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Valley, shadows and mountain tops

 

 

 

 

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“The strength is in the struggle”

It’s been several months since I have written any poetry.  I suppose it’s the study of David’s life  from I Samuel and Psalm 23 that’s given me such a longing for the presence of the Shepherd.   This week I want to look at how the Shepherd guides us through the valley of the shadow of death.  “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”   The Psalm now  turns from third person to first person.   Now it is personal.  The first half of the psalm is the precious characteristics of the Shepherd.  He is my provider, he is my guide, he is my caregiver, he is the restorer of my soul and now he leads me to righteousness through the valleys.  David’s writes this psalm during a time when he may have been looking back at the times Saul was pursuing him to kill him.  Saul was consumed with finding David and killing him.  From I Samuel 23:13-15, we learn that “David stayed in the wilderness in the strongholds, and remained in the hill country in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.”(from the NAS version)

Many times we find David retreat to the hills where he had taken care of his father’s sheep.  In one story, we find that he even worked as a shepherd for Nabal herding and taking care of his 3000 sheep.  For a look at David’s story of Nabal and Abigail go to I Samuel 25.  Psalms 23 many theologians believe came from David’s experiences in these wilderness periods.  When I go back and connect the dots in God’s Word, it amazes me how we can continue to see new things everyday from the Word of God.  Searching out the truths hidden, surely helps us to see better how we ought to walk and how to get through our dark and difficult times.

So many friends and family are going through the valley of the shadow right now. These valley expeditions are part of the development of our very souls.  The strength is in the struggle. The story is told of how the caterpillar becomes a butterfly.  The strength he finds in his wings comes from the wrestling and struggling while emerging out of the cocoon.  Such a parallel of a baby Christian becoming a mature, discerning and faithful servant.  None of us magically get to the mature faith without going through the valley of the shadow of death.  While it seems the “shadows” will overtake us and the sounds of the enemy are shouting, “if the shepherd really loved you, he wouldn’t take you here” it is the ever watchful care of the Shepherd that is closer than a breath away.  He never leaves us.

In order to get to the mountain tops, the Shepherd has to take the sheep in the summer to the high country.  To get there, he takes them through the path of the valley.  It is there that the intimacy of one on one with the Shepherd is felt.  It is there that the world doesn’t matter. It is there that they feel his presence the most.  The shepherd will find greener pastures to feed upon. The shepherd will find cool refreshing water to saturate every cell of their body.  It is there that we walk ever so close to Him.  It sounds too good on paper, doesn’t it?  But in reality, it is a painful journey.  The rocks are jagged, the hills are steep, and the dangers of losing everything is real.   It is there that the pests find their way into the thickening coats of the sheep before shearing.  Oh, but the care of the good shepherd is never far away, always watching, always clearing the path, always examining his sheep for those pests.   This is just how our good shepherd cares for us during these valleys of the shadow.  As hard as it can be, that’s when we really need to lean into Him. Trust His hand, feed on His Word, and rest in His providential care.

  1. Know that He loves you with an everlasting love.
  2. Know that it is His way that develops us into His image.  
  3. Know that there is strength in the struggle”.

 

Refreshed in Your Presence Lord

How I long to be refreshed
In your presence I am blessed
Your Spirit calms my soul’
I know you are in control
Freely my heart I surrender
I breathe in all your splendor
In your presence I find rest
There is peace to pass all tests
In your presence there is courage
You provide in the trials on any stage
In your presence the weak are strong
You are my God In you I belong
Your strength gives me a song
To keep me refresh all the day long.
How I long to be refreshed
In your presence I am blessed.

As a side note, I encourage you to get Philip Kellers’ classic book. It is a short easy read.  You can find it at Lifeway or on christianbookdistributors.com. Not only is it well written and insightful but the pictures in the hard back copy are beautiful.  You will want to get a couple of copies for gifts.  

A Shepherd Look at Psalm23

A Shepherd Look at Psalm23

For Fun: See if you remember this from your childhood.

 

And for meditation, listen to Shane & Shane while you pray through Psalm 23.

