Author: hearmorefromgod

I want to be an Olive Tree

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What a blessing it was to travel to Israel, to see the city of Jerusalem, and to walk and meditate and pray in the Garden of Gethsemane.  I am forever changed by that experience.

 

 

115America is a fairly young country, so even our old buildings are not that old. Historically and intellectually it was amazing to see ruins and structures there that had stood for hundreds, even thousands of years. And to walk among those remains of buildings and walls that were there when Jesus walked among them was even more meaningful and resonated with me in a way that added to my faith.

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Seeing stones is one thing.  But to see trees, actual living things that were alive when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane was mind-blowing!

To know that two trees I stood near, sat near, were the same trees that Jesus sat next to 2000 years ago created in me a connection that was so intimate, it seemed surreal.

Our guide taught us things about olive trees I did not know.   And when I read this Psalm, it added a whole new level of understanding and meaning to all that an olive tree actually is.  And it becomes my prayer:

Psalm 52:8-9  NIV

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love
 for ever and ever.

For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Lord, make me like a green olive tree in Your house –

– one that is alive, and vibrant and growing,

one that produces fruit in season

and has long deep roots that penetrate deep into spiritual soil

– one that is protected because I am in Your house O Lord

one that You care for individually

and tend to personally

making sure I have everything I need to grow strong

– one that is surrounded by others in a community, the way olive trees grow

so that I can persevere and remain strong even when winds come

– one that will stand, in the midst of the others for years and years and years to come

even as the olive trees that have remained in the Garden of Gethsemane are still living, for two thousand and four hundred years,

and are the same ones Your precious Son knelt by on that fateful night He purposed for Your will to be done in His life on earth

 

Let me be like the olive tree that is both beautiful and amazing to look at

May others see me, and see Your care, and be drawn to You through me

As the olive tree produces food to eat,

and oil for lamps,

and ointments for anointing and healing,

Let me be nourishment, and light and blessing and healing to those around me.

May I draw on the strength of the community of other trees You have placed around me,

leaning into them,

drawing restful shade from them, without comparing myself to them

knowing that there are times when we take, and times we give back

 

May I trust in Your lovingkindness for ever and ever –

olivetreegogmeeven when I am confused

even when I can’t see Your will at work

even when I don’t feel You present

even when the world denies it

even through tears and pain and sorrow

O Lord, May You continue to guide and guard, heal and bless my life with Your Holy Word.  And I will give You thanks forever for what You have done; and will hope in Your name, for it is good; and will give You praise in the presence of Your saints.  Amen

Through Nature – God Speaks

The air was still, and cold enough to make your breath visible. There was a crispness in the crunch heard underfoot. The panorama of clear blue sky, bright shining sun, frigid lake and majestic mountains lay ahead like a still life watercolor. The one newly added element of beauty: a crystal, sparkling cover of frost on everything close to the ground.

ice twigs bird

Just yesterday, each individual blade of grass stood erect at attention, solid in its color, shape and form. Broad leaves on the grapevine fanned out, completely concealing clusters of heavy, ripe fruit. Tiny blossoms on the ground cover delicately looked up to form a carpet of color.

Beautiful? Yes. But this morning, the frost gives a fantastic surreal quality to the whole scene.

frostgrass

The cold has caused everything to bow down.

The tall blades of grass, still firm at their bases, are bent low in their length, all in a similar posture. The grape leaves droop from the stem, revealing bountiful clusters beneath. The small flowers, already low to the ground bend in humble submission. And yet, in this portrait of prostration, this vista of genuflecting humbleness, there is an exalting of each individual entity.

frosted leaf

The frost has covered and completely encased each blossom, each leaf, each blade of grass, redefining its shape and form in glittering beauty. The special uniqueness of each stands out and is magnified in glistening profile by the sun! What a picture of being humbled, but exalted, of bowing low, yet being lifted up!

Scripture tells us that one day every knee will bow, and for those who humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, He will lift them up. This very scene is played out in nature for us to see and appreciate.

frosted bent flower

It’s as if the plants represent us: bowing in the presence of our Lord. The frost is like the Holy Spirit on those who are believers. His light will shine on us and define us with a beauty that surpasses our own and exalts us in His presence.

