The Hymnal in Me

princeofpeace13  Frequently I wake up with a song in my thoughts. With this week being Holy Week, I may “fast” from my own thinking and simply share the songs in the night the  Lord brings me. These come from my childhood, words still dear to me and still true, even though the modern church does’t sing  them anymore.

Etna Green EUB Church

This morning it’s this beautiful request:

And our asking the Holy Spirit:

And God’s purposes entrusted to us:

 

And my prayer is simply Amen!

 

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WHOSE Blood Bought Me?

 

Four years ago I first posted this, and on this Palm Sunday I feel the need to repost what I wrote then. This first came to me in the teachers’ workroom at school, then exploded in me again the following Sunday, when the enormity of what God did for us in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus rose like a  fountain of passionate love in my heart. It’s still true, and though my heart fell to fear of man and grief of loss a month after I first embraced this enormous truth, the GOD of grace, mercy, compassion, and love has walked with me steadfastly even as I slipped along the journey that led me here and, in some ways continues through a dark valley toward God’s goodness. I know a fraction of the price GOD paid for me, and in truth he never needed to send me any greater other proof of his love, for  nothing more could possibly measure up to this undying incomprehensible gift. Yet out of love, he shows me his love so tenderly and powerfully. I pray it speaks to your heart today.

How I treasure those brief flashes of deep, gut insight that hit me much less frequently than I long forDo you know what I mean: times when you feel for a Nano-second that you’ve touched a deep truth about God, and you wish with everything in you that it would engulf you so you could immerse yourself in its power? Frustratingly, those moments never linger long enough.

The latest one that grazed my consciousness on Palm Sunday, March 24th, 2013, entered the orbit of my subconscious during the week before as I searched YouTube for some exciting video and information about relative sizes of objects in space for the third grade class I assist in. Some facts about VY Canis Majoris absolutely astounded me: a red hypergiant, it’s one of the largest stars we know of, with a diameter of 1,227,000,000 miles (that’s billion, if you don’t want to count the place value yourself), or 1,975,000,000 kilometers. Take a look and be astounded:

 

To give you a better sense of that immensity, if VY Canis Majoris was at the center of our solar system, its surface would extend at least beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and perhaps as far as the orbit of Saturn. What grabbed my attention in the video was the comment that if you could fly in a jet at 900 miles per hour, it would take you over 1,000 years to fly around the star! It’s so distant that the light of VY Canis Majoris takes 3,9000 years to reach us.

I sat in bed at 5 a.m. that Sunday and tried to cold-start praise to the King of Kings as Holy Week began.  A realization rose slightly above the horizon of my consciousness: WHOSE blood bought me? WHOSE blood?  Yes, Jesus’ blood – that rolls of my tongue almost tritely sometimes – but WHAT blood is his? WHOSE BLOOD?

“And God said, ’Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night,’ . . . And it was so. God made two great lights . . . .  He also made the stars. . . . “  Genesis 1:14-16

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? . . . On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”  Job 38:4, 7

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” Psalm 147:4

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . .. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” John1: 1, 3

“I, Jesus, . . . am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16

The “gestalt” of the immensity of VY Canis Major created by Jesus himself fused with these Bible verses and blazed into a whole much bigger than the sum of its parts. The Blood that bled for every speck of sin in my life coursed through the veins of the ONE whose voice spoke the inferno of VY Canis Majoris  and every blazing star, asteroid, comet, planet, and moon into existence. THAT blood! The most precious fluid and outrageous gift in the universe because it was the Blood of the ONE who imagined life, then spoke blood itself into being, and who bound the vastness of HIMSELF within the confines of a completely human body to spill HIS BLOOD instead of requiring mine. Let that sink into your heart for a minute …

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!….For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.         Hebrews 9: 13-15, 24-28 NIV

princeofpeace13JesusChrist with crown of thorns

And HE, THE GOD OF CREATION, PURE RIGHTEOUSNESS, PURE HOLINESS, PURE MAJESTY, PURE LOVE willingly gave it for me. I – like every oneof us – was  bound for Hell until I saw and reached out for God’s merciful gift of love, Jesus.

Oh, I wanted to grasp the enormity of that love in every cell of my body and neuron of my understanding!  Like a meteorite, infinite love tore through the atmosphere of my finite comprehension. Why in the world do I think I’m not loved? Why do we think we have to, or ever could, earn that love? And engulfed by that love, why in the universe am I ever afraid?

