Friday, 13 May 2022

VISION, AT LAST

Writing again for Hopewriters in their five-day writing challenge.    

Today's prompt is VISION

Also joining the writers of Five Minute Friday, with the same prompt.  

A vision is an image - an image that can inspire us or overwhelm us.   

A vision is an image that we can work towards, but if it's not in line with God's vision for us, God's plan, God's purposes, then it becomes a graven image, and we make unhealthy sacrifices for it.  It becomes a graven image that we worship instead of God, oftentimes thinking that we're serving Him, when in fact we're not.     

The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary.  Isa 46:1b

That distorted vision becomes something that lays a heavy burden on us and on those we love.  Oftentimes, it can be a vision handed down from another generation or some other significant person, but not in line with who God has called us to be.  

Does God have a specific calling for each of us?  Yes, He does.  

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.  Isa 43:1

EVERYONE who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory;

I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”  Isa 43:7  

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  Eph 2:10

The concept of workmanship is one of detail and careful creativity.   It implies a great deal of care and concern over the details, like the Potter with the clay, or the artist with His canvas.












Image courtesy of https://free.clipartof.com/details/2085-Free-Clipart-Of-Someone-At-A-Drawing-Board

God is not a cookie-cutter Creator, not at all.    We can see in creation how much He loves detail and variety.  Such a God CAN be trusted with the vision for our lives.

Will we let God decide the vision for our life?   He already has one, but will we let Him show us what it is and bring it to pass, for His glory?   And not just the vision for our lives, but the vision of us, how He sees us as individuals.  

Michelangelo, when asked how he carved his angel sculpture, said this:  "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free".  Will we let God do the same - carve until He sets us free?   

Before we go and create a vision board, or surrender to the demands of one already made, or to the vision someone else has given us or has for us, will we come before Elohim, the ultimate Creator, and submit to His infinite wisdom about us?  

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.   And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.   Rom 12:1,2 

For months, God has been carving away to set this angel in the marble free, to transform this caterpillar into a butterfly, and I finally understand His vision for my life, and His vision of me.   Not at all what I expected, and it has come after a great deal of sculpting.  More on that in the next post.   

There are four other posts written this week, for the Hopewriters' challenge, that lead into this one. 


God I look to You, I wont be overwhelmed

Give me vision to see things like You do

God I look to You, You're where my help comes from

Give me wisdom, You know just what to do

God I look to You, and I wont be overwhelmed

Give me vision to see things like You do


Thursday, 12 May 2022

COMMITMENT IS REQUIRED

Writing again for Hopewriters in their five day writing challenge.    

Today's prompt is COMMITMENT

Getting healed takes commitment.   I think of the woman with the issue of blood, pressing in to this Jesus she had heard about.

Staying in the process of healing takes commitment, knowing that He is the Great Physician.  

Letting God do what HE wants in that process is commitment, knowing that He is the Gardener Who knows exactly what He's doing.   


























https://www.spiritofgrace.org/articles/nl_2015/00_pruning_shears.html


Not giving up when it gets really hard and painful is commitment, knowing that His love is the best anaesthetic.  

Surrendering to Him is commitment, knowing He's there, God with us, in the midst of hard.  

Getting back up takes commitment, to push past your defaults and beliefs about yourself.   

Having healthy boundaries is commitment.    It's the commitment to walk in real peace and righteousness, not just avoiding the inevitable conflict that comes from saying 'no'.  

Forgiving what's unfair and wrong is also commitment.   It's commitment to the justice Jesus died to bring.       

Staying on the potter's wheel in the process of transformation is commitment, knowing that He is the ultimate artisan.   

Leaning on Him and not our own understanding is commitment, because He knows the Way, He is the Way and the Truth.  

We can't base our commitment on some kind of stubbornness or stoicism, because eventually that will fail us.   Our commitment needs to be based on His faithfulness, which is His commitment to us.  
 
As He undergirds us with His commitment, His faithfulness that is ever lasting and never changing, we are able to commit to His ways and His purposes, because He strengthens us, perfects us, establishes us and settles us.   (1 Peter 5:10) 

Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.    Ps 37:3-5



All Your ways are good
All Your ways are sure
I will trust in You alone
Higher than my sight
High above my life
I will trust in You alone
Where You go, I'll go
Where You stay, I'll stay
When You move, I'll move
I will follow You


Wednesday, 11 May 2022

REBUILDING MEANS REWORKING ROUTINES

Writing again for Hopewriters in their five-day writing challenge.    

Today's prompt is ROUTINE.  

When you're on a new path, you need new routines, routines that are driven by healthier priorities than you've had in the past.   

Priorities drive our routines, even when we don't realise it.   Mindsets drive our priorities, which in turn drive our routines, or lack of them.  

Before we put new routines in place, we should ask ourselves:   What are my priorities?  What are my mindsets?   What's stopping me from creating and having healthier/better routines? 

Routines are like the walls of a house.  We don't build new walls all the time, but once built, the walls in a house create boundaries for different rooms and therefore different uses.  Walls allow for safe places, for shelter, privacy, rest, productivity, learning, refreshment, cleansing, nourishment, etc.   

