Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Feast!

"Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good..."

It has been a wonderful time of feasting with the LORD lately. It all began around two weeks ago when the announcement was made at church that we would be having a Ladies' Dinner. Someone asked me if I would host a table. I said yes first and then asked, "What does that mean...host a table?" I was asked to bring my best dishes and set one of the tables for six for the soup and salad dinner on Friday night.

Since I have inherited my Dad's (and Mom's) beautiful china, I was eager to get them out and use them. I rummaged through the basement carefully pulling out one cobalt and gold rimmed plate after another, but there were no bowls. My mother left these dishes behind when she and my father parted ways more than a dozen years ago. I called her up and asked her about the bowls. "No bowls," she said. "I never bought them." Bummer. How on earth are we supposed to eat soup with fine china and no bowls?

I fretted over this fact for a tiny bit and then I just gave it to the LORD. "I need bowls for the soup, Lord. And I need You to provide them." We went shopping (me and Him). I started at the Kitchen store. My budget was beyond tiny (Rod is still unemployed). I know you're thinking, "You are BUYING bowls when your husband is unemployed?" I was on a mission...from God. I could feel a major blessing coming on.

The only thing the Kitchen store had to offer in my price range were clear glass bowls. They were functional, ninety-nine cents each and very boring and ugly. They would look actually quite disgusting with my mother's beautiful Fitz and Floyd Renaissance Cerulean Blue bone china. But, if I did not find anything better I was going to have to stick with these. I went to the dollar store. YES, the dollar store. Sometimes you can find really abstract good things at the dollar store. (Years ago I bought six cobalt blue glass stemmed water goblets on sale at the dollar store for fifty-cents each!) But on this day, all the dollar store had to offer were ceramic bowls with snowmen in the middle and Happy Holidays around the border. Nah. They wouldn't do, even if they were twenty-five cents a pop. I resisted the "good deal"...honestly, mostly because of the Happy Holidays part. I don't like that.

On to the next store. I began talking to my Shopping Partner more fervently. "I really need something nice and within "our" budget. Please, LORD, be merciful to me." We went to TJ MAXX. Now, I have had tremendous success with the Home Store part of TJ. I never have clothing success there, but the Home Store has been a treasure trove for me many times.

I marched right in and I saw the most breathtakingly beautiful dishes I have ever seen in my life. (No, not those up there.) When my mother told me how she came to buy the blue dishes and hide the plain ivory and gold ones her mother had purchased for her...I didn't understand until that moment. My grandmother bought my mother a full set of Lenox Tuxedo, Ivory and gold bone china dishes (above) when she married the first time. My mother secretly hated this pattern. BORING. (I think they are quite elegant, myself. They are plain, but elegant.) When my mom "grew up" into the woman who knew what her tastes were, she purchased the blue Fitz and Floyd. They are flashy and bold...definitely NOT boring. Very much the opposite. I wondered myself, if I would ever discover what MY taste was when I "grew up". When I stood there in TJ last Thursday, I discovered the answer: YES! And they were like neither of the sets of dishes my mother had.

These beauties were covered with gorgeous red roses and the brightest pink peonies with all kinds of green foliage clearly depicted as though they were works of ART! I began coveting those dishes instantly. I picked up one of the tall coffee cups and carefully upturned it looking for a price. Ouch, $7.99 (TJ price). Totally out of my price range for a coffee cup. Still, to sip my precious morning Joe out of this enchanting porcelain piece would really be something so...so...oh, the soup bowls. "Yes, LORD, I'm going to stop fantasizing and get back to business."

I scoured the aisles carefully searching for just the right thing. And I needed at least six of them. Finally, I saw something very strange...right at eye level. A box of four soup bowls on clearance for $7.00. They were white with a gold rim. They were china and not ceramic. There were two boxes and that was all. I started to walk away thinking, perhaps there is something else, something cheaper. As I moved away from the eight bowls I heard the LORD speak, "Where are you going?" "Well, LORD, I don't know. I'm just..." He said, "Those are your bowls. $1.75 each. Two boxes. Eight bowls. They match your china. Buy the bowls." Now, I have to admit. I hate to shop for clothing. Really, I do. So, that's why you all get to see me in the same clothes you have ALWAYS seen me in, ever since you've known me. I know this is true, because I have the same clothes I've had since 1991 when I moved here from California. But, I can't resist "THE HUNT" when I'm searching for something fun...like for the kitchen or the perfect gift for someone. But, my search was over. And I needed to get home and keep up with that mountain of laundry in my basement. So, I bought the bowls and praised Him all the way home..."You really do love me! You really do!"

