Hosea 13, “God in a Box”

day 18 response to #shereadstruth Hosea devotional

 

I’ve put You high

in unseen places.

 

A shelf with a box has Your name on it.

 

Shall I get You down in emergencies?

Shall I place You next to the band-aids?

 

Bandage of the soul and spirit, You are

In the box, on the shelf, placed high and

just out of reach.

 

But You, You belong on my tongue.

And You, You belong at my dinner table.

And You, You belong on my door frames,

Strong and ever-ready, purposed for entry.

 

Yes, You, You belong in the mundane moments,

In the everyday, spilling into seeds of eternity sown in fertile ground.

 

Yet, You, You’ve been reduced to emergencies,

There, on that shelf, in that box, placed just out of reach.

 

And so I take You down and I place you higher,

I take You down and I place you higher.

In my heart, in that darkest space, under my ribcage,

I place Your light, let it shine, Glory shine!

 

For you, You are Yahweh come,

The only SAVIOR that exists ,

There is no other One but You….

 

Breaking out of the box

Breaking into my heart

Breaking light into dark

Your glory can’t be contained.

Hosea 11

Sow in me righteousness,

Reap in me steadfast love,

Break in me fallowed land

 

It is time to seek You, Lord…

 

Come like the rain,

Your goodness pouring down.

 

For though I run, scattered in sin,

You do not lose me.

 

Your faithfulness reels me in,

Your fences protect my life

The boundaries of Your mercy secure me,

Your blood brings me into Your family.

 

O tender love of God,

It is time to seek Your face.

Unedited: “The Sower of the Wind.”

After work, I’ll probably be annoyed that I posted this morning’s journal entry without bothering to edit it. I am compelled  to share this in its raw form though…and I hope even there, that it resonates with someone.
DAY 11, #Shereadstruth devotional
“They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 8:7
 Here I am, more often than not. Sowing the wind. Plowing through air, planting seeds of air, weeding seeds of air, and, sweating,  toiling and struggling, thinking I am sincere, but forgetting something.
 The WIND is an immovable force of nature,  and here I am sowing into her with abandon and all-intention, putting myself in harms way ….
 IN the face of God, his assurance and hope, his wisdom and beckoning call, I fail, time and time again.
 I try to construct my own safety nets. I run to the sight of false hope, disguised as eternity when in reality they are temporary distractions. I hire out for myself lovers, paying them to fill the void within me, when I should be running and skipping back to the cross, where the stripes of Jesus paid everything in my name….
 And, as I do so, my appetite for destruction grows to such an extent that I began to operate from what I need instead of what I’ve already received. I began to operate as a child of a temporary, fading world instead of a child of an eternal, expanding Kingdom.
 Until I see I’m standing in the path of the whirlwind, her winds turning and funneling before me, swelling and growing and whistling with danger.  And then, I look at my sweaty hands, my calloused palms and remember the LORD.
 And in the light of repentance, I see that I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. I see that I’ve lived so much out of my own strength until I became the mini-little g- god in my own world. Controlling, stabilizing, manipulating, shopping, laboring at the plow trying to produce security in this fallen world , sowing the wind, and working so hard to fight against the pain in this world that looms like a big dark shadow over me.
 But, at the feet of Jesus, my eyes are opened and I’m so ashamed of what I’ve brought to the throne of grace that I began to fall away. And, as I kneel, bits and pieces of my broken heart, my sinful flesh began to fall and I lay before him in jagged fragments; discarded pottery at the foot of the LORD, I am….weeping and ashamed and SO wrecked before Him because NOW I can finally see and it’s not good folks.
 It’s not good. One glimpse into His glory and I break like glass before His face. I can’t handle all that grace, all that mercy , all that FIRE of truth burning before me. So, I break and then I wait for his hand to sweep me away or to do something with all these pieces that are SO shattered it would require divine patience to mend.
 Then, like a warm oil, I feel His hands. The hands of JESUS, who came for sick, broken people like me. The hand of Jesus, with scars from nails driven in, who know how to minister to pain. The hands of Jesus, who are imprinted with hope and mercy for the undeserving.
 He slowly begins to piece me together, taking choice pieces and leaving out others. Even in the remaking, I do not fear. Even in the discomfort, I do not shy away. For I am in the builder’s hands now and He knows what He is doing. And when all that is usable is done, he sanctifies me for his bidding, filling every empty part with the Spirit of the Living God; tracing over every seamed together piece with fingers readied to forever HEAL..
 And when I say, “Lord, look at what I’ve done! Look at who’ve I’ve been! I am not worthy to be YOURS”… He said I’ve made you worthy. 
 And when I say, “But Lord, my flesh is sinful; I am not holy!” He says, I’ve made you holy!
 And what I say, “But Lord, who am I to be with you? ” He says, YOU are mine.
 And before me, he shows me a cross. He shows me everything I’ve done, the sin I’ve confessed and the secret shames I’ve hidden. He shows me every.single.sin nailed to that cross, and I recoil back in shame as I SEE the face of my sin, JESUS, covered with my shame and everything I’ve ever done…
 You see, even though every bible book has told me,  even though I already knew, I realized I didn’t really KNOW.
 But this isn’t the end because the LORD doesn’t’ leave us in grief, to agonize over what JESUS did for us. You See, this is a gift meant to be received with JOY!
 And as He shows me that NOW, because of THIS, I am free, I am accepted , sanctified and that the beautiful process of remaking was because of JESUS’s work at the cross…
As He shows me that I was able to break apart before him and experience his tender hands of grace….
As He sings his song of love over me…As He rejoices over my deliverance with me …
 I weep and sing and dance, simultaneously experiencing joy and agony because this is what it means to be a child of God…
 Being so full of JOY that you shine like the sun, but so in agony over the destruction of sin that you burn for righteousness; this is my heritage.
 And I, the sower of the wind, am now the sower of righteousness now. Planting seeds of hope and eternity, I labor without exhaustion for the LORD is REST for my soul.
 Indeed.
 Amen.

