Tag Archives: redemption

living in the dusk

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Ephesians 5:6-14

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),  and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.  For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.  But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

One of my favorite things to do is to sit and watch a sunset.  Watching as the bright of day closes and darkness is waiting on the peripheral . . . waiting to snuff out the light.  Dusk, that moment in time of partial darkness between day and night. 

It’s a moment in time I want to briefly stop and appreciate His handiwork in the sky, but dusk is not a place I want to live in, but it seems to be a place I can wander in.  It’s not that place of Light, and it’s not that place of Dark.  

Dusk, where the shadows provide
                places to hide.
to escape.
                to avoid.
to divide.
                to decay.

Dusk is that place where the empty words of my enemy wants to woo me back into Darkness.

Words that want to come back to haunt me.

You are not loved.  You are not valued.
You are not worthy.  You are not pleasing.
You can’t do anything right.   Guilty.
 

Those are empty words, fruitless works of darkness.  E.M.P.T.Y.

I have to take those things of the darkness and expose them to the Light.  His Light.  Jesus changes who I am.

My life in the Light is full.

My life in the darkness is empty.

Living in the dusk is simply waiting for the darkness to come.  It will steal the Light away.

Are you living in dusk?

 

 


Hope for the filthy rags

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Even at my very best, I have nothing to offer but filthy rags.

But I have the Hope that will not disappoint!

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ. 
We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 
 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.

This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5: 1-5


offering my thirst

 

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Reading this morning . . . something struck a chord.  Once again counting the gifts, the lessons that are given to us in the every day, ordinary.  Something as simple as needing water.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. (Desiring God)

There’s been a lot of work going on down at the ranch these last few months.   Poles have been set, lines have been strung, trenches were dug and wire was laid – we’ve got power all the way down to the front of the property now.  Power to help us sustain and maintain.

Next came another crew with their big trucks and time to drill a well. We’ve been anticipating having our own fresh water at hand.  For the last few years, we’ve been lugging in water in everything from coolers to cases of bottled water.  Finally the big day came and up went the drilling rig and the down went the drill bit, deep into the earth.  By that afternoon, we had water!  Fresh, cold water streaming out to meet our watering needs.  No more lugging in water from the outside – all we’ve got to do is bend down and drink until our thirst is quenched.  Water. Whenever we need it, whenever we want it.  

Another reason we were excited to have running water at hand is now it was going to be much easier to make water available for some of the wildlife that runs through our woods.  Off to Tractor Supply to buy a watering trough and fill it to over-flowing with water.  Looking at the tracks that are often left around the trough, the watering trough is serving its purpose.  But one of the downsides of the troughs and the bird baths, they have to be maintained by man.  After awhile, we’ve got to empty out the standing water that is no longer fresh; it’s become stagnant.  So we haul the hoses and bring in more fresh water.

And after spending some time in the great outdoors, there is nothing like bending down and drinking from the well of fresh water.

God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade. 

If you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. But if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you’ve found. 

My hope hangs on this biblical truth: that God is the kind of God who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer — my thirst. That is why the sovereign freedom and self-sufficiency of God are so precious to me: they are the foundation of my hope that God is delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.                                                                                                                (from Desiring God)

I offer my thirst to the only place where it can be truly quenched – at the fountain of Grace and the stream of Living Water.

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desolate places

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Dry, parched land begs for water.  A picture of desolation.

It wasn’t too long ago that our land was dry and parched.  Cracks were spreading out in every direction across the soil.  We were praying for rain to pour out on the thirsty land.

Just like the land, there have been seasons of desolation, parched places in my life.  Not physically, but spiritually.

“I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.  I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants.”  ~ Isaiah 43:3 

How does God see those areas in my life?  He promises to pour out water in those dry places – what mercy!!

Then the rains came.  The dry, parched land soaked in the quenching rain that eventually covered the land and the land began to flourish again.

And so I go to my desolate places and plant myself to seek Him.  I plant myself next to the streams of Living Water and the falling rains and bubbling springs of pure Mercy saturate the places where He knows I need it most.

  Remember God is more anxious to bestow His blessings on us than we are to receive them.
Augustine


not disqualified

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I look at the face staring back at me from the mirror . . . thinking “Who do you think you’re fooling?  You’re so disqualified.  What in the world do you have to offer?  You are broken . . . of absolutely no use.”  It’s those lies speaking into my heart.

