Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope that you had a memorable time of worship and fellowship with God and others over this holiday! We are just a couple of days beyond Christmas so giving you a post birth scripture account to meditate upon. Maybe you are just finding time to wind down after the hustle and bustle of the season. Hoping you take a few moments to sit quietly with God and consider Simeon's joy! His joy is to be our joy as well!
Luke 2: 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the LORD's Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 "Sovereign LORD, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel."
Verse 25 uses a phrase "the consolation of Israel". Simeon was a man who had a life mission to see it. Consolation is a calling near for comfort, solace, encouragement, refreshment. Clearly Simeon was a good man who was burdened for God to draw near His people as One who comforts. He did not want to die before seeing that promised Messiah, and God was good to share His secret with Simeon! He sent the Holy Spirit to tell Simeon that indeed he would see the promised Messiah!
It's such a tender, awe inspiring moment, which I think Ron DiCianni's artwork of "Simeon's Moment" above captures. There is inexpressible elation in his face! There are tears of joy and clearly some sound of holy praise coming from a place deep within. He held the Holy Promise in his arms! There was no doubt in Simeon. He recognized the promise as foretold by the Holy Spirit. He was led by the Holy Spirit to enter the temple at the exact right time! And Mary and Joseph were also led straight to him to perform the circumcision, cleanse Mary, and accept their offerings.
Have you ever imagined holding the Son of God in your arms? Do you have a heart response similar to Simeon? God's greatest and highest call is for us to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind. Love deepens the more we realize how desperately we need God's forgiveness, the reason the holy child was sent.
Luke 7:47- Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Jesus knows the depth of your love and whether it is surface based or if you are one to unashamedly bow at his feet like the wise men did. Do you read that as a guilt message or an opportunity to more deeply experience the goodness of God? The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, Psalm 103:8. He is right there waiting and longing for more time with you. Are you satisfied with where you are with God or do you long for more? He promises to openly reward those who go into their prayer closets and talk with Him, Matthew 6:6!
Meditate upon whether or not you are moved to emotion when you worship God. Can you connect with inexpressible joy because of God's love and sacrifice for your sins? Are you free in your time with God to unashamedly pour out your thanksgiving and marvel at His holiness? Do you have goals and longings related to experiencing God at a deeper level in the coming year?
Into the Waters will continue holding online sessions to give you an opportunity to linger in God's presence and deepen your relationship with Him. The sessions help you sit with the LORD, talk to Him, and get to know Him better. He is openly rewarding those who have been attending! A January session will be announced next week! May you join!
Until then, meditate on God as consolation, as comforter. Close your eyes; and do what Simeon did. Hold the Son of God as a newborn, born to die for you. Have you held a baby with a thought, "This child was born to die for me?" It's ludicrous to even think it, except if you are talking about Christ the Messiah. Note during your meditation that Simeon told Mary some very profound truths about who the child was, one who would pierce souls, including her own. See Luke 2:35. If any thoughts of fear or condemnation come up, remember again He is CONSOLATION (COMFORTER). Evaluate your emotional attachment to God. Review areas where you need more joy, where you need a new level of intimacy that brings freedom with God as your Comforter. Ask God to wake you up if you have no passion or desire to press in for more of God. Time is so short! May you invest now in deep fellowship with the heart of God! It is where your life can be made new by God's tender mercies every morning. Great is God's faithfulness, Lamentations 3:23!
Isaiah 9:6- For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
If these blogs have been a blessing to you, please consider an end of year donation! Thank you for your consideration! See our donate page to make a tax deductible offering!
As the year comes to an end, did you experience the change you hoped for? What is the current reading on your hope, joy, and peace meter? Are you continually experiencing peace like a river within? Do you need a recharge? Do you need a supernatural gift this season that takes you into the new year with anticipation? Really consider it, do you need some deep rest in heart, mind, and soul? Close your eyes and ask yourself that question.
In the beginning God created... In the beginning, God's power was executed through His spoken Word and the Holy Spirit. He hasn't changed. The Word and the Holy Spirit of Jesus are still His agents of change. The biggest question for us is, "Do we want that change?" Will we open ourselves up to linger in His presence for the supernatural newness He offers?
