Barefoot

bare-feet-1bare-feet-2Since warm weather has arrived, I have exchanged my winter shoes for summer sandals. These summer shoes reveal more of my feet and provide a little less protection. However, I also like to throw off even my sandals and go barefoot. There is something special about being able to run barefoot through a thick lawn of green grass on a summery day! It is freeing to feel the grass between my toes. Maybe I can identify with Moses and Joshua who went barefoot in the Lord’s presence. In fact, they were personally instructed by God to take off their sandals in His presence.

In Exodus 3, Moses was intrigued by a bush that appeared to be on fire and yet was not being consumed. As he went closer to the bush, God spoke to Moses saying in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” In the following verses, Moses and God have a conversation regarding God’s desire for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Moses argued with God, God had an answer for him that revealed His willingness to help Moses in all he asked Him to do. In a sense, taking off his sandals signified Moses’ vulnerability to what God asked of him. I wonder if God is asking me to take off something so He can better use me according to His plans and purposes. I do not have to provide my own shoes, or my own strength. In contrast, God asks me to remove any confidence I have in my flesh. In II Corinthians 12:9-11, Paul records, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” … Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Joshua 5 while Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho, he encountered a man with a sword. When Joshua inquired about whether he was for them or against them, the man revealed himself as the commander of the army of the Lord. In Joshua 5:15 it says, “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’” Joshua obeyed this command out of reverence and respect. I want to follow Joshua’s example and take off my shoes in the presence of the Lord. Like the soles of my shoes that pick up the dirt of the ground around me, my soul within me can pick up sin from the world in which I live. Out of reverence to my holy God, I want to remove sin from my life. I Peter 1:15-16 says to me, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” Taking off my sandals or shoes can be an outward expression of worship revealing my inward reverence for the Lord.

While walking barefoot, I feel a closeness to the God of all creation who has created the grass upon which I walk. I am aware of being in touch with the Lord when my feet are touching His creation. A few scriptures come to mind that inform me of how to walk with the Lord. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Then II Corinthians 5:7 KNJV tells me to “walk by faith and not by sight,” while Paul reminds me in Galatians 3516 NKJV to,Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Bare feet and summer seem to go together, but I need to remember that in order for me to walk with the Lord I should be barefoot in His presence no matter what season of the year. I John 2:6 NASV says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” In order for me to walk as Jesus walked, it will be beneficial for me to be barefoot so I can place my footsteps in His footprints.

My Reader, do you want to go barefoot today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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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
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How Deep Is the Water?

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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
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Sitting in the Sonshine

sunshine Our daughter has always been drawn to sunshine. I remember her lying in the sun on the front step while she was growing up. She always said the warmth of the sun felt so good. Her skin tanned beautifully and she never burned. However, now we know that sun bathing can cause skin cancer. She still enjoys the sun and spends time in the pool with their children, but she also uses sunscreen. Too much sunshine is not good for us but we can never get too much Sonshine. Today I am comparing physical sunshine from the big star in the sky with spiritual Sonshine from Jesus, the Son of God.

 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;
meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do
everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Joshua 1:8

sunshineIn the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord appoints Joshua to lead of the Israelites into the Promised Land after the death of Moses. The Lord reminds Joshua to continually mediate upon His Word found in the Law in order for him to succeed with his task. Joshua had to remember the directives previously given in the Law and not only know about the Law. Now I think about how Jill would lie in the sun for an extended time resulting in her soaking up the sun’s rays into her body. For maximum benefit from the sun, she did not just occasionally go for a walk on a sunny day. I also remember that when Jill would lie in the sun, she would usually have her eyes closed – she was resting in the sun. When I meditate upon the attributes o the Son of God, it is beneficial for me to close my eyes and shut out the distractions of what is happening around me. I need to remember that in order for me to internalize the revelation of who God’s Son is, I need to spend quiet time meditating upon specific scriptures. I will not soak up the deep messages of God’s written Word if I simply read a chapter in a few minutes. Joshua was told to meditate upon God’s Word day and night; maybe I should do the same. I desire to soak in the Son’s presence more than I want to soak in the sun.

 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us
while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32

sunshine Luke 24:13-43 relates the story of two disciples encountering Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. During their conversation with Jesus, the disciples did not know who He was. It was only after Jesus had broken bread with them and He had disappeared that the disciples knew who had been with them. After their eyes are opened to the reality of the situation, they  comment that their hearts had felt strangely warmed. Once again, I think of Jill lying in the sun absorbing the warmth of the sunshine. Warmth feels good whether it be a physical or a spiritual warmth. However, I think spiritual warmth lasts longer than physical warmth.

 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets
of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face
was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.
Exodus 34:29

sunshine In Exodus 34, I read about how Moses’ face shone when he returned to the Israelites after receiving the two new stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. In fact, his face shone so brilliantly that the people asked him to cover his face with a veil. There was physical evidence upon Moses’ face that he had spent time with the Lord just like Jill’s face and body became tan as evidence of the time she spent in the sun. Sonshine and sunshine – both are evident in a person’s life! My face may not glow to the extent that Moses’ face shone, but I desire for those around me to be aware of the change in my countenance when I spend time with the Lord. I like Matthew 5:16 which says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

 for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light
2 Corinthians 11:14
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11

sunshineI shared earlier in this blog about the need for sunscreen to protect from sunburn and skin damage. I find a spiritual comparison from this perspective as well. In II Corinthians 11, Paul talks about how satan likes to deceive us by appearing to be an angel of light. There is the possibility of my getting burned by either the sun or satan, so I need to take the necessary precautions against this happening. Sin is satan’s sunburn. I apply sunscreen for protection from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and I can put on the armor of God for protection again satan. (See Ephesians 6:10-17 to find each piece of God’s armor.) If I am going to be in the sun for an extended time, I need to apply sunscreen whether the weather be sunny or cloudy. Clouds may deceive me into thinking that I will not get sunburned but such is not the case. The same is true spiritually. I need to apply the armor of God every morning when I get up because I do not know what attacks from the enemy I might encounter on a specific day. I need Sonshine whether or not I am in the sunshine.

 He (Jesus) will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Matthew 3:11
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.
I Thessalonians 5:19

sunshine Too much sun results in a sunburn making one’s skin feel as if it is on fire. I do not want that. This would be a negative type of burn, but I want a positive type of burn. The more time I am in the presence of the Son, the more my heart will burn with a holy passion for Him. I desire to be on fire for the Lord! John the Baptist told his followers (and he still tells me) that it is possible to be baptized with the Holy Spirit that will create a fire within one’s heart for the Lord. I want to burn for the Son by being immersed in His presence. As the New King James Version of the Bible states, I do not want to quench the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life. As is true with Jill, I like sunshine. However, I like Sonshine better – and I know this is Jill’s perspective as well.

 Joyfully,
Cheryl
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