Watching the Tides with God


While in Maine this summer, I
watched the rise and fall of the ocean’s tide. The statistics for one of the days we were in Maine were as follows. High tide was listed at 12:26 AM and 12:49 PM while low tide was 6:43 AM and 6:56 PM. The morning high tide was 11.3 feet and in the evening it was 10.9 feet. The morning low tide was 0.2 feet and the evening low was 0.7 feet. The times and heights varied slightly from day to day, but the tide faithfully rose and fell twice every 24 hours. We could count on it.

The ocean’s tides reflect the rising and falling of the sea’s level with respect to land. These ocean motions are caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and the moon. I am not a scientist who fully understands it, but it is fascinating.

Becoming aware of the predictability of tide changes, caused me to think about God’s faithfulness. When He created the earth, He fashioned the waters to rise and fall. Through the tides, He displays His faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV says, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

I like Sarah Young’s words in Jesus Always. (for July 30) Hear Jesus speak, “Beloved, My compassions never fail. They are new every morning. So you can begin each day confidently, knowing that My vast reservoir of blessings is full to the brim. . . . I want you to drink deeply from My fountain of limitless love and unfailing compassion. . . . I keep all My promises in My perfect way and timing. I have promised to give you Peace that can displace the trouble and fear in your heart. If you become weary in waiting, remember that I also wait that I may be gracious to you and mercy on you. I hold back till you’re ready to receive the things I have lovingly prepared for you.”  

I have underlined phrases that we can apply to the ocean’s tides. “Every morning” speaks of the dependable timing of the tides. The “vast reservoir of blessings” can be a symbol of the ocean. We “drink deeply from Jesus’ fountain” during the “timing” of the high tide that “displaces” the visible land of low tide. God does not “hold back” the ocean’s movements – and neither does He hold back His involvement in our lives.

Sarah Young applies the Lord’s faithfulness to His answering our prayers. Although it may appear that the Lord is holding back His response, He is not. He simply waits for the correct time – just like the tide times.

The tides of the ocean come in and go out. Similarly, our lives have ups and downs. We experience both throughout the timetables of our lives. II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Like we wait for the tide to come in, so must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayers.

Paul reminds us in Romans 1:21 NLT, “that God is able to do whatever He promises.” David declares in Psalm 36:5, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.” The heavens, the skies, the tides – all exhibit God’s faithfulness.

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Mercy Drops

I woke up this morning having an old-fashioned hymn fest with the Lord. The first song in my heart was There Shall Be Showers of Blessing  by Daniel W. Whittle. The words of the chorus are:

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops ‘round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

Our summer has been very dry and we need rain. We want rain showers – not just a few sprinkles. However, when we get only a few raindrops, I visualize the blades of grass lifting their thirsty heads and licking each little moisture droplet possible.

We have a similar spiritual desire. We want all the big blessings that the Lord can provide. This is not wrong, but we also need to be thankful for the mercy He drops into our lives. Don’t wait for the big spiritual rains. Receive the mercy drops with thanksgiving. In time, droplets become showers. A rain often begins with a few sprinkles that evolve into more abundant showers. Let us drink deeply the mercy drops the Lord extends. Great things have small beginnings.

My thankfulness for the mercy drops, brought another hymn to mind, The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases by Edith McNeill. The refrain proclaims:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.
Your mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning,
new every morning:
great is your faithfulness, O Lord,
great is your faithfulness!

I love this promise! God’s mercy drops will never cease to rain down on our lives. No wonder I woke up singing about His mercy! Our God is faithful to provide what we need to accomplish His plans and purposes for us each day.

Although nature’s cycles of rain and drought come and go, we can always depend upon God to provide the spiritual moisture we need to grow in Him. Sometimes His provision comes in droplets of mercy and other times our souls are flooded with abundant blessings.