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.- James 1:17
Last Friday I did another "Lingering with the God of Hope" online session for a private group of leaders and their team. It was a group of 12 made up of men and women with ages that ranged from young adult to seasoned adult. We had a chance to debrief together at the end of the session. The things they shared, and the breakthroughs they experienced, were the same as in every other group. They received personal revelation and love relevant to their deepest needs within. Without disclosing too much, the bottom line is they heard from the heart of a good Father who affirmed them, comforted them, gently revealed truth, drew near to them, and deposited supernatural hope. The majority shed tears. Not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy and relief at the loving and supernatural touch of God! God was not dramatic with them. He didn't force himself on anyone or expose anyone. He led them like a Good Shepherd leads his sheep to lie down and rest, leading them beside quiet waters. The God of hope deposited joy and peace for an overflow of hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Experiencing this type of rest and quiet under the protective presence of God is a good and perfect gift sent from above. It is experienced by lingering in His presence, a discipline that needs to be practiced. It does require that we choose to schedule that kind of time. But it's not easy on our own to linger for a long time in prayer and meditation. Most people really struggle for spending some extended quiet, reflective time with God. That is why Into the Waters is offering these online sessions! We want to help you flow through the time, prompting you along in simple prayer and meditation exercises. God's Word and His Spirit do what He did in the beginning, hovers over our deep, sheds light and brings new life! In the hustle and bustle of your life, in the flurry of your unending thoughts, do you need those types of gifts this season?
If so you have an opportunity to join us on December 15th at 8pm EST. See button below to sign up! We are praying that you say yes. If you need more encouragement to do so, consider even more outcomes...
Over the last couple of weeks I have been meeting with a few of the folks who attended the November 2nd online session. I have already posted the survey results which can be found by clicking this link- NOV 2nd SURVEY RESULTS. However, there are more detailed accounts with powerful testimonies of real strongholds that were broken in attendees. A few shared those stories with me in detail. It so touched me that I have asked a couple to share their testimonies in a more public way. They agreed. So in the coming couple of months, we are finding a way to record those testimonies to be shared for the encouragement of others. Stay tuned!
Until then, ask yourself if you need a good and perfect gift from above this season. God makes it simple for us. His is a simple invitation, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest." Say "Yes!" His Word and His Spirit will be present to do the rest! This season, be filled to overflow with HOPE!
The quote of "I just can't take it anymore" is what I am hearing from people without hope, the other is a testimony full of renewed hope after an Into the Waters led meditation session done for a private group. As you read, evaluate if you lean more towards not being able to take it anymore or more towards, “This is the breakthrough I’ve needed for awhile.”
Regarding the first quote, a couple of days a week I talk with many, many people about what they are dealing with emotionally, mentally, and physically. It is a secular setting, not a ministry setting. I am not allowed to openly talk about God in this setting, which is very limiting and frustrating to me. There have been times however, where I broke protocol in gentle ways, out of intense burden. I simply share in some way, "I will be praying for you." It has always been well received. However for the 99.9% of distressing situations I hear about, I have to just do the best I can to offer words that comfort and acknowledge their pain. Would have to say of late, the words I offer are momentary, split seconds of kindness that don't take them beyond our call. Over the last 2 weeks have been deeply burdened by talking to a parent after their young child was raped, people whose sleeplessness is taking their sanity, anxiety and depression so severe people are going on disability, violent behaviors of family members seemingly possessed by "something" not of themselves, I am newly hearing and regularly hearing, "I just can't take it anymore." Their tone, their tears, their anger, their shaky voice says it all.
They need hope. And they are reaching out to medicine and doctors as they search.
What is hope exactly? Can it be trusted? In our dictionaries, hope is defined as "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen". If that is as far as it goes, in my opinion, hope in and of itself as a concept is pretty shaky. Feelings are fleeting. We can have a feeling of hope to live a long life; but die at an early age. We can have a feeling of hope for a relationship to be "the one"; but end in rejection. Same for a hope for a good marriage; yet to end in divorce. We can have a feeling of hope for our children to prosper; but see them make bad decision after bad decision. We can hope for peace of mind; yet have crippling anxiety. Hope, in order for it to be true and life saving MUST have a cord of attachment to a source capable of manifesting the thing hoped for. But we don't see this qualification in our secular dictionaries. Yet, this is in fact how God defines hope in biblical dictionaries. It is defined as a literal cord of attachment that brings expectancy.
HOPE- Strongs 8615 tiqvâh, tik-vaw'; from H6960; (compare H6961) literally a cord (as an attachment); figuratively, expectancy:—expectation(-ted), hope, live, thing that I long for.
