Welcome to Chapter 5 of Part 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the free will offering of the Stone Tablets: Revealing the Covenant and Testimony of Jesus (the Word fulfilled). Bettie and Anna also invite you into a time of prayer at the end.
Exodus 19:3-6 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
Exodus 31:18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.
Exodus 34:27-28 And the Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.
Ezekial 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Hebrews 10:16 ““This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
2 Corinthians 3: 3 NLT Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
The significance in timing hasn’t escaped my attention, as God has layed this chapter on our hearts, when Bettie and I have both have been walking into fresh surrenders, connected to our ailing health. Have you ever noticed how God loves to fulfill His Word in impossible (for man) ways, declaring His perfecting power in our weakness?
After all, how could a virgin be pregnant? How could Zechariah and Elizabeth and Sarah and Abraham conceive and give birth to healthy children in their old age? How could Joseph, sold as a slave, end up as the Prince of Egypt? How could the persecutor and murderer of Christians – Saul/Paul – become the most well known apostle of Christ, bringing the Good News to the world even now through his living witness to Jesus?
Personally, my heart has been aching lately, as I have watched loved ones walk in blindness around me and I have so longed for them to know just how real our God is and how deep His love is for them. And yet as I poured out my own aching heart to God, I found Him lifting up His longing for me to taste that same faith – the reality and depth of His love – for me.
He brought me these verses:
Isaiah 54:9-10 (Aramaic Bible in Plain English) This is like the days of Noah to me, for I swore that the waters of Noah shall not pass again over the Earth, so I have sworn that I shall not be angry with you and I shall not rebuke you
Because the mountains shall be leveled and high places shall bow down, and my grace shall not pass away from you, and the covenant of your peace shall not pass away, says LORD JEHOVAH, the lover
It’s only then, I realized that in my ailing health, I had begun to think once again that I must have messed up to be in this place of weakness. I had even begun to listen to the accusations that I was destined to fail. But through God’s Word to me, I recognized hidden treasure in the enemy’s accusations, as I suddenly remembered (in the Holy Spirit’s prompting), what I had only just written a few months ago. As I shared my Prodigal testimony on this blog, I wrote that when everything appears to be falling apart as we pray, it is – but only so that it can fall into place and into alignment with God’s plan and purpose.
It’s then I was reminded that this is what I had in fact prayed for – I had prayed for weakness. Why? So that Christ’s power might be made perfect in my weakness. So that just like Mary, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Sarah, Abraham and Joseph, my life story will not speak of my ability and strength, but Christ’s in and through me. So, that when I go home to be with my Jesus, His living testimony through me won’t shame and condemn people in their weakness.
No, my testimony to God’s grace in my humbling – in the mountains that are leveled and the high places that bow down – will turn people to Jesus. So that in their struggles to breathe and believe, just like me, they will know just how present our Jesus is and how living and active His Word is. So that they will know that this is where God arises in power to prove His covenant of love and His living testimony through us. Because … [God’s] grace shall not pass away from [us], and the covenant of [our] peace shall not pass away, says LORD JEHOVAH, the lover.
As I sat believing that no one truly saw or understood the impact of my heart condition, my husband turned to a channel we never watch. A man stood there speaking of a study that described exactly what I have been walking through. We all experience stress (which even helps us to perform tasks well), but some of us (those with childhood trauma) are unable to turn that stress button off again, as quickly. For me this problem is exacerbated by my heart condition, where now, when stress is activated (in big or small ways), less oxygen travels to my heart and I experience chest pressure and feel out of breath. Tasks that I used to do without thinking leave me out of breath and needing to lie down to recover.
I was so encouraged to see that they are now trialing medicine that is able to turn that stress curve into a healthy curve again – so that it goes down again more quickly. But more than anything I was so touched by God reminding me that He sees and He knows all that I have walked through and its impact on me – also in my husband telling me that he recognized my struggle being described in this study.
Did you know what’s curious? When we are told that it is faith that made Joseph speak of the upcoming exodus of God’s people from Egypt, that Word “made” literally means “bring to remembrance”. Isn’t this so true? It is God who persuades us to put our faith in Him, by reminding us of His loving Word to us and His deep, deep compassion for us. And in so doing He reminds us that He has in fact heard our every cry from the moment we took our first breath – for the deepest longings of our heart, are His longings at work in us.
And He hasn’t forgotten His deep deep longings, even the Promises we have stopped lifting up to Him in our weariness and discouragement through all the waiting, as Zechariah and Elizabeth had. Why? Because that covenant of love – those ten commandments chiselled onto stone – were designed to uncover our need for Jesus. For Jesus to breathe His life and breath into our stone, cold hearts. For Jesus to be the One to write His testimony of perfect love in and through us, as He casts out all fear of punishment in us, to reveal His will is to bless us, and others through us, in His blood that was shed for all.