When I opened the first box and washed the bowl, I took it downstairs to see how it would look with one of the plates. Perfect, absolutely perfect; as though the bowls were MADE to go with the china. He is Ssssssssssssssssssooooooo GGggggooooooooodddd!!! I just love Him. And I love it when He goes shopping with me! Because He is the best One to go shopping with ever. He never complains that His feet are hurting and He never knocks anything over and breaks it! (Smile.)

The ladies' dinner was such a blessing. Everyone's tables looked so beautiful. We enjoyed so many delicious soups, salads and wonderful fellowship. I thanked the LORD again and again for His precious presence with us. Fran Osigian gave us the most wonderfully inspired object lesson about what we stuff into our Temple. And how many times, we only slip in a tiny bit of the Word of God. Sad, but true.

Pastor Billy decided that we, as a church, would begin reading aloud the entire New Testament beginning on Monday night. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights from 6pm to 8:30 pm we would come together and take turns reading the New Testament through. I was so excited, I began praying immediately. What a privilege, what a joy, what an honor that we still live in a country where we CAN legally read God's word aloud in a public setting!

So, we gathered last night at six o'clock. Pastor Billy prayed and each of us who wanted to read a chapter from the book of Matthew did. We ate and ate and ate God's word until ten til nine when we finished the first book. Some of us were in tears. I was, in particular. It always crushes my heart to read how my Love was beaten, maligned, crushed and crucified by people He was sent to save. My sin cost my Love His life. But His precious resurrection secures mine! I'll never get over it.

Little Gracie is only six years old. She was the youngest person in the room. She knew what was expected of her: sit still, be very quiet and remember what I told you, "Jesus said, he who has ears to hear, let him hear." Bless her little heart. She did very well. She writhed around on the floor next to me when she finally grew tired of drawing and writing her letters and numbers. She tried to follow along with me, dotting her tiny finger along the red words. She is only learning to read and this was a feat for her. She crawled on the ground some more and discovered with delight a ladybug hiding under one of the chairs. She played with the poor thing until we took a break. Miss Juanita told her to go put the bug on a plant and she joyfully obeyed. She ate a bite or two of carrot cake...her daddy hogged the frosting, "too much sugar for you." And she curled up with me and comforted me as the tears dripped down my face for the last three chapters.

When she finally went to bed, Rod found the Matthew tape from her box of Bible tapes and popped it into the player. She got out of bed about ten minutes later and came into my room. "That's the same words on my tape that I heard in church tonight." (Oh, LORD, You're so good.) "Yes," I said, "you're right. Now go to sleep, okay? I love you." She gave me a sweet exhausted smile and went back to bed.

There is no telling what this FEAST of the WORD will do in our hearts. Specifically, I am thinking of Gracie. She is being saturated with God's word instead of feeding on the trash of the world. My prayer for both of my daughters (both of them) is that they would develop their own relationship with the Lord and that they would want to serve Him joyfully, willingly with all of their hearts for all the days of their lives. That's not too much to ask, is it? I mean, it's my prayer. And God promises us that His word will NOT return to Him without His intended results. It's like a slam-dunk prayer I'm praying, right?

"So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."


I am looking forward to the rest of The FEAST this week, and on into next week. And I am so grateful that I read this devotion in Streams in the Desert right when I did. Because lately I have been FEASTING on His presence, too. Here's what I read:

"We find the expression 'the living God' many times in the Scriptures, and yet it is the very thing we are so prone to forget.

We forget that He is now exactly what He was three or four thousand years ago, that He has the same sovereign power, and that He extends the same gracious love toward those who love and serve Him.

We overlook the fact that He will do for us now what He did thousands of years ago for others, simply because He is the unchanging, living God.

What a reason to confide in Him, and in our darkest moments to never lose sight of the fact that He is still, and ever will be, the living God!