Receive the following mercy drops found in God’s Word.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, and abundant in mercy.
Psalm 103:8 NKJV

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
I Peter 1:3

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence
, so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

His mercy extends to those who fear Him,
from generation to generation.
Luke 1:50

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Matthew 5:6 NKJV

O give thanks unto the LORD, for He is good;
for His mercy endures for ever.
Psalm 136:1

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Jude 1:2

ASK!


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.
Matt 7:7-8

While “ask” is the first word this scripture, it is also the acronym for the three verbs:
Ask
Seek
K
nock

There is a corresponding promise for each action:
Ask and receive
Seek and find
Knock and be opened

ASK

When praying, can we ask for anything and get what we want? Can each of us be like a little child and say, “Give me, give me, give me!”? No, more is involved if we are to be confident that we will receive.

In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
We must have faith in God’s ability to answer our request. We must have the kind of faith that trusts God to answer according to the way He sees best.

Jesus goes on to say in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
First, we must ask in the name of Jesus. This involves more than saying “in Jesus’ name.” Joseph Prince emphasizes that when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we acknowledge that our prayers will be answered because of what Jesus Christ has done for us – not because of who we are or what we have done.
Secondly, our Heavenly Father must be glorified. Ultimately, prayer is about what gives God glory.

SEEK

Seeking is not simply a verbal request. It’s action time. We seek God’s will by searching the scriptures. This helps us find out how to pray.

Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
There is something to seek. And, there is something to be found. God plays a game of spiritual hide and seek with us. Amazingly, He always lets us find Him.

Matthew 6:33 instructs us to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Seeking is looking. Looking for God’s kingdom. We are not only to seek health or wealth. We are to seek God’s will. He has a unique plan for each of us. Unless we seek to know His kingdom plan, we may ask incorrectly.

David says in Psalm 27:8, “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
To grow in our relationship with the Lord, we must seek Him rather than just what His hands can do for us.

KNOCK

Knocking is more than tapping on a door. It is a repeated pounding. When we are confident in what we ask and seek, we will knock tenaciously until the Lord answers. Knocking implies that we believe God has better and deeper things yet to be acquired.

In James 1:6 we are told, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.”
I associate knocking with believing while tapping reflects doubting. Knocking is persistent.

Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “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.”
If we have answered Jesus’ knock at our heart’s door. If we have invited Him into our life. Then, He will answer our prayerful knock upon the door of His throne room. Our answer may be just behind a door.

ASK – SEEK – KNOCK

The parable of The Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 is a good example of asking, seeking and knocking. The woman knocked on her neighbors’ doors asking them to help her seek her lost coin. Her need, or her prayer, was answered – the lost was found.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 is another inclusive scripture. “Then you will call upon Me (ask) and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search (knock) for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.”

Thank you, Lord, that we can ask and receive – seek and find – knock and have it opened!

Who Is Mom on Mother’s Day?

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Proverbs 31:29-31

It’s hard work becoming a mom! Any woman in labor knows this. However, it is worth the effort to gain the title mother. I am not talking about just becoming a biological mother through the birth of a child. Anytime God impregnates an idea or a plan inside a woman, there is conception for a spiritual mother.

I say to all women, God created you with the ability to conceive and receive His plans whether or not that includes your being a biological mom. All women are moms birthing miracles of God. Conception takes place. Growth occurs. Labor is involved. New life begins. Every birth is a miracle.

First, a seed is planted. After physical conception occurs, it takes nine months for the embryo to grow into a baby ready to be born. When spiritual conception occurs, the time for development varies.

Within a physically pregnant woman, the baby begins to move in approximately 8 weeks. However, the mother most likely will not feel the movement until 16-25 weeks. A spiritually pregnant woman feels a quickening in her spirit at the time of conception. The length of time required for the reality of what has been implanted to occur depends upon God’s timing. The fetal motion within a woman’s body has been described as the fluttering of an angel or  butterfly’s wings. This is a beautiful picture of new life development whether it be physical or spiritual.

During pregnancy, a woman’s emotions are super sensitive. She rides an emotional roller coaster. One day high and the next day low. This is true for both physically and spiritually expectant women. Although there is excitement when physical movement is first felt, mom becomes tired of all the kicking by the ninth month. Spiritually, the development of God’s plans may move quickly for a time. Then there may be a time when nothing seems to be happening.  More highs and lows.