 

This magnificent scene, so uplifting in its beauty, was short-lived; lasting only a few minutes before the heat from the bright shining sun took its toll on the icy beauty..

The image it created in my mind of what is to come will be with me always.

I remain grateful that through nature…God speaks.

Will you squat? Or soar?

Picture a cold winter day. There is a white, icy bed of snow on the ground; ice creeping slowly across the lake.

Your eye moves from the white of the ground, to the gray of the freezing water, to the haze of the sky, hemming in the horizon with a veil of frosty air. The sun is only a bright spot in the gray blanket of low, snow clouds tucked in around the lake. Not much is moving as you gaze out across the expanse of grayness.

There are groups of ducks and geese, tightly tucked and asleep on the ice. Another group of nondescript white birds is clumped together near the water. But there is none of the clucking and chatter that usually accompanies their presence. Not a sound is heard. The frigid air threatens to stop any communication cold, as it freezes every breath taken.

Then, above the lake, a bird appears: silently soaring, in seemingly slow motion. Its graceful wings, stretched to its farthest reach, give it a look of majesty as it hangs upon the air. It is joined by another. They turn twice, together, and are joined by a third.

The mid-air ballet continues for several moments before they separate and go in three different directions. As one flies towards you, you can see the graceful curve of its pure white, broad wings, and the delicate black tips that reach out to capture the air that lifts it higher.

seagull-1550224_1280You recognize this bird. It’s the same kind that you noticed before, squatting, clumped together with others like it in a huddle on the ground. This same little nondescript bird that blended in so plainly with the frozen background displays a Godly majesty when flying. But of course! Flying is exactly what God created it for!

Soaring, is what God created you for. What is keeping you squatting in the snow?

It’s so easy to stay on the ground with our friends, huddled against the circumstances of our lives, fearing the cold, the wind.

But the air is warmer higher up. And the wind lifts you. And God has prepared you to enjoy using the gift of soaring He has given you! And His glory and majesty that you reflect, will inspire others and honor Him.

But, the choice is yours. Are you gonna squat? Or soar?

Grateful for 2020 Vision!

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I have a LOT to be thankful to God for from 2019.  And I wonder if you do too?

 

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I want to be sure to start this year off on the right foot.  And I believe that foot should be in the humble position of kneeling before the throne of God to voice my thanks.

 

The lyric to a song God gave me long ago echoes in my mind.  It was

“Thank You, Lord, for being there for me every time I knew I had a need of Thee.
And thank you Lord, for being there for me when I did not know there was need.”

wrestlers

 

There were many times this past year when I definitely felt a need that I brought to the Lord.  Often, only after I had wrestled with the problem alone; and found myself unable to resolve it.

Even in the midst of serious health issues, relationship missteps, family squabbles, the consequential results of a horrible accident, more serious health issues, discouragement, feeling overwhelmed, the burial of a beloved family member, and the realization of the loss of ability and opportunity with aging; God met me where I was and led me out into a space where I could be grateful for the blessings He had provided.

You have probably survived 2019 with a similar list of trials and challenges you faced.  From the 20/20 perspective of this New Year, are you seeing some things clearer?

Can you thank God for being with you through the challenges you faced?  Can you see any positive outcomes from the struggle?

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I have 3 prayer partners who meet regularly to pray for each other and for our children.  Our group grew out of and is based on Moms In Prayer International.  Google that organization to find a model for your prayer time, and maybe connect with others who pray in your area.  We write down things we pray for and scriptures we pray over our children.  When I began looking over the notes from 2019, I had so many things to thank God for.

grateful for

 

 

That made a good start.  But then the next line in the song grabbed me and I began seeing things that we didn’t pray for, but that God protected us or our children from. Injuries and illnesses that didn’t happen!  Accidents that didn’t occur!  Temptations they didn’t fall into.  All the times we traveled and arrived safely at our destinations.  Family events that went smoothly.  Relationships that flowed evenly without misunderstandings or arguments arising.

