Tag: blessing

Snow Storms!

it is rare that storms come that are predictable and bring a blessing and beauty.

snowprepWhen they’re predictable we can prepare for them. We can have on hand everything we need to handle whatever the storm brings. Food, a secure shelter, the ability to cancel plans in advance so no one is inconvenienced and no one is trapped without having their basic needs met. That way we can hunker down in the storm and not have to worry about the dangers because we have already taken care of our needs.

At that point the storm is more welcome. All the more if it brings a blessing. The snow storm which we have prepared for and finally come will bring needed moisture to the grass, plants, and trees, saving us the cost of watering.

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And it comes with beauty. The soft glistening blanket of snow that covers the ground renders a quiet loveliness to the landscape, encasing the trees in a surreal, fairytale-like beauty.  We can enjoy a storm like that from our warm homes, with ample food and nowhere we need to go.

If only life were like that!

But the storms in life usually take us by surprise. The unexpected death of a loved one that shatters our world. A terrible diagnosis that turns our life upside down with surgeries, treatments, and expenses. The surprise break-up of a deeply felt relationship that we have depended on for support, encouragement, maybe even love.

people-850097_640These are the storms that we seem to be ill prepared for that take us down a road we don’t want to go: disappointment, discouragement, despair; and bring their friends: sorrow, loss, pain, grief.

When I’m in the storm, my world shrinks and is completely taken over by the ordeal.  I forget that other people aren’t going through the same thing.  And then when I see that they’re not, and simply going on with their lives, I can’t understand how they are unencumbered by my pain.

But we praise You Lord that You’ve promised to be with us in the storms. Even if they are not predictable. Even if they do not seem to bring a blessing. Even if there is no beauty in them. Thank You that You provide all we need to weather the storms that come into our lives.

clasped-hands-541849_640As I look back over the joys of my life, I can see that You were there. Forgive me for not giving You thanks and praise for the highs, the joys. And as I look at the lows, the storms, I see that You were there with me also.  Forgive me for not giving You thanks and praise for being with me then too. Without You I might not have survived

Thank You too, that when the storm has passed, there is often blessing, and beauty in Your provision.

You have told us that we will have storms in our lives.  You told Your disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

winner-4912049_640When the storms come, help me remember to “Take heart.”

Because You have overcome the world.  Because You are with me.  And because You share Your victories!

HOPE ! for 2021

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I once coined a definition of HOPE to be Hanging Onto Pending Expectations.

With Covid I suspended most of my expectations for the year 2020.  Did you too?

Did things you had expected to achieve, celebrate, and get done during the year get moved to a back burner and then reevaluated or even canceled as the pandemic went on and on?

It seems odd to me then, that now, many of those expectation have returned, upgraded to a “pending” status.

What seems strange, is that we are in a worse place now with Covid cases than we were in the spring and summer – when we thought we were in the middle of the pandemic and close to it being over.

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Is it simply because the calendar page has been turned there is more hope?

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God designed this world and put us in it to learn from it. To learn about Him and to learn about ourselves. And one thing we see here is the cycle of seasons. There is a time and a purpose for different seasons here on the earth and also in our lives.

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We have a time to blossom, a time to grow and be fruitful, time to let go of and harvest, a time to rest and regroup and store energy for the next coming season of blossoming, productiveness and fruitfulness. It’s an ongoing cycle.

So there has been an imposed season of rest during this coronavirus for many of us.

I have lot of respect for and appreciate those Frontline workers who have kept our grocery stores open, our streets safe, our water and electricity running, and our hospitals working to help and heal people. If you are one of those, thank you!

But for many of us it has been a time of sequestering. I’m living within the walls of our home with no immune system, minimizing outside exposure while awaiting a kidney transplant. And although I don’t know when, I’m hopeful there will be an end to the down time.

Not for the sake of getting back to what we used to call normal. But because I trust what I’ve learned by observing this beautiful world that God has given us. That something more is coming.

As I look out the window from my exercise bike every morning I appreciate blue – the blue of the sky that was taken away for many weeks with the gray of smoke and falling ash from wildfires in my state. I appreciate green – although the grass has turned yellow and brown, the pine trees are a deep green and remind me of life.

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Many people have expressed a newfound appreciation for things we used to take for granted.  How about you?

What are you thankful for – even in this time of loss?

When the time comes, I believe we will bring all the stored-up wisdom from the lessons learned in our down time, and move forward into a new productive time – seeing all the blessings God has placed in and around our lives.

Jeremiah spoke these famous words to a people who were going into captivity.  Theirs was to last 70 years.  I believe our time will be over sooner than that.

Here lies our HOPE:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

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Who wants to be blessed?

Godbless you

And what does that even mean anymore?

