God’s Knitting Project

It was morning. Quietness filled the house. I was praying for an individual and a difficult situation she was encountering. My friend had strengths and weaknesses. There were pros and cons regarding her situation. I cried out, “Lord, knit their hearts together.”1

The Lord immediately began showing me mental pictures in my spirit.  I sensed the Lord holding two balls of yarn – one in each hand.2 Each ball was unique. However, God was knitting them together. The knitting needles were the Holy Spirit. Sharp needles were piercing in truth and cutting out lies – like the two-edged sword of the Spirit.3 The colorful yarns were being knit together. A new creation was being made.4 

Sometimes there were knots in the yarn. A weakened thread in one of the yarns could have caused a knot. Or, tension between the two yarns could have created a knotty spot. The knots had to be removed before knitting could continue.  If a person tried to get a knot out with one’s fingers, it was harder to remove than if the Holy Spirit’s needles were used. The pointed end of the knitting needle was like the point of the sword of the Spirit.5 When the sharp needle was poked into the tangled yarn, the knot was removed. It certainly was easier for yarn to become entangled than to get it untangled!6 Human hands could have caused the tangles, but God was the Untangler. The knots had to be untied – set free of entanglements and bondage.7

Knitting and unknotting continued. A new creation was emerging. It was beautiful.8

My day progressed and I tucked away the images of my spiritual knitting project. Later, I heard the word “unraveled” whispered in my spiritual ear. I asked the Lord how this applied to His knitting project. To me, both knots and unraveling appeared to be hindrances to what was being made. What was the difference? God reminded me that the knots were in the individual yarns while unraveling occurred where the yarns were knitted together.

God showed me that yarn unraveled when there was a snag – when it caught on something.9 A snag could be repaired but it involved tedious work. It took time to weave the threads back together.  No new progress was made while the snag was being mended.10 However, once the snag was fixed, the Knitter continued His project.11

That evening, I was reading scripture. I do not think it was just a coincidence that I read Colossians 2:2 NLT,I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.The New International Version uses “united” rather than “knit together”. Whatever the terminology, love was a secret strand that was integral to the resolution between my friend and her situation. The Holy Spirit was knitting together, uniting, two balls of yarn that were held in God’s hands. Love was a part of the new creation.

God heard and was answering my morning prayer! Through mental images, a whispered word, and His written Word, God showed me He was at work. I have not yet seen the fulfillment of my prayer in the natural realm, but I have been encouraged. We walk by faith, not by sight, so I keep believing and lifting up this individual and her situation in prayer.12

Endnote Scriptural References:
(all scriptures are New International Version unless otherwise noted.)

1. In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. – Psalm 5:3

2. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

3. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. – Hebrews 4:12

4. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! – II Corinthians 5:17

5. the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God – Ephesians 6:17

6. Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us fee, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1 NKJV

7. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. – John 8:36

8. He has made everything beautiful in its time. – Ecclesiastes 3:11

9. Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. – Galatians 6:1

10. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9

11. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

12. Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. – Hebrews 11:1 NLT

 

 

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Leftovers Left in Our Hands (Part 2)

When I worked in a fabric store, I would create a fabric remnant if there was less than a yard of material left on a large bolt. I would measure the piece, fold it into a small parcel and mark it at a lower price. Most likely this piece would not be of value to the shopper who had plans for a big project but there was still potential use for it. A customer might purchase a remnant because it was the right amount for a specific project or one might buy it because it was a bargain that could have a potential purpose. Just because the cloth was not on a full bolt of fabric, did not mean it had to be discarded. This leftover fabric was still valuable.

Last week we looked at how Jesus uses our leftovers. (see post for August 16, 2017) This week I want us to evaluate how we use our leftovers. So, what are our leftovers? Although there are many, I want us to focus on one particular life leftover we all encounter. I am referring to the fragments of time within our days that have the potential of being useful leftovers for Gods glory. Let’s look closely at God’s perspective of our use of time.

 

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

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a good guideline for use of time. If we are giving our time to the Lord, every minute of our day, even what we might consider leftover time, will have a purpose. When we come to the conclusion of our day, there should not be any minutes unaccounted for.

