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Eclipse

Many of us recently watched the solar eclipse; a rare astronomical event.  When the moon for a short time crossed paths with the sun, the light of the sun was either partially or completely covered depending upon the location in the United States from where observers were viewing this event.  Many astronomy enthusiasts purchased or constructed various viewing devices to watch as gradually the moon began to eclipse the sun, closing to the diamond ring where only a small crescent shape shone through, and finally for some like those in Oregon, to witness the moon’s full coverage of the sun referred to as “totality”.  Yet, even in totality, the corona of the sun (translated crown) becomes like a glowing orb from behind the moon.

Witnessing the eclipse made me think about darkness and light; about the crown of my King Jesus and about the heavenly light of God which still shines even when it is covered by our earthly darkness.  Some circumstances that weigh heavy on our souls, make it feel as though we only see a glimpse of God; and yet, like the sun, his power never decreases.  The sun is the most powerful star we can see in our solar system and it is made up of fire and gases so hot we would be instantly incinerated by its intensity.  But it becomes overshadowed in this brief moment, by the moon which is approximately 416 times smaller.  Answers.com reports that you could fit about 72 million moons inside the Sun.

Sometimes our struggles feel so huge, and yet God is so much bigger and more powerful that the troubles we deal with in our short lives.  In light of eternity, the most horrendous experiences in our brief existence are but a momentary eclipse of darkness, all the while His power never decreases one bit, though we often feel as though we don’t see God when our struggles reign in a place consuming the totality of our focus.

I want to encourage you today, that His light, like the sun behind the eclipsing moon, never dims or wanes in strength.  Though at times we ask where God is in our messes, He is shining like the corona behind them all.  It is okay to ask God questions–to wrestle with Him and even to become angry, but like Jacob, wrestle until you break through to His blessing, where once again you will see His love shining brightly like the vibrant midday sun.

 

His Word Tells Us…

The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. – Matthew 4:16

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. –John 1:5

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

The Lord is the light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

This is why it is said: Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.          –Ephesians 5:14

Let’s Pray…

Dear Lord,

When we suffer and grow fearful, help us to know that your love is real and that it is powerful beyond our imaginations.  Help us to become spiritually awake to the resources we have in relationship with you.  Shine on us, Lord, and bless us.

Help give us your strength to overcome the darkness of our hearts, our sins, and our circumstances.  Heal those around us who are suffering physically or emotionally.  Help us to be lights to them.  Be with our families and our friends and help us to know that even when your light has been covered by our eclipsing circumstances, the darkness will not last forever, and your light will never go out.  We give thanks and glory to you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

A Broken Heart

 

Have you ever experienced the grief of a broken heart?  If so, you are not alone.  Our hearts can be broken when people we love abandon us or reject us.  We can even feel abandoned after someone we love has died. Sometimes, we cause our own hearts to break when we subject ourselves to pain by making choices that deliver us over to the enemy of our souls.

My spiritual daughter, Allison, who is twelve, has experienced a broken heart. She has not seen her father in years.  I asked her the other day if she wanted to talk to him and she said, “Not really.” I know that deep down Allison has been wounded growing up without a father.  She doesn’t get to experience her father watching her at her dance show, or sharing ice cream with her as they talk about life.  But the beautiful thing is that she has discovered her heavenly father who loves her more than she could ever imagine.  In fact, He watches her all the time. He sees her as she worships Him in church raising her hands toward the angels in heaven.  The Bible tells us that children specifically have angels assigned to them to watch over them (Matthew 18:10).  Still, there remains an empty place in us when we have experienced this kind of pain; be it from a father, a friend, or even a spouse.

Yet, we do not need to remain crushed.  Jesus has the power to heal and restore our hearts. While this may sound cliché, it really is the truth.  Sometimes, healing requires getting away to focus our desires on Him.  When we pray in solitude, spend time praising him, and thank him for all of our blessings (even when we don’t feel blessed), He sees us and will meet us where we are and begin slowly, but surely to begin the process of restoration.

Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, experienced a broken heart.  After sleeping with Abraham, she fled from Sarah, who was obviously jealous.  I truly believe she had fallen totally in love with Abraham, but even in the wilderness, God saw Hagar and told her to return to her master and to submit to Sarah. She was pregnant with Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Prior to her return, God provided a well for her in the wilderness.  Then after Hagar’s return, Ishmael was born under the covering of his father.

Still, fourteen years later, Sarah’s promised son Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.  For fourteen years, Hagar had lived with Abraham as she had watched their son grow up, but the moment Isaac took the place of attention in Abraham’s life and the boys began to fight, Hagar was sent away a second time and this time she did not return.  Ishmael was forced to leave his father and Hagar was forced to leave Abraham.  They both grew up separated from one they loved, but God blessed them even in the wilderness.

His Word Tells Us…

So Abram had sexual relations with Hagar, and she became pregnant.  But when Hagar knew she was pregnant, she began to treat her mistress, Sarai, with contempt. The Sarai said to Abram, “This is all your fault! I put my servant into your arms, but now that she’s pregnant she treats me with contempt.  The Lord will show who’s wrong- you or me!”

