Pruning!?

News Paper Chat BubbleMore of my musings as I read through the Bible this year and journal my thoughts. Today the word pruning is what’s floating around in my head. I was reading in John 15 last week. Once again one of those familiar passages, and one of my favorites. But the Lord really pierced my heart with verse 2,

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Pruning. Yuck! I mean in the garden it’s one thing, and honestly, not my favorite thing to do in the yard. But it’s necessary…just ask any green-thumbed, gardener or horticulturist (neither of which I am). If you want beautiful rose bushes that have beautiful blooms and aren’t “leggy and unattractive” {quote from some gardening website}, then you have to take the time to prune.

Here are some top reasons for pruning in your garden:

“Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.” (Wikipedia)

  • removal of the deadwood
  • shaping or directing growth
  • improving or maintaining health
  • preparing plants for transplanting or harvesting
  • increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits

Not bad reasons and results, especially if you enjoy the fruit of your labor at your kitchen table or in that beautiful bouquet that graces your table.

This got me to thinking…the Lord’s pruning in my life, as painful and unwanted as it is, has purpose. And the reasons and results are much like the ones we find in the pruning of our garden plants.…continue reading

Restless Wandering

The problem - childs feet and long twisted shoelaces

Do you ever feel stuck? In a rut? Or that you’re wandering, searching for that thing to fill the restlessness? Perhaps life is in such constant change that you are finding it hard to keep up. I have to admit, I like change at times (this is one reason my house is in a constant state of redecorating). I don’t like to live with too much routine, but I’m also a creature of habit. I do like adventure, creating and discovering new and exciting things, but I also need a sense of calm and stability to my life. This zig-zag can leave a girl feeling dizzy and plain worn out! These were my musings as I hit Genesis 4 in my Bible reading this year.

One of my goals for this year is to WRITE more. In the last few years I’ve been writing using my computer or iPad, but this year decided I would begin journaling again with pen and paper. I found a beautiful journal and I just love opening those crisp, white pages and putting pen to the page each day. Oh how I have missed journaling this way! And it’s been a great catalyst for causing me to slow down, meditate on what I’m reading and think about how it affects where I am right now and what needs to change.

I thought I share some of my musings, mutterings and  journaling from reading through the Bible this year.

I was reading a few weeks ago in Genesis 4, the story of Cain and Abel. Familiar, tempting to just skim because it’s one of those stories you know so well. (Side note: I’ve been reading through the Bible this year in a translation I’ve never read through from Genesis to Revelation before, another great way to make you slow down, take notice and not skim.) Back to our story…a few phrases from this chapter really struck me.  It is found in verses 11-14 where we read of God’s punishment for Cain killing Abel and then Cain’s response.

So now you are cursed, alienated, from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood you have shed. If you work the ground, it will never again give you its yield. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth. —Genesis 4:11-12

The last phrase caused me to pause —a restless wanderer.…continue reading

Four Words for the New Year

Inspiration

Okay, so I know I’m a little late to the game in writing something about New Year goals.  I’m not really one to make a list of goals or resolutions each year, however I do find that as each year draws to a close I find myself reflecting on the past year.  It normally begins as I’m writing my Christmas letters to family.  If you’re new to the blog, you can read all about them here.  This year, they were encouraging, beautiful and were the highlight of my Christmas (as they always are).

This year was full of new blessings and memories for our family —two grandbaby girls and our firsts!  Our son and daughter-in-law and our daughter and son-in-law both celebrated becoming first-time parents —Emma and Evelyn were born a week apart. Our year has been one of watching them grow and discover their world.  These cousins have already become fast friends.  I love watching them interact together! And…Emma will be welcoming a baby brother this Spring. My heart is so full!

My husband took on a new job that has created some changes in the way we do life, but it was a long-awaited answer to prayer.  And our youngest is in his senior year of college and preparing to graduate in May.  He’s our child whose heart is full of adventure.  He loves to travel and enjoys new places, people and experiences.  I’m sure once graduation has passed, he will be off on a grand adventure somewhere (and probably not close to home).  But I love his heart for the Lord and for ministry. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him.

