Three Doors

door mfnew heart mfdoor as Christ mf

Just for the fun of it I decided to look up the definition of a door on wikimedia.com this morning. Now I am ready to make some analogies between the physical door of a structural building and the spiritual door of my heart and life.

Door of a building: A door is a moving structure used to block off, and allow access to, an enclosed space.
Door of my heart: My heart’s door is my attitude that can block out, or allow access to, all areas of my life.

Door of a building: A door is constructed with both an interior side and an exterior side. Sometimes, the facades of the door are the same on both sides but often there is a contrast between the two sides.
Door of my heart: God has created my heart with an interior side and an exterior side. Sometimes, the feelings and expressions of my heart are the same on both sides but often there is a contrast between what I feel on the inside and what others see from the outside.

Door of a building: A door to a structure with hinges that swing to the inside allowing it to be opened inwardly. However, it can be opened from either side.
Door of my heart: There is a spiritual hinge to the inside of my heart allowing people and thoughts to access my life. However, there is the possibility that my heart can be open to and influenced by emotions and feelings from either side.

Door of a building: A door is a barrier that can either admit or keep out something or someone. An open door allows people, animals, ventilation or light to come in. The opposite is true if the door is closed. A door can separate the person inside from noise or other activities occurring outside. Most doors are equipped with some type of lock controlling who enters and exits.
Door of my heart: I have the choice of who and what can be a part of my life. When my heart is open to the Lord, people, and situations, they influence my thoughts and actions. The opposite is true if my heart is closed. I can decide whether or not to separate myself from the noise and confusion of the outside world. I can lock and unlock the door of my heart according to my desires and decisions.

OK – I have made my comparisons between the doors of buildings and hearts. However, I am amazed at some Bible verses that are coming to my mind with references to scriptural doors. So, I continue.

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
John 10:9 NKJV

These are the words of Jesus! Now I have a third door! There are doors to buildings, there is a door to my heart, and now Jesus describes himself as a door.

Looking at the definitions and descriptions I have used for a door, I understand how Jesus is the door I will walk through when my earthly life is completed. He is a person rather than a structure, but He is the One who will welcome me into His eternal home. However, I must accept Him as my personal savior and invite Him into my heart before I can dwell forever with Him. I do not want to keep the door of my heart closed causing me to not be able to enter the door of Jesus. I do not want to be locked out.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives,
and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8

Jesus continues to be the one who speaks these words of scripture. Again there is reference to Jesus being the door upon which I am encouraged to knock. I need to knock on the door of Jesus by asking and seeking a personal relationship with Him through prayer. Jesus assures me that if I knock, He will open the door and allow me to enter. His door is not locked but I must knock loud enough (be sincere in heart) for Him to hear my knock and usher me into His presence. Yes, He is my door to salvation, but He is also the door upon which I knock when seeking answers through prayer. Jesus assures me that He is ready and willing to open the door allowing my prayers to be heard and answered. His open door also grants me the privilege of worshiping Him in His presence. All I need to do is ask! Jesus waits for me to come close enough to Him that I can knock upon the door of His heart, but He is also waiting for my arrival. Jesus never locks me out of His presence.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,
I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Revelation 3:20

Here again are the words of Jesus. This time He is recognizing my heart as a door. Although Jesus knows the condition of my heart both inwardly and outwardly, He still chooses to ask for a place in my life by knocking upon my heart’s door. He makes a personal house call to the door of my heart, but He waits for my invitation before He comes in. I control who enters and exists my life. I must decide whether or not I will allow Jesus to have access to my heart and my home. Jesus is a gentleman and will not enter unless I swing wide my heart’s door.

It is time for me to bring this blog post to a conclusion. My Reader, I want to remind you and myself of the three doors I have thought about today. Door #1 is the physical structural door to a building. Door #2 is the spiritual door of your/my heart. Door #3 is Jesus. My Reader, as you go through the structural doors of buildings you enter and exit today, may you be reminded that Jesus is a door. Also be mindful of the door to your heart. Is it opening and closing in the proper way to glorify God?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Under Cover

