Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 7: The Open Door

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the final free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (ESV) He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Isaiah 43:13 -  Indeed, from eternity I am He; there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I act, and who can reverse it? 

The Open Door

In His giving
We receive
In Christ's yielding
We become
All He has purposed
For us.

We may make
Our great and many plans
Bowing to pride and shame
To those voices laced in fear
But God's counsel
Shall always rise to stand.

For the Almighty
He alone is God
From everlasting
To everlasting
His power
Knows no bounds.

Every accusing tongue
Set against His creation
Is but our awakening
To His grace, the joining
Of our hearts to His
To arise in compassion.

We, the jewels,
In His hands
Are raised from hidden
And uncut
To living gemstones glowing
In our Father of Lights.

Each hemming in
Each weapon
Forged against us
Is but a cloud
Destined to shower
Grace gifts from above.

To yield
Our hearts
To His heart
Joining Christ
In His suffering
To rise as One Body.

In the overshadowing
Of the only Light
Who does not change
As shifting shadows
But ever present remains
Our Cross is Life.

For delighting
In the light
Of our Father's face
The dark of our night
Becomes ever more
As light to us.

As we keep on
Asking
As we keep on
Knocking
As we keep on
Seeking to know our King

The Word Himself
Rises to stand
Ever revealing
One Word at a time
The Open Door
Of wholeness set before us:
Christ Jesus our LORD!



John 10:9-11 (KJV)
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Psalm 103:3 (NASB)
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear [revere] Him.

Galatians 5:14
The entire law is fulfilled in a single decree: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Galatians 6:2 (ESV)
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.


2 Peter 1:19-20 (ESV)
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.

Father, when we are totally surrounded by tests and trials, diverse in character and nature, let – one piece at a time – the leading thought in our minds become an awareness of Your grace. Empower us to taste and know, through personal and intimate experience, that Your divine persuasion at work in us shall prove, to a decisive finality, our ability to endure all things.

Cause us to remain under the challenges You allot. Empower us to keep, hold in our hand, clothe ourselves with and hold fast to You: our divine completion and the full development of our character, piece by piece. Thank You that Your work in us is carrying out the unique inner desire and purpose You have planted deep inside of us.

Complete Your work in us. Make us fully developed and mature in character, having gone through the necessary process to reach the end aim You have purposed. Let Your sound character unfold in us, one stage at a time, so that we may function at full-strength, full capacity and full effectiveness. Let us receive Your divinely alloted wholeness, leaving behind not even one person or part of our divine inheritance in Christ Jesus. In the Name of Your precious Son Jesus, Amen.

(Prayer based on James 1:2-3)

Graphic care of: https://bible.com/bible/1275/mat.7.7.CJB

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 6: Here I AM: Eternally Blooming

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the sixth free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

As I walked through the pastures a few months ago, God showed me how every time I have said: “Here I am, send me.” It has been the great I AM who has awakened me to His call and it is also the great I AM who has enabled me to walk out that call in the world, no matter how much it has hurt my heart (and body) and how impossible it has seemed. 

As I prayed, walking further, through a forest, a song sprung up within me. It bubbled over, moments after His kindness had walked itself out in me:

HE put a person I knew on my path, enabling me to extend the kindness I had wanted to extend from my heart, but couldn’t. Right there, in that moment He had destined, right there in my lack, His heart of love flowed out of me effortlessly, in such tenderness, and covered us both in His love and mercy. 

This is His song of mercy that keeps on singing in me through every surrender. A surrender not worked by me, but by the One who lives and moves and has His being in me. For, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.

Every hemming in by thistles and thorns, as our weakness and inability is exposed, is only purposed to prove Christ’s ability for us, in us and through us. It is only He who can lead us out into the spacious place of His heart of love, through each hemming in. For it is His goodness and mercy that continually pursues us into fellowship with Him and into fellowship with others through Him.

