Balmy Breeze + Peaceful Pond = Divine Diamonds

sparkling water 2diamonds 2It was a Sunday morning when my husband and I leisurely sat on the patio of our motel by a small pond. Usually at this time we would have been in a building of four walls for a time of worship but this morning we were in Christ’s chapel of nature.

Our worship team was a choir of chirping birds singing praises to the Lord. I whispered my own silent prayer of thanks to God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth. The morning message I was reflecting upon was based upon the reflections I saw upon the pond. I want to share the message that meandered through in my mind that morning.

The pond was primarily peaceful but occasionally a balmy breeze would rustle through the trees and cause ripples upon the water. With the breath of God blowing upon the water, diminutive water swells were created. These tiny wavelets looked like diamonds as the sun shimmered upon them.

My thoughts turned towards diamonds. According to Exodus 28:18 NKJV, a diamond is the third stone in the second row of stones in the breastpiece worn by the priest. The breastpiece, or ephod, was placed over their heart. To me, this says that diamonds are near and dear to the heart of God.

As I looked upon the sparkling splashes of water, the Lord spoke to my spirit that I was also precious to Him. Isaiah 43:4 begins by saying that we are precious in God’s sight and that He loves us. Wow! In a sense, each individual is as valuable to the Lord as diamonds. Darlene Sala author of More Precious Than Diamonds: Biblical Meditations on a Woman’s Worth in God’s Eyes, points out that while God created many diamonds, He chose to uniquely create only one of each of us. Diamonds are among the most precious gems of all creation. They are beautiful and highly valued, but God values each of us more highly than any inanimate rock.

Diamonds are formed deep within the earth under high temperature and pressure. It has taken millions of years to develop some of these gems. They are the hardest known natural material and are composed of carbon-containing minerals. The hardness of a diamond depends upon its purity and crystalline perfection with the harder stones having less flaws. I see a similarity between how God has chosen to create natural diamonds and how He works to make me into the precious person He desires me to be. I need to remember that when I feel like the heat is on and I am under pressure, God is refining me. The value of a diamond is based upon its carat weight, clarity, color and the quality of its cut. My value to the Lord depends upon the quality of life I live according to my faith, trust, and obedience.

By the power of a balmy breeze upon a peaceful pond, the breath of God created divine diamonds for me that Sunday morning. I can still see those sacred sparkling water wavelets with my mind’s eye. The popular Christian song Diamonds by Hawk Nelson is currently swelling within my heart. I quote some of the lyrics.

He’s making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining
And in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of us

I’ll surrender to the power
Of being crushed by love
Till the beauty that was hidden
Isn’t covered up
Oh it’s not what I hoped for
It’s something much better

He’s making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining
And in His timing
He’s making diamonds out of us.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Advertisements

Do Not Interfere

bible-studyDo not interfere with the work on this temple of God.
Ezra 6:7
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?
I Corinthians 6:19

I realize that this scripture verse in Ezra relates to the rebuilding of the temple by the Jewish people, but I want to connect it with a verse from I Corinthians. As I read Paul’s words in I Corinthians 6:19, he reminds me that I am not my own. Tying these two verses together I can say that I belong to the Holy Spirit and I am not to interfere with the work that the Holy Spirit is doing within me.

I brush up on a little biblical history and discover that the verse of Ezra 6:8 was part of a decree made by King Darius who reigned from 522-386 BC. A group of Jews led by Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem in 538 BC and 2 years later they began to build the altar and temple foundation. In 530 BC construction halted because of opposition and it was not until ten years later that work resumed. It was during this time when no construction was taking place that King Darius issued the decree saying there was to be no interference with the work on the temple. The temple was finally completed in 516 BC. The primary reason the work was temporarily stalled was because the returning Jews had listened to the accusations and rumors by local pagan inhabitants.

Enough Old Testament history! I want to move on to connecting the dots with Paul’s words in the New Testament. It is sobering for me to think about how easily I can be influenced by accusations and rumors spoken by people around me who are not following the Lord. I can be like the Jews described by Ezra. If I have allowed worldly factors to influence my thoughts and actions, then I want to rebuild my body, soul and spirit to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to note that Ezra’s name means “help” and the Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Helper. Jesus says in John 16:7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Ezra’s role in the book of Ezra was as a priest who stood in the gap through prayer for the Jews. He encouraged them to turn from their pagan involvement. He helped them admit and confess their sins. When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, the temple building had been rebuilt but he helped them to rebuild their lives. II Corinthians 5:17 declares, “we are new creations in Christ,” when we accept Jesus as our Savior. However, I still need the help of the Holy Spirit to rebuild my life so that I can daily live for the Lord.

Going back to the book of Ezra again, in his decree Darius says in Ezra 6:10 the reason for rebuilding the temple was, “so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.” The temple was where the Jews presented their sacrifices to the Lord. Does this apply to me? Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.” The way I should live my life is to sacrifice, or lay aside, my own desires for God’s desires. Hebrews 13:15 instructs me, Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” I want to be diligent, or careful and persistent, to make praise a priority in my life. This corresponds with the end of Ezra 6:12, “Let it (the rebuilding of the temple) be carried out with diligence.”