Be assured, if you walk with him, look to Him, and expect help from Him, He will never fail you." Streams in the Desert by LB COWMAN, January 17

Dr. John Adams said that his "greatest spiritual asset" was his "unwavering awareness of the actual presence of Jesus."

"Nothing sustained him as much as the realization that Jesus was ALWAYS actually present with him. This realization was totally independent of his own feelings, his worthiness, and his perceptions as to how Jesus would demonstrate His presence."

"Furthermore," he said, "Christ was the center of his thoughts. Whenever his mind was free from other matters, it would turn to Christ. Whenever he was alone, and no matter where he was, he would talk aloud to Christ as easily and as naturally as to any human friend. That is how very real Jesus' actual presence was to him."
-This also is from Streams, January 17th.

After I read this I couldn't help thinking about Isaiah 26:3,

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You. Because he trusts You."

LORD, I pray that You would continue to reveal Your presence to me as I realize You are actually with me, presently. I pray You would continue to hear me and guide me as I speak with you as naturally and easily as I would talk with any human friend. I thank You again for the extreme privilege of knowing You, loving You, and the precious promise of our eternal relationship. Thank You for making that possible for me and all of the others who love YOU and claim You as their Lord and Savior.

Please bless the reading of Your wonderful word as we continue on with You.
Maranatha, my King!
Thank You for THE FEAST!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quenching Thirst and New Clothes

Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink - even if you have no money! Come take your choice of wine or milk - it's all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!

Come to Me with your ears wide open. Listen, for the life of your soul is at stake. I am ready to make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the mercies and unfailing love that I promised to David. He displayed My power by being My witness and a leader among the nations. You also will command the nations, and they will come running to obey, because I, the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.

Seek the LORD while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Let the people turn from their wicked deeds. Let them banish from their minds the very thought of doing wrong! Let them turn to the LORD that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

"My thoughts are completely different from Yours," says the LORD. "And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.

The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it. You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and the hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the LORD's name; it will be an everlasting sign of His power and love." Isaiah 55 NLT

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6 NKJV

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." John 7:37-38 NKJV

Now it came to pass at the end of seven days that the word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 'When I say to the wicked, "You shall surely die", and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul." Ezekiel 3:16-19 NKJV

The angel said to his attendants, "Take away the filthy clothes this man is wearing." Then he said to Joshua, "I have taken away your sin and will give you new clothes to wear." Zechariah 3:4 TEV

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 NKJV

He brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

And they answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well." Acts 16:30-31 (v. 30 NLT, v. 31 AMP)

(Jesus said) "Therefore do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV

Dear friends, keep building on the foundation of your most holy faith as the Holy Spirit helps you to pray. And keep in step with God's love, as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to show how kind He is by giving you eternal life. Be helpful to all who may have doubts. Rescue any who need to be saved, as you would rescue someone from a fire. Then with fear in your own hearts, have mercy on everyone who needs it. But hate even the clothes of those who have been made dirty by their filthy deeds. Jude 20-23 CEV

And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you from stumbling, and who will bring you into His glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy. All glory to Him, who alone is God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to Him, in the beginning, now, and forevermore. Amen. Jude 24-25 NLT

(Jesus said)
"See, I am coming soon, and My reward is with Me, to repay all according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Blessed are those who wash their robes so they can enter through the gates of the city and eat the fruit from the tree of life. Outside the city are the dogs--the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie. Revelation 22:12-15 NLT

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." Let each one who hears them say, "Come."
Let the thirsty ones come -- anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge." Revelation 22:17 NLT

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Challenge for You

The thing I look forward to most each New Year is beginning my read-through of the Bible. Awhile back I posted that I had an emotionally-charged battle to bring my departed Dad's New Living Translation Bible out of my basement office and into my bedroom to begin reading that. I had not finished reading it when I felt surely the Lord telling me to give it to one of my Dad's closest friends with a challenge to READ IT and not just allow it to become a dusty memento from his dear friend.

Parting with my dad's now very marked up Bible was difficult for me. But, my dad's friend needed the Bible much more than I do. And it is my firm belief that he may well read that Bible simply because his friend read it and it changed his life. So, I prayed over it and lovingly packed the Book up and mailed it off. What he does with it could possibly change his whole life. And not just his, but the whole scope of people that his big life touches. He is a very busy man. God knows who he is. So, please lift him up in fervent prayer. Call him "Bob's friend".

