Day 13 & Five Minute Friday: Invite

Invite

Our God and Father, is the God who invites. In response to today’s prompt, I will share two of His invitations that leave me wrapped in love and in awe of His amazing love.

The first is in Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG):

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The second is in Isaiah 55:1-3 (VOICE):

Eternal One: If you are thirsty, come here; come, there’s water for all. Whoever is poor and penniless can still come and buy the food I sell. There’s no cost – here, have some food, hearty and delicious, and beverages, pure and good. I don’t understand why you spend your money for things that don’t nourish or work so hard for what leave you empty. Attend to Me and eat what is good; enjoy the riches, most delectable of things. Listen closely, and come even closer. My words will give life, for I will make a covenant with you that cannot be broken, a promise of My enduring presence and support like I gave to David.”

Abba, I accept, Your invitations. Thank you.


Today’s post was written for Day 13 of the series, 31 Days of Loving Well and Five Minute Friday. This 31 Days of Loving Well series, is part of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes event. The prompt is, Invite.”

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31 Days of Loving Well: Truth

Truth

Week 2: Day 8 – Loving Myself Well: Introduction

In this the second week of the 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes event, I have set myself the goal of learning what it means to love myself well.  At first glance, the idea of loving myself well seems somewhat self-centered but Jesus said the second of the two greatest commandments is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, NKJV).  I understand this to mean that how I love my neighbor will be a reflection of how I love myself and, to love my neighbor well requires that I love myself well.

As is noted in the Matthew Henry Commentary on Matthew 22:39, “There is a self-love which is corrupt, and the root of the greatest sins, and it must be put off and mortified: but there is a self-love which is natural, and the rule of the greatest duty, and it must be preserved and sanctified. We must love ourselves, that is, we must have a due regard to the dignity of our own natures, and a due concern for the welfare of our own souls and bodies.” (Matthew Henry Commentary, Vol.5)

—— 

Loving myself well does not originate with me or within me. Loving myself well begins with knowing, not facts, but knowing truth. I do not ignore facts but I base my life on truth. Doing so requires that I give my Father’s words, His view of me, priority over the facts or human opinions. I have to learn what He says about me; this is central to loving myself well.

Here are some of the things He who cannot lie says about me, “I am His child,” and a dearly beloved child, created in His likeness. In addition, He says I am His masterpiece, more than a conqueror, and chosen and accepted in the Beloved. And these things are just a fraction of what He says about me.  I can love myself because He loved me first and will always love me.

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This post was written for Day 8 of the 31 Days of Loving Well series. The prompt is, “Truth.” The Introduction was written before the five minute timer began and the links to the Scripture verses were added after the five minute time frame elapsed. To read other posts in the 31 Days of Loving Well series, please click here or on the image below.

Loving well

 

The God Who sees

The God who sees.png

“No creature can hide from God: God sees all. Everyone and everything is exposed, opened for His inspection; and He’s the One we will have to explain ourselves to.” (Hebrews 4:13, VOICE)

 “For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord,
And He ponders all his paths.” (Proverbs 5:21, NKJV)

 “The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3, NKJV)

 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9, NKJV)

 13 The Lord looks [down] from heaven;
He sees all the sons of man;
14 From His dwelling place He looks closely
Upon all the inhabitants of the earth—
15 He who fashions the hearts of them all,
Who considers and understands all that they do.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear Him [and worship Him with awe-inspired reverence and obedience],
On those who hope [confidently] in His compassion and lovingkindness,
19 To rescue their lives from death
And keep them alive in famine. (Psalm 33:13-15, 18-19, AMP)

 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12, NIV)

The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”

“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery…

“She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:7-13, NIV, emphasis added)

47“Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, ‘Here is an Israelite indeed [a true descendant of Jacob], in whom there is no guile nor deceit nor duplicity!’ 48 Nathanael said to Jesus, ‘How do You know [these things about] me?’ Jesus answered, ‘Before Philip called you, when you were still under the fig tree, I saw you.’” (John 1:47-48, AMP)

We have a God who sees and is not indifferent. He looks at His children with a steady gaze, full of unchanging love and abundant compassion. He never looks away and is never inactive in our lives, no matter the nature of our circumstances. He is with us. I am wrapping myself snugly in these truths today.

