Archive: May, 2010

The Journey by Heidi Avery

 

It starts as a small quiet flicker, like candle light, though small, it subtly paints itself across the darkness gently illuminating and creating shadows of dark and hidden things.

Pain, heartbreak, failures and worthlessness all dwell there dominating and thriving on the weary, fragile soul within.

But, the light shed of that small quiet flicker is the start of something beautiful. Something longed for. Something far beyond that soul within.

It’s a journey that can start no other way, but with a small quiet flicker.

Once started, it grows at a pace supernaturally set and eventually that flicker increases into a fiery, purposeful flame.

It forces itself upon the fighting darkness, exposing the grey shadows that live there, replacing them with promises never heard, hope never had and a love never felt.

The warmth of that flame is sweet salvation to the soul. It becomes a powerful source of strength, unfolding truth that begins to feed the waking soul within.

This journey begins a battle over what was and what is to be. The struggle is between the flesh and that flame, both pursuing that seeking soul within.

There can only be one victor, one ruler of that soul.

As the soul exchanges its weakness for the strength of the flame it becomes renewed. And the flame transforms into a beautiful burning blaze, unstoppable against the darkness, putting to death all that once dwelled and ruled there.

The hidden things in the darkness are replaced by a new and increasing faith and an all-consuming love never thought to be known by the joyful soul within.

The burning blaze roars out of control stirring the now thriving soul to action, revealing its glory. Once pursued, the soul now seeks the blaze for itself, drawing on it not just for strength and truth, but for purpose and direction.

The soul now moves only by the light of that blaze and living in the peace that it radiates.

The things that once weakened and enslaved the soul are now powerless against the raging fire within. The fire is the Savior of the once weary soul. The hidden things are markers of what was and a means to what is to be, necessary, but no longer dominate.

The hidden things in the darkness still attempt to control the soul with fear, but they’re no match for the blazing fire and as long as the soul continues to be fed and moved by the fire it lives peacefully and it experiences freedom.

The soul rejoices in its freedom from the pull of darkness and freedom from the aches of its flesh. Not that it no longer deals with them, but that it is freed from them.

It is free! Free to love the One who started the quiet flicker, to obey because of that love and to bring glory to its Savior.

Each soul is uniquely created for a divine purpose and set on a supernatural journey. The journey is not free from difficulties or trials, but can be filled with victories and triumphs if purpose and truth are revealed by the Savior.

If the soul is focused on the hope of what’s promised to come it can endure the journey in peace and persevere. The journey will not end until the Savior returns and then it is a new journey that begins to something even more beautiful, something deeply longed for and something far, far beyond the soul within.

Romans 8: 18-27

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 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.”

 

"Being Uncomfortable Can Be Fun," By Kelli Zaniel

Once upon a mattress…
My husband drove into the driveway and unloaded a nice new mattress and box springs from Sams Club. As my hands brushed across our brand new cotton ball pillow top mattress I thought, “How wonderful that I no longer have to sleep in a tiny bed with my husband’s elbow in my face every night!” Bless his heart, he really does try to stay on his side of the bed. Anyway, we removed the sateen hunter green 500 thread count sheets from the Wal-Mart packaging, washed them on the quick cycle and placed them over the mattress. That night as I climbed into bed and settled in, I noticed that the brand new Wal-Mart sheets were not so comfy after all. They smelled like sweet lilies thanks to Downy and her dryer sheets, they shimmered and shined and looked really expensive, soft and comfortable… so why did the sheets feel so prickly against my not so clean shaven legs? I tossed and turned all night thanks to Wal-Mart’s roll back blue light special sheets! The next day I snubbed my nose at the Wal-Mart sheets and decided to make a mad dash into Target to purchase softer sheets I thought would make me more comfortable. I was willing to do anything, pay anything to make my next night’s sleep new and improved.
The median household income in the United States is $46,326 per year. I would guess that most of our income goes toward making ourselves more comfortable and more entertained. Have you ever donated money to a third world country and on the form it says “check this box and for $11.00 an entire village could be fed?” I know I am always skeptical because I think there is no possible way that a person could stretch $11 that far. Why is that? It is because we have so much that to us $11 is not a big deal. Even if you don’t think you have enough, compared to people around the world, you have more than you need.
The other night as I laid in my 5 times washed now comfy hunter green Wal-Mart sheets, I began thinking of how spoiled I am that I even have a bed much less one that is comfortable. My eyes scanned across my bedroom as I processed all the comforts of my home. What do I have that I probably take for granted everyday? A nice T.V. to watch whenever and whatever I please, a shower that sprays water not too hard but not too soft so that I can always be clean, and a home to keep me warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
I am not saying we should feel guilty for having these “things,” but I began to think of what Jesus promised the disciples. He promised them that the Holy Spirit would come to them as a comforter. My question to you is why would we need a comforter when we already live so comfortably? I mean, would you actually pray a prayer like this to God? “Lord, will you please make me as uncomfortable as possible today, if it means bringing me closer to you?”
My next question is, if Jesus were standing on a mountain and all the comforts of the world were on a hill, which would you prefer to climb? If Jesus held out his hand and said, “I want you to follow me and I will give you eternal life. Let me warn you first that should you choose to follow me, it will not be easy. If you follow me I may ask you to sleep in the desert without a roof over your head; we may not always have food to eat, water to drink; you will probably walk around for months without being able to bathe; you may have to give up everything you own, and I may ask you to be crucified with me… will you come follow me?” What would you say? There is a part of me that thinks those Wal-Mart sheets might not be so bad after all!
Remember when the Bible tells the story in Acts 7 of the stoning of Stephen? Stephen gave up everything to follow his Jesus, including his own life. Jesus showed up in Stephen’s biggest time of need. Stephen was in the most uncomfortable of situations but the “comforter” showed up! In the heat of the moment, when the angry mob began to stone Stephen, He saw Jesus! “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). He yelled at the mob, you can throw your rocks at me, I don’t even care because I see Jesus!
Over the past couple of years, I have noticed that the times I experienced God like never before were times when I felt scared because I was so far out of my comfort zone that God had to show up or I would have fallen flat on my face! They were the situations, I couldn’t manipulate in my own strength. They were the times in my life that couldn’t be explained without the presence of the Holy Spirit. They were the times, I relied on nothing but God’s direction and comfort. The Holy Spirit will ask you to do things you might not normally do; ask you to go places you might not normally go…but the great news is that during those times you will see and feel the hand of Jesus like never before. He is worth it! Following Him no matter the cost, is worth it!