Too many people do not read their Bible. Christians and non-believers both have these Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth in their possession and yet, they fail to open it up and begin the challenging task of learning about God as He has revealed Himself to man.

We run in to many people who have a very skewed philosophy and therefore their lives show it. They know one or two verses of scripture...one or two things they think are scripture but are definitely not...and a few things they've learned along the way from here or there added in with something their Grandma told them about God. This is a spiritually toxic cocktail to live your life out on.

But, the Bible tells us that mankind was made in the image of God: male and female did He make them. And He didn't just make us and leave us to figure it all out on our own. He gave us His word. A book of loving instruction on how to live this life the right way. A way that blesses God and a way that blesses others and at the same time, you get blessed, too. Miraculous. I think people really do believe that God is a made 'em now I'm done with 'em God. Sad. He wants so much to be involved in every aspect of our lives.

Once you read His word you begin to see that is what His heart is. So much is this His passion, that He sent His Holy Son away from paradise to inhabit flesh on earth and dwell among sinners and then, after a short life season of teaching us about God's ways (which are not man's ways, that is in Isaiah), God told His Son to take the ultimate punishment for all mankind and allow Himself (His HOLY, SINLESS self) to BECOME SIN! Why? The Bible as a whole indicates to us that God loved the people of the world so much that He couldn't bear the thought of paradise without us. Without you.

The first act of disobedience on the part of the First Couple plunged all of mankind after them into spiritual separation from our God. A spiritual death. Adam and Eve WALKED IN THE COOL OF THE DAY WITH GOD. When we read that in the Bible it seems as though this was a daily occurrence. Can you imagine walking and talking with (not just to) God Almighty? But, God had warned them: don't eat it or death will be the consequence. And separation and death did come. And it keeps on coming. And for those outside of Christ (non-believers) there is not one death but TWO! Oh, who can save us? What is the answer? Only God can fix such a huge problem!

Jesus is God's answer to that spiritual separation. He became God's ONLY acceptable solution to the problem between God and man. Jesus is God's way of handling our problem. I hesitate to put a lower-case "o" there, because the "our" I speak of is God's and ours. I mean, we're in this thing together. He designed us for that. Jesus is God's solution for reconciling sinful man back to Himself.

When a humbled person admits their sinfulness to God and confesses that sin and announces their belief that Jesus took the punishment for sin upon Himself (like your big brother taking the beating you know you deserve) and then the sinner confesses that Jesus is LORD, a Holy Legal Transaction takes place in the Spirit World. God has a book filled with the names of His children. It's called the Lamb's Book of Life and as a believer in Jesus Christ, your name gets recorded there. And then, there is no more condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus. If your name is in that book, then you have eternal life.

If your name is not written in that book, why not? What are you waiting for? What is so fantastically wonderful here that you aren't willing to say to God Almighty: "I screwed up. I'm sorry. Please forgive me and help me not to do it again. I trust You. I believe You are who You say You are. I need You. I want You. Please help me walk this life every day from now on." ?

Jesus said He came to give us life and that life more abundantly. We were talking about abundant life recently in church and it occured to me at that moment that the abundant life that Jesus is speaking of happens inside your heart. Peace with God IS abundant life. Coming to God HIS way and not mine is abundant life. Trusting that God is alive and on His throne and intensely interested in my life, my cares, my worries, my health, my loved ones and my best is abundant life. KNOWING that I know that I know that I know that the moment my last breath comes and goes I will be in the presence of God in Heaven is abundant life.

I didn't get the abundant life by confessing my sins and becoming a Christ follower. It took years of trials and trusting God and praying and hoping and believing in Him and His promises and His power and waiting and watching Him come through over and over that gave me part of it. The other part of it...the other half of it...came from reading my Bible and daring to believe what I read.

There are parts of God's word that will absolutely rock your world. There is such an intensity of scandalousness in there, that I am still shocked and sometimes even disgusted when I read it. But, God doesn't leave out the ugly sin of man. He includes all of it and He deals with it. He doesn't always handle the same sin the same way twice. But the promise is there: "Be sure your sin will find you out." Makes me shiver.

