City

I am joining (on a Sunday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “City.” The content after the // was written after the allotted 5 minutes had expired.

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“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.” (Hebrews 11:1-2, AMP).

“By faith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents [as nomads] with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise. For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11: 8-10, AMP. Emphases added).

He carried me away in the realm of the Spirit to the top of a great, high mountain. There he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. It was infused with the glory of God, and its radiance was like that of a very rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.” (Revelation 21:10-11, TPT).

Abraham lived as a foreigner in the land that God had promised to give him and his descendants. He did so by faith. Faith, “the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses].”

The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Peter that we do not belong here (1 Peter 2:11). Abraham had this mindset.// He understood that he was an alien. A stranger. A pilgrim. A sojourner. A temporary resident. Because of this faith shaped and fueled mindset, ”he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God.” This holy city, which Abraham was looking forward to, is described in Revelation 21.

Abraham had the mindset of a foreigner in the land of promise. What is our mindset in the land in which we now live?

He was “[waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God.” Are we? And if we are, what fuels our longing? Escape from “the troubles of this world”? The desire to see loved ones who have gone on before? All of these are understandable but where does the desire to be with the Architect and Builder of the city, the One who redeemed us with His own blood, the Author and Finisher of our faith, fall among all the reasons we are looking forward to the city, (if we are)?

Desperate

I am joining (on a Saturday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “Desperate.” The content after the last //, including the lyrics for the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate,” were added after the allotted 5 minutes had expired. The definition of desperate used in the post is from www.merriam-webster.com.

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Definition of desperate

1a : having lost hope
//a desperate spirit crying for relief
b : giving no ground for hope
//the outlook was desperate

2 a : moved by despair or utter loss of hope
//victims made desperate by abuse
b: involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration
//made a desperate leap for the rope

3 : suffering extreme need or anxiety
//desperate for money
//desperate to escape
//celebrities desperate for attention

4 : involving extreme danger or possible disaster
//a desperate situation

5 : of extreme intensity
//… a desperate languor descended heavily upon her, and she slept …— Elinor Wylie

6 : SHOCKING, OUTRAGEOUS

How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help? Acknowledge that you are in over your head? Hanging on by a thread? That you are at the end of your rope and your grip is loosening? How desperate do things have to become, how desperate do you have to feel before you ask for help?

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” wrote the sons of Korah, as stated in Psalm 46:1. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way  and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” (Psalm 46: 2-3, NLT).

We do not have to wait until things get desperate or we feel desperate. We have help right at the beginning, we have help in the middle, we have help at the end and every moment in between. What was true for David is true for us. “Behold, God is my helper and ally; The Lord is the sustainer of my soul [my upholder].” (Psalm 53:4, AMP).// Hear the invitation in the lyrics of the hymn, “Come Ye Disconsolate.”*

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heav’n cannot cure.”

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav’n can remove.

*Thomas Moore (pub.1816). Copyright Status: Public Domain.

Teach

I am joining (on a Monday), the Five Minute Friday writing community hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The writing prompt is, “Teach.” Scripture images and the link to C. T. Stubbs’ poem were added after the allotted five minutes period had ended.

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“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
(Psalm 90:1-2; emphasis added).

The verses above are the opening statements of a prayer of Moses. Perhaps it was his privilege of experiencing God as no other human did before the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that shaped his prayer. His awareness that God has always existed. That unlike mankind, His existence is not counted in days.

I do not know when he prayed this prayer. He lived to be 120 years. Whenever he wrote it, he understood the transient nature of our time on earth and prayed, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV). Other translations read:

“Teach us how short our lives really are so that we may be wise.” (Psalm 90:12, ICB)

“Help us to remember that our days are numbered, and help us to interpret our lives correctly. Set your wisdom deeply in our hearts so that we may accept your correction.” (TPT).

“Teach us to use wisely all the time we have.” (CEV).

Which ever translation we favor, the truth remains – we need God’s help to use wisely the time He has allotted us. As, C. T. Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

From

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s writing prompt is, “From.”

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“Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or before You had given birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God.” (Psalm 90:1-2, AMP).

“From everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God.”
ADONAI, You have always been God.
You have always been God.

As long as I knew them, You were the God of my maternal grandparents.
You were also the God of my parents for all of the time we lived together on this earth.
But You, as someone said, have no grandchildren.
So, although You were the God of my grandparents and parents,
there was a moment when I had to choose You to be my God.
This moment happened before my 10th birthday.

Even when I was unfaithful, You remained my God.
Even when I walked in rebellion, You remained my God.
In the hard seasons of life and the seasons of joy, You remain my God.
From everlasting to everlasting You are God.
You are my God.


Drive (Five Minute Friday Link-up)

What drives us?

What is the “Why” for what we do or do not do?

To our chagrin, if we are honest, we realize that much of our decisions are driven by what we believe is good for us, what others expect of us, and/or to avoid consequences. But among the 31,102 verses in the Bible (according to Wikipedia), there are the following three verses:

“Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, [a]not we ourselves [and we are His].
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3, AMP).

“For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” (Ephesians 2:10, AMP).

“So then, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of [our great] God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, AMP).

And I wonder, how different would my life, our lives be if our decisions are guided by these truths? If these truths become our “Why?” If these truths are what drive us daily, moment to moment?

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s writing prompt is, “Drive.”

Another offering of “Strong” for FMF

I am joining Kate Motaung and other members of the Five Minute Friday (FMF) community (on a Monday) for our weekly writing adventure. This week’s prompt is, “Strong.” I am sharing a post originally written in 2019, for a 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Writing Challenge.