The word hope (tikvah) comes from the word kavah which means to wait by binding together, gathering for strength. The more cords are bound together, the stronger a rope is. The more weight it can hold, the more tension it can endure. These are pictures behind the strength that comes in waiting in God’s presence, attaching your hope to Him, having expectancy. Practical questions to examine would be:
Reviewing our hope through these questions takes courage, but is worth it. It is very hard when our hopes do not come to pass. Some of you are in a lot of pain right now because hopes have been dashed. However, these can be opportunities to ground ourselves anew in hope that alone comes from God. He is the God of hope. And regarding hope, if we are willing to strengthen our cords to Him, He will resurrect hope within us. it is His divine design that we overflow with hope by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
OVERFLOW OF HOPE>>>>>> Trusting God is key to being filled to joy and peace. Isn't that really the bottom-line request of all prayer... joy and peace? Your bank account can be overflowing; but if joy and peace elude you, what have you gained? You can be model skinny and have beauty that stops traffic; but if self scrutiny and continual dissatisfaction plague you, what have you gained? You can have a very successful career; but if loneliness and stress are your constant companions what is the point? We see the recent outcome of celebrities whose hope was in their children attending the best schools; but at what cost? The bottomline truth is that joy and peace come from the power of the Holy Spirit as you trust in God, not yourself or empty promises from the world.
So how is God-trust being developed in you? Are you experiencing an overflow of hope that comes from God? We all can be challenged by this question. It's a gentle reminder to invest in time before God's throne, to receive the joy and peace that He alone promises and delivers.
Here is a quote from someone who recently invested in lingering with God through an Into the Waters prayer and meditation session. See if you can see hope that came as a result.
"Thank you SO much for leading us on Thursday! It was a beautiful experience for me personally, and it was a breakthrough I have needed for awhile now. The revelation about (xxxxxx) was totally unexpected, but it continues to resonate so strongly with me. I have somehow put a limit on what God will do, and it definitely stems back to that season of my journey. I believe He will do those impossible, wonderful things for others, but not for me. I have dealt with this issue on so many levels and have felt peace along the way, but God not answering my prayers as I wanted at the time, has definitely affected how much I trust Him, I mean that deep, deep level of trust. Thank you for starting the process of tearing that false belief down in me and beginning another layer of healing."
God will tear down our false beliefs in order to bring another layer of healing and hope founded in His faithfulness, love, mercy, goodness, provision, etc. The power of the Holy Spirit deposits His life in those who trust! We are strengthened after waiting in His presence. Hope is renewed as our cord of attachment to God flows with new life from Him!
Do you need a fresh deposit of supernatural joy and peace, to overflow with hope from the Holy Spirit? In the Fall, Into the Waters will be holding some online group sessions on HOPE. These will be small groups of up to 10 at a time. Stay tuned for more announcements and sign up opportunities!
But for now meditate on the truth from Romans 15:13! Seed it into your heart by reading it in many translations. Reading it in many translations will do a couple of things.
NIV- Romans 15:13- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
NLT- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
ESV- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Berean Study Bible- Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
KJV- Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
GNT- May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 25:5 NIV
Vlog with personal testimony, importance of Holy Spirit, and Pentecost explanation. Plus, interactive prayer exercise.
Today’s blog I guess is really a Vlog, a video blog. Contains an encouragement to linger longer with God through a testimony I share. It was during a difficult time in my life. At this time, the Lord was developing in me a spiritual discipline of spending extended time with Him for healing. My sharing is meant to encourage you to linger with Him and to be open to the Holy Spirit for supernatural comfort, help, and truth that sets you free! And a brief mention is made of tomorrow being Pentecost. Learn what it is and how relevant it is for believers 2k+ years later. Reflect and ask for the promise given on Pentecost. The video ends with me praying for you!
Also, below is an interactive prayer session to inspire you to linger longer. Pray through part of Psalm 116 and wait in the presence of God for renewal! Blessings! (Note-Two videos on this post caused a delay in play, so the video exercise has been moved. It will be uploaded as a separate video on 6/9/19. Thank you.)
Happy Mother's Day! Mothers are given a very special purpose from God! In this blog, you will discover a mother's purpose by how God spells the word "mother". There is a deep meaning behind it. It goes far beyond merely birthing a child or raising children to adulthood. A true "mother" in God's eyes carries a lifetime of influence. A mother as God intends, is a strong force of nature to bind us in love like no other!
This Mother's Day I feel God challenging me to reflect on my mother through His eyes. So I've been reviewing and considering some of her ways, some of her emotions, and some of her words. It's been enlightening to reflect on her through God's meaning of a mother.