"Am I standing at a Distance from Jesus?" By Kelli Zaniel

Question for the week: Am I standing at a distance from Jesus?

Verses of the week: “The ten lepers stood at a distance, crying out, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. He looked at them and said, ‘Go show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy” (Luke 17:11-19).

Application for your week
: Luke chapter 17 is the story about Jesus healing ten lepers. Jesus was on a journey toward Jerusalem. When he approached the border between Galilee and Samaria, he entered a tiny village. As he approached, he noticed ten lepers standing at a distance. Once the lepers recognized Jesus they began calling out to Him, “Jesus, Master have mercy on us!” I imagine they were screaming, yelling and waving their arms crying, “Jesus we are so unclean we can’t even come near you– please heal us!” Have you ever cried out to Jesus like that?
As I look back over my life, I see myself in this story. I have never experienced leprosy but I know what it feels like to stand at a distance from Jesus. After an abusive marriage and divorce, Satan was hard at work in my life. He trampled on my self-esteem and crushed my spirit. The lepers bore their scars on the outside while mine were on the inside.

Recently, it seems that the scars of today’s woman are more visible than ever before. Abortion, physical abuse, divorce, abandonment, depression– Our bruised lives and emotional scars isolate us, make us feel unclean and more importantly keep us at arm’s length from the Jesus who gave his life for us.

It makes sense that with all the trash and baggage we carry around that we would keep a safe distance from Jesus. If we hide condemnation and shame in our hearts, where would Jesus fit? How would He even have room to fill our hearts with his love? For me personally, during that horrible time in my life, I felt so unclean and so unworthy that I did not even feel like I could go before Him in prayer. Have you ever felt that way?

What keeps you at a distance from God? We all have experienced something that keeps us from him at some point in our lives. The Bible reassures us that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The truth is God wants us. He wants a relationship with us. He won’t allow our own personal leprosy (whatever that looks like for you) to stand in the way of that.

For me, the only love letter I have ever gotten in my life, is the one found in the pages of my Bible. I like to think of it as Jesus’ marriage proposal to me. He gets down on one knee and pulls out and a ring and says, “Will you take me? I’ll wipe out everything. I love you as far as the east is from the west, even to the depths of the oceans. I will put all the junk of the past behind us and we can begin a new relationship.” It is as if my own prince showed up on his white horse to rescue me, drew his sword to protect me and whisked me off into the sunset the day I said “yes,” to Him. Sounds pretty good, huh? All I have to say is “yes, I will take you—I do!” I have accepted His proposal and now I am his bride. This is the most real picture of intimacy and love we will ever know this side of heaven.

Jesus came and died for us so we would never be at a distance from God. No amount of disease or sin in our life can separate us from His love. Just as the lepers were screaming for the healing power of Jesus, He is screaming out to you, “Come let me heal you; I want a relationship with you.” The only thing that could ever keep us away from him is us!
Challenge for your week: Now back to the story. As Jesus looked at the men ravaged by disease he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests. And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” This is so awesome! The passage doesn’t say that Jesus healed the men and then they went to show themselves to the priests. First, Jesus told them to go. Then the lepers exhibited true faith as they began walking toward the village without even being healed yet. They did just what Jesus instructed and as soon as they put one foot in front of the other, they were healed.
This week, when you get up each morning, before your feet touch the ground challenge yourself to say, “Even if I don’t feel like it, I will put one foot in front of the other, one knee beside the other and pray to the Jesus who knows me and can heal me like no other.

Questions for Reflection
: Is today going to be a day where you really got alone with God and prayed and now you expect to see supernatural things? Or are you going to waste another day of your life by trying to do things on your own without anticipation of seeing God?