bold, audacious, astounding miracle! A direct action by Jesus, not just words! Which reminds me of something Jesus said to the Pharisees in a previous exchange with them. (John 10:31-38) They were upset with him and about to stone him for things He had said. His response?

If I am not doing my Father’s works, don’t believe me. But if I am doing them and you don’t believe me, believe the works.”   

If you can’t believe what I say, believe what you see I am doing!

And then He gave them another miracle to scratch their heads over and ponder!

A man named LAZARUS is raised from the dead.

Before you just write that off as myth, consider the fact that the men used (by God) to write these accounts, did so to their own peril. They wrote of what they had been witnesses of, they spoke of what they had been witnesses of and the majority of them died for that very reason. And hInvited inundreds of thousands since then have done the same. Perhaps it is more than a myth!

Now Jesus had spent time in the home of Lazarus and his 2 sisters Martha and Mary on more than one occasion.  At the time of Lazarus’s death, Jesus was in another city. The sisters sent word to Him of their brother’s  illness most likely with the assumption that Jesus would heal him as he did so many others.  Jesus had a bigger agenda though. He stayed away on purpose until Lazarus had passed away, and been laid to rest. Giving enough time that there was no doubt the life was gone from his body.

This account is found in John 11. Upon Jesus’ return to their city Martha learns of his arrival and meets him on the way. In her grief she exclaims her belief that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died for surely Jesus would have healed him. Let’s listen in to the conversation, (John 11:21-27)

Martha: “But even now I know whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’  Drum roll – here it comes!!John 11 25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.

After a few more exchanges with others Jesus prays to the Father then cries out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come forth!”

And the dead man came out…

I AM the Resurrection and the Life.

Not just life on this earth. Yes, Lazarus was raised to life on earth, that wasn’t his final resurrection for he did eventually die again- to live forever. A great object lesson preparing the hearts of the people for what Jesus had been telling them about Himself.

Mark 8:31 “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” And Mark 9:31, Mark 10:34, Matthew 20:19, 26:2

The power of death was negated by the power of Jesus. Jesus’ resurrection power is the great exclamation point to God’s love for us. How far He is willing to go to find and save his lost sheep. The Good Shepherd willingly gives up His Life that we, His sheep,  may have life. Eternal, spiritual life in HIS presence.

Life and death hang in the balance of your belief about this man Jesus. Which way will the balance sway when your day arrives?

Have you responded to the Shepherd’s call to enter through the gate into His fold that you too may experience this resurrection power to eternal life?

 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: 

Shell Sig“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?

Until next time

 

I AM (Pt. 4)

In the last post it was established that Jesus was using a parable about sheep and shepherds7 I am s to teach a life lesson focusing on the gate to a sheep fold. Today, we focus on the shepherd as Jesus declares: “I AM the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Good shepherd indicates there are others who may not be so good. He goes on to explain that anyone other than the shepherd will most likely John 10-11run away in the face of danger rather than protecting the flock.  After all, they’re just hired hands, the sheep do not belong to them.  Therefore, they would not risk their own lives to save them. But the shepherd to whom the sheep belong WILL risk his life for them.

In contrast to a hired hand paid to do a job. Jesus came voluntarily to give His life.

John 10-18

We know on this side of the cross that the implication was that He was going to be the sacrifice for the sin of the world, the sin of the people then within hearing distance, the sin of you and me today.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

Remember, the Jewish people of that time knew about the sacrificial system. The regulations that had been set in motion by God Himself after delivering Israel from the bondage of Egypt. Written about in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. Now this man called Jesus is saying that He was going to give up his life as the sacrifice for sin for His people to do away with the sacrificial system.  With His sacrifice it would no longer be needed. This would be AN ASTOUNDING declaration to be heard by the Jewish People.

The Good Shepherd would become the Lamb of sacrifice on the altar to save all who are lost in sin.

Which covers us all. For As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:10,23

The Good Shepherd is willing to do whatever it will take to save and secure His flock. Even if it meant hanging on a cross until death overtook him and he was laid in a tomb. Because HE knew – HE knew death had no power over Him. He would not remain in the tomb but would rise up in new life to do the same for those who come to God by Him.

And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. I Corinthians 16:4
For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you. II Corinthians 13:4

Jesus, The GOOD SHEPHERD. My Shepherd. I hope he is yours as well for no other will do for you what He has done.

Bold, audacious and astounding declarations made by Jesus? Absolutely! More wondrously – HE HAS delivered on eaShell Sigch one. 

Still 3 more declarations to look at. Until next time may the joy of the Lord be your strength.

 

I AM (Pt. 3)

So today7 I am s we’re looking at John 10:9 when Jesus declares: “I AM the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture.”

On the surface this one doesn’t seem quite as  bold a declaration as the first 2 but let’s hold that thought in check.

A gate is Continue reading “I AM (Pt. 3)”

I AM (Pt. 2)

Going forward from the last post wondering about this 7 I am s
man who is celebrated this time of year as one risen from the dead. In this post we’ll continue on in the book of John to a second  ‘I AM’ statement Jesus made about himself. Again a bold declaration! That HE is the light of the world. How audacious of Him. Continue reading “I AM (Pt. 2)”

The I AM

I think I miss writing. Perhaps Easter is a good time to begin ablog picgain. Who is this man who is celebrated at this time as one risen from the dead?

In seeking a direction I came across something written last year
at this time as I was going through a study entitled  The God Questions by Hal Seed.

An interesting question was posed: What does it mean to ‘know’ someone? Continue reading “The I AM”