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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Inspired by . . . Apprehension of beauty

The Puritan, Thomas Manton said, "Men fail to have a deep apprehension of the beauty of holiness and the excellency of Christ because they do not exercise their thoughts more upon these things." (By Faith, p.50)

When I first read this line from my nightly devotional I read it as "deep appreciation." Both, I think, are true but Manton's point is far more critical to us having a complete and correct view of the God of the Bible.

On the one hand God wants us to call Him, "Abba, Father," and come boldly to the throne of grace. On the one hand, we are co-heirs with Christ and He calls us "friend."

On the other hand, the very voice of the Lord makes the hinds calve and flames of fire burst forth while the wilderness writhes in travail! A single word from His mouth and the cedars of Lebanon shatter.

Power! Majesty! Glory!

Is this part of your understanding of God?

In a church climate that rarely speaks about personal sin or the judgment and wrath of God we can easily fall into believing that God is passive or even impotent. When nearly 45% of those who call themselves Christian don't read the Bible for themselves, it's safe to say that most are more likely to have a wrong view of God than a Biblical (right) view of God.

A "right view" doesn't just happen, it comes by "thinking upon these things." By meditating on the beauty of His holiness and excellency of Christ.
"One thing I ask of the Lord, it is the one thing I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord..." Ps 27
Anyone who believes God is love, in the hippy- 70's-love-fest sense of the word, will never be able to face and confess the truth about sin.

Salvation does not come to us by way of the wedding and wine but by the blood and cross.

The cross is Love at it's most terrible.

We do well to be apprehensive about such a display of the beauty of holiness and excellency of Christ.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Inspired by . . . Taking Him at His word

Come to Me, all you who labor 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NKJV

What if 2020 is the year of REST?

Most of you will simply dismiss this outrageous statement out of hand. But for some, the words will strike a chord deep within.


The very word spoken upon a lingering sigh is like a glimpse of heaven.

For some of us, a day of rest is hardly achievable, let alone an entire year.

But what is we took Him at His word. Even more, what if we learned to obey His word?

Come to Me.

He calls us all into His rest. How we get there will look different for each of us.

I believe He wants this for each of us and that, if we ask Him, He will teach us to fan the single chords of desire into a full song that will permeate every aspect of our lives.

Let us not be like there Israelites who refused His rest! 
Thus says the Lord : “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16 NKJV
Rather, may we heed the voice that says, "This is the way; follow it."


Monday, January 6, 2020

Inspired by . . . bearing gifts

The child's laughter was the first sound our weary bodies heard as we ducked and entered the clay dwelling. How different this place was from our mighty palaces made of stone!

His play turned quiet as we spoke with his parents in hushed tones.
They, too, had seen the great star in the west and wondered.

His father confirmed the date of his birth. This child- king whom we had come to worship.

He came obediently to his mother's call.

As he stood before us it seemed, for a moment, that all the light of the world originated from within him. And then he was a child again but not just a child, a King and we bowed low in his presence.

I worried that our gifts would seem strange to him, a child. Yet he touched each one reverently, almost with deep sadness.

His parents said little. Thanking us simply and offering lodging as the heady scent of our gifts filled the room.

The three of us awoke the next morning from a terrible dream! We knew at once we must return to our lands by a different route and avoid returning to Jerusalem.

The child, when we found him, was with the camels. Those ornery creatures actually kneeled for once and allowed us to mount!

I could feel the child's eyes on us as we rode away.

Truth be told, his gaze never left me. I felt His presence for the rest of my life.


Sunday, January 5, 2020

“I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Ex 3:6

How many depictions of Baby Jesus' face have you gazed into this Christmas? Did you feel anything of the holy hush? or the wonder of the wisemen?

Moses knew God's presence better than anyone but when he first encountered God he "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God."

What about us? are we afraid to look at God?

I find it interesting that by the time Moses returns to the 'mountain of God' in Exodus 33 he is boldly praying to see God's glory.
So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
This man who was hiding with his father-in-laws sheep in Ex 3 is the same man who, "By faith he left Egypt, with no fear of the king's anger; for he was resolute, as one who saw the invisible God." (Heb 11:27)

Moses' life changed when he encountered the living God.

What about us? have we encountered the living God?

We're not afraid to look into the face of baby Jesus. But does the truth of Who He IS then take us to the reverent fear, the awareness of our sin that causes us to hide our face? Does it bring us, by faith, to an encounter with the invisible God and to our knees in worship?

Or do we leave Him lying in the manger?


Friday, January 3, 2020

Inspired by . . . life-changing realizations

The 12 days of Christmas, by way of the Church calendar, takes us from Christmas day to Epiphany. From the birth of Christ to the visit of the Magi. (January 6th)

Epiphany. Growing up in a rural non-denominational church, this was a word I had never heard until early in my 40's when @kconwayireton introduced me to the Church calendar in her beautiful book, The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year.

The Church calendar was to me its own epiphany. A life-changing realization that, if it did not change the story, it certainly brought the story into focus. It had the effect of melding my physical, tangible awareness with my spiritual awareness. But that is a story for a different day.

Epiphany is the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12. Which means, unless you are a Jew, this is truly your "Aha!" moment.

Because, Beloved, He came for you.

He didn't just come to save those who had sat at the table for hundreds of years, as one might think. He came for them, certainly. But He also came for those who had been content (although never quite content) with the crumbs dropped under the table. (Matt 15:27)

This great a salvation was a hope we not dare hope. Yet, from before the foundation of the world the love of our Father God had reached out beyond the trappings of time and met us fully in the form of babe born of a virgin in Bethlehem.

One day, twelve days, nay even a lifetime is not enough for us to comprehend such a Love.

But our time is well spent in the trying.


Thursday, January 2, 2020

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34 NKJV


Making cornmeal is my least favorite chore. But my baby's laughter keeps me company. He's nearly 18 months old now, and walking!

I never dreamed we'd be here this long but Joseph says we must stay. I know why. Its that star. It hasn't moved since the babe was born. Everyone is talking about it. Rumor has it that even the king is disturbed.

At least we have a house now and Joseph has work. God has blessed us in this place.

But I worry about staying here so long. Away from our family and friends. Although maybe that too is part of Joseph's plan. He may be hoping that time will help them forget I was with child too soon.

My child! He is such a joy! I take him every day to see the animals near the cave where he was born. They gather near to him just like they did that night.

It's starting to get cold again. The shepherds are bringing their sheep in from the pasture lands. I worry about traveling so far when it is so cold.

A tug on my robe has me looking down into his cherub-like face. Up I swing him into my arms as he laughs and claps his hands against my cheeks.

𝘞𝘰𝘳𝘳𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵, 𝘔𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥.

The words are but a whisper on the cool morning breeze coming from the open window.

He lays his head on my shoulder.

I hold him close.

Yet, as the morning sun breaks through and warms us in its gentle light, I feel almost as if it is he who holds me.

And I know that no matter what comes, God is with us.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Inspired by . . . all things new

"He has made everything to suit its time; moreover He has given mankind a sense of past and future, but no comprehension of God's work from beginning to end." Ecc 3:11

New month, new year, new decade! As I put up new calendars and begin a new planner with no mark in it yet, I'm reminded that He makes all things new.

The reason today 'feels' different is because of the hope He has set within each of our hearts. We long, need, to know we can start fresh! We can have that second chance. We can begin again.

This is the ultimate promise of Christ - new life!

We have the opportunity to begin again, not just every year, but every morning! Every time we fail, Jesus gives us the grace to begin again. Hallelujah!