Yes, His favor keeps on pouring at the foot of the Cross, where His blood of life flows not just for some, but for all His jewels. Jewels already eternally blooming in His mighty hand:

Eternally Blooming

Breaking me free
Every wall shattering
You set me free
My voice
Your Voice
Ever rises to sing.

Every morning anew
Your mercy declaring
Compassion
A joining in Your heart
Pulsing One.

My hand Yours clasping
My face Yours 
Reflecting 
In knees bowing
At the Cross.

A towel in my hands 
I wash Your feet
As I see You
In the One before me set
In each blessed humbling
As You wash my feet.

The expression of Your love 
Is light and breath to me
The blood of Christ shed for all
Now pumping my heart
Boundless free

- We are Yours -

No one unwelcome here
A seat at Your table 
Given the cup to our lips lifted
The bread broken in the night 
Your Body eternally blooming.

May God bless you all today, in the light of His glory and grace:

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 5: The God of Green Hope

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward the fifth free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

Are there times when you feel so far away from the Lord and His purposes? Or maybe you observe someone you care for deeply, and it seems they are so far away from Him?


Several years ago, I took an online poetry course and was given an exercise to write out my thoughts using prompts of 2 photos and a word for each. I was surprised at the “expression” God brought from my heart, as I “explored” His stirring within. (The prompt words were “exploration” and “expression.”) 


Where I had felt that distance for myself, and for my loved ones, God revealed His presence so very near:

He covered himself in white
Before he escaped the city
But exploration
Led him deeper
Deeper than he'd planned

The forest called his name
Like honey to a bee
And like those gone before
He lost himself in light
White light
In a world of green

There are those who fear the dark of the forest. Their comfort comes in the wide open spaces. But there are also those who look longingly at the deep shade of forest trees. Exploring the verdant growth stirs a longing in their hearts. And the Light of Life beckons them to taste and see what gifts our Creator would share within the canopy.

I have been on that journey of exploration. I thought I craved the wide open spaces of health and vitality. But something called to me from the forest of pain. A voice from above, a light from within, and a stirring deep in my soul joined to echo the Living Word’s call to follow Him.

Would I allow His Spirit to lead me on that path?

Would I allow His heart to cover mine, to find His compassion, to uncover His jewels sparkling with the Light of Life?

My prayers rose from within the pain. From within the dark tunnel there shone a light. Hope was born as the pain pressed me deeper.

My body trembles
As I stare down the tunnel
I am covered in green
Yet the dark of trees
Looms large in my mind
What expression will they pull
From me?

A song rises stronger
Than any dark I might feel
The Singer of Songs bids me
Join Him in love
Alive in a symphony of light
Here in His doorway
Of hope.

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!  Romans 15:13 MSG

even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you. Psalm 139:12 ESV

Studies from the servants of Christ who have gone before us, linger as encouragements to let His Word sink deeply in our hearts. In the places of suffering, where we least expect Him to be, we find His hands open before us:

“We found it. Where we least expected it. In a despised place. In a lonely place. Where we lost ourselves. Very near us — where we hid like Adam among the trees.

[… ] We will go. To God in Christ. For all He gives. To dwell with Him. To learn of Him.”

Source: Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon

“We found it in the fields of the wood;” (Psalm 132) at Kirjathjearim, which signifies the city of woods; being built among woods, and surrounded with them: here the ark was twenty years, (1 Samuel 7:1) and here David found it; and from hence he brought it to the house of Obededom, and from thence to Zion. (1 Chronicles 13)

Christ has been found in the fields of the wood; in a low, mean, abject state, as this phrase signifies: Ezekiel 16:5 . The shepherds found him rejected from being in the inn, there being no room for him, and lying in a manger ( Luke 2:7 Luke 2:16 ); the angels found him in the wilderness, among the wild beasts of the field ( 1:13 ); nor had he the convenience even of foxes and birds of the air; he had no habitation or place where to lay his head: Matthew 8:20 . And he is to be found in the field of the Scriptures, where this rich treasure and pearl of great price lies hid: Matthew 8:44 . — John Gill.