I am always amazed as to how words of Old Testament and New Testament scriptures can be connected. While thinking about Ezra and I Corinthians, I realize that I want to be a temple of the Holy Spirit and I do not want to interfere with the Spirit’s work in my life.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Gone Fishing

fishing

Gone Fishing” might be an appropriate sign to hang on the door on a summer day. It is not a sign I am likely to post but I think Peter used it in biblical times. Let’s go fishing and see what we can learn from this fisherman.

Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to
fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Mark 1:17-18

Jesus calls. Are we listening? If we follow Jesus, He will utilize our gifts and abilities to their fullest potential. Jeremiah 29:11 confirms this by stating, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Like Peter who left his fishing net, Jesus’ call may require us to leave behind some of our personal dreams but He assures us that His plans will be more fulfilling for the greater eternal purposes of God.

Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night
and

caught nothing, but
I will do as You say and
let down the nets.”
Luke 5:4-5

Jesus asks us to go deeper into our faith. I Corinthians 2:10 states, “For to us God revealed them (the things eye has not seen and ear has not heard but that God has prepared for us – from verse 9) through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.” Like Peter, we are to obey the requests of Jesus. Deuteronomy 5:33 tells us, “Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you.” and James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” We deepen our faith by obeying the Lord.

When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish,
and their nets began
to break;
Luke 5:6

Our obedience unto Jesus will allow for greater success than we can imagine, and the outcome will glorify the Lord. Paul says in I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Peter caught more fish than he anticipated; what might be in store for us?

I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them (other disciples)
and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out
and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

John 21:3

(Three years have elapsed between Luke 5:6 and John 21:3. Peter and Jesus have shared three years of their lives. Jesus was crucified and resurrected between these two conversations.) Going fishing may not have been a bad thing for Peter to do, but neither was it necessarily the best thing he could have done. We make numerous decisions throughout our lifetimes. However, every decision may not be advantageous unless we rely upon the Lord’s guidance and direction. In Psalm 46:10 the Lord says,“Be still, and know that I am God.” Sometimes the best thing we can do is be still until the Lord speaks to us.

He (Jesus) said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat
and you will find some.” When they (the disciples) did, they were

unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
John 21:6

Just because we do not succeed at a task, does not mean we are doing the wrong thing. We simply may not be doing it Jesus’ way. Peter encountered abundant fishing when he listened to Jesus’ directions. If we seek divine guidance and wisdom for all we do, we will achieve better results. The Lord says in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Then he (Jesus) said to him (Peter), “Follow me!”
John 21:19

We must constantly seek the Lord’s guidance and listen for His voice! Scripture records two separate occasions when Jesus called Peter to follow Him with similar yet different commissions. Scripture assures us that the Lord will direct us as well. Isaiah 30:21 says, “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.’”

Gone Fishing” may have become a permanent sign that Peter eventually posted outside his door. Whether fishing for fish or fishing for people, Peter chose to obey the Lord. Jesus told Peter from which side of the boat to fish and He would tell him where to go catch people for Christ. We, too, are to listen for Jesus’ guidance. We must be ready to go fishing in the way and at the place where the Lord directs.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Promises! Promises!

 


1400782535lioka
PERSONALIZE GOD’S PROMISES

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said,
and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised.
Genesis 21:1
Today as I read this Genesis scripture, the Lord impressed upon me to personalize this verse and replace Sarah’s name with my own name. So I read, “The Lord did for Cheryl what He had promised.” (My Reader, I encourage you to insert your own name.) Yes, I can think of many times that the Lord has fulfilled His promises to me. For those times, I praise the Lord. I will not take time to tell of these positive promises, however, I encourage each of you to take time to personally reflect upon the manifestations of the Lord’s faithfulness to His promises in your life.
1400782535liokaGOD’S PERSPECTIVE OF PROMISES

Promises! Promises! I make promises to others. Others make promises to me. Although I intend to be faithful to my promises at the time of commitment, I do not always succeed. Because of my natural human inability to keep my word, I can be prone to doubt the devotedness of my supernatural God. How foolish of me because God always honors His promises recorded in scripture. I want to reassure myself of God’s faithfulness by reflecting upon scripture verses that declare a positive perspective
of His promises.

He has given us His very great and precious promises.
II Peter 1:4
(What an amazing gift the Lord has given to me!)

being fully persuaded that God had power to do
what He had promised.
Romans 4:21
(My goal is to be completely confident that God will carry out His promises.
He is able to do what He says, but do I wholeheartedly expect Him to do it?)

Not one of all the Lord’s good promises
to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.
Joshua 21:45
(He is incredible!)