Abram replied, “Look, she is your servant, so deal with her as you see fit. “Then Sarai treated Hagar so harshly that she finally ran away. 

The angel of the Lord found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur.  –Genesis 16:4-7

After directing her that she should return home and that God would bless her son, she had a new revelation of God.

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her.  She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who see me?”  So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). – Genesis 16:13-14a.

Sometimes, we are “sent away” from those we love, but God sees us even in the wilderness.  He brings us away to restore us and to bless our futures.

Let’s Pray…

Dear Lord,

We pray that you will hear our heart’s cries from the wilderness.  Forgive us when we have not done things your way.  Heal us from when we have felt abandoned or rejected.  Send your angels to take charge over us.  Transform our hearts and lives into the people whom you have called us to be.  Forgive us for any actions, words, or thoughts that we have entertained that displease you. Thank you for sending us wells and springs in the wilderness to restore our hearts.

Help us when we feel abandoned; heal us where we are broken and help us to seek you only as the giver of life and blessing.  We thank you and praise you that you have “seen” us.  We pray that you will bless us as we seek to follow you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

The Horizon Line

Yesterday, I stood in the waves at Zuma Beach near Malibu.  The blue sky was vast stretching out above me as the warmth of the sun enveloped me.  I felt like I was being hugged by my heavenly father as I watched each foamy wave curling toward the shore.  My toes and feet sunk deeper into the silky sand as I beheld the surf, the swimmers, and the shoreline.  The beauty of summer was breathtaking.

Yet, the feature that drew my attention like no other was the horizon line.  I tried to be still in this place where I felt surrounded by God and I felt him say to me, “There is so much I have yet for you to see beyond the horizon line.  But, I hear your prayers and I see your heart. Answers to your prayers and comfort for your heart are just beyond the line.” I breathed deeply and embraced the still voice of God.  I truly believe this message was not for me alone, but for you also today if you feel like you are peering out into the distance of your life and all you see is a line.

We know scientifically that if we were to travel out towards the line known as the horizon line, we would see much more than a line.  We would see miles and miles of ocean followed by land covered by towns, cities and forests that are on the other side of the world.  In some ways, our future that we cannot see is just like that.  It is on the other side of the world from us.  We can’t see tomorrow; we just see a line.  But, our heavenly father sees it and knows all that it will entail.  He is able to equip us to face tomorrow’s challenges and he is there to watch us wallow in its blessings.

His Word Tells Us…

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:7-11

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. – Psalm 34:17

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  –Psalm 61:1-2

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 a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11

 

Let’s Pray…

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help us to trust you with what lies beyond the horizon in our lives.  May we know that you hear us and that you answer our prayers, not always in the way we expect, but you answer them.  We pray that you will deliver us from evil and that you will make your kingdom known in our hearts.

We pray that you will speak to us in the stillness of our hearts, that you will bless us with understanding and direction and that your will will come to pass in the horizons of our lives.   Dear Father, please heal our pasts and bless our futures.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

The Heartbeat of Home

Some people live in extravagant mansions, while others live in shabbily constructed huts built of cardboard and trash.  What my experience has taught me is that it is not how expensive or simple your home is that matters, it is the heartbeat that flows from within its walls that blesses and comforts those who enter.  I grew up in a large mansion in an exclusive part of the city.  We had eight bedrooms overlooking a canyon with a live-in housekeeper.  It was beautiful and extravagant, but it felt cold to me.  In fact, the only place I felt warm in this vast house, was in a small sewing closet at the far end of the second floor where my grandma spent hours sewing on buttons and hemming clothes.

There wasn’t enough room in my grandma’s closet for a second chair, but as a little girl I would sit on the floor with my magnet and pick up her fallen straight pins.  I could almost feel her prayers going up to heaven as she sat hour after hour praying, humming, and telling me stories about the goodness of God. My grandma had an overflow of Jesus that seemed to erupt from her soul wherever she was.  She sang loudly to the Lord (sometimes off key), sought out the less fortunate, and filled my mind with stories of miracles.

So, it was in Grandma’s sewing closet where I first could identify with the heartbeat of home, but it wasn’t until years later when God blessed me with my own home where he continued to lead me in understanding what home is all about.  I believe God gave me access to my current home through prayer and His favor.  Prior to my divorce, when my ex-husband and I had made offers on the house, there were two offers that were larger than ours.  Fortunately, the previous owners were Christian believers.  The man had lived in the house since he was two years old with his parents who were the original owners.  His mom had been a prayer warrior and he said many prayers had gone up through the rafters of this house and that they actually had begun a church in this very home.  I was amazed and felt so drawn to this home because of its spiritual history.  In the end, the man’s father, who was the original owner, told his son that he felt in prayer that my family should become the new owners, even though our offer had been the lowest.  Ultimately, they reduced the price of the home by 5,000 dollars enabling us to purchase it and sign the contract with us.  It was an amazing miracle to me.  At the time, I was pregnant with my third child.