Source: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/treasury-of-david/psalms-132-6.html

As Anna and I have shared our prayers and our thoughts together for this book, and especially this chapter, Anna shared precious words about these poems and Scriptures: 

The dark of trees is His purposed overshadowing. Even that tunnel speaks of those “trenches” and “entrenchments” we were sitting with recently (in a previous day’s posting) and asking God to redeem and dig His way through. He takes us into places we can’t see any way out because He wants to become our Way out – He wants us to get to that place where we can “do” nothing, so that HE will pull the expression of His love and grace from us, as He opens the doorway of light to us.

How can we intercede for the Body of Christ, without becoming One with Him in His suffering? Without carrying the weight of His love for those whose bodies and hearts and souls are locked in a state of disobedience? And yet this intercession from Christ’s heart is a place of deep humility that we can only arrive at as we too are convicted afresh of our own state of disobedience without His saving grace, of our own desperate need for Jesus to become our Way out.

For Him to become our obedience in our disobedience, our ability in our inability and our yielding trust in our clenching distrust. It’s here Christ reminds us, as we pray for the salvation of others that He, “is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward [each one of us], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV).

As we knock upon the door of His heart again and again in our weakness and need, He reveals His Word to us, filling us with fresh hope, faith and love. As He opens our own eyes and ears anew to His saving grace through His Word, He persuades us to trust Him to open the eyes and ears of all those He has called us to intercede for also. He rises to stand within us, expressing His love to us, in us, and through us, as He reminds us:

no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, declares the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17 (ESV)

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:19 (KJV)

Are you facing a dark tunnel today? Is your body trembling over what lies ahead? We would love to have you join us in prayer today, as we lift our hearts to Him:

Dear Heavenly Father, Sweet Son of God, and Gentle Holy Spirit,

Thank You for the gift of Your overshadowing Presence among us. Thank You for leading us into the very places where we will be pressed more deeply into You and Your truth.

Will You forgive us for the times that we have resisted Your leading, for the times we have assumed You were far away, for the times we looked away from Your deepest heart of love? 

We are drawn now into Your heart of compassion. We long to hear Your expression, Your songs being sung over us, Your light of Life shining upon us. Thank You for Your call that is even now going out into the whole world.

We lay our hearts bare before You, and we ask You to show us how You have led us to these lonely and impossible places to reveal Your power and might right here. Thank You, our precious Saviour, for reviving hope in our prayers and intercession as You have become our only LIVING HOPE.  

We praise You our Faithful and Loving Lord. You are ever present in all of our moments, shining Your light upon Your precious children, the jewels in Your hand. And we rejoice in You, our treasure and pearl of great price.

In Your name we pray,

Amen.


The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness has not suppressed it. John 1:5 (CJB)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. I John 1:7 NIV

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:2 (ESV)

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.
Mattityahu (Mat) 7:7 CJB

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 4: Sing!

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the fourth free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

Sing!

Sing these Promises to life
Lean on Me
And sing dead bones to life
Awake: I breathe in you.

Sing these Promises to life
Don't hide your doubt and pain
But lay it bare
In My light of truth now bathe.

Sing these Promises to life
Don't deny My grace for you
But sing to life
The Son in you.

Sing these Promises to life
This is not the end
But a new birthing
See My gemstones gleaming.

Sing these Promises to life
See life in death arising
The blood of Christ
The door now opening.

Arise and shine
Beloved
Your loved ones are
Mine!

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you have planted by faith.”

~ Elisabeth Elliot

“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

    break forth into singing and cry aloud,

    you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

    than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

Isaiah 54:1 (ESV)

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 3: Over the Threshold

Welcome to Day 3 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the third free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

You speak 

Of new wineskins

Of the old that has gone

The new that has come.


Oh, let us taste 

Of Your holiness

In the Son of glory's

Overshadowing.


In the darkness

Of Your covering

Let us find hidden

Treasures gleaming.


Oh let us savor the sweet

Honey of Your Word

Not hoarding but

In heaven's dew bestowing.


