Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Umbrella Sharing

It has been raining for about three days straight here. The thermometer has been dipping lower and the sedentary clouds are streaked with slate. Only interrupted by the arms of bare trees reserving the space over their roots until spring. The steam of my tea warms my chin and fingers and the coziness of winter settles in deep.

On the table there is this card. . .

With this thought. . .

And it brings a coziness to my heart! This year has been full of stormy weather and all you dear people have held God's umbrella over my head and walked with me through the puddles.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Autumn Delights

The loamy sound of orchard-ripe apples mumbling to themselves
Gleaming jars of applesauce
A three-legged race
Two red leaves on a rough hewn bench
A birch bark canoe
Tofu - in any form!
Finger nail clippers :)
Listening to Shaila's compositions
Fray check on daisy edge
Heart ripples of hope flowing from one life to another
Boxes of Christmas decorations - waiting
Pine cone gathering
Cough drops
"The Highland Cathedral"
My wonderful roommate
Warm morning sun on my neck
Much prayer
Scents of bubbling curry
Contented horses munching apple scraps
Grandmas snow white hair
A full tank of gas in the car
Our fall garden

Friday, November 18, 2011

Practical Keeping ~ Part III

Gods Promises to the Remnant

I have found Isaiah to be one of the most musical books in scripture. The lyrical quality in the passages lends itself to inspiring melodies. Some of the sweetest and most soaring music ever penned by a human hand has been taken from Gods promises to His remnant people in this book. And I believe that it is because Gods very heart is found in these verses.

In the beginning chapters of Isaiah God rebukes the cruelty, dishonesty and luxurious indulgences that were rampant among the people and calls them to a life of purity and kindness. If they accepted the cleansing, He promised to restore His presence in their hearts.

"And it shall come to pass that he who remains in Zion and he who remains in Jerusalem will be called holy - everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning,
Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night.
For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from the storm and rain." Isaiah 4:3-6

This reference to the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness to Canaan is important. It represents the beautiful comforting care of God for His people through out history but especially during the final great struggle between good and evil.

If I accept His cleansing He can restore His presence in my heart. In the wilderness journey of my life the covering that God creates over me is the constant assurance of His presence. Internalizing this assurance now is the key to peace then. Gods will always sustain His people.

Isaiah is rich with promises of Gods provision and sustenance. Each promise is a gift. A new color in the intricate symphony of His presence.

Promise of Jesus
"For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" Isaiah 9:6

Promise of Refuge
"For You have been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shade from the heat." Isaiah 25:4

Promise of His Presence
"Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers they shall not overflow you, when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you, for I am the Lord your God." Isaiah 43:1, 2
"I will not forget you, See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me." Isaiah 49:16

Promise of Help
"You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:9, 10

Promise of Direction
"I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known, I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight, these things I will do for them and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

Promise of Peace
"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You." Isaiah 26:3

Promise of Holy Spirit
"Then He will give the rain for your seed with which you sow the ground, and bread of the increase of the earth."
"For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring." Isaiah 44:3

Promise of Life
"Your covenant with death will be annulled." Isaiah 28:18
"Thus says your Lord, the Lord and your God, Who pleads the cause of His people; See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling. . . you shall no longer drink it." Isaiah 51:22
"He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of his people he will take away from all the earth." Isaiah 25:8
"In that day the Lord binds up the bruise of His people and heals the stroke of their wound." Isaiah 30:26

Promise of Joy
"For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. . .
For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed." Says the Lord who has mercy on you." Isaiah 54:5, 10
"As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God will rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:5

May the joyful music of His presence fill your soul.
May His covering be your refuge
~ Always.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Practical Keeping ~ Part II

Characteristics of the Remnant
In the previous post I shared the beginning of my journey through the book of Isaiah this year and of the definition of the word "remnant" as used in Isaiah. In this post I am prayerfully offering the second category of verses that I found. These verses describe the characteristics of the remnant - or people who have chosen to follow God. As I've soaked in these scriptures I've been amazed anew at the cohesiveness of the Bible - a fractal design in which the minute mirrors the overarching panorama of hope.

A Shaking and a Respect
"Yet the gleaning grapes will be left in it, like the shaking of an olive tree, two or three olives at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in its most fruitful branches, says the Lord God of Israel. In that day a man will look to his Maker, and his eyes will have respect for the Holy One of Israel... he will not respect what his fingers have made." Isaiah 17:6-8

The Gift of Light
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined." Isaiah 9:2

The Calling ~ The Commission
"Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, and your sin is purged.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying: "Whom shall I send? Who will go for Us?"
Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
And He said, "Go, and tell this people."
Isaiah 6:6-9

Recognition of our Creator
"You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." Isaiah 37:16

Listening Ears
"Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, this is the way, walk in it. Whenever you turn to the right hand or when ever you turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21

A Compass of Integrity
"He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, He who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
He will dwell on high, His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, and his water will be sure. Your eyes will see the king in His beauty; they will see the land that is very far off." Isaiah 33:15-17

A Generous Heart
"But a generous man devises generous things, and by generosity he shall stand." Isaiah 32:8

An Encouraging Spirit
"The Lord has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to hear as the learned." Isaiah 50:4

Treasuring the Sabbath
"Keep justice and do righteousness for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this. . . who keeps from defiling the Sabbath and keeps his hand from doing any evil." Isaiah 56:1, 2

Personal Sacrificial Service
"Is this not the fast that I have chosen?
  • To loose the bonds of wickedness
  • Undo the heavy burdens
  • Let the oppressed go free
  • Break every yoke
  • Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
  • Bring to your house the poor who are cast out
  • When you see the naked that you cover him and not hide yourself from your own flesh!
Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily. . .

