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.

100_2076

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

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

Altogether Lovely

The greatest change that Jesus brought to this world is the presence of  Himself, and what He offers to every man, woman and child.  Only through His Holy Spirit are we able to comprehend just how lovely, how beautiful He is. The  magnitude of His glory and loveliness is expressed through His revealed names found in scripture. I want to share a few of His marvelous names. The quotes are from a devotional entitled The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord by Charles E. Hurlburt and T.C. Horton, a classic that has been in print for nearly a century.

I recently visited a glass blower’s shop and was fascinated by the lovely glass work. I’m including photos of the glass art in this post. As the glass blower demonstrated his work, I saw an analogy to the beauty that can come from us through the beauty of Jesus within us, as we walk in the power of His names.

100_1260

Altogether Lovely

His mouth is most sweet: yea He is altogether lovely. Song of Solomon 5:16

Every earthly joy will pall,

Every earthly friend will fall.

Only Christ is to the end

“Altogether Lovely,” Friend.

Do you see His wondrous face?

Full of glory, love and grace?

Look, and all thy need confess,

Worship His pure Holiness.

100_1255

The Brightness of His Glory

Who being the brightness of His Glory  Hebrews 1:3

Do you want to visualize the glory of God? Then gaze upon Jesus Christ. When we see Him, we see God, for He is God. Oh, the marvel of the Godhead! …

100_1264

A Sweet-Smelling Savor

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself…for a sweet-smelling savor. Ephesians 5:2

When Christ laid down His life on the cross what a perfume went up to God – the perfume from the sacrifice of His Son! Has the perfume of the cross yet reached you? It reached heaven. Has the love of God, as manifested in the sacrifice of His Son, mastered you? Our Father, forgive us that we have been so unmindful of the wonders of Thy love. May its perfume pervade our lives, and through us, the lives of others. Amen.

100_1265

The Unspeakable Gift

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15 (ASV)

…There was no treasure which God could give comparable to the gift of His Son, and “Having given us His Son, will He not with Him freely give us all things?”  How could it be possible that the Father would give to sinners the Son of His Love?  How we ought to love Him! Is there anything we have or are that we would withhold from Him? Loving Lord, help us to sense in a new way what it means for us to possess Thee, the unspeakable Gift. Amen,

May Jesus, and all that His names represent about Him, be fresh in our hearts for the days ahead. I hope and pray you and your family are blessed this Christmas season with awe for the beauty of Jesus.

Connecting, with love

Donna

Balance and beauty

On June 15, 2012, Nik Wallenda became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a high wire. He walked over the massive cascade of water from the United States to the Canadian side.

Step by step he moved above the falls, while beneath him, nearly 5.7 million liters of water rushed powerfully over a 200 foot drop each second. He took a little under 30 minutes to traverse the 1800 foot distance over the falls. Wind and mist pounded him from all sides.  Even though he was required to wear a safety tether, he didn’t have to use it…

…because while accomplishing this feat, he relied heavily on the balancing pole he carried, which was harnessed around his shoulders.

 During this Christmas season, I was led to explore fresh insights about Jesus and the changes His life produced. While meditating before the Lord, I suddenly started thinking about Nik Wallenda’s walk across Niagara.  I waited to see if it was a passing thought generated by my random mind, a distraction, or the Lord showing me something. I realized quickly the Holy Spirit was giving me a visual lesson about one of the changes Jesus has provided to believers, who are willing to accept it. Jesus didn’t just come to live among us, He came bringing changes that bless our lives. The larger concepts of salvation, justification, redemption and deliverance are all changes for our blessing, but I want to focus on a change I call balance.

100_1457

The Niagara Falls of life are always potentially ahead, for each of us. We walk through our days with countless decisions to make… what, when where, or who. Our overall well-being (which includes relationships, health, finances, maturity,  safety, stability, comfort, security, happiness) lies before us like a tight rope. If we lose the balance, we tumble off that tight rope of harmony and peace, and into the turmoil. One careless move can cause pain and suffering within a blink of eye; one misguided decision can send us into debt or destroy a relationship. Some have developed skills to keep up the balance of life themselves. With much concentration, they take one step at a time on that high wire, using the balancing poles of education, common sense, fame, wealth, resourcefulness, creativity, or just plain bull-dog tenacity, all of which can be valuable in varying degrees. 

Seemingly, this skilled high wire act appears to do well, until eventually a gust of life’s winds or the fog of life’s mist attack their balance. During these pressing conditions, it becomes obvious the balancing pole being used is not enough for the completion of this journey over tumultuous falls. Education will eventually reach a peak. Common sense will get tripped up by inexperience. Fame and wealth fade away. Resourcefulness and creativity hit blank walls and discouragement, and that bull-dog tenacity becomes weary and unfocused.