Let all else now

Be ashes to ashes

Flame your righteousness

In gemstones aglow.


As we seek a firm footing

In this shaking and breaking

Shod Your Good News

To our feet in the waiting.


Oh make us ready

A new heart of flesh  

In our weakness lay bare

Into heaven's glory sowing.


Let the latter rains

In Your breaking clouds

Gush and pour, the seed

In living waters growing.


Make room in our hearts

For one another

Move us ever forward

Into Your heart's blooming.


Let us, Your family of stars

Arise and shine

In the light of Your face

Calling all: come!


Let each stone 

In Spirit 'n truth breathe

Alive in Your intercession

A Living Temple: whole.


Shoulder to shoulder

Into Your Kingdom

Come Jesus come

Carry us over the threshold:



Now One.


Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 2: The Crown and Jewel

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 7′Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward the second free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

In these journeys with chronic illness or pain, we often are not able to see our places of trial in the light of jewels being formed and brought forth. But what if God has His perspective to show us?

One night as I lay reading in bed, as fresh pain was flowing, and I was consumed with thoughts of all my past treatment “failures,” I felt the Lord asking me to pause in His presence. Thoughts of the cross had flooded my mind for days, from the Scripture:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24 NLT

And as I asked Him to help me let go of my own way, of striving to find my own way out, more questions began to rise in my heart: What if these places of “failure” are not meant to be run from, but are places to be stopped and pulled close to hear His heartbeat for truth & His wisdom?

The cross of Jesus 
Is my justice
I fall beneath all else
My guilt consumes

On my own there is no good
Only striving yet and more.
But CHRIST is my victory
I come under HIS cross--My cross

And find
GRACE
Washing
Flowing
Like a river

I am whole.

His Presence has never left me, even in the most painful of places. His cross has covered every failure, every striving of my own. And His invitation to see His grace right there has remained open for me:

Psalm 61:3-5 The Message (MSG)

You’ve always given me breathing room,
    a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
    an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
    made me welcome among those who know and love you.

Matthew 28:20 NLT
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

And as I see His presence with me, as I see that I am under HIS cross, He leads me along right paths, paths of His choosing. It is no longer my own striving, my success or failure, that brings me freedom. No, it is only HIS cross that has won the true victory.

Psalm 23: 3 (NLT) he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

(ESV) He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

And if I pause to see another meaning of that word “paths”, my eyes can look up to see His perspective in these painful places:

paths = entrenchments

Where I have felt stuck or alone in my pain, He has been digging a trench around those old ways that I have not been able to let go of. He has seen every entrenchment, where I have dug in my heels and said: “no way, I can’t get out of this.” 

And His cross has opened the only way for my freedom to be found. 

An old hymn came to my mind then. And words of blessing poured from His heart to mine as I let Him sing new verses with the old:

"Must Jesus bear the cross alone
And all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for everyone
And there's a cross for me."*

Must this life bear suff'ring's mark
While all my heart be cleansed?
Yes, every step along this way
Is fully clothed with GRACE.

Must every heart bear a cross
And see our flesh be cured?
Yes, Jesus' Cross is borne for me
My only crown and jewel.

*1st stanza from hymn by Thomas Shepherd, 1693

Can you join Anna and I today and pause together here? Are there entrenchments, where you too have found yourself digging in your heels and saying: “no way, I can’t get out of this.”? Can you lay them at the foot of the Cross with us today?

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for Your presence that has always been with us and will never leave us. We are filled with awe to see that You love us so much.

Thank You for Your invitation extended to us, to come under Your cross, to let go of our old ways. Oh but thank You even more that when we cannot see how deeply those old ways have entrenched us, You dig a path around us. You go behind us as our rear guard, redeeming our past. You extend Your hand to us here in the present. And You become our Way out, forging a new path of grace for us of Your making.

Thank You for bringing us to Yourself through every illness, loss and trauma, that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, we might let go of the old ways of our striving and run into the new way of Your Cross set before us.