Gestation may feel like it will never end. The physical mom will be uncomfortable and count the days until delivery. The spiritual mom may be frustrated and think the fruition of her efforts will never come.

Finally, the mother’s body goes into labor allowing her to give birth to her biological child. The spiritual mother is not exempt from this experience. Laboring is also involved when giving birth to God’s plans and purposes.

When birth occurs, joy overtakes all the frustration, discomfort and effort involved. It is worth it – physically and spiritually. God created women to be mothers and to bring forth His miracles. For this reason, we celebrate all moms this weekend.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

 

Mary – JESUS – Mary

Imagine a group of books being held upright by a bookend at each end.

Now make some changes to this image and create a spiritual picture.

Replace the books with the life of Jesus. (Maybe a collection of 33 books – one for each year of His life.)
Instead of bookends, imagine a woman named Mary at the beginning and another Mary
at the end of Jesus’ life. Two ladies supporting Jesus at His birth and death.

Let’s make some comparisons between the two Marys. I will refer to one as Mary Mom (the mother of Jesus) and the other as Mary Magdalene (a woman uniquely positioned in Jesus’ inner circle of followers).

  • The young Mary, chosen by God to be the mother of His Son, was from Nazareth, a small town in Galilee. (see Luke 1:26)
    Mary, known as Mary Magdalene,
    was from Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of Lake Galilee. (denoted by her name)

  • Mary Mom was a pure virgin whose baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (see Luke 1:31)
    Jesus cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene – at one time she was not so pure. (see Luke 8:2)

  • Mary Mom encountered an angel (Gabriel) when told she would bear a son named Jesus. (see Luke 1:30-31)
    Mary Magdalene saw an angel (a young man wearing a white robe) at Jesus’ empty tomb. (see Mark 16:5-8.)

  • Mary Mom was fearful but was told not to be afraid. She was perplexed by Gabriel’s visitation and message. However, he told her not to be afraid because she had favor with God. (see Luke 1:26-38 esp. v30)
    Mary Magdalene was fearful but was told not to be afraid. When she saw the empty tomb, she was bewildered. Then the angel told her not to be alarmed because Jesus had risen. (see Mark 16:5-8 esp. v8)

  • Mary Mom would have been the first person to hold Jesus as a human baby. (Isn’t this the privilege of a mother?)
    Mary Magdalene had intended to be the last person to hold Jesus’ human body. (Had she fulfilled her plan of preparing His body for burial at the tomb, this would have been her privilege.)

  • Mary Mom anointed Jesus for life. I think Mary Mom may have anointed Jesus (with baby oil?) before she wrapped Him in warm blankets. (an assumption by author)
    Mary Magdalene desired to anoint Jesus after His death. Because she had spices with her, I believe Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body for burial. (see Mark 16:1)

  • Mary Mom wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling cloths before she laid Him in a manger. (see Luke 2:7)
    Although Joseph of Arimathea had already wrapped Jesus’ body in a linen cloth, I believe Mary Magdalene had intended to provide a proper burial for the crucified Christ by wrapping His body in a linen shroud. (see Mark 16:46; John 19:25)

  • Both Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene were near the cross when Jesus was crucified.  (see John 19:25)

Looking closely at the spiritual image, I see one Mary holding baby Jesus at the beginning of His life and another Mary with the intent of holding His body at the end of His life. Jesus was surrounded and held by Mary Mom and Mary Magdalene. The words of Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18 seem an accurate description of Jesus’ life,Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last. I am the Living One;  I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever!

This Sunday, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the Living One. We no longer hold Jesus as a baby in our arms (as Mary Mom) and there is no need to hold His body in the grave (as Mary Magdalene).

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

(Images provided by Pixabay.)

A Ball or a Box?

ball-2box

My Reader, do you live your life as a ball or a box? This may be a strange question but it gives us a couple of interesting images to ponder. Take time to think about your initial response to my question before reading further.