Change

A few months ago, or maybe many months ago, I was asked to do the Wednesday night service teaching over Genesis 34:1-36:43

This is an tiny excerpt, my conclusion, and my call to allow change to seep into our souls.

  • GOD can bring good out of EVIL.
  • God is able to use the evil that people do, bringing about positive results.
  • God’s has the ability to overcome any obstacle; His covenant will always advance
  • God cannot be bought and his favors are not for sale. Instead, He has purchased our brokeness and our stench of death and mended us! With his blood, He has set the righteousness of His life in us, and he does not even charge us!
  • God is the ultimate changer: life-changer, heart-changer, emancipator King, our God.
  • We cannot pay him or ever afford to pay him. No amount of money in the entire universe would be enough to afford His mercies. We can only give him tokens of love and worship him for who HE is to us and for us.
AND
  • WE can change by renewing our minds and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us, transforming our attitudes, leading with love, not holding God to our humanistic expectations, not trying to fit God into our systems of accountability, and by not treating Him as a mercenary providing favors that can be bought.
  • We CAN change because the Holy Spirit strengthens us with grace! We can change because we are laid down to death with Christ and we are crucified with Him. We live raised to life and seated  with Christ! And, if our God is for us, nothing can stand against us, in between us or separate us!  The accuser cannot condemn because GOD is the judge and He, by  dying for us, paid our debts and won the victory over death’s grip! We out of spiritual debt and  get to thank GOD forever for his abundant mercies.
  • We can change, because we are together in this! I may be one of a few or many who do not have blood family near. You guys are my family. We are a spiritual , covenant, broken family living in a broken world, but we are bound together by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and united in faith, love, worship and the precious blood of Christ.
 God….He does not demand instant perfection. And Hallelujah! For He leads us little by little, making inroads of our self-centeredness and doing his work in our lives one step at at a time.

For us…sometimes the best word we can give to the Lord is “thank you.” Thank you Lord!

 

The Woman With The Issue of Blood

We don’t know her name, but Jesus did…
And, just like the world doesnt know our secret sins, our shame,  the infirmities of our hearts, our bones…
Jesus does.
And still…
He waits, among us, Jesus WITH US, and He does not sit still.
No, JESUS continues in HIS work,
Yet….
All the while waiting for a touch made in faith.
TODAY,
As we casually bump into him,
Press into him,
Bumping, shoving, rushing…
HE walks among us and waits for that touch of faith,
Fearful , trembling, but believing.
He makes available to  us the outer garments of His GRACE.
And so…
Let us bring our bodies, weak, trembling,fearful, and stricken with humanity.
And then,
Let us bring our hearts, believing, expecting, hoping, and forging a path through the chaos of distraction.
And finally,
Let us bring our confessions, with great joy!
For now, we are made whole, clean, free; we are justified, vindicated, emancipated, LIBERATED.
For You, Jesus, desire mercy.
You, Jesus, delight in Mercy, abound in mercy AND
You know our names.
You know our names and YOU have made us to be a people on our knees before You so we can arise in the heavenly places BESIDE YOU.
You, Jesus, know our names.
So… we surrender.
We surrender in good faith, and  the fount of our bleeding ceases as the well springs of living water rush in to mend the violence of sin.
Psalm 67: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”
GOD,
We praise you.
Your grace is inexhaustible. Your affection is without end. Your mercy has no boundaries……
and
You know our name.
Surely, surely, we are blessed.