Father, shine Your light upon our hearts today, opening the eyes of our hearts to see You and know You in new ways. Fill us with Your understanding and discernment that we might let go of the old and walk upon the new paths of Your choosing that give You alone the glory.

Thank You for the true crown and jewel of the Cross: the restoration of our fellowship with You and with each other, through You. Help us to lift up our eyes and see You, even here, transforming our trials into jewels – into recognizing and receiving the hidden treasure of Your Presence in the least of these. Hidden manna that destroys our entrenched fleshly interpretations of Your Word.

In Your precious name we pray,

Amen.

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Day 1 Drops of Glory

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 7′s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is bringing forward the first free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

The pages of my Mother’s writings were scattered throughout her room. The task seemed too daunting, struggling with the heavy emotions that choked my throat, as I tried to gather up the fragments of her life. She had gone to Heaven just days before, and I only had days in which to help my family sort through her remaining possessions for us all to share.

There in folders and envelopes in her drawers lay the half-finished manuscripts of her life story. Three different folders, all with the same title, “This is my Story, This is my Song,” lying barely started, waiting for something unknown to finish them. “Why did she start these three separate times? Why didn’t she even try to write a second chapter?” These were the unanswered questions that lay buried in my own heart as I tucked them away in a bin for safe keeping, waiting for the next 11 years. Until I opened the bin and read her words again in an autumn day so many years later.

It was the same autumn that I sat staring at a manuscript left unfinished of my own stories. What did HE expect us to do with these stories, anyway? Why put within us the urge to write when it felt like nothing could be done with those words? I felt my Mother’s questions being passed down to me.

But in the background, I heard a voice gently calling, a song spurring me on to sing along:

Come! Sing it again!
The Master called out
from the city's din
But my words were covered
only a choking breath.

Come! Sing it again!
The Master called out
by the water's edge
But my words were soaked
only a muffled sob.

Come! Sing it again!
The Master called out
through the forest glade
But my words were stilled
only a whispered plea.

A choking breath
A muffled sob
A whispered plea

The Master heard all
And once again called
Come! Sing it again!
Joyfully bringing up from
The DEEP, a SONG.

The melody lingered
As the story came forth
A tune from the city,
the water,
the forest
All for His Glory
The song of His LOVE,
The jewels of His heart.


--bg

He said to His disciples, gather the pieces that are left over, let nothing be wasted.”John 6:12 NIV

And I heard my Master speaking to me, echoing through the centuries, the same words that He gave to His disciples after His miracle of filling. His Grace is over-full in the breaking. And His instructions are clear, nothing will be wasted in the breaking and the filling when God’s story is written in our lives.

On those darkest of days, when the breaking clouds feel the heaviest upon us, what if we could see that His clouds of rain are ready to burst open upon us, from within the darkness?

He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. (Psalm 18:11)

And in the breaking open, our Dear Master Gardener, the Shepherd of our souls is tending the garden that is our heart:

James 5:7-8 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.


Isaiah 45:8 “Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the Lord have created it.

On that autumn day, as I held my Mother’s writing in my hands, I realized she lived out her story before us. God caused nothing of her testimony to be wasted, as He brought forth the breaking clouds of the autumn rains in her life. 

She always told me she could not “carry a tune in a bucket,” and yet she chose the title “This is my Story, This is my Song.” She sang her song as she prayed and loved each of us. Nothing was wasted in the breaking and gathering of the Lord’s grace in her life.

And the jewels of God’s building were gathered among us, those of us for whom she prayed and loved, as:

“He sent out his (AB) arrows and scattered them;
    he flashed forth lightnings and (AC) routed them.” (Psalm 18:14)

My mother blessed us as she knelt in humility with her prayers and with her life. Through each hemming in with chronic illness, God turned what the enemy meant for evil into life and more life for our family and for many more. And He continues to do so through my mother’s living testimony in our midst.

The jewels of God’s blessings have flashed among us for a lifetime. And now He asks us to join Him in singing the prayers and testimonies He is weaving in our new places. 

