Welcome to Part 2Chapter 3‘s Day 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem as a final free will offering of gold, looking expectantly toward the eternal perfection that awaits us in Christ Jesus, as He completes what He has begun in us. She also shares the Scriptures that have inspired and form a part of herpoem.
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea. The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.
1 Kings 7: 23-26(ESV)
SEA OF HOLY FIRE
From North and South From East and West We come Your Temple raised.
Purified in fires we've met Refined and tested Your Living Word Has proved us Yours.
Not in our outward wiping clean But in mercy's washing clean In Your blood shed And Your Body broken
You led us the old to shed To know You In Your death And resurrection.
Purified of Satan's curse Washed in a cup of wrath You bore for us Our hearts awash in mercy.
We ran the race In Your jealous flames of love Your liquid gold now pouring In incense sweet arising.
Our hardened hearts You broke To flow in mercy Your Holy flame in trials thick and fast All dross destroying.
Made in Your image Temple Of Your Holy Spirit Purposed born
We bear Your Name To lay down our crowns At these Your feet.
Harps are playing Our hearts And lips Are singing:
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Revelations 14:3 (ESV)
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Revelations 14:2-3 (ESV)
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1: 12 (ESV)
Welcome to Part 2Chapter 3‘s Day 6 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a poem and testimony as a free will offering of gold, declaring the goodness and mercy of God flowing richly in the place of His burning.
Into days of multiplied fear, and multiplied trials, I heard God whispering to my fearful heart to pause and learn more about a proper fear:
The Fear of God ~~~ The Holiness of God
“He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:9-10 NIV
When my healthcare team prescribed a set of new and intense treatments, I asked many of my friends for special prayer. My body seemed prone to severe side effects whenever I started a new medication regime. But what no one could have foreseen was that not only would I have severe side effects once again, but I would also display severe allergic reactions, and be forced to make an emergency room visit because of those reactions. Even in that place, God was so gracious to preserve and protect me.
But with over 30 medication “failures” under my belt, the questions continued to haunt me, “What is the purpose? Why has God kept asking me to keep going forward? When does too much become TOO MUCH?”
Instead of giving me an answer, my Lord directed me to remember an old entry and poetry that He had gifted to me several years before. While I may not know the answers, I can see the Lord here in this ground with me. A ground named HOLY, and a ground named FEARSOME, because the Lord of All has given me His presence:
grounded here in this sand quick sand it feels
days run together when duties long stilled echo the halls
changing plans i follow the sun mete out my moments
seeking a firmness wanting a strength i lose my clenching
find what was missing seek what is losing life laid down
LORD of the moment he holds me beneath where ground shifts i watch him plant seeds in my feet standing ground sand shifting and life is here blooming watered from well springing up
“’Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’” Exodus 3:5
and my heart started pounding when i heard a whisper calling my ground holy
What if the very place where the trial looks hardest, where the ground seems most burnt is actually the place most holy in the eyes of the ONE who is changing my heart?
This poetry came after my husband and I had driven to our favorite prairie park, only to see it desecrated by a recent spring-time “controlled burn.” It certainly was not a pretty sight there. But those controlled, or prescribed burns are so necessary to steward and manage the lands for conservation.
According to the Wisconsin DNR’s site, “State wildlife officials conduct prescribed burns on public lands throughout Wisconsin in the spring to improve wildlife habitat, control invasive plant species, restore and maintain native plant communities and reduce wildfire potential.”
Did you know that many native grasses and wildflowers develop deep roots that can withstand the high heat of the fires, while the invasive plants are shallow rooted, and give way to the heat?
So, where does that leave my heart when the fires rage inside? Is there a similar growth that might happen after the raging of the fires subside?
When we revisited our favorite park just a few months later, it was hard to imagine the way that fire birthed life into the worn-out prairie lands. A lush growth of fresh green covered every area that had been burnt over just weeks before.
These burnt-out shifting sand places of our lives become HIS fertile land when we let Him have the final say.
For those of us who fear the flames, can I offer a prayer?
Dear Lord of the Harvest,
What an Amazing LORD you are! Will you open our eyes to see YOU in the shifting sands and burnt-over ground of our days?
Will you help us to loosen our hold and lift up our fears, to find YOU at work in the fertile soil, the sandy loam of hearts set free? And will you pour the gold of Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we would be transformed into YOUR HOLY GROUND.
We bow here, on this very ground, and worship You, our holy and awesome King.
Welcome to Day 5 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering ofgoldin the form of poetry and a testimony to God’s perfecting power.