Daughter, Arise!

I come to you,

Jesus.

falling at your feet,

Jesus.

Fearful and trembling,

Jesus.

– You have every reason to condemn me.

“You harlot!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You sinner!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You leper!”  they say

BUT….

– What will You say?

– Will You say I stole a blessing?

– Will You say my touch has made you unclean?

OR

– Will You call out for, murder, “OH, those righteous stones!”

– What will You say?

But I can’t care! I’m pressing forward,

All I have to do is touch Your robe!

I don’t care, I’m pressing forward,

Because standing there before me walks living hope.

And I’ll risk it all.

I’ll risk it all.

Just to hear You call my name,

“Daughter.”

Glory speaks…..and the heavens rejoice.

Glory speaks…..”Oh, the sound of HIS voice!”

And,

You’ve called my name.

And,

 

I come to you, Jesus.

Falling at your feet, Jesus.

Fearful and trembling, Jesus.

Your glory running through my bones.

Your glory; I’ve seen the face of GOD.

Your glory; I hear my name….

Daughter, arise…

From the ashes, arise…

From the pit, arise.

From infirmity, arise....

From your prison, arise…

Daughter, arise…

Your faith has set you free.

 

Who can we bring to Jesus?

“Great crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, those who could not speak, and many others. They put them at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them.” – Matthew 15:30

When I read this scripture, I was immediately catapulted back into time, thrown into an image of Jesus surrounded by a great crowd of people.

All around him, people desperate for healing.
All around him, people desperate for hope.
All around him, people desperate for freedom.

Then, I imagined the people experiencing the healing ministry of Jesus, and:

I heard the cries of joy.
I saw the dances of jubilee.
I marveled at the fog cleared from eyes previously blind.
I cried at the sound of voices released into freedom.

And then, all of a sudden, I felt a question rising in my spirit.

 “Who can we bring to Jesus?”

You know, it isn’t surprising that humanity hasn’t changed much since Jesus walked the earth. We still live in a humanity teeming with brokenness and completely unaware of the Divine in the chaos.

To me, it feels like walking on a tightrope at times. On one end, there is faith in humanity and on the other end, there is faith in the divinity of Christ.  As novices we walk between the two sides, teetering, tottering, and sometimes falling, but all of the time crying out, “Lord, SAVE ME!”

And true to who He is, Jesus catches us, saying, ”Stop jumping on that tightrope and STAY AT MY FEET. Don’t you know that it is at My feet where faith grows, the fog is cleared, miracles happen, and freedom is released?”

So, who CAN we bring to Jesus?”

The scripture mentions that the lame, the blind, the mute, the crippled, and many others were BROUGHT to Jesus. They weren’t just brought into the general vicinity. They didn’t find themselves there by accident. No, they were PUT at his feet and then healed.

Immediately, I envision friends bringing friends.

I envision mothers and fathers bringing sick children.

I envision brothers and sisters bringing parents.

I envision friends rallying up everyone in their circle, yelling,

“Salvation is here! Salvation is here! Come and see Christ, the Messiah, He is here at last! Finally, all of our hopes are fulfilled! Salvation is here! Let’s go, all our lives are found today! Run with me, by His very touch we can be healed! He is here! Lets GO!”

And then I see this cord, this thread, weaving through everyone, binding and CONNECTING everyone together in perfect unity. And I realize that this cord, this thread is one of…

Relationship.

Friendship.

Kindredness.

They knew each other!  They were friends, relatives….simply put, they were friends.

In light of this, the the question changes. It is no longer, “Who can I bring to Jesus?”  but,

“Who can I bring WITH me to Jesus?”

I leave you with this question and a prayer challenge.

1. Ask God the question, “Who can I bring with me to Jesus?”

***** Listen for 5 minutes…wait and allow the Lord to answer.

2. Begin to pray for the person or persons the Holy Spirit brings to mind.

3. Pray for genuine friendships to be cultivated.

4. Pray that God give you opportunities to share of your walk with Jesus.

6. Finally, pray that God gives you the courage to invite them to church and that He will prepare their hearts for your invitation.