After doing an exercise of remembering and reflecting, I can feel God softening my heart. There is a deeper understanding into her ways. I can see why any family upset strikes her core and keeps her unsettled. God's definition of a mother is making me stop and appreciate her overly expressive kisses and hugs, to see why she still wants to sit on the couch and hold my hand, that even though I am over 50, she still wants me to stop so she can just look at my face. I roll my eyes in a lot of those moments and feel my adult self resisting. There are times when I can feel "too zoned in on" by her deeply intuitive nature that never stops trying to tune to my heart, and make sure I am ok. She worries a lot about my safety; and would be just fine if I only drove on days that were sunny and dry. I have laughed out loud on the countless days she has said, "It's raining out maybe you shouldn't drive today."
One thing is certain, about my mother and countless other mothers, "she" is a force of love sent from God holding us together in a way He designed. I see this when my mother questions, "When is the last time you talked to your brother? You should call him." I see it when she says, "Give me another hug before you leave." This makes me think of many times I've heard people say, "Now that my mom is gone, the family does not stay in touch the way we used to. She held us together." That statement of "she held us together" gets to the very heart of God's definition and purpose of a mother. Reflect further by reading through and processing the exercise below..
Note- Even if you have not had a good experience with your mother, others could have represented God's motherly love to you. And if you still have not had that experience, no matter how old you may be, ask God to experience a mother's love. There is a section below to help you.
Psalm 27:10- NLT Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
Meditation Exercise: How God defines "mother"
Definition- God defines a mother according to purpose. Her purpose is one who "'binds" the family together, holding them together individually and collectively through her love and actions.
How can we know this is how God defines a "mother"?- Before there were letters to spell words, there were pictographs. Pictographs were symbols, which when their symbolic meanings were combined, revealed definitions. Eventually each pictograph became the letters used today with the symbolic meanings staying with each letter. We see this in how 2 symbols were combined to define the word "mother". It is a definition of purpose. One symbol was an ox head, the other symbol was of water. An ox head represents strength. And water represents water. So combined these pictographs mean "strong water." In Ancient Hebrew you would read from right to left, and this is how it would be spelled in pictographic symbols-
So anytime you saw those pictographs combined, you would know they were referencing a "mother."*. Now how does strong water translate into a "mother'?
In ancient times, the skins of animals were boiled in water which produced a sticky substance, much like glue. So strong water was a binding agent. And it was known in ancient times that a mother was a binding agent of the family. She held the family together with her love, her words, and her work. Her love, her words, and her work brought comfort, discipline, wisdom that "held" the family together.
WAYS TO REFLECT (Pick what is RELEVANT to you from 3 different scenarios):
Praise God for His love and divine intervention! Be blessed in the transformative work of God to help you honor your mother, forgive where necessary, and be a mother purposed according to Holy definition! May the strong waters of His love bind you eternally through Christ!
* Benner, Jeff. “Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, www.virtualbookworm.com, 2005.
Today is GOOD FRIDAY. Is God is good? How does He define “good”? How do you define “good”? We use the word good in abstract form. “That was a good meal.” “What she said was good.” “I had a good time tonight.”
Our statements are opinion based and abstract. What you think is good may not be what another concludes as “good”.
God has a very concrete definition behind the word “good”. It is rooted in His character as Creator and divine provider. You will not see that explicitly said if you look up the word “good” in our dictionaries.
We can take a deeper look through some fascinating pictures that define the word "good" as God intends. To do so, we have to look deeper into language beginnings, to ancient language and ancient culture that originally used pictographs, also known as hieroglyphics, to write down their stories. When you look at the pictographs that were combined to communicate the word “good”, a mind-blowing definition is revealed! This is what you will meditate upon today. You will see God’s giving heart to supply all that is needed for an abundant life!
Know that pictographs eventually evolved into letters. And that the meanings of the pictographs stayed tied to the words they spelled. The example today is “good”. In ancient language of Hebrew, the word “good” is spelled with 3 letters, not 4 as in the English language. If we look at the pictograph that originated behind each letter, we discover the definition of good. Consider these 3 images in your mind’s eye:
A basket, made of clay.
A tent peg.
Why these three images to spell the word good? Look closely at the purpose of each image.
Now let’s look at the activity behind each object’s purpose. In ancient times, God’s people went out daily with their baskets to fill them up with things they needed. They went back to their homes with all that they needed to satisfy their family. They were secured by bringing in all they needed and surrounded by God’s protection. When filled, secured, and satisfied at home, they functioned as God designed. When filled, secured, satisfied and functioning as designed, this is good.
Therefore, God’s meaning of good is:
Being surrounded and filled in such a way that you are secured and covered. Your dwelling is secure because you have a supply of all that is necessary for you to function as designed.
Is the word “good” as God intends starting to have a very concrete meaning to you? It is not opinion based. It is a state of being that is based upon a supply of all that is needed to function as God designed, which is all based upon His provision and supply.
