Heights

Just some thoughts as I prepare to head out….”As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)….through my searching, I ask…”Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Jeremiah 1:6)…today, this is how I’m feeling.  Where will the Lord meet me on this trip, where will he be silent & teach me to wait? I feel & know that I have so much to learn, and each day offers plenty of opportunity…..yet I am only a child, I do not always know where to seek, or where to find.

I find promise in Psalms 18:33 where it says “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.” Heights can be conquered by hard work. I’ve never known anyone (except one of the native Everest peoples) to be able to climb a mountain easily.  It takes steadfastness, determination, skill & vulnerability. But here, David talks about God as the giver of feet like a deer, easily able to climb & reach the heights from the depths.

This next week, hiking up mountains, kayaking through rivers, I will try to remember this….that though the rains pour, the storms come, there are heights to be reached again, and God is the one who gives us the ability to reach them.

Let’s journey together, to see what heights are set before us!

Hands that shaped the world

This weekend, God knew that I needed to hear from Him. Softly though, I needed Him. As I left my house, I was surrounded by piles of raked leaves….evidence that I did yard work last fall…and did not complete it before winter. The thought that I needed someone to tell me DO THIS was in my mind….if only someone could come along & help me to actually DO something, I might actually complete this work at last.  I arrived at church and I sat still & silent, waiting to see how God would speak.  For some reason too, I wanted to see a particular friend. I didn’t know why, but the desire was there to see her.

This is how He softly came. As I turned to leave the sanctuary, I stopped to say hello to a friend.  Over her shoulder, I looked & saw tightly wound curls….my friend, who I wanted to see so badly, was at my church (not her church) and was walking towards me. How could she know that that particular Sunday she would be such a blessing to sore, aching eyes. As we spoke and laughed, another lady approached me saying “I know how hard it can be to do housework if you don’t have someone there to motivate you to just do it.” I was totally blown away & amazed. She told me to call her and that she would help. I loved that Sunday.

Last night, as I drove across the city, my radio loud, a song came across that meant so much to me in that place.  There is such simplistic truth here, so as much as I would try to describe it, I will allow the words to speak for themselves. Below are the lyrics, and a YouTube link so you can hear it as well.

I have unanswered prayers, I have trouble I wish wasn’t there, And I have asked a thousand ways, That You would take my pain away, That You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand, How to walk this weary land, Make straight the paths that crookedly lie, Oh Lord, before these feet of mine, Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, Heaven stands, When my heart is breaking, I never leave Your hands

When You walked upon the Earth, You healed the broken, lost, and hurt, I know You hate to see me cry
One day You will set all things right, Yea, one day You will set all things right

When my world is shaking, Heaven stands, When my heart is breaking, I never leave Your hands

Your hands, Your hands that shape the world, Are holding me, they hold me still, Your hands that shape the world, Are holding me, they hold me still

When my world is shaking, Heaven stands, When my heart is breaking, I never leave You when…

When my world is shaking, Heaven stands, When my heart is breaking, I never leave…I never leave Your hands.

Miracle Worker

The sky today seems teary eyed…welling up with tears that may never come. My tears are the same some days….they are there, but do not break free from the comfort within my eyes.  Tears can be hot with anger, cold with grief, salty with sadness, or refreshing with joy. ….and the ones that come today are the kind that fill emptiness with gratefulness.

Last week, there was fear….this week God came near. My mom was in the hospital, waiting for another result to come back…and was expecting the now normal response of “it didn’t work….we’ll try again.” Needless to say this is a frustrating & often crushing blow that sets my whole family back into questioning what will be next. The doctors were not pleased, and told my mom this. Why, I don’t know…but they were predicting, and wanted to prepare her for what was inevitable. Anyway, the doctor came into the room last Monday (the morning after 40 of us had prayed & cried out to God for her healing), and said “This is unexplainable….but your blast numbers are down to 3%….this shouldn’t have happened according to your last results…..I don’t understand it. We’ll be sending it back to Mayo to double check.” We all felt that we had witnessed a miracle….3% blasts means she’s technically in remission! And after the double-check, the numbers were proved correct. What a praise!  The prayer now, is that the 3% blasts stays there, and her white blood count will climb to normal levels….join us in this prayer, please!