God,

Bless every new friendship of ours. Let our hearts be bound in Christian love. Let our fellowship be kindred in spirit. And, let us run with each other to the feet of Jesus, Your Son, who ministers to our EVERY need. Amen.

 

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 4

2 Kings 19:11-14

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.  Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

And he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

 

Response:

Stop. Think about the scripture for a moment. Envision it.

Pause. Reflect. Now…go.

What a powerful demonstration here.  Certainly, God can be in the midst of such glorious displays.  Yet, it was a whisper that the Lord chose to reveal himself here.   The wind may destroy,  the earthy may quake and the fire may consume. But the voice of God, even in His whisper, is more powerful than any force of the earth combined.

What a marked contrast! What a reminder!

Let us remember that displays of power and glory do not automatically change a person’s heart.

Let us remember that the voice of God is what convicts – not the voice or works of man. May we trust in His strength and not our own.

Let us remember this as we go about our days, planning our services, and ministering to the treasured hearts God loves so much.

And finally,

Let us always seek to create an atmosphere where the voice of God is welcome and where we are are inclined to listen and respond.

 

“He first wrapped his mantle about his face – he became subdued and awe-stricken – full of reverence. Oh! it is a great thing when a sinner is willing to wrap his face when he is confounded, and say, ‘I cannot defend my course; I am guilty.’ We know that if at our judgment-seat a man pleads guilty, he is punished; but at the judgment-seat of the gospel whoever pleads guilty is forgiven. Wrap your face.” (Spurgeon)

 

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 3

1 KING 19:9-10, NIV

 And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life.”

 

When Elijah was rested, he went into one of the many surrounding caves. This is the man who prayed for a drought for 3 years, and the Lord answered. This is the man who prayed for rain to end the drought and the Lord answered. And, this is the man who prayed earnestly to the Lord in his time of fear. Elijah did not hold back. He said to God, “I have been zealous for You. I have been obedient. And now, I am alone and in danger of death.”

Elijah unburdened his heart to the Lord, raw in his honesty.  Yet, it was God who subtedly prodded Elijah to unburden his heart, asking, “Why are you here?” Certainly, God knew. But, He wanted to hear Elijah’s heart in the words of his choosing.

God wants a real, authentic, relationship. The kind where we actually talk to him. A lot.  The kind where we unashamedly tell him the journey is too much, or that we have had more than we can bare, or that we feel abandoned and alone, despite our faithfulness.

Even in our deepest discouragement, even when our words are most bitter, even when we find ourselves surprised at the condition of our hearts, we can trust that God is not surprised at all. Instead, He is prepared and waiting.

In closing,

When my daughter’s bestfriend moved away, she told me, “I am all alone now and there is no one to play with me. Nobody loves me now!” And then, crying loudly, she ran to her room and slammed the door. As a parent, it broke my heart. The sound of my daughter crying always pains me, no matter the circumstances. I suspect that God looks down on us as compassionately as I did my daughter. You see, I knew that her loneliness was real and justified. I knew that her sadness was real and untamed. Because I knew,  I did not tell her to stop crying or to stop feeling sad. Rather, I entered her room and sat beside her for a while, waiting. Eventually, she crawled into my lap. When she calmed down a little, I talked to her, validating her feelings and guiding her through them. Soon enough, the moment passed, and my daughter was ready to play again.

Just like a parent, God knows our circumstances. He knows that, just as a child, sometimes we run to our “rooms” crying and distraught. He knows that our pain and loneliness is big and real, and He does not prevent us from enduring all the difficulties living a faithful life yields.  He knows, just as parents do, that tribulations produce perseverance, character, and hope.

He knows and He waits beside us.  He waits for the crying to settle, the heart to soften, and the soul to calm. Tenderly and patiently, He waits.

And then, in the most perfect of moments, He speaks…(Please come back tomorrow to read my response to 1 KINGS 19:11-14

I leave you with this scripture:

Romans 5:1-5, NIV

 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have[a] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Elijah, A Series of Responses: Discouragement, Part 2

1 Kings 19:5-8 New International Version (NIV)

Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

My response:

The angel said,  “Arise and eat.

But the message from God was  “Arise from this pit of despair. Take from my strength and feed yourself. Rest and be replenished.”

God,

When we allow fear to settle,

when we hide in shame and despair,

when we are drowning in doubt,

may we always remember Your response,

A Stephens

The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.” (Spurgeon)

“It was very gracious for God to deal this with his servant. We might have expected rebuke or remonstrance, chiding or chastisement; but we would hardly have expected such loving, gentle treatment as this.” (Meyer)