Now, as I look back, I see a curious pattern. What I have often at first interpreted as God’s rejection of me in my weakness and need, has always turned out to be Him catapulting into His good and perfect purposes. The enemy’s attacks against me were only permitted to reveal and affirm God’s calling and choosing of me, as Jesus placed me where He wanted me to be and rooted me more deeply in His truth, love and grace.
The joy of the LORD (which incidentally means the acknowledgement of God’s grace in our lives) is becoming my strength, as God is continually awakening my heart to His goodness and mercy that has been chasing and surrounding me, and all those my heart aches for, our whole life. God is showing me that every door that has closed on my face in my obedience to His call to me, just as it did on Mary and Joseph’s face, has in fact been His way of moving me forward into His appointed place and time to birth each Promise He has spoken over and to me.
I believe the attacks against us are only ever permitted to place us – weak and needy – before the feet of our LORD – so that not we, but He might arise in our midst, to (re)prove us and others as His. So, that as our striving (in response to the stone cold law that is wielded against us) ceases when the Holy Spirit speaks the living Word of God to us, we then become the hands and feet of Christ in the world. For, God enlarges our hearts with His living and active Word that we might run in the path of His commands: into the open arms of Jesus – our Way, our Truth and our Life – who has already fulfilled the law for each one of us at the Cross.
It’s not by our might, nor by our power, but only ever by the Spirit of God that faith is awakened: that the blind shall see, the lame shall walk and the deaf shall hear. It’s only ever as we too bow down low, asking God to open our own spiritually blinded eyes, heal our own spiritually lame feet and open our own spiritually deaf ears, that others will see, hear and feel the love of Jesus in and through us.
I believe it is when we are most aware of our own need for Jesus that God loves to prove His power in us and through us. It’s then He awakens us, and others through us, to the Father’s love. Why? So that together we might walk through the open door of Christ’s blood shed for us all. Not alone in our strength and pride, but together as One in the strength and pride of our Abba Father. And who is the pride and joy of our Father but the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in whom the lost are found and in whom the weak find their strength.
Will you join Bettie and I in prayer today, as we prepare to share our free will offerings of praise for this chapter in the coming days? May Christ join our offerings together in Him into sweet smelling incense that rises in thanksgiving before the throne of grace.
Papa, today our bodies and hearts ache, physically and emotionally. We are weary and we are weak. Thank You, Father, that You do not call us to carry our burdens alone. Thank You that You call us to come and cast our burdens at Your feet that we might rest in You and Your love and care for us and those our hearts ache for.
Thank You for continually leading us to return and rest, to be still and know that You alone are God. Thank You for leading us to lay down our striving for Your labor of love. Thank You for softening our hearts and exchanging our punishment-driven fears and cares, for Your thoughts of faith, hope and love.
Thank You that You are the Good Gardener and the Head of Your Body, who will not let us choke in our fears and cares. Thank You that You kneel down to lift away every cold stone law wielded in accusation against us that the enemy has planted upon our path. Thank You for reminding us that You are a Good Father, who does not give His children stones when they ask for bread. Thank You for reminding us that Your living Word does not steal, kill and destroy, but build us up and give us life. Thank You for helping us to see, feel and know Your compassion that is, even now, being poured out so richly in our midst.
Lord we thank You for seeing and uncovering the true heart longings that You have planted in our hearts. Thank You for revealing Yourself to Joseph through a dream that he might walk out the true desires of his heart to marry Mary in her apparent disgrace. Thank You for showing us the power of rest, that it was as Joseph rested that You revealed Mary was in fact highly favored by You and bearing the living Son of God! Oh Father, keep bringing us to Your repentance and rest that we might see Your living presence here among us daily too. Your Son given unto us all.
Thank You for writing Your love letter, Your living testimony, upon the stone tablets of our human hearts, for exchanging our hardened hearts of stone, for the soft and trusting heart of Christ. Thank You that we belong to You. Will You continue to uncover and lift away the cold stone laws the enemy has planted on our path and return them to us as living and breathing testimonies to Your grace – to Christ’s blood that was shed to fulfill the law for us all? Wash us anew in Your cleansing blood. We long to rest in Your merciful presence of love.
Dear Lord, open our eyes to the Living Testimony, Your love letter, written on the hearts of Your people among us. Surprise us, overwhelm us, and bathe us in the service of Your Body on this earth. We are ONE in you! We worship You and give You praise for the miracle of Your joining and Your loving today. In the name of Jesus, Your Son, we pray, Amen.