Lift. Cast. Let Go.

Lift. Cast. Let Go.

Heavy loads.
They exist in the external physical world
and internally,
in the realm of the spirit.

In each realm,
heavy loads burden,
restrict movement,
even immobilize.
And can usher in discouragement,
frustration,
helplessness,
even despair.

There are techniques for lifting a heavy physical object.
Proper techniques include
bending your knees,
lifting with your legs,
keeping the load close
and asking for help.

There are techniques also for lifting a heavy spiritual load.
And some are similar to those for lifting a heavy physical object.
For example, bending your knees and asking for help.
We have this standing invitation from the Most High, the Only True and Living God.
“Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. I will give you rest”
And although the posture of kneeling in prayer is seen as a sign of submission to God’s authority,
we can be standing or running or driving,
and still “bend our knees” and cry out to Him without making an audible sound.

One technique for lifting a heavy physical load,
“Keeping the load close,”
is not applicable to lifting a spiritual load.
When we lift a spiritual load to the Father,
His desire is that we let it go.
We are instructed to “Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for us” (1 Peter 5:
7, MEV).

To cast is “to throw or move (something) in a forceful way; to send or direct (something) in the direction of someone or something.”
Let us lift our spiritual loads.
Let us throw forcefully to our Father that which burdens us.
And let it go.

How about it?
Ready?
Lift.
Cast.
Let go.

This poem was originally posted on this blog on August 15, 2016.

Why? What?

questions for livingThe original version of the poem, “Why? What?” was shared on this blog on March 28, 2014. The revised version below, was published in the book, Sliced Bread: Food for the Spirit, released November 16, 2016. With all that has happened just in the past two weeks in the USA and around the world, it seemed appropriate to share it again.

“Why?”
Inherent in this one word question is a search for answers,
a pursuit of information or understanding.

Sometimes it is rooted in childlike curiosity.
At other times, it is a desperate cry in the face of the previously unimagined,
that which turns “them” into me, into us:
The bereaved.
Survivors of an earthquake or other natural disasters,
or personal events with an emotional impact of tsunami-like proportions.

The betrayed or the betrayer.
The divorced.
The fired.
The suddenly unemployed.
The previous homeowner whose house is now in foreclosure.
The evicted.
The newly diagnosed.
The parent of a child with mental health or developmental challenges.
The list can go on and on.

There is another question that I was taught years ago,
one to which, I am still learning to turn to after a difficult event.
One that moves me away from the default question, “Why?”
From what is often the futility of reaching for and even demanding
answers that God in His sovereignty may not provide on this side of eternity.

The other question is “What?”
“What will I do with what has happened?”
Because I truly do have a choice in how I respond,
and more times than I like, my response is all I have control over.

Experience has taught me that I may not be able to voice this question immediately,
not while the aftershocks are still being felt,
not during the time when emotions are raw and disorientation common.
Then my need is not for answers but for comfort and strength and abundant grace,
and family and friends who hug freely without the need to speak,
especially trite statements that provoke and even wound instead of heal.

But at some point, if I am to truly live in my new normal,
live without resentment and bitterness and anger and self-pity,
or a sense of having been somehow or somewhat betrayed by my Father,
I must sit with the “What?” question.
“What will I do with what has happened?”
Hold on to it?
Or turn it over to the Father
and accept His beauty for my ashes?
His oil of joy for my mourning?
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness?
Allow Him to use, as He sees fit, what He permitted in my life?
Let His strength be demonstrated in my weakness?