Jesus promises that all of our needs will be satisfied according to His riches. He promises to surround us with His favor. He promises to fill us to overflowing with His Spirit and life. He promises to secure our souls and fill our temporary dwelling with Himself. He promises to give us our daily needs as we seek first His Kingdom. This is good and pleases God. With the Lord as your Good Shepherd, you are to lack no good thing.
Take time to view your life through the 3 images of the basket, the tent peg, and the tent.
their hands were set free from the basket.
Matthew 11:28- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay (basket) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
May you take time now for quiet in the presence of the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for you!
Fear and anxieties prevent rest. God knows all about it because He experienced it before going to His death. He worked through it in prayer. Please reference this post from last Thursday to read in detail what He experienced physically and emotionally in that time of prayer in the garden. Knowing Jesus experienced such trauma on your behalf is meant to soften your heart towards Him. He is not a God of words only; but action. His actions prove His love. We respond to His love by getting to know Him and spending time with Him. May you find 9 minutes to process your fear and anxieties with Him. As the Good Shepherd, He alone has the power to still and quiet you. He made a way for you to have access to Him, honor His sacrifice and respond to His invitation. "Come all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!" (This meditation is silent and is clearly timed for you to know transitions. Pause anywhere if more time is needed. Find a quiet place without interruption. Blessings!)
Read detail below on the medical condition Jesus experienced that caused him to sweat blood. Ponder if you have ever experienced in just a small way Jesus’ extreme distress.
Have you ever broken a sweat in prayer? Probably not, and even more unlikely you ever sweat blood in prayer. But Jesus has, look up Luke 22:44 on Google. The reference from the book of Luke was written by a disciple named Luke who was a doctor. His account of Jesus alone states that Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood, falling to the ground when he prayed about what was about to happen to Him. There are 3 other books (Matthew, Mark, and John) with accounts of Jesus praying before his suffering, with Matthew and Mark also referencing his severe anguish. He himself said that his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. All accounts describe what a severe panic attack would look like, someone under traumatic internal distress.
If you look more closely at what Jesus was experiencing in the garden of Gethsemane, you will see the extreme mental and emotional pressure overwhelming him. To assist with this, I've included some detail from a renowned chief medical examiner and forensic pathologist, Dr. Frederick Zugibe. He detailed what it takes for a human being to sweat blood in his book “The Crucifixion of Jesus”. Here are some summarized excerpts and other thoughts to ponder-
• There is a rare medical condition called Hematidrosis which is defined in Stedman’s medical dictionary as excretion of blood or blood pigments in the sweat.
• It is associated with a severe anxiety reaction triggered by fear.
• One study of 76 cases showed individuals experienced extreme psychogenic factors of acute fear and mental distress as precipitating reasons for hematidrosis.
• It is a reaction from the nervous system’s “fight or flight” response. How can we know Jesus wanted to “flee” what was about to happen to him? Consider Jesus’ prayer of, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me, yet not as I will but as you will.”
• In a threatening situation, the body responds with the “fight or flight” reaction via the sympathetic nervous system. Pupils dilate, heart rate increases, sweat glands activate, blood vessels constrict to raise blood pressure, blood is diverted away from the skin to the brain and muscles for focus and rapid response, blood sugar is released to provide additional energy.
• In a threatening situation, it is not just the physical body alerted but also the psychological systems of the body. Specifically, the amygdala, which is the fear center of the brain. When the emotional center is reacting, a person experiences breathlessness, a choking sensation, heart palpitations, muscle tension, chest tightness, trembling, sweating, pallor, and overwhelming feelings of acute panic, as if having a heart attack.
• Combine the physical and psychological symptoms and you have what Jesus was experiencing when he says his soul was overwhelmed to the point of death. It explains why he fell to the ground in prayer, falling to his face, emptied of strength. Dr. Zugibe states that Jews normally stood to pray as a sign of honor to God, so it is important to note the Gospels detail Jesus falling to the ground while in prayer. He says it is detail to support the extreme distress Jesus was experiencing.