And who knows but that you have come to your
royal position for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

Personally, I want to allow the Lord to show me how to fill my day, even those moments that appear to be the odds and ends of time. God wastes nothing and neither does He want us to waste anything. We must strive to use our leftover time constructively because in God’s eye there is no such thing as leftover time. This moment may be God’s ordained time for us to take time to do something we might not otherwise do.

Do not despise these small beginnings
Zechariah 4:10

God uses small amounts of time. What may appear to be a small amount of leftover time to us, is valuable to the Lord. We do not want to waste time and allow it to turn into a useless leftover just because we do not think we have a significant amount of time. These small bits and pieces can be the beginning of big things in the hands of God.

Knowing God is sovereign over every second of our days, let’s look at three examples of odds and ends of time that we can put to use in a positive way.

WAITING AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Although we might consider it wasted time to be stopped by a red light, we can put this time to good use by praying while waiting. We can say a quick prayer for the people in the cars going by. We should not be anxious, but rather perceive the red light as a reminder for us to pray.

WAITING FOR AN APPOINTMENT
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

If we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will show us how to occupy our time while sitting in a waiting room for an appointment. Maybe we can send a quick text to a person who is having a tough day and is in need of a word of encouragement. Why waste time doing nothing when we can be doing something constructive that will only take a couple of minutes?

TAKING A WALK
A friend loves at all times, 
Proverbs 17:17

All times” includes times when we may think we do not have time. For me, this may be taking time to chat a few minutes with a lonely neighbor in his/her yard while I am on a walk.  My minutes may give that person more moments of joy than I will ever realize. “All times” does not mean only when it is convenient for us. God’s schedule is often different from ours.

In conclusion, we discover leftovers are precious to God. Now we have to decide how precious they are to us. From our perspective, leftovers may appear to simply be bits and pieces of time cut out of our days that hinder us from accomplishing our goals. However, from God’s viewpoint, all of these minutes and moments are ordained divine appointments. Our fragments of time are valuable to the Lord. Are we willing to use our leftovers for His glory?

 

 

 

 

Leftovers Left in God’s Hands (Part 1)

I have accumulated a stash of leftover fabric from numerous sewing projects over the years. No piece is big enough to make a new skirt or a pair of curtains, yet I have kept the leftovers because I never know when I might need such a piece as this. Often when a granddaughter and I are having a sleepover, we search through my fabric resources for a craft project. Small pieces have value. Recently while sorting through my sewing stash, I was reminded of Jesus feeding the 5000 and the leftovers from that meal.

When they were filled, He said to His disciples,
“Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
John 6: 12-13

Join me as I look at these two verses of scripture phrase by phrase. Our focus will be upon the leftovers.

When they were filled”

Leftovers are what is left over after the use of the original intent of whatever commodity we have. These pieces have value beyond there first use. For me it was fabric, while for Jesus it was food. The bag lunch of one young boy placed in Jesus’ hands not only provided the meal for 5000 people but resulted in leftovers as well. I wonder how this boy felt when there were scraps of bread and morsels of fish left after everyone had lunch. Was he happy with the overabundance of food Jesus produced with what he gave or was he disappointed because not all of his offering was consumed in the way he thought it would be? Jesus did the math. He did not just add up what the boy gave, He multiplied it! We may feel disappointed if what we offer to the Lord is not totally used in the way we intended but God has much bigger plans than for us to just be satisfied with what we give to Him.

He said to His disciples . . .”

Jesus asked His disciples to pick up the leftovers. He did not do it Himself. Jesus asked His disciples to gather up the remainder of the meal because He knew the existing crumbs were important. We are not told what the disciples did with the leftovers but I think they gave the baskets of broken bread to Jesus. Maybe this was a prophetic picture of the Last Supper Jesus would share with these same disciples before His crucifixion. I want the obedience of the disciples to be an example of what I am to do with the broken pieces that are leftover from my attempts to serve the Lord.

Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

John describes the leftovers as fragments. In Luke 9:17, the phrase “broken pieces” is used to describe the leftovers. Jesus did not want to throw away any part of the boy’s offering that had not been consumed. He did not want to see any small morsels left on the ground because they had value to Him. Like my pieces of fabric, the leftovers were just scraps that were not used for the original purpose. However, just as I may have a future use for swatches of fabric, Jesus had a use for the leftovers of the bread and fish. We do not know what Jesus did with the bread crumbs – maybe He fed them to the birds. It is not important for us to know what Jesus will do with our leftovers but it is necessary for us to give them to Him. Whatever we choose to do for the Lord may be used in ways beyond our original intents.

So they . . . filled twelve baskets with fragments”

Is there any significance that the disciples filled twelves baskets with leftovers? Possibly each basket represented the life of one disciple. Maybe each disciple had brokenness in his life that he needed to bring to Jesus so He could use their brokenness for His plans and purposes. The fragile fragments of each disciple were so important to Jesus that He wanted to deal with each one individually. The same is true for us today. We cannot lump all the shortcomings and brokenness of all people into one basket for Jesus to forgive. We must each meet Him personally.

“left over by those who had eaten” 

Leftovers provide for abundance. If I had not kept the odds and ends of various materials, I would miss out on many fun craft creations to be fashioned with my granddaughters. Today, most likely, crusts of bread and bones of fish are simply discarded. However, we never know what the Lord will do with the leftovers of our lives. Jesus still promises us that nothing will be wasted just as He revealed to the young boy with a small lunch over 2000 years ago. He will use everything, including the leftovers, according to His plans and purposes.

(Click on image to find the credit for the appropriate image.)

How Deep Is the Water?

swimmer-sign

water-drop-1It is summertime and swimming is a popular activity. When getting into the pool, one of the first questions a young child will ask is, “How deep is the water?” It is scary to get into water over your head if one does not know how to swim. There is definitely safety in knowing the depth of the water. When I think of myself as a spiritual swimmer, I realize that I like to know the depth of what I will be encountering with God. The Lord has set before me the depths of faith to which He desires to take me, but I also have control over how deep I choose to go.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured
off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep.
He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was

knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water
that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was
a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was
deep
enough to swim in
—a river that no one could cross.
Ezekiel 47:3-5

water-drop-1In Ezekiel 47, the prophet describes the river that is shown to him. I notice that the water is gradually getting deeper. In verse 3, it simply covers the ankles. In verse 4, the water comes up to the knees and then the waist. Finally in verse 5, the water is deep enough for swimming. While in a pool of water, I may prefer to be in deeper water but I am not so sure about depth when it comes to spiritual water. However, I remember some of Paul’s words in I Corinthians 10:13, “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” To put this into swimmer’s language, Paul is assuring me that God will not lead me into water where I will not be safe. Although I may be hesitant to dive in as deeply as the Lord may desire, I must remember that He will keep me safe in His arms regardless of the depth of the spiritual waters. Deuteronomy 33:27 assures me, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” The Lord’s arms are encircling me like a life-preserver! I can have the tendency to limit God by not fully trusting Him to take care of my life. I need to remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” God does not limit how deep I go – I do. Ephesians 3:18 says that I may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ but I must be willing to jump into the spiritual waters if I am to comprehend the capacity of Christ’s pool of love. I ask myself, “How deep will my faith allow me to go?” God controls the depth of the water. Do I trust Him enough to jump into spiritual waters that I think are over my head? I have to remember that the Lord is already in the water and He is waiting with outstretched arms to catch me when I jump.

water-drop-1Thinking back to the scripture of Ezekiel 47, I find it interesting that each time there is mention of a change of depth in the water, it is by the measurement of 1000 cubits. (FYI: a cubit is 1.5 feet) In numerical symbolism, 1000 represents the completion of a season. I begin to understand how the Lord takes me into deeper waters by allowing me to go through different seasons of trials and temptations. Through each season, or 1000 cubits, my faith is strengthened and deepened. I develop the strength and endurance to swim in deeper spiritual waters without having the assurance of my feet being able to touch firm ground. II Corinthians 5:7 says “we walk by faith, not by sight.” Maybe I need to say that I swim by faith in deep water, not by keeping my feet on visible ground. As I live for the Lord, He will take me a few feet deeper through the waters He has established just for me day by day, moment by moment, season by season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” God has a plan and just as He has ordered the season of summer for swimming in the natural realm, so has He ordered seasons of swimming in the supernatural realm. Ezekiel’s river flowed from the throne of God and increased in depth gradually and safely. The same can be said for the river of life God has planned for me. Hebrews 12:2 informs me that “(Jesus is) the author and finisher of (my) faith.” Therefore, I can say that He knew the depth of the water where my faith began and He knows how deeply He can take me into His river. I can trust Him! I no longer need to ask “How deep is the water?” I can jump into the spiritual swimming pool with full assurance that the Lord knows the depth of the waters and that is all that matters!