 

Praying for all our fellow treaders,
Freda Reynolds

Luke 12:7 Fear Not Losing Your Crown of Glory

Luke 12:7  (Companion to Matthew 10:31)  “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not therefore: ye are more valuable than many sparrows. ”

Lost in a crowd?  Feeling “invisible” as a friend of mine describes it?  Think you are insignificant in the grand scheme of things?  Fear you have missed your purpose on this spinning blue ball?   Got a case of “Garden Syndrome?”  You know, “nobody loves me, everybody hates me, going to the garden to eat worms.”  (January 25, 2016, Fear Not the Conspiracy)   I hear you laughing with nervous understanding!  These are all lies whispered in our ears from the enemy who has but one desire:  keep us believing we are unworthy of love and belonging.  For when we believe this, we cannot live in abundance and in victory.  We will not exercise the authority given to us by Christ Himself to overcome life’s struggle.  We will fail to be all He created us to be for His glory.  Let’s face it, we have ALL had these thoughts at one time or another.

Listen closely to Jesus words as he tenderly strokes your full thick mane or your shiny, bald head and tells you how very much He loves you!  He knows you intimately:  how tall or short, how frail or fluffy, the color of your eyes-blue, brown, hazel, aquamarine, or black.  He knows if you sing like a bird or make a joyful noise.  Is your skin red, yellow, black, or white?  He knows!  He has counted the hairs on your precious head!   He feeds the sparrows, sees them build their nests, knows when a baby sparrow falls from the nest.  Sparrows are small, dull, and “useless birds,” but He gives them MUCH attention.  Jesus said, YOU ARE MORE VALUABLE THAN MANY SPARROWS!  (May 4, 2016, Fear Not, He Cares for You) You are so valuable He has numbered your hair strands.  He updates the number as they fall out.  He feels it when someone pulls them.  Sometimes, he replaces the hairs we have lost.  Ask any cancer patient who has endured chemo.  They not only get their hair back, it is an updated color, texture, and thickness.  This proves He cares for you!  The Word says a woman’s hair is her crown.  I believe the Father thinks the most beautiful crowns are worn by the courageous as they fight and there is not a single strand of hair.

Many or few, the number is uniquely YOU!  And He knows the exact number!

Fear not my virtual friends–we are important, significant, visible, loved, and cared for!  If you still don’t believe me, I DARE you to count the hairs on your own head or of someone you adore.  I bet you cannot do it and keep up with the number as it changes daily!  He knows your name! (Matthew 10:31,  Feb 10, 2016 Fear Not, He Knows Your Name)   He fights for you!  He died for you.  We really commit one of the abominations (Proverbs 6:16-19) when we agree with satan by believing we are unseen, unimportant, unloved.  ‘Cause it is a LIE!  “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He cares for me.” He said so in His Word, and He provides all we need, and proves it by His love in action.

The One Who Sees Me by Gwen Smith

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Sitting on the bottom and watching the bubbles rise,

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Yvonne

Sparrows by Jason Gray

Luke 12:4 The Ultimate Sacrifice

Luke 12:4    And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.  (KJV)

Martyrdom.  The definition of a martyr:  a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs; a witness of the faith.   Lions in the colosseum.  Boiled in oil.  Crucifixion.  Beheadings.  Stonings.  Gas chambers.  Starvation.  Firing squads.  Hanging. Burning at the stake. Death by a violent method that may or may not be quick and “painless.”   Jesus is saying, not to fear this because, after death, you can be hurt no more.   Do you find this comforting in light of today’s hostile environment to followers of Judeo-Christian faiths?  Is this the attitude Jesus expects if we call Him “friend?”

This chapter of Scripture, written by Luke the physician, is all about the suffering we can endure as human beings on planet earth and the cost of discipleship.  This is a tough directive.  Bodies created out of dust that feel pain from 20 weeks gestation.  We instinctively guard and protect our minds, bodies, emotions.  Who wants to hurt?  Suffer?  Die?  As a nurse I can tell you the human body FIGHTS to live and often does so despite significant disease, injury, and abuse.

Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”  (Luke 9:62)  NIV

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  (Matthew 16:24)  NIV

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?  (Luke 14:28)  NIV

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.  (Matthew 10:21)  NIV

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.  (Mark 10:29-30)  NIV

Stark admonitions to understand this is not a prosperity gospel, not a name it and claim it theology, not a life of ease and peace but of following Christ even unto death on a cross.  However, Jesus also promises to take note of our sacrifices.

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”  (Matthew 19:29)  NIV

“Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matthew 5:12)  NIV

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  (Romans 8:28)  NIV

Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it like this:

“The power of your enemies is a limited power (v. 4): I say unto you, my friends’’ (Christ’s disciples are his friends, he calls them friends, and gives them this friendly advice), “be not afraid, do not disquiet yourselves with tormenting fears of the power and rage of men.’’ Note, Those whom Christ owns for his friends need not be afraid of any enemies. “Be not afraid, no, not of them that kill the body, let it not be in the power of scoffers, not even of murderers, to drive you off from your work, for you that have learned to triumph over death may say, even of them, Let them do their worst, after that there is no more that they can do; the immortal soul lives, and is happy, and enjoys itself and its God, and sets them all at defiance.’’ Note, Those can do Christ’s disciples no real harm, and therefore ought not to be dreaded, who can but kill the body; for they only send that to its rest, and the soul to its joy, the sooner.

Stephen the first martyr of the early church understood this as we read in Acts 7:54-60:

“54 When the members of the Sanhedrin (the established “church” leadership) heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” (May 5, 2016, What Did Stephen See, by Freda)

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.”

These are the same two statements made by the Lord Jesus as He hung on the cross.  (Luke 23: 34,46)

Thomas Paine said,  “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”  This description of being an American patriot could be used to describe being a follower of Christ in the Kingdom of God.

May we be found faithful “to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.”  (Ephesians 4:1)  NIV

This is a fear not for the days ahead as we draw ever closer to the return of the LORD for he said:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  (Matthew 24:4-14)  NIV

Father, thank you for the lives lived before us who stand as a testimony of Your faithfulness even in persecution and death.  May we be willing to take up our “cross” whatever it may be and follow you all the way, never looking back, having counted the cost and deeming our eternal life in Your presence worth whatever the cost.  No looking back!  For our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer even in this very moment we ask in Jesus name for their courage, peace, and strength to endure.  May the imperishable crowns of righteousness, glory, life, and rejoicing we will offer to You be all the reward we seek.  Use any persecution we face to further Your kingdom here on earth.  Shine your light through the broken, bruised, and battered to reveal the risen Savior.  In the holy and matchless name of Jesus we pray.

No Turning Back, by Brandon Heath

Yvonne

Luke 8:50 Fear Not Delays

Luke 8:50  “But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, Fear not:  believe only, and she shall be whole.”  (KJV)

Jairus’ daughter is DEAD.  Gone.  Silenced.  Jesus is too late–deterred by another in need.  Jairus never misses synagogue.  We call it being “at church.”  He is a leader in the synagogue:   An elder, a deacon, a trustee.  He is a loving and devoted father to this his only child.  So much so, he has bowed to this Nazarene.  But, this woman who deterred Jesus has not seen the inside of a worship service in twelve, count them: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 years!  And who cares what the excuse is?  Like bullets from a machine gun these thoughts ricochet off Jairus’ mind as he hears the words, “She is dead.”

Jesus reads the thoughts scrolling across the ticker tape of his grimaced forehead,  feels the rupture of Jairus’ heart breaking, understands the frustration of being detained, and MEETS him WHERE HE IS:  the point of desperation turned resignation and grief.

Jesus speaks tenderly,  “Fear not.”  FINALLY!  Jesus says it for Himself.  Not an angel.  Not Moses.  Not Joshua.  Not Isaiah.  Not Jeremiah.  Not David.  JESUS!

Then, He says, “believe only.”  This is all that is required.  Believe and she will LIVE.  Belief the conduit through which miracles flow.  In fact, Jesus cleaned out the clogged pipeline by kicking out ALL who laughed, scoffed, and doubted!  He then led Jairus to his daughter’s bed, took the hand of the daughter of Jairus lying ashen, cold, and lifeless and spoke renewed life into her!