Grief waits upon No one It swells And breaks My placid perfect Life awake.
Now spit And foam The Promises Long hid Come rushing Crashing Back to Life.
The longing From my heart His Promises To know Long hid away In drawers Fastened Shut.
But as the waves Swell And break The drawers Loose His Promises To life.
My body, mind And soul In Spirit breath Awake.
From deep within The Living Word Each Promise Brings In Holy Spirit breath To sing.
For in grief's Wake My heart Draws near Christ's heart To hear.
This childlike heart In steadfast love is Rootèd secure:
That I might Taste and see The width And breadth And depth Of Christ.
At the end of 2014, the loss of my Mum weighed so heavily on my heart. Those last few weeks with her were precious beyond measure, as God revealed Himself to me in my and my mother’s weakness, bringing me home to Him through the touch of His Holy Spirit. But helping to bathe, feed and care for her in her last days left its toll on me.
I couldn’t shake the exhaustion felling my body daily, and when a friend sent me an email about God calling her to surrender to His rest, it affirmed what had been on my own heart to do: to hand in my resignation to my employer. In the coming weeks and months, that surrender made room for me to feel, what I had suppressed.
As grief rose up within me, so did the memories of the cancer’s ravaging effects on the body of my mother. Overpowering waves rose up and crashed over me: fear and unbelief shouted loudly at me. But as the enemy waged war for my soul, the Spirit of God arose to defend me. He did so through the Word of God.
I had been reading through the whole New Testament, with a small group from my little Anglican church, leading up to the Lent of 2015. As I read the pure pages of God’s Word, with no interruptions from commentaries or others’ interpretations, the Spirit of God spoke to me personally. He invited me to bring Him my grief and the Promises I couldn’t see Him fulfilling in my own life.
As I did so, He answered my deepest cries. Lifting every accusation against me by the power of His Word, He led my heart to repentance. He showed me that He had never abandoned me, or my Mum. He gave me beautiful visions that affirmed the truth of eternal wholeness and healing, and of His Promise to hold each one of us in His hands, that He might complete what He started in us, to set us before the Father, healed and whole.
Recently, as He brought all of this to remembrance again, I noticed that He was taking me through a similar process all over again. There are many things He has had me lay down in surrender recently, for similar reasons. As I have done so, the true desires of my heart have surfaced, as have deep waves of grief, as God has convicted me in my sin.
I have been waiting on God for something for seven years. But God has been waiting on me to draw ever nearer to Him in this, that He might reveal Himself to me there fully and wholly. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken steps in faith toward this Promise and have seen God honor these steps with beautiful glimpses of His coming fulfillment. But God rightly convicted my heart again recently, as He showed me that I have gradually become satisfied with the status quo.
In my horrid unbelief, I have settled for less, just as I have done in the past. I have placed before God lesser desires to fill the hole in my heart. And God has given me what I asked Him for, only to each time show me that it is not what my heart truly desires. In inviting me to lay each lesser desire back down again, He has been calling to me to bring Him my deepest and truest desires.
As He uncovered this all, He reminded me of those final weeks with my Mum and what moved His heart in compassion. It was not our strength, but our weakness: our realization that we could do absolutely nothing to save each other: me – my Mum from dying physically, my Mum – me and others from dying spiritually and being cut off from God forever.
As our lips were silenced, mine in overwhelming grief that no words could ever describe and my Mum’s, as the cancer took away her ability to communicate, the Holy Spirit spoke in power. For, God poured out His salving balm of peace and His heart healing power in our midst. He brought me, His Prodigal daughter, home and He lifted so many burdens from my Mum, bringing her home to heaven, healed and whole.
I now see how Jesus has been waiting for me to cry out to Him in my weakness, just as my Mum did, that He might bring me into alignment with His Word to me. He has not been ashamed of me in my unbelief, but just as the man whose daughter was dead did in the Bible, He wants me to cry out in Spirit and truth – “LORD I believe, but help my unbelief.”
All along, God has been inviting me to come, just as I am, without one plea, to the foot of the Cross. He has been inviting me to be made holy as He is holy – not in my striving, but by allowing His Holy Spirit to pour out upon me in compassion to do in and through me what I could never ever do in and of myself.
Now, thanks to His persevering mercy, I am bowing my knees afresh before Him in my need, crying out for His mercy to flow. It is this deep, deep gutteral cry for His holiness – the desire that breaks our heart the most, as we recognize our absolute inability to fulfill it – that breaks His heart the most when we fail to lay it before Him, asking Him to fulfill it.