water-drop-1In Luke 5:4 NKJV, Jesus challenges Simon to “Launch out into the deep.” Although Jesus was referring to fishing rather than swimming, I think Jesus gives me the same challenge today. He wants me to delve more deeply into understanding His Word and applying it to my daily life. The Lord does not want me to be satisfied with a shallow faith. Corrie Ten Boom has said, “Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.”  If I am to live, or swim, by faith, I must be willing to dive into spiritual waters without seeing the bottom of the pool while believing that the water will never be so deep that it will cause me to sink or drown. Even though it may seem impossible at the moment, I must believe that the Lord will help build up my endurance, or my faith, to swim the required distance when I launch out into the deep waters of life.

My Reader, are you a swimmer? Whether you are swimming physically or spiritually, enjoy the refreshing water. Physically, swimming cools off the body on a hot summer day. Spiritually, swimming refreshes body, soul and spirit in all kinds of weather. Remember God’s promise in Jeremiah 31:25, “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Spiritual Washcloth and Towel

feettowel-6  

so he (Jesus) got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you. For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
John 13:4-15

 On my first reading of this scripture, I am reminded of the usual lessons highlighted within these verses such as the need for my sins to be washed away, that I am to follow Jesus’ example of humility and that I am to serve as Jesus served. (All good but nothing really new.) I also realize this passage took place at the last Passover feast that Jesus shared with His disciples. (But now is the season of summer, not the season of the Passover.) So, why am I thinking about it? My granddaughter is the reason. One evening when Charity and I were having a Grammy-Granddaughter sleepover, she asked for a washcloth so she could wash her feet before she went to bed. She had been barefoot while we were outside and now her feet were dirty. I was happy to fulfill her request. (Nothing unusual.) However, the unusual occurs when I combine a familiar scripture with an ordinary action.

If I begin with a spiritual application of foot washing, I think about my need to be cleansed of any sin I may commit on any given day even though I am a believer who has been forgiven of my sinful nature. I cry out to the Lord with the same words as David in Psalm 51. I especially like verses 2 and 10 saying, “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” However, now my mind goes to the physical need of foot washing. Like the disciples feet, Charity’s feet were dirty because dust clung to them. Charity did not need a shower because she had taken one earlier in the day but her feet had gotten dusty and needed to be wiped off. Although my granddaughter knew what she needed to do, she asked for my help to find a washcloth so she could do it. This is where I am challenged concerning the concept of following Jesus’ example of serving.

Who needs what from me? Okay, that is a strange question, so let me clarify it. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Whose feet am I to wash? All of us need our sins forgiven and only Jesus can do that, but Jesus does enlist my service to lead others to Him. Is there a neighbor or a friend or a family member who needs to know about their need of forgiveness through my testimony? In order for Charity to get her feet clean, she needed a terry cloth. What is the washcloth that I am to give to a person in need of spiritual cleansing? God’s Word is what I need! In Ephesians 5:26, Paul talks about our need to be “washed with water through the word.” I John 1:19  says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Each individual needs to personally apply the promises of salvation and forgiveness to his or her own life, but first, one must hear about it. My granddaughter knew I had washcloths but she was not sure where I kept them so she asked me. I pray that others may see that I am a Christian by the way I live; however, that is not enough. I must share with them God’s plan and desire to forgive not only a person’s sinful nature but one’s daily sins as well.