Too many walls, and a house is dysfunctional.  Too few walls, and a house is dysfunctional.













https://cliparting.com/free-construction-clipart-18721/


Just like it takes time to build a house, or renovate a house, it takes time to create new routines and practise new routines until they become established.   Give yourself the time.  Don't get overwhelmed, give up, or default and get stuck on the side of the road, just looking at that new path.       

How do we know what new routines we need?  

Where do we look for those routines, those guidelines, those boundaries, for our lives? 

Should we look to others?   Should we take on the routines others use?  That can be helpful, if we ask the wise, those who've gone before us.   But it can also be limiting and confusing and heavy.

Jesus spoke about a yoke that fits, and a yoke that works for us.   He promises to teach us the routines, the rhythms, we need for our lives, our individual lives - a hand-crafted yoke, made by the Master Carpenter Himself.   

"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.”   Matt 11:30  MSG

"For My way of carrying a load is easy and My load is not heavy.”   NLV

“For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”   AMPC

Will we listen to His invitation to learn from Him, to listen to Him, to be led by Him?

Will we submit to the boundaries He wants to place in our lives, for our good?   

Will we let Him challenge our mindsets, our priorities, and our idols, so we can live a life of healthy routines that nurture and nourish us, and those in our care?    

These are questions I'm asking myself as I walk a new pathway, questions He keeps putting before me, and questions that must be answered for real change to happen, rather than settling for defaults.   

“Come to ME, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.     Take MY yoke upon you and learn from ME, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For MY yoke is easy and MY burden is light.”  Matt 11:28-30 NKJV


I will build my life upon Your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust in You alone

And I will not be shaken




Tuesday, 10 May 2022

HIS FOOTSTEPS, OUR PATHWAY

Writing again for Hopewriters in their five day writing challenge.    

Today's prompt is PATH.  










http://clipart-library.com/clipart/2092138.htm


I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them.   Isa 42:16

This is a verse the Lord has led me to several times over the last month or so.    And there have been others, and other ways that He's indicated it's time for a new path, a new pathway.    

When you're heading down a new path, it's scary.    Even if the old path wasn't great and was hard, it was familiar, still is familiar, and it's hard to make the decision to turn from it and follow the Lord's leading on a way we have not known.   

We have to rely not on our own senses, nor experience, nor intelligence, but on Him.   He promises to lead the blind and not forsake them.  

So that's one thing that I've needed to learn about pathways.   That He actually does lead us on paths.  He doesn't just hang back and watch where we go and hope to catch up and keep us out of trouble.  

He leads us, if we'll follow.   

The other thing that has jumped out at me recently is that He leads us in paths of righteousness, for His name's sake.   For His name, for His glory.  

What are paths of righteousness?   Is that a comfortable path, an easy path, a convenient path, a popular path?    No, I don't think that's what it's about.  It's about a path that is right and true in HIS sight, not ours.    It's about walking with integrity and in truth, and walking in a way that honours Him.  

I love this verse: 

Righteousness will go before Him, And shall make His footsteps our pathway.  Ps 85:13

He is a righteous Shepherd, a faithful leader, and His footsteps become our pathway.   If only we would walk closely enough to know His footsteps and follow His lead.  


Shepherd of my soul I give You full control

Wherever You may lead I will follow

I have made the choice to listen for Your voice

Wherever You may lead I will go


Monday, 9 May 2022

SUPPORT IN THE VALLEY

When God leads us through a valley, He gives us support.  He doesn't leave us alone in that.   











Valleys are tough places to go through, but even in dark, difficult places, we have choices.

We have choices to let others support us.  

That's hard to do, because often the valley exposes our faults and failures and insecurities.    

And it's meant to.   We get so tired, and we lose our filters and our smiles.    We need support.  

Mental, spiritual and emotional support are just as important as the practical stuff.    

We don't choose our valleys or the timing of them, or the length of them.    

We often don't even choose our fellow sojourners.   

But when we discover that those sojourners are good at supporting, because they've been through their own valleys and they know how hard it is, the valley becomes a place of growth and learning and life.   

I love what 1 Thessalonians  5:11 says, in various versions:   

Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.  AMPC

So encourage each other to build each other up, just as you are already doing.  TLB

So encourage each other and ·give each other strength [build each other up], just as you are doing now.  Expanded Bible

I'm incredibly grateful for the supportive sojourners God has given me in this valley He's been leading me through for the last year or so.   They have en-couraged me - given me courage to keep going.  They have built me up.  They have edified me.  

I thought I'd be done already but I wouldn't trade what I've learnt, or who I've been blessed to know in this place.  Their faithfulness to continue to walk with me and support me is one of God's many gifts to me.   

Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.   As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools.  They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.   Ps 84:5-7


Though I walk through the valley
I will fear no evil thing
For You are with me
And You comfort me
Surely goodness, love and mercy
Will follow wherever I go




Friday, 6 May 2022

JESUS LOVED THEM BOTH

Writing for Five Minute Friday.