His Word tells me my brokenness placed in God’s hands doesn’t disqualify me.  He redeems me from that mess of broken pieces all over life.  My brokenness actually qualifies me for His use.

God used two broken stone tablets to cause the Israelites to repent of their disobedience.

God used broken earthen vessels (pitchers that covered torches) to give the impression of an enormous army accompanying Gideon and to cause his enemies to pull back in dread.

God used a broken heart to return King David to Himself.

God used a broken roof to provide access for a cripple to be lowered by four faithful friends into the healing presence of Jesus.

God used broken loaves to feed five thousand and then some.

God used broken fishing nets to challenge the disciples to depend on Him rather on their own efforts for their needs.

God used a broken flask of nard to express the love that flows out of a relationship with Him.

God used a broken ship to steer Paul to the island of Malta to reveal the gospel to the natives there.

God used a broken body, pierced for our sins, to provide salvation for all mankind.

from M. R. DeHaan, Broken Things:  Why We Suffer


all things new

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Behold I am making all things new.  ~ Revelation 21:5

On the hunt for signs of new life.  Spring has been teasing us for the last several weeks here after an unusually cold and pretty dreary winter in Texas.  The days of biting cold, icy roads, and winter storm warnings (school closures!) are surely behind us!  Now the signs of His breathing new life into the deadness of nature are showing all around us.  The anticipation of what God is going to do brings a fresh hope.

The little green leaves of the bluebonnets poking through the dirt . . .  bring hope.

The lone clump of Indian paintbrush . . . brings hope.

The mother bluebirds building their nests in the houses lining our fence  . . . bring hope.

The sounds of a hosts of different birds awakening the woods . . . bring hope.  

The massive old trees budding out with tiny spurts of green  . . . bring hope.  

The freshness in the air as I walk outside . . . brings hope.

All signs of spring!  How I love spring because it’s the season that wipes away all the dead, the dreariness and brings the promise of new life.  But you know it’s not just the in trees, the flowers, the birds that new life is promised.  His promise is for us!  He makes us new.

So in looking around the promise of new life all around me today, I am reminded that there was a time in my life I too was dead, dead like much like things in nature in winter.  But He made me a new creation!!

It’s not just a seasonal event that happens.  God is constantly at work in my life.  He is continuously working the soil of my heart through His Spirit.  Even when it’s hard to see from my human perspective, I know He is at work even in the smallest details of life.

I know I can trust HimSo I cling to His promise, anticipating with fresh hope the day when all things are made new.

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the grass, the birds, the lilies and me

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If God so clothes the grass of the field . . . , will He not much more clothe you . . . ? Matthew 6:30

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?  The problem is as much as I want simplicity, something inside me fights it.
I let the cares of the world come in to my mind and my heart. I allow myself to think I know better than Him.  And every time I allow this to happen, I push my Creator aside, losing that intimate place of close relationship with Him. 

How do I let the simplicity of the grass of the fields be my simplicity?  I set aside myself for Him.  I listen – receive His Spirit.  I am learning to rely on Him, not on my feeble attempts at “doing life.”

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“Look at the birds of the air . . .” Matthew 6:26.

I enjoy walking through the woods and the meadows at our country place.  The cacophony of sounds from all types of birds resonates through the ever-present stillness.  All you have to so is look up and the birds are there.  Are they dependent on me?   Absolutely not.  These feathered creatures, from the tiny little blue bird to the beautiful hawks that soar overhead as they intently watch our fields, follow the instincts their Creator places inside of each one.  He watches over every single one.

So why do I doubt?  Why would I think He wouldn’t watch over me?  Me.  The one he says He has known before I was created?  I want that freedom, freedom from worry.

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“Consider the lilies of the field . . .” Matthew 6:28.

We don’t have lilies in our fields, but we do have most of the beautiful Texas wildflowers one can find in the Hill Country.  The ever-changing landscape reminds me that these flowers always grow right where they are planted.  Not planted by our hands, but by the Hand of their Creator.  How many times do I refuse to grow right where God has planted me?  How many times do I not allow my roots to go down into His Ground?