And the thanks and praises flowed!

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Before this month is over, let me encourage you to set aside a time of review and thanks.  If you don’t have prayers you prayed jotted down, look at a calendar to think and remember your way through the year.

Or light a candle, breathe in the aroma, close your eyes and ask God to bring to mind things you are grateful for:  family, jobs, friends, home, sanity, health, support, mobility, breath.  He will show you.

Or start a thankfulness page.  Think back as far as you can remember and list the ways you can see God had a hand on your life and used people and circumstances to bring you to a saving knowledge of Him.  Or start with today and make entries as you think of things to be grateful for.

I am praying for you – that this will be a year of 20/20 Vision for you to be able to see God’s blessings and His activity in your life; from the time you were very young, throughout your lifetime, over this last year, today, and in all your tomorrows.

So you can sing with me:

Chorus – Thank You Lord for being there for me
Every time I knew I had a need of Thee
And thank You Lord for being there for me
When I did not know there was need

Verse 1 – It’s so easy to thank You Lord for what we see
Like healing an illness or an injury
Or when You circumvent certain tragedy
It’s so easy to thank You Lord

Verse 2 – I want to thank You for all the things I cannot see
For all the trouble You have kept from me
And for Your angels watching over me
I want to thank You Lord

Chorus

Verse 3 – It’s so easy when I think I have the perfect plan
And think I have the situation well in hand
And then the rug is pulled from under me and down I land
And I need to thank You Lord

Bridge – For my life could have been a lot worse, been a lot harder
But I have felt You there
Managing the pain, helping me in sorrow
You kept it at a level I could bear – – I know You were there

Chorus a capella

A CHRISTMAS Prayer for you

C – Christ

It is my prayer that Christ would be the focus of your Christmas. May you not be waylaid by all the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, doing; but have moments of simply acknowledging the sacrifice of the King and Creator of the Universe, who came to earth in the fragile, vulnerable package of a tiny baby to live on earth and make the supreme sacrifice for us to have the option to spend our eternity with Him.

He is The Christ – The Messiah, The Savior, The Deliverer, The Wonderful Counselor, The Prince of Peace. May He be these things for you all year.

When all the presents have been unwrapped, the food is all eaten, the relatives have all returned home, may you take the generous gift of Christ’s love with you into the new year. May you be mindful of how very much He loves you each day of this next year. May your eyes be opened to the tangible ways He shows you that love every day. May you praise God each day, from whom all blessings flow; keeping Christ in every day of your year.

 

H – Hearing

It is my prayer that you would hear God; that your ears would be opened and attuned to God’s voice speaking to you. Perhaps not in a real-world audible kind of way – but that you would, nevertheless, have the experience of knowing what He is saying to you. God speaks in many ways: some are through His Word, the Bible, through the Holy Spirit in prayer, through the circumstances in your life and through godly people.

May you hear His voice clearly, without the distractions of the world around you or the flesh within you. These voices speak so loudly we often allow them to drown out the spiritual guidance Jesus would give, if we would but listen. I pray that when you hear, you will listen with an open mind and heart. I ask that God would give you clarity and understanding of all He shares with you. May our Lord remove whatever “cotton” has been stuffed into your spiritual ears.

It is hard to love a God you do not know. And it is hard to know Him when there is no communication. May this be a year of growing to know Him more deeply by hearing His voice as He teaches You, leads you, guides and directs you, encourages you, and rejoices over you with singing!

 

R – Revelation

May you receive from God a revelation of how to use your gifts and talents this year. May He tell you and show you how to spend your energy and time this year in ways that will satisfy you immensely and bring honor and glory to Him.  God made you unique and special – He puts it “fearfully and wonderfully.” You have very specific gifts and talents wrapped up with a personality and passions, and having had personal experiences that create a one-of-a-kind You! May our Lord reveal to you how to unwrap that gift that is uniquely you. And show you how to share the gift that you are with the world.  And may that Revelation inspire and direct your path.

