With!

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6

New King James Version (NKJV)

I am always amazed as I read God’s Word how the level of understanding during one season of life becomes enlarged by the Holy Spirit in another season.  Suddenly new revelation lights the path more clearly.

During recent stressful events in my life, the Lord reminded me about Philippians 4:6.  As I reread this passage the Holy Spirit gave me a new understanding and stabilized my heart with His peace.

I know if I take the time to share this new insight it will be better defined within me. This definitely isn’t the whole picture about prayer by any means. It is a simple but important lesson I learned in the life school of prayer.  But first, I have to backtrack. Years ago, I looked at prayer as an itemized check list. I relied on a list of prayer concerns, and prayed through those lists faithfully. Prayer was stylistic and the approach to God was ritualistic.  I grew up learning about the ACTS way to pray. This formula encouraged a diversity of purpose when praying to God, making sure that focus wasn’t just on petitioning or supplication, but also covering all the other areas as well. Indeed, we do need to include worship, confession, thanksgiving and petition in prayers on a regular basis. This is the formula:

  • A = adoration
  • C= confession
  • T= thanksgiving
  • S= supplication

Over time, as my needs became greater and formulas failed to work, I was pressed to seek the Lord more diligently through prayer. He encouraged me to speak to Him with spontaneity and honesty. I learned to run to Him as soon as I realized I’d chosen the wrong way, seeking His forgiveness and mercy; I began depending on Him when I had a need; He helped me appreciate being still before Him as I enjoyed His presence; the encounters with Him led me to rejoice with praise, and to worship Him for who He is and what He does. He showed me how to reach past myself with intercessory prayer for His Kingdom, His glory and for others.  New lessons about learning to hear Him are ever enlightening my heart. Yet, I was still missing an important concept about effectual prayer.

Each new difficulty in life presents opportunity for growth in the knowledge of our Father’s heart and in talking with Him in prayer. The recent situations I faced were no exception. As He led me to Philippians 4:6 several months ago, two words from that verse realigned my prayers over the issues I was facing.  Actually it was only one word, the word “with“.

Effective praying is not just telling God our needs and then remembering to be thankful.  Giving thanks and petitioning are entwined in a single focus on God. Petition and thanksgiving come together as need meets assurance. Petitions are made… with thanksgiving, as the heart seeks comfort from a faithful, loving Father. Jesus set the example as He often expressed thanksgiving in His own prayers to the Father.100_2064

Giving thanks, while seeking God’s help through petitions, is an act of worship.  If I am asking my Father for something with a heart of thanksgiving, I am acknowledging that He will hear my prayers, will do what is best for me and will always respond with a loving redemptive plan. If my petitions are not joined with thanksgiving, I am not allowing my heart to expect the best from God. The “if’s , maybe’s, could you’s, and sure am hoping’s” become more evident in petitions that don’t flow with thanksgiving. To be thankful while petitioning is also an act of faith and trust in the goodness of God. Doubt and disbelief are eliminated when thanksgiving and petitions are offered together.

There are dark times when petitioning is done with anguish and tears, and it just doesn’t feel like a time to be thankful. You can’t even pretend to be thankful. I have experienced those times. It took the power of the Holy Spirit working in me to muster a simple “thank you Father for your goodness, even in this stressful situation” when recent unforeseen events encroached upon my life. On a deeper level I’ve heard and read testimonies of Christians who have lost loved ones or suffered unbearable hardship and pain, but were able to lift thanksgiving/worship in anticipation of God’s goodness, comfort and blessings… yet to be revealed. Despite those painful times, the Holy Spirit is able to lift our hearts with thanksgiving. The key is faith in God’s goodness and, asking to be thankful, as we realize in times of desperation we sometimes aren’t able to offer thanksgiving. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, thanksgiving begins to rise from our hearts and our focus is lifted up to our Faithful Father.

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It pleases the Lord for us to come to Him with confidence in His love. I will never fully understand why the Lord does what He does or how He answers my prayers. But I can always be assured His love will be the motive behind His every plan and action.

Ephesians 5:20 Amplified Bible (AMP) 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 New International Version (NIV) 18 give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 American Standard Version (ASV)16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Colossians 1:11-12 Amplified Bible (AMP)11 [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy,12 Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Anchor and Umpire

Over the last few weeks I have cried tears of joy…. and tears of sorrow.