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was cold the other evening so I put an extra quilt on our bed.  While snuggling under the warmth of the covers, the Lord gave me a reminder of His presence covering me.  It was definitely cozy sleeping overnight and in the morning I was still thinking about what the Lord was showing me as I fell asleep.  As I started looking for scriptures, I found a couple of interesting Psalms.  The last part of Psalm 32:10 says, “the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” I also liked the last part of Psalm 5:11, “Spread your (the Lord’s) protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”  I can cuddle under the concepts of both of these verses!  Blankets keep my body warm and these scriptures keep my heart warm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPsalm 91 is one of my favorite Psalms and it comes to my mind as I think about staying warm physically and keeping safe spiritually under the covers.  The first part of verse one says, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  I need physical rest through sleep at night, and even more importantly, I need to daily rest spiritually under the covering of the Lord.  Such things as worry and fear need not be a part of my life if I trust the Lord.  In verse 5, the Psalmist promises, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;”  Being covered with God’s feathers gives me the mental picture of snuggling under a down comforter that may be filled with feathers.  Not only am I covered by the Lord’s feathers, but I am protected from the enemy and spiritual harm.  When I read this verse the image of a baby bird under the nurturing wing of its mother comes to my mind.  The mother covers its young that is unable cover itself.  The mother’s wing not only keeps the little birdie warm but also protects it from any predator that might want to hurt it.  There are times when I feel like a very helpless child of God who is too weak to take care of myself and I need to rely upon the tender care of the Lord.  Both my physical life and spiritual life are covered by God’s divine grace and power.  Just like Linus in the Peanuts cartoon, I need a security blanket.  The Lord covers me with the warmth of His love and the security of His faithfulness.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow I let my thoughts wander back to my keeping warm in bed.  During the night I most likely turn over a few times, and this means that I may take a little more than my share of the covers with me when I turn. I tell my husband that it is his responsibility to pull back the extra covers I take so he will not be cold.  I do not take extra covers intentionally.  Proverbs 4:27 says, “Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”  My husband probably would like to tell me to lie still and not turn to the right or the left. However, I do not kick him with my foot!  My response to him might be another scripture found in Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”  That sounds to me like it is alright to turn from my right side to my left side and vice versa.  Spiritually though, God is warning me to stay on the straight path with Him and only turn to the right or left when His wisdom guides me to do so.  A change in direction could cause me to slip into sinful ways.  My turning the wrong way could also be a negative witness to another person.  Just like my turning over and taking the covers can result in my husband being cold, my turning from God’s way can cause another person to leave God’s path and become spiritually cold.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy Reader, how are you keeping warm on these cold winter nights?  An extra blanket can be helpful physically.  However, you and I can get rather chilly and challenged spiritually if we do not stay secure under the covering of the Lord no matter what the thermometer tells us the outside temperature is.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Thought for the week:  God’s comfort is our best comforter!
“P
raise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” –   II Corinthians 1:3

Anna and Me

bible-study My Reader, if you know me personally, you will most likely think I am referring to my granddaughter, Anna Grace, when you read the title of this blog. However, this is not the case today. I am presently thinking about the prophetess Anna whom we meet in the scripture found in Luke 2.

And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision,
His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel
before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days
for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed,
they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “EVERY firstborn MALE THAT
OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE
LORD”), and to offer a sacrifice
according to what was said in the Law of the Lord,“A PAIR
OF TURTLEDOVES OR TWO YOUNG PIGEONS
.” …. And there was a prophetess,
Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.She was
advanced in years and had lived with her husband seven
years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of
eighty-four. She never left the temple, serving night and day
with fastings and prayers. At that very moment she came up
and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him
to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:21-24, 36-38

We recently celebrated the birth of Jesus on the holiday we know as Christmas. Eight days after Jesus was born (that would have been January 2 according to our calendar), Mary and Joseph took their newborn son to the temple. While there, they offered the required sacrifice according to Jewish custom and also encountered the prophetess Anna. I realize it has been twelve days beyond the time when Mary and Joseph would have presented Jesus within the temple, but I am still contemplating all of the events surrounding this sacred time of history.

Anna resided in the temple for close to seventy years. Living in the temple was not only Anna’s physical lifestyle, but it also described her spiritual relationship with the Lord. She dwelt in His presence! She never left the Lord’s presence and spent all her time worshiping Him according to Luke 2:37. Because of her steadfast devotion, she was sensitive to God’s leading and knew when Jesus was brought into the temple. A prophetess is a person who hears from God because of her closeness to God. That certainly described Anna! Physically and spiritually, Anna recognized the baby Jesus as the Son of God. Her response was to thank God for the privilege of seeing His Son. She also told others the news of this special baby and shared her spiritual insight regarding Jesus. She was an amazing woman who had a divinely ordained encounter with the Messiah. She recognized Jesus for Who he was to be while others had no comprehension of who he was.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for
your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
James 4:8 New Living Translation

When I read about Anna, I long to have the sensitive spirit that was evident within her. I feel like the Lord reveals insight to me at various times, but I have never experienced the type of epiphany unveiled to Anna. I need to be more attentive if I expect to hear the Lord speak more clearly to me. Anna set an example for how I should live. She was loyal to the Lord 24/7 while I am often distracted by things of the world. It is my fault that I do not have the same closeness to the Lord as was exhibited by Anna. As James says, God will come near to me if I will reach out to Him. It is my choice! If I were as devoted as Anna to prayer and praise and fasting, I am quite sure my sensitivity to the voice of the Lord would be greatly enhanced. When I think about my relationship with my granddaughter Anna, I realize I feel a closer connection to her if I spend one on one time with her instead of just thinking about her. I can always pray for her, however, I am able to pray more specifically for situations in her life when she and I have spent time together. It is the same with the Lord. I know that He is always with me because He is omnipresent but I have a greater sensitivity towards Him when I spend quiet time with Him. I can take this a step further and relate it to my prayers. I have to admit that much of my praying takes place while I am on a walk or doing dishes. However, I am more aware of the Holy Spirit’s leading when I shut out the busyness of the environment and focus only upon the Lord. When I allow my prayer time to be one on One time, prayer becomes a two-way conversation rather than my simply stating my requests to Him. Because intimacy was the lifestyle of the prophetess Anna, she was able to recognize the Son of God when He appeared in the temple as a baby with his parents.