“His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns . . . and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!” Revelation 19:12,13,16

Even now I feel like I’m writing an ionic plasma breath of truth with hands and understanding of concrete, but O God, let me burn with that reality one day! Brand my heart with it now: I AM YOURS! YOU SOUGHT AND BOUGHT ME  WITH THE COSTLIEST TREASURE IN ALL TIME AND UNIVERSE, YOUR OWN SON JESUS!

I  worship you, LORD Jesus! You alone are worthy of true worship, and in this I lift up my love and thanks and wonder:

Therefore, so, because of this incredible gift God gave us through Jesus:

But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”  Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 12-18

A “…BUT…” to pray: LORD GOD, ABBA, Father, I may think I understand what you did in sending Jesus to pay for my sins and bring  into loving righteous relationship with you, BUT LORD, my heart longs to feel this powerful, transforming reality.  I AM a sinner, saved by your grace and unmerited mercy alone, and I do feel sorrow that my sins put Jesus on the Cross, evenas I feel joy that his Blood erased them all forever, completely. Holy Spirit, pour this truth of the priceless gift poured out for me into my spirit and into every fiber of my heart and being today, by your grace __________________________________ (And God smiles and replies, “I was hoping and waiting for you to ask me for this… it’s yours!) Holy Spirit, LORD Jesus, here I am thirsting to receive your priceless reality into all of me. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!  Holy Spirit, speak:  I’m eagerly listening ________________________________________________________

It’s SOOO not about me, part 2

IMG_0708This was absolutely incredible, absolutely God. An electrician just  came to give me an estimate  on doing a  repair to the house, and in very short order God revealed a deeper reason for Alonso  coming. He’s a young Believer, solidly loves  Jesus,  and I was honored and so glad that when I prayed for him, he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit speaking into his heart. Only God can make this kind of  connection, and pardon me  if you don’t agree, but this qualifies as a “daily miracle”of God’s connecting, gracious love.

How often does this happen when a handyman comes to give you an estimate on something?

  1. GOD, not I, scheduled Alonso to be the electrician who came today.
  2. GOD, not  I, guided the conversation from a very general mention of Jesus into a deeper connecting as fellow Christians.
  3. GOD, not I, chose the  words to speak through prayer to Alonso to minister  some healing and encouragement to his heart.

DO YOU KNOW THAT GOD INTIMATELY KNOWS WHAT  YOU NEED? I hope you begin to realize that truth now, andthis eternal one:

I am the  true vine…. Remain (abide) in me, and I will remain (abide) in you. NO BRANCH CAN BEAR FRUIT BY ITSELF; IT MUST REMAIN INTHE VINE. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain (abide) in me. I amthe vine; you are the branches. If a man (or a woman – this means person, not gender, so ladies, dont get huffy) remains in me and I in him, (s)he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15: 1, 4-5 NIV

BUT it is also true that  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 13 NIV

DO YOU REALIZE THAT GOD WANTS TO MOVE THROUGH YOU TO CONNECT WITH SPECIFIC PEOPLE HE DESIRES TO BLESS, ENCOURAGE,  ADVISE, EVEN WARN IF THAT’S THE NEED? I hope you begin to see that you are God’s unique skillfully, lovingly wrought creation for his specific purposes now.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL GIVE YOU THE  WORDS, THOUGHTS, THINGS HE NEEDS YOU TO CARRY TO SOMEONE? I hope you begin to truly believe that he  will supply all you need according to his riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19) It’s through you, but it ain’t about you!

DO YOU BELIEVE GOD  WILL BRING THE PERSON OR PEOPLE YOU NEED INTO YOUR LIFE AT YOUR TIME OF NEED?  Ok, now this should be a “no brainier” YES! The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 7“In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears.  2 Samuel 22: 6-7

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. 7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.…Psalm34: 6-7

Just an amen, thank you, Father God, gracious LORD, for showing me your ARE here with me, wherever here is! If you use me, you also hear me, and you also care VERY MUCH about me! Thank you for every manifestation and moment and connection of your unfailing love and presence, in Jesus’ name,Yaymen!  (my new word)

It’s Not About Me!

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Interesting – today I’m wearing the  same outfit that I didn’t remember I was wearing in this photo  last year!