Can you see the jewels flashing in the breaking and lightening strikes scattered around you? Can you hear the song echoing around your heart?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for this beautiful time of year when we rejoice over the coming autumn rains of our great Lord and Shepherd. We are astounded at the Living Water that You have over-abundantly given to us. 

We are overwhelmed at the Glory of Your presence that has shadowed us, even and especially through the trials and dark times of our lives. Will You help us as we face these breaking  storms upon us now, to remember that You have always been so faithful to us?

Will You help us to gather the pieces left over from these breaking times?  And will You cause us to see the grace of Your presence right here, wasting not one drop of the glories that You have woven into our stories?  Thank You for these glorious jewels, Your dear children, that You have planted so deeply into our songs.

We praise You for the wondrous love that You have sung over us.

In the name of Your son, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

Part 7: Chapter 1 – Onyx Stones and Other Gem Stones

Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie (with the help of her daughter Becky) is introducing us to the free will offering of onyx stones and other gem stones.

Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:
9 onyx stones, and other gemstones to be set in the ephod and the priest’s chestpiece. Exodus 35:5,9

-Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16 It is to be square—a span[a] long and a span wide—and folded double. 17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[b] Mount them in gold filigree settings. 21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes. Exodus 28:15-21

 “In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the Lord. Exodus 28:29 (NLT)

-“About Zebulun he said: “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
    and you, Issachar, in your tents.
They will summon peoples to the mountain
    and there offer the sacrifices of the righteous;
they will feast on the abundance of the seas,
    on the treasures hidden in the sand. Deuteronomy 33:18-19 NIV

For as the soil makes the sprout come up
    and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
    and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11 NIV

The Lord their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. Zechariah 9:16

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.  Revelation 2:17 

On a day, years ago, of heavy prayers for my young adult children, especially for my daughter who was facing a deep heartache,  I heard a song being sung as I read this passage:

Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11

Strangely, tho, the tune only repeated the first phrase again and again, “Oh afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted …” I felt such a deep comfort, knowing that God saw my daughter’s heartache. But I so badly wanted to sing the promise portion of the verse too. As I waited, I heard a “not yet,” whispered to my heart. How could it be that God would not allow me to sing aloud His promise? 

Sometimes His presence IS the promise.

Move forward another 5 years, and my daughter’s heartache had been eased with a love deeper than she had ever known. But after another deeper heartache, when she suffered a miscarriage, her soul was plunged into a time of anxiety and depression that seemed to speak of no way out. 

And I heard another Scripture being sung aloud as my prayers felt too heavy to bear. As the windchimes on my porch played the tune, I realized it was an answer to the phrase I had heard so long ago: 

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. Galatians 6:9

Oh, afflicted city, 
Lashed by storms
And not comforted,

Faint not, 
Faint not,
You will reap soon,
If you faint not

Reap a harvest
Of well doing,
Faint not
Faint not.

And I wept at the promise of reaping that the Lord was singing. I longed once again for the promise of the rebuilt foundations set with precious stones, but the whisper remained, “not yet.”

Sometimes His presence of endurance is enough. 


Move forward another 5 years after peace in the Presence had come, another miscarriage brought waves of grief to our daughter and family.  Names were spoken over each little life given to Heaven: Faith and Eden were nestled in the arms of Jesus. 

But my daughter continued to ache, even as compassion grew in her heart for so many others longing for Heaven. The people of Israel, longing for a Saviour but blinded to see Yeshua before them, filled her daily prayers. 

Sometimes, in the breaking of bread, as we surrender what has been given to us back into God’s hands, the Promise is multiplied to feed not just us, but many more.

And then one day my daughter was given a dream of rebuilding with precious stones. Never knowing how I had longed for the promise to be sung over her, she heard her Savior calling her to join Him as He called the names of all of His lost sheep.

In her dream He was pulling stone tablets out of a stream, with names written on them, as He placed precious jewels around the names.When she awoke, this Scripture was given to her:

I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. Isaiah 54:11

I wept when she told me her dream. And I sang to her the song that God had begun in my heart all those years before.