If your answer was that you are more like a box, you may find that you compartmentalize your life. You may view life as one big box with numerous little boxes packed inside with each one designating a certain amount of your time for such activities as family commitments, work responsibilities, church activities, and personal relaxation. Or, maybe you have a big weekly box containing seven smaller boxes. Each day of the week you open a different box with specific jobs to accomplish. From another perspective, you may think of each task you complete as a box. During the day you may stack one box on top of another as you successfully complete a task. At the end of the day you have created a tower of accomplishments.

If you are like a ball, you may bounce around from one responsibility to another. You may begin one task but be easily distracted by something else that needs to be done. You may never fully complete anything you start. It may be easy for you to adapt to spur of the moment invitations and emergency situations, but in the process you neglect to fulfill a promise you previously made. By the end of the day, you may be depleted of air and not able to move having wasted your time and energy.

My tendency is to want to live as a box. I like to be organized and there are specific tasks I plan to do on certain days each week. God reveals Himself as a God of order when He created the earth in seven days so I try to follow His example. However, I also desire to allow my schedule to bounce around like a ball when an opportunity to do something different pops up unexpectedly. I do not want to miss any divine appointment God is placing before me.

Next, I want to make a couple of scriptural applications to our ball and box.

The type of ball I am thinking about is one we blow up for children to play with. This reminds me of John 20:22 that says, “And with that he (Jesus) breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” Just as a ball can be inflated with air, we can be filled with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2, the Holy Spirit is described as wind when He descended upon the disciples. Then Acts 13:42 says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” Relating these verses to the concept of our lives as a ball, I discover that the Holy Spirit fills us with His presence just as air fills a ball. We can be caught up in the joy of the Holy Spirit like the fun a child has catching a ball.

Now let’s think back to life like a box. Remember how I mentioned that we might tend to build our accomplishments into a tower of boxes? This reminds me of the story of the tower of Babel in the first book of the Bible. From Genesis 11:3-4 we read, “They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks …. Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name’” As I compare a box to a brick, I sense our potential to build a name for ourselves if we keep our lives contained within boxes we build. I do not want to build my life primarily upon my self-esteem.

I consider a box more confining while with a ball I sense more freedom. I think of a box as being self-contained allowing me to be in control while a ball can take unplanned bounces in unexpected directions. A ball symbolizes more freedom in ministry for me than if I keep my life boxed in according to my own plans. I want to allow the Holy Spirit to blow me where He wants me to go and use me in the way He desires to use me for His glory. If we live like a ball, we would be wise to heed the words of Mark Batterson in All In, “You better expect the unexpected because God is predictably unpredictable.”

My Reader, I ask you again, are you more like a ball or a box? Think about this as you go about your responsibilities this week.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Well Women

flower-for-whole-2WELL WOMEN”

I am having fun using a play on words with my title “Well Women.” Join me in looking at two women in scripture who are worthy of this title because they have experienced Wells of Wellness. One is about a woman who encounters Jesus at a well and the other is about a woman who is made well through her encounter with Jesus. I have not printed out the scriptures of these two accounts, so you may want to read them in your Bible to refresh your memory of the details.

definite-rose2-mfIn John 4:4-42, we find the story of “The Woman at the Well.” The story begins with Jesus asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. This conversation should not have been happening because according to custom, Jesus would not talk to this person because she is a woman and because she is a Samaritan. I think Jesus set her up for their conversation by asking her for a drink. He probably was thirsty but He really wanted to take her deeper than just receiving a cup of water. The woman could offer well water to Jesus while He could supply her with living water that would quench a deeper spiritual thirst. After Jesus tells the woman she should ask Him for a drink, she notes in verse 11 that He has nothing to use to draw the water from the well. The drink Jesus is offering is drawn upon by faith. The key verses of this story are verses 13-14, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” These verses create a transition to a deeper level of understanding. In verse 25, the woman refers to the Messiah who is to come and in verse 26, Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah. The outcome of their conversation becomes evident in verse 28 when the woman goes back to town without her water jar. Her jar may have been empty, but she was filled with living water! This woman now exemplified the promise that living water would flow from within her. Not only did she draw Living Water from the well of Christ, but she also became a well of Living Water to those at hone. Verse 39 says, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.” When Jesus was with this woman at the well, He knew her heart was empty. She was without love or self-worth. She needed more than just a drink of water to satisfy her thirst and emptiness. She needed a spiritual infilling. She became a “Well Woman” through her encounter with Jesus!