“Thanksgiving precedes the miracle,” but will thanks overcome skepticism?  Thankfulness refocuses our attention to all God has given but, if we doubt,  will He work on our behalf or is the channel of blessing totally occluded?   Makes me wonder how many times I’ve plugged my own or another’s pipeline?   Should Jesus have kicked me out of His way so He could bless and bring new life to another?  Sobering questions.

Jesus only asked Jairus for one thing.  BELIEVE.

Do you need a miracle?  Clear out the doubts and the doubters.  Thank the Father for all He has done and will do, then, wait on the LORD.  Will you get the miracle you seek?  Only God has the answer to this question.  His ways are not our ways and He is not a genie in a bottle granting us our three wishes just as we demand.

When the officer and gentleman was fighting for healing from cancer, he truly believed God for healing and today He is with the LORD fully healed but this was not the healing we sought.  The reality of Jairus’ daughter’s restoration of life just minutes after death; the reality of Lazarus restoration of life after four days in the grave; and the restoration of the life of the widow’s son on his last procession to the cemetery is this:  They all died again.  If, my officer and gentleman had been restored at some point he would have had to face death again.    If I could sit down and have dinner with any Biblical character it would be Lazarus.  I want to know what he was thinking when Jesus called him back?  Did he come out asking, “What on earth are you doing?  I was FINE where I was! Do I not get a vote in whether I want to come back or not?  You want me to go through that again?  Ok, tell me again, WHY?”  (that would be me, just sayin’)   Or did Lazarus thank Jesus for using his life to teach a lesson and prove who Jesus is?  Was he thankful to have a chance to live fully for Christ?  I got some questions!!!  (My apologies to English majors!)

These characters: Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, the widow’s son were instruments in the hands of God to introduce the world to Jesus, His ministry, His power, His life giving redemption.  All Jesus asked of the others was to BELIEVE.  Jairus believed.  Mary and Martha believed.  The widow believed.  In the face of no hope, they believed in the only One who could offer hope.  When they believed they had no guarantees.  It is not a formula.  It is the sovereign will of Almighty God.

As I write this, so many are hurting, facing death, praying for healing. or preparing to bury those they love.  Jesus still says to our broken hearts:  Believe.  Believe not just that He can but that He will.  As long as we are breathing and even after the last breath is taken HE is our HOPE!  For of this we who are in Christ can be sure:  we will ALL RISE!

All Rise by Babbi Mason  (if you don’t get chills with this one—–!)

In Loving Memory of Cody Webb and in Honor of the Senior Class of

2016

Yvonne

Luke 5:10 Fear Not a Career Shift

Luke 5:10  “And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.”  (KJV)

The three fishermen, hard working family men, being asked by Jesus to “follow me.”

What man would not pause to count the cost of a major career and income change:  Especially one they know NOTHING about.  The officer and gentleman would have given it S-E-R-I-O-U-S study.  In fact, he could research a proposition to death and come to the wire–as in the opportunity is passing by–before he would make a decision.  IT DROVE ME NUTS!    But to his credit, as a husband, father, son, and employee he was counting the cost to his family and business, not just his checkbook.

The mental gears are turning for these three:  fishing boats moored, fishing nets laid out for repair, moon phases known, wildlife patterns understood, bait prepared, wives waiting on fish for dinner, children clamoring for attention, not to mention Jesus is standing there awaiting a decision NOW!

Will they risk it all for Him?  Who is this itinerant preacher?  John the Baptist baptized Him and then this Voice out of Heaven said, “This is my Son in whom I AM well pleased.”  IF this is God’s Son, the promised Messiah, it is a chance to be part of changing the world, to see a new kingdom set up.  The still small voice is softly saying, “GO!”, and the other voice in their head is screaming “Have you lost your mind?”

It seems James and John hesitated but a moment.  Astounding.  Simon, the loose cannon, on the other hand seemed to need just a bit more reassurance.  The Master gave it!  Jesus spoke in terms he understood–fishing lingo:

Fear of storms

Fear of small catches

Fear of drowning

Fear of failure

Jesus said, “Fear not you will survive the storms, you will be successful, you will catch men (that’s really big fish)!