When someone sneezes and we say “Bless you!” is it just a conditioned response?  Or are we really conveying a spiritual consecration?

 

 

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In scripture, there was a special blessing spoken over the people of Israel once a year by the High Priest.  A Hebrew teacher who goes by The Rabbi’s son teaches the full meaning behind the 6 verbs that make up 6 separate elements of blessedness in this Aaronic Blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26.

 

As I was growing up, it was sung over me every Sunday in the Military Chapel we attended on the Army bases where we lived.  Whether in Arkansas, Arizona, or France it provided a sense of how constant God’s love and protection was over me.  But I never understood the full breadth of it’s beautiful meaning until studying with this Rabbi’s Son.

Here is a more complete translation of these holy words:

May the Holy One infuse you with unlimited potential and empowerment and release you from restrictions and limitations preventing you from reaching the fullness of your potential to participate in your divine purpose.

May He zealously cherish and treasure you, diligently defending and keeping watch over you to protect and save you.

May the light of His innermost being and essence illuminate you physiologically and spiritually, impacting your body, mind, soul and spirit with His warming, healing, soothing, restorative, empowering and constantly renewing energy.

May the Holy One give you what you really need, not out of pity, benevolence, generosity or some misguided thought that you have earned it, but because He has promised, as the stronger covenant partner, to strengthen you and enable you to reach your potential and enjoy the covenant He entered into with you, when you accepted Him as Savior.

 May He come out of the Holy of Holies to be present with you so you can experience true spiritual reality.

And may He place in and establish in you wholeness, wellness, purposeful living in joy, with abundant provision, harmony, safety, security summed up in the Hebrew word ‘peace.’

 

Perhaps you’ve heard this sung on you tube or facebook recently.  Several performances have been released lately as a response to the pandemic.  Here’s the link to one of my favorites:

Click here.

And if you want to read more about The Rabbi’s Son, go to: https://biblicallifestylecenter.org

Here is the scripture in Hebrew and English:

The “Priestly Blessing”

Y’varechecha Adonai

[May the Holy One bless you]

v’yish’merecha

[and zealously cherish and keep watch over  you]

Ya’er Adonai panav elecha

[May the Holy One’s Face shine upon you]

v’chuneka

[and shower you with grace]

Yisa Adonai panav elecha

[May the Holy One lift up His countenance upon you]

v’yasem lecha shalom

[and may He give you wholeness, wellness, security, abundant provision, and peace].

[Numbers 6:24-26]

 

God Bless You!

The Battle of Jericho

Is there a blessing you believe God wants to give you: one that you cannot achieve or get on your own? A “Jericho”?

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Though Joshua was unable to get it for himself, God delivered the blessing of the city of Jericho into Joshua’s hand when he was obedient to do what God asked him to do. Your obedience to God could bring the wall down so you too can “go up and take possession” of your blessing!

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At a prayer retreat I was directed to Joshua 6:1-20 for a quiet time of meditating on God’s Word. The directions were to read it through one time to understand the events and people, and then a second time to ask for God’s personal message.

As I read about the events of the conquest of Jericho, I believe the Lord was also speaking to me about my own life. Telling me there are things in my life that He wants to give me, blessings He wants me to have, that I have not been able to take possession of.

These are “Jerichos” in my life. And God was telling me He was ready to break down the walls keeping me from these blessings, if I would be obedient.

ring-179693_1920Think about your own life. Is there something God wants you to have, a blessing that you can’t make happen on your own? Is God wanting to bless your marriage and make it all it could be, all that He meant marriage to be? Is something standing in the way of the happiness and unity God wants to give you; something that you can’t remove on your own?

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Is there a child who has wandered away from God, and try as you might, there is a wall that stops your words and actions from getting through to them? Is there a broken relationship that God wants to mend and bless, but something stands in the way of reconciliation?

Is there a job, a goal, a ministry, something you feel God has shown you and is calling you to be a part of, but you have no idea how to make it happen? And there are obstacles that seem insurmountable in the way?

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Maybe there is something you have been praying for, and you believe God is saying “Yes,” but you don’t have the knowledge or skills yet.  And you can’t imagine how it will actually happen.

There are many ways God desires to bless our lives that come with challenges or obstacles that we are not capable of removing in our own strength. This is when we’re to call out to God, our Father, who can and will act on our behalf. He can and will move heaven and earth, for nothing is too difficult for Him.

So I ask again:  Do you have a Jericho?

*Read Joshua 6:1-20 twice. The first time, get a clear picture in your mind of what is happening in the passage. Before reading it a second time, ask God to speak to you, to teach you, to show you what He has for you in this passage. Is there a Jericho, a blessing, a gift He wants you to have? How do you need to be obedient, trusting Him to bring the obstacle down? Are you prepared to go straight up and take hold of it?