definite-rose2-mfNow let’s move on to the story of “A Woman Made Well” as told in Luke 8:43-48. This time the woman is looking to be made well physically. She has had physical problems for the last twelve years. Like the woman at the well, this woman also is concerned with her physical need and may not have even known she had a spiritual need to be filled. Faith for this woman is her source of being made well while for the other woman her faith was what she used to draw water from the water well. The woman made well received an infilling of Jesus’ spiritual power simply by touching the hem of Jesus’ robe. In verse 48, Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” In this case, “well” meant wholeness in body, soul and spirit – not just physical wellness. (For a detailed explanation of wholeness refer back to “Sozo – It’s Greek to Me” posted last week.) Like the Samaritan woman, she was also confused about all that Jesus offered her. Jesus wanted the “unwell woman” to know that He was the source of all that she needed in every aspect of her life. Jesus offered her a personal encounter that would go much deeper than simply physical wellness. He also extended to her restoration of her soul and new life to her spirit. She wanted to encounter Jesus to be made well while Jesus wanted to make her whole through their encounter. She, too, became a “Well Woman”!

In both situations, Jesus used a physical need to present an opportunity for the women to have a spiritual need fulfilled.

definite-rose2-mfNow it is time for us to get more personal. The Lord wants us to know that we are Well Women. (Men, you may also make your own application.) There is a wealth of water in God’s well allowing us to become Well Women!  How deep of a hole, or well, are you willing to dig within your heart to find the source of your well water for wholeness? I encourage you to dig out busyness, clutter, and distractions. Fill your well with the wealth of God’s Written Word. The Holy Spirit is the Living Water that lives within us and desires to flow out of us. Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” Jesus offers “Wells of Wellness” but He also offers “Wells of Wholeness.” Do you want to be satisfied with just a drink of cold water or a physical healing? These are important, but Jesus offers so much more! His primary concern is the depth of our faith. For the woman at the well, faith was her source for drawing living water from the well. For the woman with the issue of blood, faith was her source of being made well. When we meet Jesus at the well with our faith, we become Women of Wholeness as well as Women of Wellness. However, we can go deeper and become Women of Holiness. In Ephesians 5:26 we are told that we can be made holy, we can be cleansed by the washing with the water through the word. The Lord desires to make us holy (sanctified and set apart) and wholly (completely) His. We, as “Well Women”, can become Women of Wellness – Women of Wholeness – Women of Holiness! Don’t settle for less than what Jesus offers to you!

definite-rose2-mfAs our time at the well comes to a conclusion, I would be honored to pray for you.

Do you identify with the woman at the well who had a thirst that needed to be quenched? Then I ask the Lord to fill your empty spiritual cup. May He quench your thirst for righteousness so you never thirst again.

Are you the woman at the feet of Jesus needing a touch in your physical body to be made well? Then I ask the Lord to reach out and touch your physical body to make it well. May He allow you to touch the hem of His garment and to feel His healing power flow through your body.

Are you a “Well Woman” desiring to become a Woman of Wellness – A Woman of Wholeness – A Woman of Holiness? Then I ask the Lord to fulfill your desire to be immersed in His Well of Living Water. May He allow you to spiritually drink freely from His well not only to be made well but to be made whole. May He impart to you a wholeness in body, soul and spirit. May you dig more deeply to truly know what it means to be holy and set apart for Jesus – having a thirst only for Jesus. May the Lord, make you a Woman of Wellness and Wholeness and Holiness.

Thank You, Jesus for hearing and answering our prayers!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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