• Dr. Zugibe also explains in detail the tiny blood vessels that surround 2 million sweat glands in the skin. He explains how the blood would have been diverted from the glands during Jesus’ mental and emotional trauma, but how the blood would have rushed back to the delicate capillaries that surround the sweat glands when the angel came and strengthened Jesus, Luke 22:43. Yet Jesus was still in anguish, even after being strengthened, and he prayed more earnestly. It is at this point Luke notes that Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
• Dr. Zugibe summarizes Jesus distress in the garden of Gethsemane by stating the following, “The severe mental anxiety due to a profound fear of his prescient sufferings stimulated the fear center of the brain (amygdala), which sent out a general alarm to all centers of the brain, invoking a full scale fight or flight reaction. This reaction lasted for hours resulting in a total state of exhaustion, only to end abruptly in a severe counter reaction after the angel came and ministered to him, and he accepted his fate. This caused severe dilation and rupture of the blood vessels into the sweat glands, causing hemorrhage into the ducts of the sweat glands, and the subsequent extrusion onto the skin, exactly as St. Luke described it.”
• A Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus clearly says He is the Good Shepherd who dies for his sheep, John 10:11. What does his suffering mean to you?
• Take time to see in your mind’s eye Jesus’ praying in extreme distress in the Garden of Gethsemane. Let yourself feel some of his panic and sense how He would feel overwhelmed to the point of death. See the tremendous cost the Good Shepherd contemplated as He wrestled with His fate to die for the sheep, for all who would call on His Name.
• “If there is any other way”, Jesus vulnerably prays, “please take this cup from me, yet not what I will but what you will Father.”
• This reading is a pre-cursor to tomorrow’s meditation that will be posted on Into the Waters’ Facebook page. The focus is on Jesus calming our circumstantial fears and crippling thoughts. Those are the 2nd and 3rd of 4 fears that the Good Shepherd alone can calm. The first one was relational upset, and it was the focus of last Friday’s meditation. Please visit Into the Waters Facebook page and listen to it. And tomorrow’s meditation will be about circumstantial fears and mental attack you imagine threaten your livelihood. Praying you carve out quiet time with the Good Shepherd!
Drudgery. Ugh. How to get through it? The repetitive, the boring, the whiny, the weak, the difficult, the demeaning jobs. In these places, we look for ways of escape. I've been there lately, impatient about an assignment and wanting out.
The thing I want out of is a part-time position that not only wearies me; it challenges any and every part of my pride. It has been inexplicably hard at times to do a job that is "way beneath my pay level" so to speak. Me wording it in that way should give you a sense of my pride and resentment of the assignment. At times it has not bothered me; but mostly I didn't think it would last this long. I do a good job and am liked; but too often of late, I am offended and feeling impatient.
This week, first thing Tuesday morning, I was sitting at my desk stewing. I knew this was not a way to start the day, so I decided to look at Oswald Chambers My Utmost devotional for that day. I know if I need a "good talking to" so to speak, I can find it with Oswald Chamber's spiritual writings. He speaks directly, cuts me right to the quick. I love it. Sure enough, from the very first sentence of the devotional, I am convicted. But it feels good because I sense God's presence and know He is right there bringing my darkness into His light for spiritual transformation. I keep reading and the words become ever more convicting within.
"Drudgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Drudgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know whether or not we are spiritually genuine. " - Oswald Chambers
Owwwweeeeee. Drudgery. As clear as day, there it is. I am rejecting what I perceive as menial, tiresome, and dirty work! With words so directly applicable to my current state of mind, suddenly the fog clears. It's crystal clear God is lasering in, joining me in my pity party, but only in order to shift my focus. I am to reflect on my spiritual genuineness. Direct hit. I said a quiet prayer asking for His mercy and power to serve genuinely, John 13:4-5,12-17. This type of prayer and reflecting took all but 3 minutes; but it turned my whole day around! And don't ya know that right after I got a call from a very unhappy woman who was short tempered, cold, aggressive, and at the same time sounded very defeated. How would I handle it?
By God's grace and freshly filling me with His power through that little 3 minute prayer and reflection, I found myself impervious to her ill nature and easily focused on the defeated part of her that I heard. I couldn't believe it in the moment. But was almost giddy within as I listened and rose above her difficult ways. I encouraged her that her frustration could and would be addressed and not to give up on getting some medical direction for a family member. She spewed some things; but praise God I didn't react. She didn't soften towards me despite my way towards her; but she agreed to let me elevate the situation. About 45 minutes later she called again; but this time she was in tears, sobbing deeply, and extremely apologetic. I could barely understand what she was saying through her tears. Her repentance moved me deeply , so much so that I felt tears well up in me. She was so remorseful! She just kept saying "I'm so sorry I was so mean. It's not right. I know better". Again, I was amazed knowing that God did something in her. He was helping her release pent up emotion, frustration, heart ache, loneliness, fear, etc. I "got it" and was able to stay with her in that moment and speak gently and help calm her down. Turns out she is terrified of what is going on with her family member and in a state of total dismay, feeling trapped, defeated, and very alone. She continued to profusely apologize for how aggressive and mean she was to the medical person who called her back and for how she was towards me. I thanked her and told her she was forgiven. I let her know she wasn't alone. I shared tears with her. I shared some of what I have experienced in helping a senior family member, reminding her again that she wasn't alone. I told her about local resources for social work help, a grief group at my church, and told her I would pray for her. I'm not sure what impact it had beyond her quieted countenance and "thank you"; but I know the impact it had on me. God rose up in me. His love and knowledge of that woman and her need for that morning was "my lowly assignment". He wanted me to be Him to her. And before that could happen, I needed a heart check. Praise God for his intervention in me so that I could be an offering of His grace and comfort to her!