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It is one of the paradoxes of the Christian life, of life in the Kingdom of God: the person who is most aware of her need of God, that he can do nothing without Him, is strong. This truth is clearly demonstrated in what God said to the Apostle Paul after he beseeched Him three times to remove an unnamed “thorn.” He told him,  “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, AMP).

This revelation changed Paul’s perspective on his circumstances. He exulted, “Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me. So I am well pleased with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, and with difficulties, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength]” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10, AMP).

Let us read that last phrase out loud together, “..for when I am weak [in human strength], then I am strong [truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength] (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, AMP). Our ABBA has never required us to be strong in our own human strength.

Deserve

Deserve – to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward, punishment, recompense, etc.:

We can be fierce about our rights.

Speaking out clearly, firmly, even loudly when we perceive that those rights to which we believe ourselves entitled, deserving of, are being threatened.

We can be fierce about our rights but ignorant or silent about the unearned privileges we have due, for example, to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, place of birth, gender, with the most significant unearned privilege being the one highlighted in the following verses of Scripture:

“If You, Lord, should keep an account of our sins and treat us accordingly, O Lord, who could stand [before you in judgment and claim innocence]? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared and worshiped [with submissive wonder].” (Psalms 130:3‭-‬4 AMP).

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in compassion and lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins [as we deserve], Nor rewarded us [with punishment] according to our wickedness. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence].” (Psalms 103:8‭-‬11 AMP).

God does not treat us as our sins deserve. But what does He deserve? What are His rights, given that He is the Source of everything? The Creator and the Sustainer of all that is? What does He deserve?

I will attempt to name a few.

He deserves our relentless pursuit, in the mold that David spoke of in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.” (NKJV).

Our whole heart, whole soul, whole mind love.

Our full, ongoing surrender. Nothing held back.

Our unquestioning obedience.

Our unwavering trust.

Our ceaseless praise.

Our riveted attention.

Our awe.

Our gratitude.

But too often what we offer is faithlessness.

Rebellion.

Divided hearts.

Distracted minds.

Doubt.

Unbelief.

Complaining.

Irreverence.

And yet He loves us still.

And pursues us.

And keeps drawing us to Himself. 

We can be fierce about our rights.

Speaking out clearly, firmly, even loudly when we perceive that those rights to which we believe ourselves entitled, deserving of, are being threatened.

We can be fierce about our rights but ignorant or silent about the unearned privileges we have due to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, place of birth, gender, etc. 

But what about Elohim’s rights? What does He deserve given that He is the Source of everything? The Creator and the Sustainer of all that is? What does He deserve?

I used last week’s writing prompt from the writing community, Five Minute Friday, as the seed for this post. Thanks, Kate Motaung. The definition for, “Deserve,” shared in this post is from the website Dictionary.com.

Quiet

I am joining (on a rainy, Sunday afternoon), Kate Motaung and other members of the encouraging and courageous Five Minute Friday Community for this week’s writing adventure. The prompt is “Quiet.” Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday.

The post shared below was originally published on January 30, 2016, my FMF offering for the same prompt, “Quiet.” I read it and realized the “longing for stillness … within,” remains.

Quiet.
This word,
this prompt,
ushers in a longing.

A longing for stillness,
not in the world outside,
but within.
In those places where worry hides,
where anxiety resides,
where concerns about the future,
have made a comfortable place for themselves.

I long for the stillness which only He can give.
And so even now,
I reach for Him in prayer.
“Abba, help me be still,
as You commanded me in Psalm 46.”

“Be still and know, that I am God.
I will be exalted in the heavens.
I will be exalted to the ends of the earth.
Be still and know that I am God.

That thing that created unrest within?
I am God over that.
I will show Myself strong on your behalf,
if only you will be quiet and wait patiently for My salvation.”

Quiet.
A longing in my soul.
A need met as I turn to and wait patiently for Him.

Green

Green.
In a traffic light, it signals go.
In things that grow, it is an indication of life and thriving.

Water is not needed for the former
but is a necessity for the latter.
The former is inanimate.
The second is alive.

And so is the human spirit.
It needs water to thrive.
And that water is the Word of God,
written by human hands,
not from their own imaginations but,
as one such scribe noted,
God-breathed.”

This Word is as alive,
as potent now as when it was first spoken.
It continues to give life
and hope and strength,
and encouragement.

It continues to transform and
God honors it above His name.
He has declared, “Heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away,”
meaning,
what He has spoken will happen.

I am joining (on a Monday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. The current writing prompt is, “Green.” Links to Scripture verses were added after the allotted five minutes had ended.

Sunrise. Masterpiece.

As I began my morning walk that day, years ago, I paid attention to the sky, as is my wont.  “Muted,” I thought, referring to the colors of the sunrise.

The colors began to change (or were more colors added?) as I continued the outward leg of my journey and, on my return trip, I noticed further change.

As I moved closer to the corner of my street, I felt an inner prompting to turn around. I obeyed and laughed out loud in wonder and joy. The colors of the sunrise were no longer muted.

And then the lesson was gently spoken:

If you watch a painting in the early stages of the creation process, you may be unimpressed. Do not be hasty in your evaluation. Wait. Give the painter time to finish the painting. The end product will blow you away.

So it is with a human life. We are all a work in progress. God is creating a masterpiece in you. And He continues His work over the length and breath of our days.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT).

“I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return].” (Philippians 1:6, AMP).

(A version of this post was published as “Lesson from a sunrise” on April 16, 2016)