For, Jesus is longing for us to become like little children before Him. He longs for us to believe that when we ask Him for bread, He will not give us stones, but He will give us Himself- our bread of life – the free gift of faith to meet us in our unbelief.
If you recognize yourself in my struggles with unbelief, will you join me in kneeling before our Maker today, that in our weakness, His power might be perfected?
Father, thank You for Your Word that promises us the pure of heart shall see You. Thank You that Your Word to us reminds us that the pure of heart are those whose hearts have been washed in the blood of Your Son, Jesus, to uncover His holiness.
Father, forgive us, where we have clung to the enemy’s accusations above Your holy Word. Forgive us for not bringing you the deepest desires of our heart to be holy as you are holy. Forgive us for not acknowledging our unbelief before you. Forgive us for not believing that You are a good Father who will not give us stones when we cry out for bread.
Thank You that Your Word and our experience of your goodness and mercy in our lives, remind us that it is not by might, not by power, but by Your Spirit that Your Word to us comes to pass.
Father, we do not want our lamps to go out. We long to be prepared for the arrival of the Bridegroom – our LORD and Savior, Jesus. But we acknowledge now that we have allowed our oil to dissipate because we have failed to come to You in our weakness, we have failed to ask You to pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Forgive us. Today, we seek Your face afresh and beseech You to fill our lamps with the fresh oil of Your Holy Spirit and we ask You to keep turning us toward You that You may continue to fill us, again and again.
Thank You that we shall see the deepest desires of our hearts manifest before us in the unveiling of Jesus in our midst. Thank You that in our weakness, as our knees bow before You to acknowledge our imperfection and our deep desire for Your holy perfection, we shall see Your power pour out upon us.
Thank You that not one Word of Yours shall return void. Thank You that our hearts shall yet rise again, no longer chained to unbelief, but set free in Christ Jesus to arise with fresh faith to see Him- our Promise – come to life before our very eyes.
Thank You for Your tender mercies toward us. Father, today we stretch out our emptied hands and hearts, thanking You for Your pruning hands and inviting You to fill our hands and hearts anew with the fresh, warm manna of Your Word. We believe, Father, but help our unbelief!
In Jesus’ Name, we cry: Amen.
Living water rushes Strong, crashing My heart to search And know In waves of mercy The blood of Christ Still flows.
Before, behind Beneath, above My Savior sings And calls to me: "Draw near And I'll draw near To you."
Each day anew My burdened heart Christ draws near In Word and Spirit He beckons to me Come.
It's now I know In all my waiting All along it's been My God Who's been waiting On me.
To humble myself To lay down Every distraction To bring Him Not just a part But my whole heart To trust Him When He says:
I will fight for you You have only To be silent To be still And know that I alone am God! I will be exalted Among the nations I will be exalted In the earth.
Welcome to Day 4 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold: a poem and Scriptures of thanksgiving for God’s perfection wrought at the Cross for us.She also invites you to sing two songs of praise and worship with her, declaring the truth of God’s mighty power to save.
No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise.
Isaiah 60:18 (ESV)
Your hands hold Me close Your hands wrap Around my coming
And going out again Your hands know me Each day of my life Written in Your book.
Your hands let me go But tethering me in grace To the path You walked Before me and behind me stay.
Your hands wrap around My heart that is aching To break In Your mercy.
Laboring in kindness Your hands teach me to trust Again and again to let go Into Your hands every part yielding.
Led by Your hands You walk me into Your death and Resurrection, again and again To awaken Your heart of flesh.
You make room for the new Lifting every accusation At the power of Your Word You carry me into the light.
That I may bear fruit that abides That I may die to the old of my knowing To rest in Your knowing Written on the holes in Your hands.
That I may see Your blessed perfection Reflected in Your Word's consecration For Your Word to me Is truth.
My life and breath Let them now speak evermore Of Your hands that were pierced To hold us all together in mercy.
Welcome to Day 3 of Part 2‘s Chapter 3. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of gold – a poem, testimony and prayer – praising Jesus for the joy and peace He births in us through His perfect living Word.
I had a dream several months ago of this large ruler and I was petrified of him, until I got smaller and smaller and entered underneath him. It was almost like I disappeared into him and that then I was no longer afraid of him.
At the time, God was asking me to humble myself and go lower and lower. I did so, following His call, but not understanding what He was up. At every turn the writing education project I had felt His call to begin kept getting smaller and smaller, until what I still had sitting there He asked me to delete.