When I think about my responsibility, I am reminded of Matthew 20:28. Jesus says that He came “not to be served but to serve.” When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He took off His outer garment and wrapped a towel around His waist. I am aware that Jesus not only served others but He served with humility. My actions must relay the same message. For me, taking off the outer garment is my giving up my sinful nature and becoming a new creation in Christ. (Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”- II Corinthians 5:17) Wrapping the towel around myself is wrapping myself in Christ or being clothed in Christ. (clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. – Romans 13:14) If I do this, my life’s testimony will lead others to Jesus. I do not want people to be drawn to me but to Jesus.(We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors. – II Corinthians 5:2) I need a towel for myself before I can hand a washcloth to someone else!

Towels and washcloths are important both physically and spiritually. I was happy to get a terry washcloth for my granddaughter and I hope my life also emulates the washcloth of the Word of God to her. However, I want to be sure that I hand the spiritual washcloth to her while holding the towel of humility in my own hands.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

 

 

 

Sip a Spiritual Float

root beer float - rose

root beer float - roseRecently, I had a Grammy-Granddaughter Day with Grace and we wanted a special treat in the middle of the afternoon. We decided to have root beer floats. She got two glasses, one for each of us, while I got the vanilla ice cream. I scooped the ice cream into each glass and then we carried our glasses along with a can of root beer to the table on the deck. When Grace first added root beer to her ice cream, her glass overflowed because she poured too much too fast. We learned to be more careful and enjoyed our time together as well as our floats. We even talked about some spiritual symbolism relating to our glasses filled with ice cream and root beer. We concluded that the glass represents a person’s life while the ice cream symbolizes the sweetness of Christ. Finally, the effervescence of the root beer exemplifies the power of the Holy Spirit.

root beer float - roseEach of us starts life with empty spaces to be filled according to choices we make. When a person asks Jesus into his or her heart, it is like putting ice cream into an empty glass. When my granddaughter and I started to make our floats, we did not put the ice cream into dirty glasses. Same thing applies spiritually. A person needs to confess one’s sins in order to be clean on the inside and out so Jesus can abide in one’s heart. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

root beer float - rose Ice cream in a glass is good but there is room for something else. The Lord also has more for us in addition to giving Jesus a place in our lives. Ephesians 5:18 says, “be filled with the Spirit.” So, that is the next addition. A person can be filled with the Holy Spirit just like a glass can be filled with root beer. It is interesting to note that the meaning of “being filled with the Spirit” in Ephesians refers to a continual infilling. Just like Grace and I added more root beer to our floats little by little, the Holy Spirit continues to fill us with His presence and power. It is not a one time infilling. Romans 5:5 states, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” I like the image of love being poured into our hearts in comparison to pouring root beer into the glass. Another scripture that I like is Acts 13:52 that says, “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we experience pleasure just like my granddaughter and I enjoyed our floats. Well, there is a difference between spiritual joy and physical joy, but we did see a similarity. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we experience love and joy and power. I like the comparison of the root beer to the Spirit because the effervescence of the soda reminds me of the power imparted to us by the Holy Spirit. Not only are we fully filled but we are filled to overflowing just like what happened when Grace first poured the root beer into her glass of ice cream too quickly.

root beer float - rose When my granddaughter and I finished our floats, we were full.  This reminds me of Psalm 16:1 which says, “In your (the Lord’s) presence is fullness of joy.”  Just like our glasses being full of ice cream and root beer, so are our lives full of joy when we fill our lives with the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Psalm 126:3 declares, “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” The Lord does great things for us by providing us with His strength and power to fulfill or fill full our lives according to His plans and purposes. My granddaughter and I thought our floats were great while we drank them, but that pleasure was miniscule compared to the joy the Lord imparts to us because of His love for us. For myself, I prefer being filled with the joy of the Lord rather than just being filled with a root beer float. I am hungry for the presence of the Lord. I want to drink in the goodness of the Lord and be mindful of all the great things He does for me daily. I desire to be in His presence where I can experience the fullness of joy.

root beer float - rose My Reader, have I instilled within you a hunger and thirst for a root beer float? I hope I have also instilled in you a thirst for Jesus and the Holy Spirit within your life. Why not make yourself a float to enjoy while you take time to be filled with the love and joy and power that the Spirit desires to share with you? Remember, your life is the glass, Jesus is the ice cream and the Holy Spirit is the root beer. Be filled with the presence of the Lord and float in His joy!

 Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new