Today's theme word is:  BOTH


I love the story of the woman washing Jesus' hair with her feet.   What I didn't realise until recently was that she washed Jesus' feet from behind.   She didn't even come round in front of Him.   That puts a whole other spin on it, right?   She was carrying so much shame that she didn't even risk facing Him.   I guess if He was reclining on a couch, His feet were behind Him so it makes sense, but so many graphics show her at His feet.   The passage clearly states she was behind Him.   













https://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jesus-simon/

A sinful woman in the town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house. So she brought an alabaster jar of perfume and stood behind Jesus at his feet, crying.   She began to wash his feet with her tears, and she dried them with her hair, kissing them many times and rubbing them with the perfume.    Luke 7:37-38

Simon the Pharisee, on the other hand, was an honoured man in his community, and obviously wealthy enough to host guests.     And self-righteous enough to be silently judging this women making a fool of herself.  

When the Pharisee who asked Jesus to come to his house saw this, he thought to himself, “If Jesus were a prophet, He would know that the woman touching Him is a sinner!”   Luke 7:39

I would have loved to give him a good ticking off for his attitude, even though I've been guilty of the very same thing many times.   Once you see it, you realise how much self-righteousness stinks and then you judge someone for being judgemental.  Go figure.   

But Jesus didn't give him a ticking off.  

And Jesus didn't dismiss this 'sinner' wetting His feet, this fallen woman who was overcome in His presence.  

Jesus loved them both.  

He addressed both of their needs.

Jesus starts comparing the depth of love between two people forgiven of debts.   The debts are considerably different, one ten times bigger than the other.  But both debts are forgiven; both debtors are grateful.

Simon the Pharisee needed to understand that forgiveness isn't based on performance but on God's abundant mercy. 

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him....  Ps 103:11

The woman needed to know she was forgiven and clean and free to make good choices.  

Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”   Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”    Luke 7:48-50

I wonder how both characters ended up? 

I wonder what the woman's back story was.   I wonder if she was one of the women who went on to become a regular follower of Jesus.   

I wonder if Simon learnt the lesson.  I wonder if eventually he understood grace.  

Jesus loved them both.   

It's often said there are two sides to the story - yours and mine.  But I say there are three sides - yours, mine and the truth.

Jesus knows the truth in every scene, the truth in each person's back story, the truth behind the attitudes and the behaviours.  

And He loves them both.   

Can we love them both?  

It's easy to love the one we're drawn to out of empathy, compassion, similar life journeys.  It's not easy to love the one who aggravates us.    

It's hard to love them both, when one seems like the 'bad' guy and the other one our friend.   

Jesus doesn't sacrifice truth to love them both.  

He saw them both, knew them both, addressed both needs.   

And He offered mercy to both.   

I need to learn to do the same.   

I need to love them both.


I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love ....   Eph 4:1-2


Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see

The world is on their way to You, but they're trippin' over me................


Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners,

Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers

Oh, let our hearts be led by mercy

Help us reach with open hearts and open doors

Oh, Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks Yours

Yeah, yeah


Monday, 2 May 2022

THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT

Who is this Jesus?

Who looks beyond what I 'shouldn't' do

Beyond the cultural rules

Beyond their stares

Beyond their search for hidden sin

Who sees my desperate need 

to push beyond my comfort zone

To simply touch the hem of His garment
















https://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/jairus-daughter/


Who is this Jesus?

to Whom I am drawn

when no one else can help

when nothing I've done is enough

Whose grace meets the truth of my condition

Whose mercy covers all the mistakes 

that others have held against me

that I've held against myself


Who is this Jesus?

Who feels my touch

In the midst of the many who push in

Who validates me in front of those who stared

those who wondered why 

When He could easily let me slink away 

back into the crowd

who instead restores me to being a Daughter

healed and whole


Who is this Jesus?

Whose mercy meets the truth He requires of me

The truth He leads me to

The truth He shows me in increments

The truth that is no surprise to Him

But that often hits me hard

when I finally see it 


Who is this Jesus?

Who holds me up with His righteous right hand

As that truth buffets me

And threatens to take me down

The truth about myself

The truth about my life

The truth about my circumstances

the truth about my heart 


Who is this Jesus? 

who, knowing all this truth

who always has

calls me and draws me anyway

who pursues me with His goodness 

and His mercy

till it overwhelms me and brings me low

so that I can 

touch the hem of His garment



Then the woman, seeing that she could not escape notice, came trembling and fell down before Him. 
In the presence of all the people, she explained why she had touched Him and how she had immediately been healed. 
“Daughter,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”   Luke 8:47,48



Guilty is a lie, spoken by a fear
Saying after what you've done, you don't deserve to be free
But I can look him in the eye, and say this time you're wrong
'Cause guilty is a lie, oh, but mercy is a song

Singing oh, there is a life for every soul
No matter where you've been just come on home
Let all God's children sing along
Hallelujah, chains are gone
Mercy is a song