A second miracle happened after my separation and divorce when I was able to move back into my home with my kids, take over the mortgage, and then over time, pay off the equity due to my former spouse.  It is truly beautiful what God has done for me in giving me my home, not once, but twice.  I always want my home to be a place of love where everyone is welcome.  I want people to feel the presence of God here, and to know what the heartbeat of a real home feels like.  Still, my home cannot compare to the incomprehensible home that awaits those who choose to put their trust in Him.

The Bible shares with us beautiful truths about our eternal home in heaven.

His Word Tells Us…

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  –Phillipians 3:20-21

In heaven, we will be at home because our Savior will be there with us and He will redeem us from everything that brought death and darkness into our earthly homes.

In the last book of the Bible written after God’s revelation to John, God gives us a glimpse of what this eternal home will be like.  In my Bible, the subtitle is “Eden Restored.”

Then the angel showed me [John] the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.  On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  No longer will there be any curse.  The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.  They will see his face and His name will be will be on their foreheads.  There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.  –Revelation 22:1-5

Let’s Pray…
Dear Lord,

Thank you so much for preparing such a beautiful place for us.  Send your peace and beauty to live in our hearts and in our earthly homes as well.  Heal us from the results of the curse.  If there has been sin, or death in our homes, redeem and heal us from the devastating impacts of these evidences of a cursed world.  You know the ways in which our hearts have been broken and damaged; repair them.  Also, help heal those who come into our homes and help them to find freedom in you.  Provide for us the resources we need to maintain what you have given to us.  For those who are buried in debt, please put us on a path to freedom from those burdens.  Help us to look to you as the lamp who will light our way.  Help make your home in our hearts.

Thank you for our promise to become citizens in heaven if we believe on you, and help us to enable others to share in your promises too.  Lord, you are a beautiful and gracious God, give us the mercy we need, but do not deserve, and the hope we long for to pursue our lives in a way that pleases and honors you, so that we may find your favor and our blessed inheritance from you.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Flashes of Lightning

I am writing you this blog post to share something about the grand and powerful nature of God. I say you because I believe nothing with God is accidental. I believe that even the fact that you are reading this is part of His plan. I am serving this week as a church camp counselor high up in the mountains surrounded by forest pines, with a running creek that can be heard in the background.  I believe God in his creative genius was the mastermind in planning all of the natural beauty around me; from little blackberry bushes to the onset of lightning bolts of electricity flashing across the sky.

All the students up here at camp were pulled out of the lake this afternoon due to the forming of thunderclouds overhead.  Being from Southern California, I can count on one hand the times I have actually seen lightning.  I will say the power of a bolt striking across the sky is pretty spectacular for me to witness.  It speaks to me of His power.

There are many ways God can speak to us; through the lyrics of a worship song, through the prayer of a child and through the beauty of nature.  Sometimes, if we are lucky, we have the chance to witness God’s power as a lightning bolt striking across the sky.  These are the kind of experiences I long for.  I deeply desire just to see a display of His grandeur as if He were saying, “Step back.  I AM here.  I am omnipotent and omnipresent.  Watch what I will do!”

Paul, an apostle of Jesus, experienced God’s power in this way on the road to Damascus.

His Word Tells Us…

As [Paul] neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

            “Who are you Lord?” Saul asked. 

            “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” –Acts 9: 3-6

There are really three parts to Paul’s conversion experience.  First, he witnesses the supernatural power of God.  Second, he identifies the power as Jesus.  And third, he is commissioned to move out and begin to follow God’s direction for his life.

Can you relate to these experiences of witnessing God, identifying Him as God and being commissioned to follow his plan?  I think when we fail to stay the course in our own faith journeys, it is because we haven’t fully submitted ourselves to faith through this process.  Either we haven’t really ever witnessed the true power and authority of God, or we witnessed the power of the Lord, but didn’t correctly identify this power’s source.  The final way we get off track is when we slink back from the calling God has shown to us.  We may feel inadequate, afraid, or even selfish concerning our time and resources.  We may hesitate giving up our fleshly desires to live a life worthy of His calling.  But missing out on what God has called us to would be a tragedy.  Imagine if Saul had decided not to follow God’s plan; if he had never become Paul who spread the gospel to many peoples and wrote a number of books of the New Testament.  What if he had remained Saul and persecuted Christians for the rest of his life?

I pray today that you will not be content in living the life of who you were, but instead that you would experience His power with an intensity that awakens your spirit to live the life of who he is calling you to be, and that you will give over to Him all that you hold back, so he can begin to, or continue to use you as part of His plan.

Let’s Pray…

Dear Heavenly Father,

We know that you are real and powerful, that you are able to strike our lives with your electricity even like a lightning bolt strikes the sky.  I pray that you would help us to glimpse the incredible power at your disposal, so that we could willingly give our lives over to your purposes.

Commission us today to embark in seeking those works you have planned in advance for us to do.  Help us to let you engineer the direction of our lives.  May we believe in you, trust in you, and give honor and glory to your name all of our days.  And, may we step back in awe of you and watch the lightning bolts fly!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

 

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” these are the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by His Spirit. – I Corinthians 2:9-10