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the
Spirit of God dwells in you?
I Corinthians 3:16

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy
Spirit
who is in you, whom you have from God, and that
you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.
I Corinthians 6:19-20

Anna resided in the temple, but now I am a temple of the Holy Spirit! Anna physically lived in the temple while the Holy Spirit spiritually lives in me. Living in the temple resulted in Anna living a life separated from the world. Living a holy separated life cost Anna the price of no longer living what others would call a “normal life.” However, this was a sacrifice she willingly made. My ability to be a temple of the Holy Spirit cost Jesus the price of the life. Being a temple of the Holy Spirit disconnects me from the world in a unique way enabling me not to be distracted by the ways of the world. Like Anna, I never want to be separated from my God. I want to dwell in His presence and allow His presence to dwell in me. I yearn to follow the example set by Anna over 2000 years ago.

How about you, My Reader? Can you identify with Anna in any way? Have you learned anything from her that will enhance your personal relationship with Jesus? Stay close to the Lord during 2015!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Rest + S + S = Stress

                                     cell-phone                             OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 STRESS            or             REST

It is the beginning of a new year and I am asking myself if I want 2015 to be a restful or a stressful year. No matter how hard I try, it seems like there is always some stress involved during the Christmas season that has just passed. Now I am in need of some of rest. As I contemplate about my choice between the options of stress or rest, I realize that the letters of the word restare found within the word stress.”

When I look more closely at the additional letters in “stress” compared to “rest,” I discover that “s” is the additional letter in both cases. Since “s” is added to a word to make it plural, it signifies more. Stress occurs when I add to many “ses” to the rest in my life. I find that I am likely to feel stressed out when I get too busy. If I squeeze too many things (too many “ses”) into my daily agenda I become stressed, while if I give my day to the Lord and allow Him to be in control of what I accomplish, I am more satisfied, more at rest, at the end of the day. By evening I may be tired but I will not be exhausted because I went in too many directions. I like rest better than stress!

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing;
so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Genesis 2:2

It is interesting that the first time a form of the word “rest” is found in scripture, it is used to describe the action by God after He created the world. Was God tired? If I had been responsible for this kind of project, I would not only have been tired but I would have been stressed out! Since God in the Almighty God, He would not have been stressed or tired. However, He did set an example for me regarding the need for rest. In Exodus 20: 8-11, the fourth of the Ten Commandments tells me to not do any work on the seventh day, but to honor God by resting on this day just as God did after creating everything in six days. The Lord blessed this day, known as the Sabbath, and He made it holy. The word Sabbath originated from the Hebrew verb “sabat” which means to stop or cease. I need to follow God’s example and also obey the fourth commandment! Rest is important for me if I do not want to experience stress!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

As I think about the times when I allow stress to occur in my life, I realize it occurs when I become anxious or worried. Paul addresses this issue in Philippians 4. To put these verses into my own words, I hear Paul telling me not to get “stressed out” about my situations, but to pray about them and give them to the Lord. When I do that, God will give me peace and “rest.” God is able to remove the extra “ses” from my life when I allow Him to do it.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:24

Jesus talks about the issue of stress in Matthew 6. In verse 26, Jesus tells me to think about the birds and how they do not worry. I always visualize this mental picture of how humorous it would be to see a little bird pacing back and forth on a tree branch! In reality, the bird most likely rests on a limb and tweets a happy tune! Does not God want me to rest in His outstretched arms rather than running around and allowing stress to control my actions? I recently read an article online by Sandra Bontemps where she asks, “How many of you truly seize God’s moments? Just moments, one after another, day by day. Praising and delighting in Him with an open heart, spirit and mind for each step of the way. Or do you instead spend needless time worrying and planning step by step, so far ahead – rather than allowing God’s Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct your steps? How many of you take the time to rest in the Lord? Just leaning on Jesus – trusting in great faith with no doubts.”

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

Jesus is calling me to leave my stress behind and to come to Him for rest Another statement by Sandra Bontemps that has impacted me says, “Rest in the Lord so He may rest upon you.” If my heart and mind are filled with stress, the Lord will not be able to find a place in my spirit where He can give me the rest He desires.” This really makes me think! Sandra also says,To rest in God is His will for us. To be still in His presence and be confident in Him and His power are what He truly wants us to be.” The Holy Spirit desires for me to welcome His presence into my life. I sincerely desire to leave off the two extra “ses” from stress so I can experience His rest!

Truly my soul finds rest in God
P
salm 62:1

My Reader, how are you feeling? Are you experiencing more rest or stress in your life today? Will you join me in proclaiming with David that your soul finds rest in God? 

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new