So once things settled down a bit from Christmas and the gatherings with family and friends came to a close, I found some quiet time to rest and reflect and ask the Lord what He would have me to focus on in 2015.  Every year, He prompts and prods my heart with something He wants me to focus on. The last few years have been about learning to rest, slow down and allow Him to refine some areas of my heart and life. And a big one for me —learning to love better!  I’m so task and project-oriented. That is my comfort zone. My love language is acts of service. And my “flesh” tends to find satisfaction in performance-based approval.  So learning to slow down, say “no”, rest and focus on people rather than tasks has been a hard journey for me the last few years. But I’m beginning to see the fruit of God’s Spirit and His Word at work in my heart and life.

So this year as I prayed four words came to mind.  …continue reading

He is the Prince of Peace!

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Day 25

Merry Christmas! May your day be filled with the joy of knowing Jesus as your Prince of Peace!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

May the Word of God encourage your heart today as you read through these Scriptures that speak of Jesus as our Prince of Peace:…continue reading

He is the Everlasting Father

His Name Is_2

Day 24

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

Take a look at the definition for Everlasting Father in the original language:

everlasting – ‘aḏ – A noun meaning eternity; perpetuity, for ever, continuing future. The word signifies God’s dwelling place.

Father – ’âḇ – of God as father of his people

In Genesis 21:33, God reveals Himself to Abraham by His name, ’êl ‘ôlâm, the Everlasting God!

’êl – God, the one true God, Jehovah; mighty things in nature strength, power; Almighty God.

‘ôlâm –  everlasting, indefinite or unending future, eternity, for ever, always.

Read through the following verses that help us to know He is our Everlasting Father:…continue reading

He is Mighty God!

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Day 23

We are just a few days from Christmas!  Perhaps your strength and stamina are quickly waning. Perhaps you’re facing a difficult situation this Christmas that is beyond your ability to bear. Take heart and be encouraged! Our God is Mighty! And He allows things into our lives to drive us to the feet of Jesus. He WILL give us things beyond our ability to endure, because He wants us to come to Him, to rest in Him and to look to Him for our strength. We need Him desperately, but our self-sufficiency is often a barrier to experiencing the abundance of His presence in our lives and all the joy, peace and pleasure that it brings.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

Take a look at the definition for Mighty God in the original language:

mighty – gibbôr – an adjective meaning brave, strong, mighty. The word refers to God Himself as ’el gibbôr, usually rendered as the Mighty God. It is used to describe the Child born to rule and govern God’s kingdom as Mighty God. It describes the might and power of the messianic King

Read through the following verses that speak to us of God who is Mighty! and be encouraged by His presence today.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God. —Deuteronomy 10:17

The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. —Zephaniah 3:17

Who is this King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
he is the King of glory!
Selah —Psalm 24:8-10

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. —1 Peter 5:6-7

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. —Matthew 11:28

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. —2 Corinthians 12:9-10

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. —Colossians 1:11-12

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us — to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen —Ephesians 3:20-21

In what area of your life today do you need to know Him as Mighty God? Fall at the feet of Jesus and find rest for your weary soul and strength to face whatever comes your way this day.

Worship Him!

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He is Our Wonderful Counselor

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Day 22

He is our Wonderful Counselor!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. —Isaiah 9:6

Take a look these words in the original Hebrew language:

wonderful – p̱ele’wonder, marvel wonder ( extraordinary, hard to understand thing) wonder ( of God’s acts of judgment and redemption.

counselor – yâ‘aṣ - to advise, consult, give counsel, counsel, purpose, devise, plan.

What do we know about the plans of the Lord? Each of the prophecies regarding the birth, life, death and resurrection were ALL fulfilled (over 360 of them). God’s purposes and plans stand firm!  They are never thwarted and they come to pass!

Read through the following cross-reference verses and note what you learn about God’s plans and purpose in and knowing Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor:

Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast. —Psalm 119:89-90

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Jesus Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. —2 Corinthians 1:20

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. —Romans 8:26-29

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “ For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “ Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. —Romans 11:33-36

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. —2 Peter 2:3-4

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. —John 14:16-17

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. —John 14:26

…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. —Ephesians 1:17-21

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. —1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

How does knowing Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor encourage you this season?