Sometimes the promise of God is meant to blossom and grow to be shared.

Move forward another few months, and my daughter faced yet another miscarriage, while she was traveling out West. But this time God gave her a gift to hold onto, as she waded in the mountain streams of South Dakota…surprisingly, the very place that had been in her dream!

As they stopped to buy a memento of their trip, there on the counter lay earrings of native jade, akin to the lapis lazuli in her verse.

It was akin to a ring my husband had bought me as we traveled out West when I was pregnant–with the daughter now covered in my prayers.

And it is akin to the native New Zealand greenstone worn by Anna’s husband in the Netherlands – a gift given to him by Anna.

Sometimes the jewels of His promise are returned into our hands as a new gift to be worn close to our heart, joining us – the Body of Christ- together, the world over. Gifts that remind us daily to join Jesus in prayer, calling out to His children yet to be awakened:

He sees
He hears
He speaks
He sings

And His Word is that sure foundation you are seeking. 

Do you see how Jesus awakens us through loss and heartache to heaven’s breath and blooming? The very gift prophecied by baby Eden, whose name expresses the beginning of life–new life. Our Jesus clothes us in His breastplate of righteousness, giving us the honor of joining Him in His intercession as royal priests.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

There, carrying His heart for His Body, we are given the gift of joining Him in declaring His judgment of mercy over all of God’s children – the jewels of His Crown – that are akin to the jewels once sewn into the fabric of the breastplate, worn by the High Priest in the old temple.

Will you join me in prayer as Anna and I prepare to share our free will offerings with you for this chapter in the coming days?

Dear Holy Father, 

we bow before the beauty of Your Glory. Your beauty is like the sun that sparkles as a jewel in our skies! We cannot ever find words to express the greatness that is found in You.

And, Lord, we are so humbled that You would call each of us so precious to You, that You see us even now as sparkling jewels in Your hand, and someday we will sparkle in Your land like jewels in a crown!

We surrender our hearts to You here, as we wait for You to bring us victorious into Your land. We hold onto Your hand as the heartaches seek to overwhelm us. Show us again and again that Your presence is enough to keep us. Help us to lean upon Your endurance, knowing that You are reaping that harvest even now.

We hear your song being sung over Your bride, and we join You as You intercede for Your people. We lift our prayers to join Your building, Your naming of each precious jewel, as we eagerly look forward to that time when we will walk with You and see those foundations of precious stones that You have built, joining our souls together in You.

Oh how we long for that day of glorious redemption when You call all of Your children, Jewish and Gentile alike, to share in Your glorious inheritance, woven together as one.

In the name of Your son Jesus we pray. 

Amen.

Oh afflicted city

Lashed by storms

And not comforted,

Oh afflicted city

Lashed by storms

And not comforted.



Faint not,

Faint not,

You will reap soon

If you faint not

Reap a harvest

Of well doing

Faint not

Faint not



He sees

He hears

He speaks

He sings

And His Word is that sure foundation.

The Great Unveiling

As we wait to release the Words God has gifted Bettie and her daughter for Chapter 1 of Part 7 in His beautiful timing, my heart longs to continue sharing what God is doing in my own heart.

So, here you go: a poem I pray affirms God’s work in your heart and life also, two songs that are so blessing my heart and a prayer and Scriptures the LORD laid on my heart this morning that are already reaping the fruit for which they were sent – may they continue to do so! All honor and glory and power be unto our King of Kings!

The Great Unveiling

Feast now in
Broken bread
And new wine
Receive now
My grace
Ever pouring
Into this wineskin
New.

My goodness flowing
My mercy leading
See now the love
And compassion
In these hands
And feet
Of the servant King
In you.

In your weakness
And need
In each death
To pride and self
See how
Your offering
Is Christ
Now becoming.

Your tears
Into joy
I AM singing
Your fears
Into faith
I AM bequeathing
Your worries
Into boldness
I AM unleashing
Your past
My glory now
Ever declaring.