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
(I can depend upon His faithfulness to carry out His Word for me!) 
1400782535liokaMY PERSPECTIVE OF GOD’S PROMISES

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33
I must embrace the totality of any promise Jesus gives. I cannot hit the delete key for any of the words of the Bible and twist God’s promises to my advantage. Although I like the beginning of this promise in John 16 that Jesus made, I am not quick to want to accept the second part. I cling to the promise of peace but want to push the thought of trouble out of my mind. In reality, I can appreciate the promise of peace more after a trial of trouble. God sees a bigger picture for the fulfillment of His promises than what I perceive.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8
Another thing I need to remember about God’s promises is that they may not be manifested in the way or according to the timeline I might expect. God’s thoughts and ways are so much deeper than mine! Consequently, the way He chooses to do what He declares will be better for how He wants to fulfill His plans and purposes in my life.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

The best perspective I can have regarding the Lord’s promises is that He know
s best! He fulfills His promises in the perfect way for me personally. I must not add or subtract from His complete promises and I must have faith in His wisdom and faithfulness. 1400782535liokaPERSONALLY APPLYING GOD’S PROMISES

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me.
Psalm 138:8
I began my inserting my name instead of Sarah’s name in Genesis 21:1 and now I conclude by replacing the pronoun me in Psalm 138:8 with my personal name. (My Reader, you can do the same.) I think again about God’s promise to Sarah in Genesis. God was faithful to her having a son even though she had to wait until she was 90 years old. This was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abram, her husband, back in Genesis 12 when he was 75 years old. It took 25 years for God to do what He promised! When I consider this promise, postponement, and performance, I understand the predictability of my positive God! God never left Abraham and Sarah and He was faithful to His promise even through their son Isaac was not born according to the timeline expected by the couple. If I intend to place my name within this scriptural promise, I must believe that God will fulfill His promise according to His plan and purpose.
God’s promises are wonderful even though the manifestation may not be
according  to my expectations.

The Lord shall not turn back until He has executed
and accomplished the thoughts and intents of His mind.
Jeremiah 30:24
My Reader, here is one promise I can make to you that I know will not be broken. It is not my promise – it is God’s promise.

Joyfully,
Cheryl,
gold apple new

Wavering Waves

water-waveswater-calm

Since we live near Lake Ontario, we take the opportunity to spend at least one summer evening walking along the lake shore each year. The water is always mesmerizing whether it be placid with tranquility or violent with raging waves. Recently while lingering at the water’s edge, I realized how I encounter both peaceful and turbulent times regarding my faith in Christ. When being confronted with a difficult situation, my faith may waver like the waves of the lake while at other times my faith is unmoved like a serene body of water. Sometimes I feel like the little child Paul describes in Ephesians 3:14 “who is tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” At other times I identify with John’s description in Revelation 4:6, “Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.”

Waves in the water and wavering in my faith can both be dangerous. Water waves arise when strong winds cause turbulence on the lake. Wavering of my faith can occur when doubts arise and cause turbulence within my mind. I am reminded of what James has to say about doubts in the first chapter of his book.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God,
who gives to all generously and without reproach,
and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith
without any doubting, for
the one who doubts
is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by
the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will
receive anything from the Lord,
being
a double-minded
man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8

While looking at the lake water, I see the little water swells that have the potential of becoming larger whitecaps if they are not thrown back into the larger body of water. Small doubts regarding my faith also have the ability to toss my faith into turmoil if I do not prayerfully ask for God’s guidance and throw my waverings back into His sea of godly wisdom. However, I cannot except the Lord to calm the raging sea within me unless I have no doubts about His ability to help me with my doubts. There are times when I must call out to the Lord with the words of Mark 9:24, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” To believe and not doubt means not only believing in the existence of God but also believing in His loving care.

And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
“Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘
Be

taken up and cast into the sea,’ and
does not doubt
in his heart
, but believes that what he says is going

to happen, it will be
granted him. “Therefore I say to you,
all things for which you pray and ask,
believe that you
have received them, and they will be granted you.
Mark 11:22-24

When walking on the pier that extends into the lake, I sometimes feel a spray of water from the waves upon my feet. My feet get wet but the rest of me stays dry. A similar thing can happen regarding my faith in God. A few droplets of doubt may wash over my mind but if I sincerely believe what God says in His Word, these little doubt drops cannot penetrate my heart. I need to remind myself that faith does not always mean that I understand everything that is happening, but rather it means that I trust and believe in the Lord. Although I may not understand, it does not necessarily mean that I doubt. To stabilize my wavering or vacillating mind, I must commit myself wholeheartedly to God.

yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver
in unbelief
but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,

and being fully assured that what God had promised,
He was able also to perform.
Romans 4:20-21

As my waverings and doubts diminish, my life and faith resemble the lake when it is calm. I can see my reflection upon the water, when the lake is smooth. Similarly, when my faith is untroubled my life reflects the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” As my faith deepens, my life reflects more of the glory of God

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

I have discovered similarities between my walking along Lake Ontario and my daily walking by faith. Lake Ontario can be tranquil or it can be turbulent. Likewise, I also encounter both peaceful and tumultuous times regarding my faith in God. There are waves and waverings. There can be a glassy sea and a glorious peace. I enjoy this summer season when I can walk along the lake and be encouraged in my walk of faith at the same time.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new