When you read the Bible you discover how God is amazing and so powerful! and the way He does things through the people's lives in the scriptures is astounding. When you read it you realize God loves people. And He wants to be loved in return! Hates our sin, but He loves us. And you realize God is Holy. He cannot tolerate sin because He is God...all good, completely uncompromised, full of justice and righteousness. And He tells us that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. That's what God thinks about your good deeds apart from Jesus Christ. The only thing you can impress God with is being cleansed by the Blood of the Lamb.

And so, I read the Bible every day to LEARN HOW TO MAKE JESUS MY LORD, not only my Savior!

How can I know what to do with my life now that I am a Christian?
Read your Bible!

I'm scared...all those TV evangelists are talking about the end of the world!
Read your Bible!

How do I handle this problem?
Read your Bible!

If God is so loving how come He let's all these bad things happen?
Read your Bible!

I want a closer relationship with God but I just don't feel it!
Read your Bible!

You lament and say, "But, I don't understand it! I've tried to read my Bible and I just don't get it." I say, buy a Bible translation you CAN understand and pray before you read it and READ it every day of the week!

Every day?
Even Sundays??
YES, especially Sundays. Because once church is over and all the ooey-gooey feelings leave, you still have a closer walk with God because now you are filled with not only His Holy Spirit but also His Word.

So, here's my challenge for you. Read your Bible all the way through this year.

Get a Bible you like (that is a very important first step.) It's kind of fun, just go to the bookstore and get a Bible that you LIKE. Make sure the font isn't too tiny. Study Bibles are good. Also, don't get something too big to read comfortably (that's my advice). My mom has this ancient white Family Bible...it's bigger than Webster's dictionary. It does have beautiful art, but it's not the thing you want to climb into your comfy chair with.

PRAY over your Bible before you begin to read it. Tell God how you feel. Whether you're scared or unsure or still think you can't understand it. God hears you. He loves you and I'm sure He's tickled pink you want to read HIS WORD! Ask Him to help you understand it every time you read it.

Make a plan. This was my plan when I first started reading my first Bible I bought for myself (an NIV Student Bible, by the way). I got five ribbons and I placed them in these places:


The ribbon that was attached to the Bible I placed wherever the Pastor left off last time we were in church.

Every morning I read one chapter in each of those five places. (Sounds like it must take a long time to read five chapters of the Bible, but really...it takes about fifteen to twenty minutes on average.) When I was finished with a book I moved onto the next book. Except for Psalms and Proverbs. I just read them again and again. And the Matthew ribbon...I stay in the Gospels continually: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. You always need to keep your finger on the pulse of Jesus. You'll see new things all the time, even though you've read it before. God's word is ALIVE!!

(Tell you what, email your address to me and I will send you five hand-braided bookmarks for you to use...just to encourage you in this challenge!)

PLEASE, take your Bible to church! Don't leave YOUR BIBLE at home. YOUR Bible LOVES to go to church with you. And bring a pen.

Please go to a Bible believing, Bible teaching church. If the pastor doesn't crack open the Bible during the sermon...that's a bad sign. Find a church that believes and teaches the flock the ESSENTIAL WORD OF GOD!

Don't be afraid to mark in YOUR Bible. I use a yellow crayon to highlight passages that speak to me (my crayon works better than any other "Bible marking pens" out there. Crayola is best, trust me.) Write some notes with your pen in the margin. Take it from me, I read notes that I wrote about something in 2002 and I'm still benefiting from them.

So, that's it.
Ring in the new year, the new month by reading your own Bible all the way through. Make a commitment to stick with it. I promise you that if you do it, you will never be the same. And next year, read a different translation.

Oh, very important...Satan, your enemy, does NOT WANT you to use this particular piece of God's armor (read Ephesians chapter six). He will make the dog chase the cat, the baby cry, the phone ring, etc., etc., etc., to try to distract and derail you from reading the Bible. Don't let him get away with it.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. This is a promise from your God to you from His book called James.

I'm so excited for you.
God bless you.
Happy reading!
Here's my email address: morrisforjesus@yahoo.com
Love, Jenn
Oh PS...the artwork and photos I downloaded off the internet. That little guy at the bottom is the son of a Sister in Christ from the blog: A Little Busy. Amen!