He has placed something in you that is meant to be shared! Tell Him that you are ready to listen, and ask Him to reveal to you how to do it step by step.

 

I – Invigoration

I pray God will invigorate you in following the Revelation you Hear from Him. That means placing “vigor” in you! Vigor is robustness, potency, strength! May He fill you with the energy and power you need to follow through everywhere He leads you. May God give you the invigoration and inspiration to excel in all the opportunities He brings your way this year.

May He also give you the “vigor” to meet any challenge He allows into your life this year. Some days will flow easily, almost effortlessly, and you may not be aware that He is the One empowering you to be able to accomplish all you do. Other days, you may have to audibly call on Him to muster the energy and strength you need. May He always answer your call with strength equal to the task. May you rest in the knowledge that God has prepared you for whatever happens. Nothing ever takes Him by surprise! May He help you and guide you through whatever comes along.

May He invigorate you: body, mind and spirit.

 

S – Someone

May God bring Someone alongside you who will be a godly presence. One who will be like iron sharpening iron in your life. One who will help you keep Christ the focus of your life. One who will remind you to listen to God’s voice, hold you accountable to be obedient to Him, and joyfully give thanks to Him with you. It may be someone you already know, or it may not. It may be someone you expect, or it may not. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. May you be open to His choice of a helper for you, for this time and for His purpose.

 

T – Time

May God show you, teach you, how to take authority over your time. Ask Him where to set limits, what to make priorities, and how to stay disciplined in those areas. May God show you how you are currently spending your time, and where you need to make changes. Ask Him what to let go of so you can make room for what He is showing you is important. May you not be a slave to the “tyranny of the urgent,” but make time to do what is important, not just what seems “urgent” at that moment.

May He help you appreciate His perspective of time, understanding that He often works behind the scenes in ways that are invisible to us. When you need to be patient, may God show you how to wait patiently, prayerfully. May you let God help you find the right balance in resting and doing, knowing both are important.

 

M – Mirth

May God give you times of laughter, merriment – complete and utter joy – that override your circumstances or attitude. May joy come, renewed, every morning. And may there be laughter in each day that brings strength to your bones and healing to your body! May our Lord God, give you the focus you need to be able to enjoy everyday moments, and see life from His perspective so you can appreciate every blessing He abundantly showers on you.

And may He give you the ability to laugh, even in the face of trouble, as you rely on Him, the Author of your faith, to carry you through anything that comes along; knowing that God will never ever leave you or forsake you.

As laughter is good medicine, may you be well medicated all throughout the year!

 

A – Attitude of Gratitude

I pray that you would see all the things in your life that are blessings from God. May He open your eyes to understand that even things you take for granted, are gifts. May you be thankful for every morning you wake up and the sun is shining, for every step you take in your own strength and power, for every breath you draw in and exhale.

May you appreciate being able to think clearly, and speak audibly, and move freely. May you thank God for the times you live in – not cave man days, or covered wagon days, but right now, when we enjoy so many modern day miracles and life-saving medical advancements and transportation and communication technological wonders. May you appreciate the fact that you live in a country where we are still free to become whatever we want, and purchase what we need for life and comfort, and worship God as we please.

May you voice your gratitude for your friends and loved-ones who pour into your life, and allow you to pour into theirs. May you fully acknowledge God’s hand in the seven wonders of the world: to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, to think, to laugh, and to love.

May you thank God daily for the beauty you see around you, the blue of the sky, the brightness of the sun, the sparkle of the stars, the glow of the moon, the colors of the sunset (or of the sunrise if you happen to wake before it), the mountains or trees or flowers, the wrinkles of laughter, the smiles of friends, the furry pets who love unconditionally.

May your attitude of gratitude overcome even the difficult days. And when it would be easier to complain, may you be able to rejoice in giving thanks.

 

S – Safety

May you enjoy safety and security in your home, in your travel, at work, at rest, and at play. May God safeguard your health; not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

To use words from Psalm 121: May your help come from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. May our God not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed He will neither slumber nor sleep. Our Lord watches over you and will be your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; He will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Amen.