When Jesus came to fulfill God’s love for humanity, God gave us the greatest gift, Himself. Jesus made a way, through His Spirit within us, for us to access His unlimited abilities, and we gain a supernatural balancing pole. We have every skill needed to live balanced lives, through His power working in us, to walk over the turmoil and even to experience the beauty of life despite the troubles. I imagine Nik Wallenda had an amazing view of the beauty of Niagara.  God’s work is always beautiful, whether it is His creative work, like the physical beauty Niagara Falls, or through His creative work within us spiritually.

Matthew 1:21 Amplified Bible (AMP)

21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].

Nik Wallenda did not start across Niagara without a balancing pole and then suddenly realize he needed it. That is why he didn’t have to use the safety tether to prevent him from falling. He assessed his inability to walk that high wire without the pole before he ever stepped on it, and he totally relied on the balancing pole the entire way. Consistent peace in life comes when we prepare our hearts to realize our need for Jesus, and our willingness to depend on, and receive the blessing of balance through Him.  It isn’t about waiting until all our resources are proven inadequate, it is starting the walk across life’s traps and pitfalls, knowing it can only be accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30 Amplified Bible (AMP)

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

100_1462

Many of us have experienced a tumble off life’s high wire. I know I’ve gotten wet many times, as I dangled above life threatening waters, saved by His grace alone. Had it not been for the safety tether of God’s saving, sustaining grace, I would have fallen completely into the turmoil, never to have recovered. But, praise God  He loves us and watches over us in such a way that He is able to rescue us from the foolishness of not relying on Jesus to balance our lives.

Galatians 5:25 Amplified Bible (AMP)

25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

My heart yearns to live a life patterned after Nik Wallenda’s balancing ability, entrusting my life to the balance provided by Jesus, not needing to be rescued from the waters of despair, because He helps me walk over them.

John 16:33 Amplified Bible (AMP)

33 I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Connecting, with love

Donna

A Baby’s cry changes everything


100_1195

On Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Christmas album is a song entitled How Suddenly a Baby Cries. The lyrics of the first line are “How suddenly a baby cries and all forever changed”. This phrase caused me to consider how Jesus Christ has indeed changed everything.

100_1376.jpg

Concentrating on what Jesus has done, the basic concept for this post began to formulate. By basic I mean, a thought here, a belief there, random thoughts, not connected together. Every time I set out to write a post, those random thoughts are the first to appear in the draft. Even though I am new to blogging, I learned very quickly to appreciate the delete key when what I have written does not adequately express what I know or what I believe. I also use the delete key when my writing stumbles upon my lack of knowledge on a subject. As I try developing a thought, I realize I’m not able to adequately describe it just yet. I then have to consult with my Editor, the Holy Spirit, Who instructs me more thoroughly or leads me to another blog subject. If I sense there isn’t a confident flow with a certain draft, I will put it aside until a later date.

I have discovered that writing is a wonderful discipline and I welcome the challenge because it causes me to look at what I know, and discover what I don’t know. Yes, it is easy to readily agree that the birth of Jesus forever changed our world. It is something else to express that concept in a manner that reveals  I own that truth. Restating truths gathered from others is not ownership. I own a revelation or truth when the Holy Spirit reveals it to me, and I then accept it by faith and seek to live it out. Once that truth belongs to me, I can express it with certainty and confidence. It holds steadfast in the light of God’s Word, as the Holy Spirit continues to work it out within me.

100_1357

In admitting this, I broach this subject with caution. I want to devote December’s posts to some simple, but significant ways Jesus has changed things, things we don’t normally consider at Christmas.  I will not attempt to examine those bigger, more profound changes attributed to Jesus. This will be a process to clarify some simple truths for me. Hopefully others will appreciate the process as well.

Baby, Lamb, and Lion, Jesus has touched every aspect of our lives in this world. Regardless that those who deny Him would negate His impact, this truth will one day be fully revealed and totally validated by the Lord Himself. Until then we have opportunities to be blessed by the changes Jesus provided, if we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to welcome those changes into our lives.

This is the link to How Suddenly a Baby Cries by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Connecting, with love

Donna

Aging well = living Life each day we live

These are some of the charming homes along the inter-coastal waterways on Isle of Hope in Savannah, Georgia

During a recent visit with family in Savannah, Georgia, I played the part of a typical tourist, and enjoyed snapping photos of the sites that make this city a popular tourist attraction. One feature that Savannah is famous for is its elegant old homes. Someone, long ago, was wise enough to promote the preservation of these historic sites. Now visitors from around the world come to admire the architectural beauty of past masters of design, and study the landmarks from our history.

Continue reading