Removing
Your mountains
And shaking
Your hills
See how
I AM
Persuading you
Moment by moment
I AM with you still.

Open your mouth
And taste
Of my goodness
And mercy
Each day anew
Take eat of My bread
And drink of this cup
And watch here
My Presence
Your portion
Ever becoming.

With My blessed hand
Upon your head
And My face ever
Leaning toward you
See how
I AM
Shattering your idols
And setting
You free.

Exchanging
Your bitterness and gall
For a heart now of flesh
In mercy and
Gentle surrender
See how your heart
My soft heart
In the Father's will
Is becoming.

In your singing
And dancing
Each day afresh
See My delight
I AM
In your body
My Body
Unveiling.


Contend, O Lord, with the enemy who contends with us; fight against our accuser who fights against us! Let our accuser be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving him away! Blow Your wind to uncover what needs uncovering in us and to cover what needs covering. Thank You for Your healing leaves that You are even now blowing toward us to cover us in Your mercy and Your glorious victory at the Cross. In the Name of Your precious Son, Jesus I pray, Amen.

Planted

Apologies that a draft version of this was published by mistake, with just the poem. Here is the completed version.

Bettie and I are still waiting on the LORD for direction in the next chapter to come, but as we wait, the LORD has been meeting each of us and our families so sweetly. We and our friend Gayl so longed to share that gift of comfort with you that God has been to us in our sharing and praying this week. After all, God tells us in His Word that we are comforted by Him to comfort others.

So here you go: a poem of praise by Anna, followed by words of praise penned by Bettie and Gayl in response to Anna’s words of thanksgiving in an email to them (Bettie and Gayl had also been praying for Anna and her family). And the graphic shows the night blooming of a cactus in Anna’s living room this week (a cactus that has never bloomed before).

May God bless you in the knowledge you too are His planting – set where He has purposed you to be, to be blessed and to be a blessing in Him. It is abiding in the tree of life, surrounded by His life-giving branches, that gives us life. It is Jesus – our tree of life – who sheds our fears and worries, exchanging them for praise and thanksgiving lifted high, as sweet scented incense before the throne of God.

PLANTED

When my anxious thoughts
Multiply like grains of sand within me
Your compassion meets me here
Your strong arms lift me
And all those around me
Again and again.

You show me that You see
That You know and understand
You show me that You're oh so near
Not ever aloof or far from us
Never forsaking the work of Your hands
Your mercy endureth for ever.

So now with my every breath
Let me raise my voice in song
Let me in Your heart of flesh arise
Exhaling every worry of this world
To breathe in eternity's blooming
The sweet scent of mercy's supplantings.

Yes, with Your breath ever resurrecting me
Shall I give You honor and glory
In Your grace ever deeper rooting
The favor of Your face set upon me
Growing and abiding in love everlasting
Planted by the river of grace ever flowing.

Truly He uncovers such love as He helps us lay bare our hearts together. Last night as I listened to one of the worship songs you sent, taken from verses in Revelation, Blessing and glory and honor and strength be unto YOU who sits at the right hand of God, He gave me such a precious picture: He asked me to see each person I was so concerned about, and raise them to Him along with my worship. That each prayer becomes worship, incense rising (the prayers of the saints,) when we attribute all strength for each need unto Jesus.  It became such a joy then, instead of a fear or worry, to lift each longing and burden in that very specific way.

(Bettie Gilbert)

I am reminded so much that our warfare is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities and powers of this world. Just today we were reminded of the armor we are supposed to be clothed with. God has not left us helpless, but has given all we need to fight these battles in His way, not the world’s way. Oh, how we need to pray, pray, pray:

Ephesians 6:10-18 CSB
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

We have a sure hope. We know that God is over all. Things might get even harder, but He is our strength and our weapons are ready to use. How we need to be ever more grounded in the Word and in constant prayer with our Lord and Savior. I’m so glad we can share and pray with each other … He will never ever leave us and nothing can take us out of His hands! Hallelujah! Amen!

(Gayl Wright)