This is the necessity of prayer that does a hard stop. It is a prayer that steals away for a moment (the difficult ones); and cries out for divine intervention and wisdom. He is near. He will give wisdom. He says, "Ask and it will be given to you..." But be open to his reply. Because in those moments He will show us some difficult things about our hearts. But if we do not avoid those moments, if we have eyes to see, the door is wide open to divine power and supernatural life and BLESSING! There was a supernatural joy that refreshed my heart and mind after those 2 conversations with a broken and weary woman.
I could have stewed in my own emotions, kicked and screamed within, resisted the day and had a really bad attitude. But instead, I chose to let God in, to let him search me, and to seek out His wisdom. His wisdom was served on a silver platter carrying words hard to swallow but covered with grace. I turned. The result was blessing and spiritual transformation in me, a temple of the Holy Spirit. You too, if you know Jesus as Lord, are a temple of the Holy Spirit. And you need the inspiration of God in your drudgery.
"The inspiration of God is required if drudgery is to shine with the light of God upon it. In some cases the way a person does a task makes that work sanctified and holy forever. It may be a very common everyday task, but after we have seen it done, it becomes different. When the Lord does something through us, He always transforms it. Our Lord takes our human flesh and transforms it, and now every believer’s body has become “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). " - Oswald Chambers , My Utmost
Break away and pray. He sees what is done in secret and will reward you. Give Jesus the thoughts of resentment about the day-to-day drudgery assigned to you. What is your drudgery? Unending piles of laundry, everyday referee of bickering children, an ill tempered spouse, unthankful bosses, smiles that betray, work that is "beneath" you? Let Him enter those moments. It's so transformative if you do! He is right there willing to help with the state of heart and mind if you ask. Accept the hard word He might give about what needs transformation in you to get through the drudgery. Surrender. Go back in with His power humbly serving at the feet of another. Divine transformation and untold blessings await your heart!
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Yesterday, I asked a question on a public forum, "What is a tormenting thought you want God to take away?" I've gotten two answers that are heaven and earth apart. Both answers are from men. This was the first one I got-
Man #1- "Here is one of the damages wrought by religion. A life long dependence upon a placebo parent phantasm. Atheists, they put their grown up pants on every day, and sort out their own issues. Atheism, it requires strength and maturity. It may not be for you."
Here is the 2nd answer-
Man #2 -" I used to be tormented by the thought of going through life alone. I prayed and asked God to take this away from me. Instead, He sent me my wife. Turns out God knew what was best for me better than I did, and the years I spent single and celibate were setting me up to meet my wife and to love her... Now when I have difficulties in life, I ask God to help me see the purpose behind them. God is not a cosmological vending machine to pop a 25-cent prayer into and get whatever you want out of it. He's a real, living, thinking, feeling being with unlimited power, resources, and knowledge and a real, vested interest in our well-being..."
The 2nd half of his answer was giving an example of he and his wife taking their son to get his first shots. He recalls their little boy knowing they were holding him down so a strange man could poke a needle in him. His point is that their little boy did not understand what was happening to him, but as his daddy, he did. And that it is the same with God. He went on to say, "God's knowledge and wisdom far surpasses our own." And then he quoted the apostle Paul and affirmed his trust in God's knowledge. "The foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom. So I put my trust in His purpose and plan for me, even and perhaps especially when it causes me pain, because though it hurts me now, I know that this is nothing compared to the joy that is coming (such as meeting my wife)..."
Pretty radical in terms of the chasm separating the perspective of each man isn't it?
Before I got that first answer, I was meditating and praying through some verses in Psalm 32. And I see the radical difference of each man in those verses. Psalm 32 talks about a man who talks openly with God which it appears man #2 does. He admitted loneliness and trusts in God. It sounds like he knows Jesus pretty well based upon his references of Christ's foolishness referenced in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. So my bet is that he also openly talks to God about big issues referenced like transgression, sin, and iniquity. Big and often intimidating words, but good news for those unafraid of God. The author of Psalm 32 uses those 3 words repeatedly in Psalm 32, the New King James Version. What are the differences? Let's explore them, the blessing that comes through them, and do a prayer exercise at the end.