During the last weekend in January I was blessed to watch another grandchild enter this world. You would think that after the other two births I would know what to expect and not be so utterly overcome by the emotions of awe, love and joy. Not so! It happened again just like it did  the other two times. Waves of tears, laughter, praise and words of aaahhh’s and ooohhh’s kept flowing from within me. My job during labor and delivery is to help my son-in-love (heard that term from a friend and I like it a lot better than son-in-law).  He in turn devotes himself to attending to his wife, my daughter. I fetch his snacks and coffee, text updates to the rest of the family and friends, take memory-making photos and pray. This loving couple place their focus intently on the task before them. Their unity and support of each other is precious to behold. I am so thankful they allow me to witness the births of their babies. Who can ever fully explain the marvel of a newborn baby drawing his first breath of air and flexing his lungs with hardy cries! With tears of joy it is so easy to praise the Lord and release words of thankfulness in prayers to Him.

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Then came the tears of sorrow. Due to circumstances, unexpected and from another area of life, confusion and turmoil manifested. I again felt emotions flow from deep inside of me, but this time the tears were mingled with fear, worry, anxiety, and discouragement. It was harder to kneel before the Lord with thanksgiving and praise. It was difficult to find that place of rest in Him, His peace. But as I ran to Him, thanking Him for His love and trusting Him to bless me through this dilemma, He lovingly and patiently taught me how to deal with my problem and gave me two very precious verses to encourage me. Blessings came in the form of hope and peace as His grace made my path straight again.

I am a visual learner so I love word pictures that teach a principle. Both of the verses  the Lord revealed to me use a specific word to elaborate the truth.

Hebrews 6:17-20 New International Version (NIV)

17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised,he confirmed it with an oath.18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

An anchor “holds something else secure; gives stability or security”.  In the verse above, hope is the anchor for the soul. Not just hope in general, like being positive or optimistic. It is hope in God, His truthfulness, His faithfulness, and the fact that He is a promise keeper. What He says He will do… will be done. Whenever trouble comes, it is our hope in Him that anchors us. The waves of life don’t have to sweep us into the rocks of the shoreline. I found it interesting as I looked for images of anchors to discover that many anchors have a cross in the center of their design. The work Jesus did at the cross provided us with the ability to approach our Heavenly Father with confidence, to go through the veil of the Holy of Holies, meeting Him, receiving the fullness of our inheritance in Him, and finding our security through His promises that He has the power, desire and ability to accomplish.

Colossians 3:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]

This verse really got my attention when the Amplified translation interpreted  ” let the peace from Christ rule” as like an umpire.  An umpire is “a person chosen to render a decision in a dispute; an official who administers the rules”.  The Peace of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace, is the umpire of our hearts, continually ruling out the thoughts that do not line up with the Father’s heart and purposes for our lives. The enemy, the world and our own minds can speak into our lives untruthful words of hopelessness, despair, faithlessness, and words lacking in love. We are all tempted when turmoil enters to allow these destructive thoughts to take seed in our hearts.  If we do, the harvest is fruitlessness and defeat. When I yielded to the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, His Peace lovingly pointed out the untruths that I was allowing to germinate within me. He knew those thoughts would prevent me from being in the blessing of God’s game plan for that difficult situation. The analogy grows weak as I compare Jesus Christ to a real life umpire. Jesus is not the demanding, dictatorial force that would insist on getting the final word in His ruling. No, the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ stands ready with His wisdom and love, waiting on us to seek His way and yield to His work in us. I  see Him as that consistent Reminder saying, “this is the way, walk in it”.  So, this turmoil became another opportunity to praise and give thanksgiving to God even in the midst of it. He calmed the storm within me, giving me His Peace.  Then I could live with hope in Him, waiting and expecting Him to calm the storm around me as well.

Philippians 4 New King James Version (NKJV) 

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Taking a break

I’m thrilled to write we are almost ready for the arrival of our third grandchild! The next few weeks before delivery, and definitely the weeks after our baby boy is born, are sure to be quite busy.

Knowing my time will be filled with helping our daughter and her family, I decided it would be a good time to take a short break from blogging.

I would appreciate your prayers for our family as we anticipate this joyous event. See you later in February.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Words -written and spoken

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Vocalizing my thoughts has always been my favorite way to communicate. When I receive a phone call from family or friends, or I am surrounded by loved ones in a nice quiet setting, words will flow out of my mouth like water from a fountain…just ask my family :-) I love to see someone’s face during a one-on-one exchange of thoughts. I give others that same ample opportunity to observe me :-) My husband says I use my hands so much when I talk that if I sat on my hands, words would stop coming out of my mouth. I gesture with animated body language, and use facial expressions to convey my thoughts. I appreciate the added advantage of  listening to the tones of spoken words and the emotions that are detected just by hearing and watching.