Teachers have insight into their students because they have studied them!  Jesus spoke courage into bold, brash, loud, take charge Simon–the pebble who wanted to be a rock.  This is who Simon became following the Master:  Peter upon whom Jesus built His church.

Do I have the guts to follow Jesus or will I count the cost too long?  The call must be answered NOW!  T. D. Jakes wrote, “Resist your fear; fear will never lead to you to a positive end.  Go for your faith and what you believe.”    Simon followed his faith!   Mark 1:18 says, And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus: The Story Behind the Song

I called Simon a loose cannon.  Loose cannons are tender, uncertain, and fearful hearts in need of a tough facade to cover up and protect their vulnerability.  Simon often put his foot in his mouth and he meant well.  Jesus took this loose cannon and defused it and gave Simon a sword of the Spirit and He became a force to be reckoned with.  Many a New Testament church was birthed because Simon, turned Peter, fished for the souls of men.

The Master takes the personality he wove into our being and he transforms it for His glory and the furthering of His kingdom.  The same personality the world has known will be used by THE MASTER in a new direction, with fervor, with courage, with compassion, with creativity.  Don’t fear the career change He is calling you too!  Peter was still fishing.  He just used different bait and got bigger catches!

So what kind of personality is the Master wanting to use in your life?  Take the assessment and see!

http://www.sagestrategies.biz/documents/FiveMinutePersonalityTestforclass.pdf

Study your strengths and weaknesses and see how the Master is using your unique personality to change the world.  Take the assessment for yourself and use it to spark a discussion.  Ask the Lord to strengthen your weaknesses, to hold your strengths in check and help you see how He is gifting others for His service.  Study the apostles and see if you can pick out their dominant personality characteristic.

Dedicated to the memory of Dan Harper. You united a community in prayer and seeking the Lord.  You heard the call to follow Jesus.  You were caught and released!

Treading among the fish,

Yvonne

Mark 6:50 Fear Not the Storm

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But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: 50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.   Mark 6:49-50  (KJV)

I personally love being in the water, but walking on the water, now that would be COOL!  On this occasion, however, Jesus is coming not clearly visible as on a bright sunny day.  He is shrouded in rain, darkness, and is seen only in the flashes of lightning.  His friends are in a boat in the middle of a gale, struggling to stay afloat and this vision is only adding to the consternation of these men.

Now, add to this the noise of waves crashing, thunder, sails slapping wildly, and each man yelling out either in fear or in an attempt to give orders to protect life and limb and now Jesus voice BOOMS as He says, “Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.”  

Why is it I do not think this was reassuring?   First of all, “It is I, WHO?”  They could not really see Jesus.  Second, His voice was distorted by the wind, rain, thunder, and raucous of the men.  Thirdly, they are thinking He is a ghost and not of the Casper the “friendly ghost” variety.

Granted all of this takes place in milliseconds not minutes to hours.  Our minds process a great deal of information really fast.  Fear can grip and release in a matter of moments.  

The point of all this bad weather and Jesus walking to them in the middle of it on the water is a lesson about the storms of our lives.  When the storm hits, we are unprepared for all the damage, we grieve the losses experienced and fear the potential additional losses, we struggle to maintain CONTROL.  Notice these sailors had not called out in prayer, had not expected rescue, nor had they believed help was on the way.  Jesus came without their cries for help.  He came because He Loved them and knew they were in trouble.  He understood they were afraid.  He came to calm the storm.  He came to show them how to “walk on water” amidst the storm.  He knew His unexpected Presence would momentarily add to their utter panic.  

Mothers have a built in radar about their children.  Mom’s know when one of their offspring is in trouble.  Case in point:

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When my oldest was playing baseball, he had ridden his bicycle to the ball field for practice.  I was at home preparing supper when SUDDENLY I felt like someone had thrown cold water on me and hit me in the gut at the same time.  I knew my chick was hurt.  I was frantically flying around trying to find where the youngest chick was playing outside, turn off the stove, round up the car keys, and grab my purse when the officer and gentleman drove into the driveway.  I flew out the door screaming like a bantam hen for him to go to the ball field quickly and get our son and his bicycle.  He asked what was wrong and I said, “I.  DON’T.  KNOW.   JUST GO!!!”  