According to biblical concordances, transgression is rooted in rebellion, sin is a crime or offense, and iniquity is a bent or warped nature (perverse, depraved). So to describe it to another, it would be in context to say, that each is born rebellious, so each commits offenses/crimes that are perverse and depraved. How in the world does God bless us as a result of these?
Wildly, the psalmist claims there is blessing for those! It's conditional of course. But radical none-the-less! So think of man #1 above. There is blessing awaiting him. Radical blessing! IF man #1 would see God as good, not as a fantasy made up in imagination. Please stop and pray for him to intersect with the love of God, to go in the way of blessing.
What kind of blessing? Blessing in biblical Hebrew terms has a literal picture of one kneeling down to offer an undeserved gift that brings joy, that satisfies the receiver. I have blogged about blessing God in this way a couple of times prior. But, in God's highest terms, blessing is His supernatural offering. He reaches down. He bends down and offers undeserved gifts that wholly satisfy in ways no other gift can. Man #2 wanted strength to endure loneliness and celibacy. Yet God knew better and sent him a gift of help in a wife, Genesis 2:18-25.
God is always wanting to send undeserved help. But far too often, we are like man #1. Maybe not in the same degree, but like him none-the-less. Maybe we are stubborn like the horse or mule referenced in Psalm 32. Maybe we steel ourselves, and talk to ourselves saying something along the lines of, "Today is another day, man up, be strong, you can do this." Or, "Don't be such a baby. Grow up. God has bigger issues and doesn't care about all your little problems. You screw up anyways, so why should He bother with you?" Or we ignore God's assist. We prefer to ignore the whispers. Assess yourself. What is your self-talk telling you? Is it your voice or God's? If it has any form of condemnation it is not from God. Is it a voice from your past? A disapproving parent? Yourself as a rebellious teenager? Pay attention to your self-talk. Does it push you to rely on self or God? We are not to carry burden alone. That takes us totally off the path of blessing.
The most radical blessing God can offer is forgiveness. Each time we talk to God we have opportunity to acknowledge our rebellion, our crimes of offense in thought and deed, and openly share our perverse and imperfect nature to God. All without rebuke, to receive mercy in our time of deep need! Psalm 32 promises that approaching God this way, without deceit, confessing our offenses brings supernatural assist in big ways. Great flood waters that destroy do not come near! There is a perpetual hiding place that preserves from trouble! There is a supernatural surrounding of song, songs of deliverance! He promises to instruct and teach the way to go, to guide you with his loving eye you! As you trust in God and not rebel against His guidance, mercy surrounds you! You are glad and rejoice! This is the blessing of those receiving undeserved forgiveness. You shout for joy, for you know that when God looks upon you, despite yourself, you are upright in heart because of Jesus!
Forgiveness is the center of all blessing from God. Forgiveness is lifting up, carrying away, taking the burden, bearing the cost. The only one who is strong enough to take away the twisted nature of the heart is Jesus. Contrary to man #1 who thinks he has to put on his grown up pants on and be strong and mature. Man #2 gets it, the foolishness of God is wiser than any man's wisdom. He has received the undeserved gift and approaches God not as a vending machine, but as a Holy and Sovereign good God who knows better than he does and trusts Him.
Who do you have more in common with today, man #1 or man #2? Take some time with God and unburden.
Below is a prayer of confession for followers of Christ. It will help you put to memory and pray through the differences of transgression, sin, and iniquity. It expounds on each word as it appears in verses 1 and 2 of Psalm 32 NKJV. Getting the definitions clear inside your heart and mind, will help you be able to talk about human nature to another. It will also help you work with God as you pray and confess, to position to receive the multitude of blessings and healing He promises! Blessings!
PRAYER EXERCISE (expound on definition): Read through Psalm 32 first.
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Into the Waters Ministry is a 501(C)3 public charity. Our mission is to inspire you to linger longer with God, to draw near and know Christ. For those willing, it is a place of supernatural hope and healing. I know this first hand. My name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 20+ year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and receiving His life in greater measure! I've experienced radical healing in mind, body, and spirit and believe God for more! I long for others to position themselves for the same! Into the Waters' resources help you spend quality time with God to enter His rest and receive His divine provision. Let us help you experience more of God! Read the blogs, try the exercises, participate in online sessions! His promises for life and wholeness are offered to all! But you have to say "Yes!"