Jesus said if we would obey the life of God within us, He would look after all other things. Did Jesus Christ lie to us? Are we experiencing the “much more” He promised? If we are not, it is because we are not obeying the life God has given us and have cluttered our minds with confusing thoughts and worries. How much time have we wasted asking God senseless questions while we should be absolutely free to concentrate on our service to Him?
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

And just like with the grasses, the birds, and the lilies, this is not just a one-time thing for me either.  It’s a daily act. I need to stop and look again each day. Give myself up daily. Not just when I “need” Him, but give Him every single moment of every single day of my life.

Looking for Him in the little things, as well as the big things of my day.


renewing

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The other day while thumbing through some notes found in the Bible I had used for many years, I ran across these words that had been shared in a past study.  I had to smile because of the coincidence of the content and my *2014 word* RENEW —— Coincidence?  Ummm…. no, I don’t think so!

Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is a two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new. The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behavior will be transformed.  (source unknown)

Growing up with parents who enjoyed antique shopping and a grandmother who had her own little shop, I spent quite a bit of time being my dad’s “helper” when it came time to refinish many of the furniture finds.  Some of the pieces were unbelievably ugly, and often I would think “there’s no way this piece is going to ever find its way into our home.”  But as my dad would painstakingly strip away the layers upon layers of paint, the beautiful original wood would be exposed.  After all the steps of the taking away the old were complete, the process of replacing it with a new finish would result in a total transformation of the piece.

So stumbling across the words I had written down years ago, the message was clear.  The transformation that I desire is not just a switch of one behavior to another, but it is a process.  And just like refinishing furniture, it’s tedious and messy work.  It’s not a one-time exercise, but it is one that I need to do daily. This renewal must come not only from the outside in, but more importantly from the inside out.

What does this look like?  For me, the old are the lies that I have allowed the enemy to whisper into me; it’s the walls that I had built up over the years to protect myself; it’s the healing of hurts and scars.  The new is daily asking the Spirit to show me the things I have hidden deep in the recesses of my mind and heart.  To show me, to break my heart and my mind of anything that blinds me, no matter how much it may still hurt, from His Truth.  

The great Exchange – new for the old.

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stopping in at  Bonnie Gray’s . . .  come join us


old things have passed away

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Starting over.  A fresh start.  A new beginning.  An eternal gift.

I ask myself, what do I have to offer Him?  What do I bring to the table in this relationship I desperately desire to have with Him?  After all, He gave His life for me . . . He gave it All, wiping my slate clean. 

I have nothing . . . absolutely nothing.  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

All I could see were my old ways, my old life, my old heart that had been hardened by the hurt, the sin, the bitterness, the evil in my life and in the world.  All He sees is me, the new me.

He takes the old me, dirty slate and all.  Me and all my the brokenness, He transforms me into a new creation – from the inside out.

It’s nothing, nothing but Grace. 


this little light of mine

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This weekend I heard a few lines from a long-time favorite song that took me to the little blonde-haired girl who loved going to Sunday School, hearing the stories of the Good News, memorizing Bible verses and singing her heart out to Jesus.

Decades later, I’m still that girl!  So when I heard  . . .

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine . . .”

my heart smiled really big and I instantly began singing those familiar little words about letting my light shine and not hiding it under a bushel.

So many times when I’ve read the verses of the familiar passage of John 3, my mind tends to go into my auto-pilot mode.  But this weekend there was something fresh.  Something I needed to hear.

When I heard the word “evil” my mind would automatically go to those “BIG, BAD things” that we do.  You know “those things” we don’t want to be seen or known through the world’s microscope.   But in reality . . . it’s those “little things,” you know the ones we tend to not see in ourselves as easily as we do in others, that make my light dim.

Anger . . . Pride . . . Selfishness . . . Dishonesty . . . Discord . . . Greed . . . Lust . . . Envy . . . just take your pick.

My reluctance to open my own eyes puts me right there in the darkness. The power of the enemy will steal his way into my heart and into my actions and reactions, if I don’t come to The Light.  I need the lens of God’s Grace to show me the Light of Truth.

So the questions I face each day. . .

Do I let His Light shine in me and through me?

Do I come to His Light every day looking for His righteousness?  

If I do, then I shouldn’t fear any thing in my day.  No judgment.  No rejection. Or even the Truth.


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