Short and sweet, I hope, today. If I remember correctly, the opening sentence of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Life was “It’s  not about you.” That thought must have sent shuders through some folks who desperately needed affirmation that their life mattered, but the  deeper truth of this sentence is actually very affirming. I’ll be the first to say unequivocally that anything, and I mean anything and everything,  I’ve ever “done for Christ” came straight out of the power of the Holy Spirit and not out of me. BUT God did move  through me, and if that isn’t affirming, I don’t know what  could be!

I remember praying for my neighbor Lisa one morning when she came to my front door, and as I prayed, her eyes widened and she said,”I felt something just lift off me!” I  didn’t feel a thing, but what I felt didn’t matter a whit; what mattered was that God’s Spirit WAS ministering in power in Lisa’s heart, mind, and spirit. Where I came into the plan of God’s purpose was in being a willing, available empty vessel – and yes, that matters. God says so in his Word.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength'” (Revelation 3:7–8).

“…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I’ve heard so many friends protest  that  they can’t “do anything for Jesus” because they don’t have the talent, the gifting, the courage, the boldness, the time, the Bible verses quickly in their memory, the resources.  Well, that’s the whole point of simply being available and willing: God DOES!

Yesterday my friend Debbie asked if we could go down to the park I’ve been visiting  for the last year, to give out some small Bible’s  she had and a page of wonderful scripture verses, along with some granola bars. We met Shawna, Patrick, and Clare, prayed with each of them, gave out theBibles and scripture sheets, granolabars,soap,handlotion,and prayerfulloy the love of God, talked, shared, and were so blessed ourselves! I was so  glad, so moved, that Debbie wanted to go! Truth in advertising here, it’s only been in the last year that I’ve found  the joy of meeting with, getting to know, and sharing some practical things like food and soap  with the homeless. It’s only in the last two years  that I screwed up my confidence in Jesus IN me enough to start  asking people I meet  on the street if there is anything I can pray for them. I had no problem for decades praying for my nice “church lady” friends, but  with strangers? It only took me 45 years to come into the realization that people are people, people have  needs and hurts, and many people DO want to know there’s a God who actually cares about THEM.

What has it cost me? Getting over myself mostly, getting over  the ”what if’s” like what if they reject me, what if they look at me like  I’m loony, what if they think I’m some kind of religious fanatic weirdo. I  can imagine – because the Bible tells me so – that  some people thought  Jesus was an irreligious fanatic weirdo  when he  said things  and did  things that ran counter to the purely legalistic thinking that ran through much of Israel. Touch a  leper? Talk with a “woman of the streets”? Publicly forgive an adulteress? Say a foreign occupier Roman centurion had great faith? Eat with a tax collector?

Jesus lived our example:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2: 5-11 NIV

Even for Jesus, it was about revealing the Father in him. When you receive Christ as your Savior and God’s Holy Spirit comes into you to take up residence and  begin creating a new person in you,  you can count on it that God wants to move in your life and through your life, to do the same thing: reveal the Everlasting Father God.

No one can argue that the apostle Paul,  arguably the most powerful missionary in the early church,  was filled with God’s Spirit after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul himself considered all his  education and wisdom and position as worth nothing when it came to  truly being effective for God.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 5-9 NIV

What mattered was that he was available and willing to let God’s Spirit move through him.

And it’s never, ever been about me. THAT is what’s so COOL and absolutely amazing when God does move  through simply just ordinary me, and it humbles me even while it affirms to me that God’s love is there for me. AllI’m saying  today instep  worrying that you don’t have what it takes to share Jesus’ love  with  your neighbors, your colleagues, strangers in the grocery store. If you have  Jesus, you have everything you need and more to share his love, compassion,  grace, forgiveness, strength and power. I double dog  dare you to give it one try, ask God to show you someone  you can carry some of his love to, and  just do it,  even do it scared, and be ready to be amazed at  what happens!

A  “…BUT…” to pray: Okay, God, I am scared to step out and tell someone about Jesus, I am nervous about meeting someone outside of my own”group”, I do think I dont’ have enough ____________________BUT if you nudge me, I  will trust YOU in me enough to get over  _________________________________________________________ and try _________________________________________________. Please feel free to show up and show me who YOU are IN me! In Jesus’ name, amen!