Because I am more comfortable talking, writing isn’t usually my first choice to express my heart. However, early last year I started feeling this unusual compelling to write what the Lord was teaching me.  So, here I am, six months into writing this blog! Who would have thought? :-) I know it was the Lord stirring my heart to write. He affirmed this new way (for me) to communicate, by His Word, and through some encouragement from a dear mentor. The Holy Spirit started giving me impressions, affirming them with His Word, and then guiding the develop of those thoughts with instruction and correction. If I don’t hear a message from Him, I have nothing to write. I have always loved reading and am inspired by the talents of those able to craft a new thought or explain something with innovative skills in written form. It usually is a struggle for me to find words to write, to arrange them in a way that expresses my heart accurately, and to arrange them correctly. If the Lord had not given me the message, the drive and the courage to do so, there would not be a Salt Cinnamon and Love blog.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti (Photo credit: avatar-1)

In saying all that, I am discovering a deep appreciation for writing out thoughts, as I have benefited by it. Writing has become a way to release words and thoughts trapped inside of me like a plate of spaghetti pasta.  When spoken, these jumbled thoughts may straighten up for a period of time, but can often revert back to a jumbled state. The more I write, the more these thoughts untangle themselves. There is something about seeing thoughts in black fonts on a white screen that causes them to line up with greater clarity and become more entrenched within me. I can say “hmmmmm” if I don’t know what to say, but I sure can’t use it when writing. It is either there or it isn’t. It is my prayer that as I write, others will also have more clarity about our Heavenly Father’s heart, a deeper yearning for Jesus, and a greater awareness for the necessity of depending on His Holy Spirit.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I believe the Lord has also led me to write this blog for another reason. I have gained access to the world of other bloggers. It is a privilege for me to follow some inspiring blog sites.

There is so much diversity. I read about God’s grace, redemptive power and love from those who have won the battle against abuse, addiction, cancer, infertility, diseases, abortion, bad relationships and abandonment. I see God given creativity implanted into those who use written words for prose or poetry, who capture beauty with photography or artwork,  and who cook, sew and design with talented expression.

There are those who hear from the Lord in prophetic ways and can usher forth a word to encourage, warn or edify. There are gifted teachers, able to research and document accurately, offering lessons that generate a deeper understanding of God. There are those still struggling, yet willing to be vulnerable and honest, describing their battles as they press on toward victory. Life experiences are described with humor, reality and wit. There are trail blazers who establish a new work or challenge others in new endeavors.

World wide, I see a greater picture of the true bride of Christ, His body, His church, His people. There is so much to appreciate about this bigger concept of who we are in Christ. There is so much more to God than what one would learn in a singular mainstream denomination. There is so more to experience within the wholeness of His Body world-wide, than what one would experience solely relating within familiar surroundings. There is more about praying than just praying for what we see and know, when the needs and struggles of others, we don’t know, are expressed. There is larger burden for the advancement of God’s Kingdom when indifference and unbelief are revealed. There is more to rejoice about with the countless testimonies of faith and overcoming victory through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is magnified by the many words of praise, spoken, sung, signed and written.

I express great gratitude to all of you whose blogs inspire and edify me. May the Lord be glorified by our voices and words!

1 Peter 5:12 Amplified Bible (AMP) By Silvanus, a true (loyal, consistent, incorruptible) brother, as I consider him, I have written briefly to you, to counsel and urge and stimulate [you] and to declare [to you] that this is the true [account of the] grace (the undeserved favor) of God. Be steadfast and persevere in it.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Joy in the journey

Psalm 84:5 Amplified Bible (AMP)Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

2012 is quickly becoming another year for the history books. As 2013 rounds the corner, it comes with pressing issues, wrapped in uncertainty and confusion.

One morning, while I was reflecting on the approaching New Year, the Holy Spirit drew my attention to Psalm 84, especially verses 2 and 5. The later part of verse 5 states…whose heart are highways to Zion. From other translations this phrase reads: whose heart is set on pilgrimage; pilgrimage is in their hearts; their hearts are on the road that leads to You. 

From generation to generation, there is one common element within every man, woman and child. We are all created to be pilgrims.  Internally we naturally press on, toward what supernaturally draws us. Our pilgrim hearts yearn for, and realize a need for “that Someone”.  God has fashioned each of us with internal spiritual roads, or highways within our hearts. Those highways, by His design lead us to Him. Just as a sunflower is drawn to the sun, there is an inner desire to seek God.

Psalms 84:2 Amplified Bible - My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God. 

The enemy, and that of the world and self that would cooperate with his scheming, can cause us to be detoured off  those God designed heart highways. It doesn’t take much to see broken lives, roaming and seeking for what they can’t find…peace. Misconceptions caused by abuse and suffering can foster unbelief in God, His Son Jesus, and His Holy Spirit. Stress and anger quench that natural yearning for God.