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You can imagine the look I got.  (She needs meds!)  But rather than argue of the senselessness of going, he acquiesced and backed out of the driveway at a s-n-a-i-l-’s pace, only to return in a few minutes without my chick, but with the bicycle and a sheepish and frightened expression.   I of course was standing on the front porch waiting.

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My husband rolled down the truck window and told me, “come on we needed to go to the hospital.”  Our son had been taken to the hospital by a friend who was a nurse because he had been hit with a fast pitch to the head and the force was such that he had visible signs of a concussion immediately.  We got there before the hospital or our friends could call because my “radar” was heeded.  I got the time line and guess when my oldest chick got hit in the face…………the same minute I felt in my whole body something was wrong.  I felt my son’s pain!   My first words to our half conscious son were, “It’s mom, don’t be scared.  It will be alright.” 

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Jesus has us on His radar.  He feels our pain.  He comes quickly to help!   Jesus appeared as a ghost on the water.  I appeared as a lunatic in the driveway.  It all is the same.  Love compels action to rescue the ones we love!   Love says, “it will be ok, I am here with you!”

Do not be afraid of the storms of life.  Jesus knows you are in them.  He designed them.  His coming in the storm reassures us how He loves us.  A pastor once said, “you are going into a storm, are in the middle of a storm, or are coming out of a storm.”   Jesus will still be there!

Jesus Will Still be There by Point of Grace

Chicken Little treading in the eye of today’s storm,

Yvonne

What Did Stephen See?

ThroneOfGod

Acts 7:55 ESV “But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God.  And he said, ‘Behold I see the heaven opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

There were a few men that scripture records as seeing the glory of God. There was Moses who was allowed to see the glory from behind a rock.  There was Isaiah who saw the train or hem (hem always symbolized authority) of his robe fill the temple.  There was Ezekiel who saw the expanse shining like awe-inspiring crystal. Daniel, Peter, John, and Paul all saw visions of the Lord. Almost all had some kind of brilliant shining light. Revelation 21:23 “for the glory of God gives light.”

When you search the scriptures for others who were blessed by God to see a vision of His glory, you find that there are similar images in them.

Isaiah 6:1-5 — Isaiah fell back when he saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.  His response, “Woe is me! For I am lost and a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!”

Daniel’s vision of heaven and the end is recorded in Daniel 7:1-28. In the last verse, Daniel’s comment was, “Here is the end of the matter.  As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter to my heart.”  Daniel lost all color, the blood drained from his face and he turned white, frightened by all he had seen.  Alarmed of what the end might look like.

In verses 13-14 of that chapter, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion an everlasting Dominion, which will not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

John’s revelation in 1:12-17 records his response.  “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe with a golden sash around his chest.  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.  I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (ESV)

The effects of seeing the glory of the Lord on these men were the same.  They fell back and worshiped as though dead.  Daniel turned pale; John fell back.  Paul, when he saw the light, fell off his horse.  (The New Living Translation)  Yea, I read that twice.  The glory of Jesus caused him to fall to the ground.  Scripture doesn’t say but I (in my imagination) think maybe the horse saw something and bucked him right off on his back side.  God has a way of getting our attention!!

The apostles on Mount Transfiguration were frightened. (Mark 9:2-8)  Jesus was transfigured before them, and His clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them.” (English Standard Version) Impulsive Peter wants to build a monument!   Verse 6 reveals Peter’s nature. “For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.”

There is radiant light in all the accounts of men seeing the glory of God and vision of heaven.  We read in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”

God’s very first act in eternity was to bring light to darkness.  

I John 1:5  “God is light and in Him there is no darkness.”

Jesus himself told us that he is “the light of the world.”

As God’s image bearers, we are to carry this light into a dark world.  

How’s your light burning?  Are we shining forth?

Stephen was an image bearer whose light shone so brightly that others were frightened by him. He was a threat to their way of life.   He brought light into their darkened hearts.

That is also what we are called to do!!!  It will take the courage like Stephen to open our eyes and let the glory of the Lord shine through us also.

Take courage treaders, God will supply the light if you come into his presence.

by Freda Reynolds

Revelation Song – Phillips, Craig, and Dean