The week before, there was also an unexplainable incident. Because of the seemingly constant hospital stays that my mom has endured, my dad has also had to endure phone calls from hospitals & such, to pay the overwhelming six-digit bills that keep coming. His responsibility had added up to about $47,000.  He also had received another phone message, telling him to call the hospital about that bill, right away. Well, he started to pray & cry out to God. There is no way that our family will be able to pay this amount, and we need help to make this happen. It’s enough to worry about your mother/wife in the hospital, without having to wonder where the money will come from to keep her in good health. So after an evening of sleeping & praying through his concern, he somewhat hesitatingly called the hospital. When the man answered the phone & confirmed the amount owed, the man then simply stated “Okay, we just took care of that.”

Yep. All $47,000…..done, paid for, wiped off the tab.

All I can say, is that God is definitely a miracle worker. I’ve seen it this week, and I’ve seen it all through my life. The miracles don’t come every time we want them, or when we would expect them….they come in His good timing, in his pleasure, to give us pleasure, and to show us His power & glory. He is Good. Very good. Just thought I’d share.

Opening the Way to Walk with God

“The way to God is by the Savior’s death. The way to walk with God is to be set apart by the Savior’s life.” Leviticus is a book about holiness. To some, the book of Leviticus is known as a priest’s manual, the intricate how-to’s of sacrifices, offerings and prayers. The point of these rituals however, was to allow people to remain close to God. These sacrifices were a way to set themselves apart from others, and to recognize the holiness of the God we serve.

For our cry to reach God, however; there needed to be a sacrifice…a holy sacrifice. Once a year, a high priest would enter the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice on behalf of him and the nation. This was a special honor that was only for one called by God. God himself would choose a high priest, the one to go between Him and the people. In Hebrews, it tells how God did this with Jesus…”The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: ‘You are a priest forever.’ Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

“Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

“Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” (Hebrews 7:21b-28)

Our Savior’s life was truly perfect and holy in the sight of God…”Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:13-15)

Holiness as a characteristic would be someone who is recognized or declared sacred by religious use or authority…someone devoted to or set apart for the service of God. In Leviticus, the sacrifices of the priests were not to be the redeeming power bringing someone to God, but served as the outward and humbling act of a life committed to being set apart for the worship and service of God.

Now, as we seek to live a life that is set apart for God, one that is distinctly covered by the sacrificial blood of Christ, we can trust that God hears our prayers. There is now an avenue to call on our Father to hear us and guide us. We know that He will be with us forever, and will walk with us forever in an open relationship made possible by the priestly sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Some days however, we still do not know how to call out to the Father for help. It is then, as always, the Holy Spirit is present to intercede on our behalf. As Romans 8:25-27 says, “But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, He carries our prayers and petitions before our God. He enters the Holy of Holies on our behalf and pleads for us. Through this is the redemption of our sin, and the way to stay in a close relationship to our Heavenly Father.

Being confident in this, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)

Praise God for sending us a perfect and holy sacrifice, one who can serve as a High Priest that brings us into an open relationship with the God of the universe. He is worthy to be praised.

Bunches of Goodness

This morning, I’m sitting here, jumping for joy on the inside, bursting with something. It’s like…the last few days have been SO good, SO much better than previous ones. Yet what I know to be true is that despite the amazing things that have been happening around me & the fun things I’ve been doing, it’s not THAT that is supplying my energy. It is the in-explainable joy that comes from knowing that my future & freedom is all in God’s hands.

Paul prayed that this would happen for us, “so that Christ may dwell in (our) hearts through faith. And (he) prayed that (we) being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide & long & high & deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that (we) may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” –Ephesians 3:17-19

…and we know that this prayer would be answered because “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful & effective.” –James 5:16b It is effective, and felt beyond the realm of time. How would Paul know that we would need this prayer so much? He helps us to realize that the power of the Holy Spirit will meet us where we are through those who pray for us when he writes in 2 Corinthians 9:14, “and in their prayers for you, their heart will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”

God is answering their prayer, and giving us a bold & fresh faith. One that is not easily overcome. Still, knowing that we have this power through Him, we must hear him & open the doors to our heart, so that we can be cleansed & prepared to defend our faith to those who come with questions & challenge us. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” –1 Peter 3:15

We can be confident that the prayers of the righteous will be fulfilled by God, & that we can walk in that confidence because we “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” –Deuteronomy 7:9

Walk in boldness, gather all the confident joy you can muster from the bunches of ways that God pours out his goodness through his Grace, as answers to the prayers of many and rejoice in Him.