Even if past life has been one setback after another, Jesus came to restore us and relight the path or highway of our hearts.  God continues to call us to Himself, and Jesus provides the way to Him. It is only through this journey to God that we are made whole and complete. When our life’s journey is encompassed by Him, we can expect blessings with each new year, even uncertain and confusing years. We can look forward to overcoming the trials and troubles of life, by abiding in and depending on His Spirit.

John 8: 12 Amplified Bible
Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.

His Spirit is as a covered bridge over difficult passages for our pilgrimage. He guides us through the difficult times with His protection, wisdom and power. God’s word is a light unto our path. His love letter to us, the Bible, is our road map for this pilgrimage. There is joy to anticipate as time continues its swift passage. Whatever may come, God has prepared a way to Him, for our blessings, and His glory. May we pursue Him and thus truly mean it when we say “Happy New Year”!

Psalm 84:5 (NKJV) states - Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage. 

 Michael Card – Joy In The Journey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khrxWs05JSY

Connecting, with love

Donna

Merry Christmas!

Sharing this wonderful poem with you….praising God for the gift of His Son and the joy of His kingdom.

 

Emmanuel – God With Us is God For Us  By M.Y. Lee

God of every nation and people,
From the beginning of Creation
You have made known your love
Through the gift of your Son
Who bears the name Emmanuel, “God with Us.”

In the fullness of time the Christ-child came
To be the Good News to all humankind.

Emmanuel, God lives with us as one of us;
Christ, the Word made flesh
Has come to us as a vulnerable,
Weak and dependent babe;
A God who hungered and thirsted,
And longed for human touch and affection;
A God who chose to be born
In obscurity and shame,
To a virgin, an unwed maiden,
With a dirty stable as a home
And a borrowed manger as a bed,
In a tiny, insignificant town called Bethlehem.

Oh, Mighty God, of humble origins,
Christ, the Messiah, whom the prophets foretold,
You were born at a time, and in a place
Where few welcomed you
Or even recognized you.

Have we, too, lost a sense of joy and anticipation
In what the Christ-child may bring?
Have we been preoccupied with endless activities,
Distracted by the tinsel, decorations, and gifts—
Busy preparing for the birthday of Christ;
So busy that there’s no room in our cluttered lives
To welcome Him when he comes?

God, grant us the grace to be patient and vigilant
In watching, waiting, and listening attentively.
So that we won’t miss Christ
When he comes knocking at our door.
Remove whatever hinders us from receiving
The gifts which the Savior brings—
Joy, peace, justice, mercy, love …
These are the gifts we are to share
With the downtrodden, the oppressed,
The outcasts, the weak, and the defenseless.

Christ, you are the hope of all peoples,
The wisdom who teaches and guides us,
The wonderful Counselor who encourages and consoles,
The Prince of Peace who calms our troubled minds
And restless spirits—
Granting us true inner peace.

Christ, you who are the radiant dawn,
Shine on those who live in darkness and in shadows,
Dispel fears, anxieties, and insecurities,
Restore hearts that have grown cold and distant,
Enlighten minds which have become darkened
Through greed, anger, hatred and bitterness.

We remember those who are living in shadows of a marginal existence,
We pray for the homeless, jobless and retrenched,
Those struggling to keep their lives together,
We lift up families, especially the children
Who may not experience
The joy of Christmas celebrations this season.

We pray for those living alone,
The widowed, the orphans, the elderly,
The sick and bedridden, the migrant workers
For whom the Christ-event may hold no special significance.
As happens with most festive seasons,
May it not deepen their sense of abandonment and alienation.

Christ, You who are the Light of the World,
Help us to radiate the warmth of your presence.
Enable us to give of ourselves generously and compassionately
In bringing joy, peace, and hope to others.

As we wait for the dawn
Of the coming of the Christ-child,
We do so with anticipation
Of new and unexpected challenges.
Like Mary, we sense the birth pangs of a new era,
A new kingdom waiting to be born.

May we, like Mary, be filled with courage,
Openness, and receptivity
To be the bearers of the Christ-child
In receiving and bringing forth the Good News
As we continue to be witnesses
Of God’s truth and justice,
As we walk along the path of peace,
As we are strengthened in our love for Christ
And for each other.

In the words of Isaiah:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come.
The glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
Even though darkness shall cover the earth
And over its people,
Yet the LORD will be your everlasting light.”

Amen.

By M.Y. Lee

Merry Christmas to all the new friends I’ve discovered

through blogging!

Connecting, with love

Donna