“What will I do with what has happened?
It is a question that no one can answer for us
and the answer or answers will shape us and our “after the … lives,”
as well as the lives of persons to whom we are connected.

Copyright © 2016. E. W. Wright. All Rights Reserved. 

Five Minute Friday: Guide

Guide

//The lyrics of the hymn, “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,” written by William Williams in 1745, came to mind, rose up in my spirit, in response to this week’s prompt, “Guide.” “Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,” the first line states, “pilgrim through this barren land.” In just one line, I am reminded that I am a pilgrim and that this land through which I am traveling is barren at times. And perhaps always barren, in comparison to the opulence of heaven, made rich with the joy of seeing Him face to face.

“I am weak, but thou art mighty,” the song continues. And I am reminded that being weak is not a place of shame in His eyes, because He has assured me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and “when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,” states the next line. And I sense the songwriter’s hunger, his longing, and I long to long also for the Bread of life. This Bread of Life who nourishes me for life’s journey but is also my Guide.//

He is not my GPS giving me directions. He is my Guide. Hear these words from Isaiah 58:11 (AMP):

“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your soul in scorched and dry places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”

And also in Psalm 48:14 (AMP):

“For this is God,
Our God forever and ever;
He will be our guide even until death.”

This God. Elohim. Jehovah Tsidkenu. The Almighty God. The Omnipresent, Omniscient One. This God. The One who sustains all things by His Word. This God. The One whose ways are not our ways. Whose thoughts are not ours. This God is our Guide. This God is my Guide. This God is your Guide, “even until death.”

And I am reminded of words from my sister-in-Christ, in her FMF post this week.

“We don’t have to be lost. We don’t have to panic. God is ever-near, speaking through the words on the thin pages or the smartphone screens. His Spirit breathes life into the ink and graces our minds with understanding. We don’t have to wander. We don’t have to attempt to cut our own path blindly in the darkness.”

Thank You, Abba Father. Thank You.

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I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday community for our weekly writing adventure. To learn about Five Minute Friday, click here. The content between the // // was written within the 5 minute window.

 

 

For this reason I bow my knees

Happy birthday!

What brings you to your knees? For the apostle Paul, it was the revelation of God’s eternal plan, executed through Christ Jesus our Lord. God’s eternal plan is that anyone who believes the Good News and, because of this, belongs to Christ Jesus, has the same equal share in God’s riches. Is part of the same Body. Enjoys the promise of blessings.

An added bonus to Paul, was that he who relentlessly persecuted God’s children, prior to his encounter with the risen Lord, was entrusted with the privilege of serving God.

Unlike Paul, my history does not include persecution of God’s children; however, like Paul, I was once far away from God, His enemy, and separated from Him by my evil thoughts and actions. And, as He did for Paul, God reconciled me to Himself through the death of Christ in His physical body. As a result of this reconciliation, He brought me into His own presence, and I am holy and blameless as I stand before Him without a single fault (Colossians 1:21-22, NLT). And He did the same for you.

What response is appropriate to the revelation of what God has done for us? To the incomprehensible lengths He went to, to redeem us? I confess that, too often, I respond casually to His amazing grace. I  have been guilty of reading passages of Scripture such as 1 John 3:1-2 or Colossians 3:3, without pausing to reflect on its truths. Without responding with awe and gratitude. Much as if I were mindlessly watching a rerun of an episode of a favorite television show. Abba, forgive me.

Paul’s response was to fall to his knees before God and pray… not for himself, but for others. This is what he prayed:

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God” (Ephesians 3:16-19, AMP).

Would you join me in reading his prayer again but, this time … out loud? And let us pray it for the people dear to us. And our fellow believers at home and abroad. Let us pray it for ourselves, also. What a life altering thing it would be to be rooted deeply in God’s love. To have an increasing understanding and experience of His love. To be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from Him. Or as another translation states, “To be filled up with God Himself.” And I pray also to more consistently reflect on what God has done and respond with awe, gratitude, and obedience.