*If there is something He shows you, ask where you should walk. What can you walk around that is the equivalent of taking the ground that He is giving you? For me it was a nearby lake.  It might be a neighborhood, a house, a school.

*Make a decision to be obedient, and begin walking! Don’t put it off for long.

*While you walk in silence, pray. Ask God to speak to you during your walk. This is a time for communing with God, for listening, not just talking.

*Write down whatever He tells you. What God says is important. You don’t want to forget it.

*On the seventh day, it’s not about speed or personal accomplishment. It’s about spending time with God, and rejoicing in His power and His blessing. Revel in that when you give a shout!

*The wall has come down! Ask God how to go up and take your blessing. Follow through on what He has told you. Rejoice in your victory!

In the next post I will share about my Jericho walk and what I learned.

Googling God part 2

How does hearing from God work?

Physical ears

Outer ear collects sources of sound – the sound waves.  For us to “hear”:

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It has to be within our range of hearing

It has to be loud enough

It has to be clear enough

 

hearing-106483_640Middle ear directs the sound to the ear drum where the sound is transferred from the vibrations of the ear drum to 3 little bones that conduct the sound through the cochlea where the sound is turned into nerve impulses and sent to the brain to interpret and understand what we hear.

We’ll look at 3 reasons we miss out hearing that have a spiritual similarity:

  1. we don’t hear because we aren’t listening –our ears are not pointed towards where the sound is coming from
  2. there is so much noise that the signal gets muffled or confused
  3. there is infection that needs to be cleaned out to restore our ability to hear clearly

Spiritual ears 

Our spirit hears everything our physical ears hear and our brain processes.  But there is another level of understanding that we can access with our spirit that allows us to filter messages that have a deeper spiritual meaning.

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So we need to engage our spirit and focus it on listening, interpreting and understanding those meaningful messages.

 

  1. As with our physical ears, we need to point our spiritual ears where God is speaking.  We need to tune our spirit into God’s frequencies.

What are His frequencies?

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The previous blog asked some specific questions and gave ideas to help you identify how to listen in some of these areas.

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So the first question is: Are you tuned in and exposing yourself to the sources God is broadcasting on?

solution-2480514_640Listen to Christian sermons and podcasts.  Read the Bible.  Spend time in prayer.  Become aware of God’s Creation around you.  Examine your circumstances for what is bringing you blessing, confusion, pain.  Ask God to make you aware of how He is speaking to you and spend time in that area.

  1. Like our physical ears, the message we are trying to receive won’t be heard if there is too much other noise surrounding and masking it

chairulfajar_-655482-unsplash (1)So many things compete for our attention every day: books to read, movies to see, music to listen to, places to go where there is noise and busyness.  Advertising tries to convince you that their product is exactly what you need to solve all your problems and meet all your needs. Whether it’s insurance, a new car, or the latest tech, we are overwhelmed with media and input and our minds flooded with so many options and choices that they block out the messages God is speaking to us.

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And that’s just the outside noise.  What about the inner voices you speak to yourself every day?  We are usually much more critical of ourselves and those negative voices have an impact on our ability to hear from God as well.

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The next question is: Are you tuning out the world and the other voices that are clamoring for your attention so you can focus on hearing God?

solution-2480514_640There’s a simple solution.

prayer-888757_1920Before you pray, or read scripture, listen to a sermon or podcast, take a nature walk, or search your life circumstances, invite the Holy Spirit to silence all ungodly voices and distractions.  Ask that confusion, preconceived ideas, biases, and misconceptions be sent away.  And ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth, clarify meaning, and show application to your life.

  1. The infection that needs to be treated to restore our spiritual hearing is sin.

Sin is like an infection blocking our ability to communicate with God effectively. Sometimes there is sin we are aware of that needs to be dealt with. Being willing to turn from it and ask for forgiveness is the way to remove that block to your hearing God. If you are unsure of any sin, invite God to search you and show you where sin may be causing a hearing problem, and remove it.

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The question is: Have you cleaned out your spiritual ears lately?

 

solution-2480514_640Thankfully, God has prepared a way for our sin to be forgiven and be removed as far as the east is from the west. 

I John 1:9-10 tells us:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If it would help to have a guide for personal reflection on possible sin issues, see “When Hearing is Blocked” on my main menu.

listening-3079065_640When you are ready to tune into God’s frequency, and invited the Holy Spirit to silence other noise and lead you into hearing; be prepared to be blown away!

I believe God is speaking to us any time we are willing to listen.  And I believe when He says something, it’s important enough to write it down.  Keep some kind of record of how and when you hear from God.

But don’t run off with some word you think you heard without checking it out. Hold it up against what the Bible says.  And maybe even ask other believers what they think for some confirmation.

Next time I’ll share a simple way to know if what you heard is from God.