If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
If you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones. You shall be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." Isaiah 58: 6-11

Experience the Redemption of Circumstances
"Indeed it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness; but You have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back." Isaiah 38:17

God Works Through Humanity
"But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter, and we are the work of Your hand." Isaiah 64:8
"Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us." Isaiah 26:12

Each Person Becomes A Refuge
"A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, and a cover from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Isaiah 32:2

"The Spirit of God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent me to:
  • Heal the brokenhearted,
  • Proclaim liberty to the captives,
  • Opening of the prison to those who are bound.
  • Proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God;
  • Comfort all those who mourn.
  • Console those who mourn in Zion,
  • Give them beauty for ashes
  • Joy for mourning
  • Praise for the spirit of heaviness.
  • That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3
The Song of the Remnant
"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

"The Lord was ready to save me; Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed instruments all the days of our life, in the house of the Lord." Isaiah 38:20

"Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord, and you shall be called Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken." Isaiah 62:12

Will I let the shaking in my life turn me to embrace the light and the calling He has?
Do my actions acknowledge my Creator?
Are my ears listening for His direction?
Will I allow God to nurture integrity, generosity and encouraging words in my heart?
Do I really treasure His gift of the Sabbath each week?
Am I consistently extending my soul in practical ways to the individuals around me?
Do I trust His redemption of circumstances?
Is God receiving all the credit?
Because of His presence is my life becoming a refuge from the tempest of the world?
Am I offering to others healing, freedom, confidence in Gods justice, comfort, beauty, joy, and gratitude?

Will I freely sing His joy?

No - frequently I do not. I let overwhelming shyness pinch me silent and my toes curl up into hesitant pretzels. And God patiently waits and cares. . .

But these verses are my prayer. My journey into trust. My song.
And with His grace the notes will tune truer in His time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Practical Keeping ~ Part I

Over the past few months I have been studying the usage of the word remnant in Isaiah. It has been a fascinating and refreshing journey so far. The beginning of which stemmed from the thoughts in Revelation 22:7; "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."

I have long believed the importance of this intricate book in the New Testament. Life has also taught me that 'keeping' is a cornerstone of 'believing' that is too frequently overlooked. What does it mean to "keep the words of the prophecy" of Revelation? What does following God on a practical level look like? In a book with allegorical style, fantastic imagery, and such a broad historical scope it is easy to intellectualize ourselves away from the essence of the message.

Chapter 12 of Revelation uses the word remnant in verse 17 when describing a group of people whom Satan (verse 9) is enraged with and fighting against with all of his power. These people "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus" and are caught up in the center of the great struggle between good and evil. So in seeking to better understand what it means to "keep the words of the prophecy of this book" I chose to start with the word remnant.

Because Revelation is largely a mosaic of the rest of scripture I believe that the Old Testament holds beautiful keys to understanding its message. So beginning in Isaiah working verse by verse I found three main categories of relevant verses. These either:
  1. Use the word remnant
  2. Explain the characteristics of the remnant
  3. Describe God's promises to the remnant.
In this post I will list only the verses from the first category. (Verses are quoted from the NKJ version.)

~ Chapter 10
"And it shall come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and such as have escaped of the house of Jacob, will never again depend of him who defeated them, but will depend on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. vs. 20
The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the Mighty God. vs. 21
For though your people, O Israel, be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them will return; The destruction decreed shall overflow with righteousness." vs. 22

~ Chapter 11
"It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people who are left. vs. 11
There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Isreal in the day that he came up from the land of Egypt." vs. 16

~ Chapter 12 (A continuation of the previous verse)
"And in that day you (the remnant) will say: "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for YAH, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has also become my salvation." Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." vs. 1, 2

~ Chapter 28
"In that day the Lord of hosts will be for a crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people." vs. 5

~ Chapter 46
"Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you." vs. 3, 4

In these five verses there are many beautiful lessons! Practical pictures of a life lived in trust and hope. I encourage anyone interested to read the context of each of these for more insight into each promise. These are the concepts I think are most central:

The remnant:
  • Refers to God's people - those who have chosen to follow Him
  • Are called out and gathered by God from among the nations
  • Return to God
  • Depend on God in truth
  • When faced with destruction will experience God's sustaining power to "overflow with righteousness" all circumstances in their lives.
  • Travel the highway prepared for them
  • Trust God completely
  • Are not afraid
  • Find their strength, song, and salvation in God
  • Live joyfully in gratitude
  • Become transformed until God is their beauty
  • Are upheld daily by God
  • Are carried by God throughout their lifetime
This is the foundation for the practical keeping: A beautiful and trusting relationship between humanity and God.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Journey to Restoration ~ Part 4

"For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden, And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in it, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody."
Isaiah 51:3

(The Journey to Restoration pictures were all taken by Jennie unless she is in them :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Journey to Restoration ~ Part 3

"Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
Break out into singing, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted."
Isaiah 49:13