…the Lord of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom. —Isaiah 28:18

Worship Him!

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His Name is Savior

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Days 19-21

Today, we move into verse six of this wonderful passage.  The indescribable gift of Jesus’ presence is expounded upon in these next few verses. Look at the first part of verse six:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder… —Isaiah 9:6

Let’s look at the fulfillment of this prophecy in the New Testament and a few cross-reference verses:

A Child is Born:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you:you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” —Luke 2:11-14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. —Isaiah 7:14

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel
(which means, God with us). —Matthew 1:23

Did you notice the response of the multitude of the heavenly host that were with the angel in Luke 2:11-14? They began praising God! Let’s make this the cry of our hearts and focus as we approach Christmas Day and continue throughout the year.

A Son is Given:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. —John 3:16-17 

What has God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus done in your life? How has it changed you?

The Government Upon His Shoulders:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. —Matthew 28:28

Today and throughout the weekend spend some time meditating up these verses.  Think on them, ponder them, pray through them this weekend.  On Monday, we’ll look at the wonderful descriptions of the gifts we are given in Christ Jesus.

Worship Him!

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The Gift of Joy

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Day 18

We continue to work our way through Isaiah 9:2-7 and today we come to verse 3. Three times in this one verse we find the word joy —there are three different Hebrew words for joy in this one passage.

You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joythey rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. —Isaiah 9:3

joy – śimḥâ – rejoicing, gladness, pleasure. It refers to the reality, the experience and manifestation of joy and gladness. It refers to a celebration of something with joyful and cheerful activities. (Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary)

rejoice – śāmaḥ – A verb meaning to rejoice; to be joyful, to be glad; to gloat. It describes a state and agitation of rejoicing, of being happy. (Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary)

glad – giyl - a primitive root; properly, to spin round, to rejoice. (I love this one! Spinning round with joy!) (Complete Word Study Bible Dictionary)

In Psalm 43:4 we find a wonderful name of God, El Simha Giyl, meaning My God, my rejoicing joy!

Psalm 16:11 tells us in His presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

You get the point? Jesus is our JOY!

Be encouraged by these verses from the New Testament on the joy we have in Jesus:

Romans 5:2-3

Romans 5:11

Romans 12:12

Philippians 4:4

1 Peter 1:6-7

Revelation 19:7

Has joy characterized your Christmas season thus far? Or have you been caught up in the whirlwind frenzy of activity? Take time today to be still and rest in Jesus’ presence.  Experience the joy He brings, not only to this season but to each day.

What are you finding joy in today? Share with us and spread the joy!

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The Gift of Light

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Day 17

Christmas lights! One of my favorite things to do during this season is to drive around and look at Christmas lights. I love to sit in our family room with all the lights out except for the glow of the fire and white lights on the evergreen tree! It’s so peaceful and happy! Yesterday you read through and examined Isaiah 9:2-7.  I love how this passage begins:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone. —Isaiah 9:2

This describes our lives apart from Jesus! Let’s back up and look at some of the preceding verses:

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. —Isaiah 9:1

And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness. —Isaiah 8:22

Those are pretty intense and depressing word pictures: gloom, anguish, distress, darkness, the gloom of anguish, thick darkness.

But in Jesus, we who once walked in darkness have seen a great light and on us light has shone. Let’s read how this is fulfilled in the New Testament. Some of these are long passages, but I encourage you to take the time to be still, read through them slowly and savor all that Jesus has done for you!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. —John 1:1-14

Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles —
the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. —Matthew 4:12-17

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. —John 8:12

I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. —John 12:46

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “ My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “ This man is calling Elijah.” And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “ Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “ Truly this was the Son of God! —Matthew 27:45-54

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “ Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. —Matthew 28:1-9

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. —2 Corinthians 4:6

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. —Colossians 1:11-14

We no longer have to walk through our days discouraged, gloomy, or in anguish. We have seen a great light. We have been given the gift of light — Jesus, the Light of the world!

How will this knowledge change how you approach your day? Worship Him today!

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