Now, I realize it was never about the actual project. Jesus was after my obedience and had designed every step along the way to grow me in my trust of Him and to refine me to look more like Him. Through it all He was teaching me to delight in His Voice, to look to the unseen and to rejoice in His fatherly desire to see me learn and grow in His perfecting Word.
It was about allowing Him to shape my character. He taught me so much about laying down my own expectations for His. He shut the doors I thought He would open, only to open doors that required me to stoop lower and lower to serve others in their need, but also to allow Him to refresh and replenish me.
For, as I listened for His Word to me, He taught me so much about setting and keeping boundaries that preserved His rest in my life. He enabled me to come away with Him between all the tasks and to continue loving my children and husband well. And where I disobeyed His gentle call to rest, He was quick to rebuke me and lead me to repentance, showing me why His safe boundaries are always best. Through it all, He showed me parts of my character He desires to continue refining to make me more like Him. I learnt so much.
At the time, I saw the ruler as those I had to set my project before to find financial support. Now, I realize that ruler is Jesus and that He worked through everyone on my path, continually inviting me to become smaller and smaller. As I humbled myself, again and again beneath God’s mighty hand, I became less and less fearful. I grew in my confidence of His Word to me.
Suddenly, the opinions of those around me mattered little. Not just because I was bathing myself in God’s Word to me, but because God was opening my eyes to the beauty of His freeing truth. The path He set for me lifted off burdens at every turn that I could never have lifted off myself.
I began to obey my Jesus, no longer to do the “right” thing, but because I loved and trusted Him above all else. I witnessed and rejoiced in His loving protection, direction and refining of me and others, every step I took.
It was such an amazing experience. So sheltered in His love, after all His recent pruning, I found the lies I once clung to, gliding off me. The truth of God’s Word surrounded me at every turn, uplifting me and carrying me forward.
Now, I can also look back at my past with new eyes. For the past seven years, since God brought this little lost sheep home, He continually asked me to surrender one thing and one person after another into His hands: some physically and some spiritually and some both. It has been an incredibly painful and gruelling process, but one that I now see is reaping such fruit. Our God’s Word is truly gold – true and trustworthy:
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11 KJV
A few weeks ago, I penned a poem to express this journey God has taken me on. As you read it, I pray you too recognize the fruit of peace the LORD is reaping in your own life and heart through all the painful surrenders He has walked you through also:
Caught Between two w/Words The religion I know
And the Son Of God I hear Beckoning.
I wrestle With the Alpha And Omega Who asks me To surrender
The letter of the Law I know For the Living Word's Searching And knowing.
But what can I do But open the door To my Lord's knocking To sup with Him?
Where can I go But to the only One Who has the Word Of life?
So I surrender My known To be known Fully and wholly
By the only True God Who stills My heart To know
The world And all who dwell Therein are His.
I yield The cup of suffering To my lips now take And drink
In communion The Living Word To my Father In thanksgiving lifting
I break The bread And take Eat.
I fill my heart With the Law fulfilled Who calls for me
To join Him In each and every Death that's Dying.
To take the hand Of the sovereign God Who walks me To the tomb To show me what He already sees:
"Unwrap him now And let him loose" I hear my Savior Calling.
His work Of surrender Just invites me Into
More JOY Before me laid Than I could ever Think of, ask for Or imagine.
For, Christ's blood Was shed For this:
To reconcile All things to Him Whether on earth Or heaven
Now, rather than seeing these surrenders as my shame to carry and as proof that I failed, I see them as God’s gift to me and proof of His Word – His gold – growing and flourishing in me. For, all along, God was lifting one burden after another off of my shoulders to shower me in His life-giving grace.
What He has gifted me through it all reminds me so much of John the Baptist’s Words in John 3:29-30, ESV:
The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom stands and listens for him, and is overjoyed to hear the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Now, I see that all that decreasing Christ brings through each surrender is in fact what brings us such peace. For through each dying to self, we come to know how deeply our Abba Father knows us and loves us.
Every trauma trigger shaking my body has only invited me into a deeper and deeper resting in my God’s golden Word to me. I now see how my precious Jesus has been ever increasing in me, through my every decreasing. And oh the joy that brings me now, as I look back with cleansed eyes. Praise Him!
Will you join me as I end today’s free will offering of gold in prayer?
Precious Father, oh how we thank and praise You for the gold of Your Word. We thank You for choosing imperfect and weak vessels like us to display Your glory and grace to this yearning world.
We thank You that You are laboring in such love and devotion through Your Son to refine us to make us look more and more like You. Thank You that even when the path You set for us doesn’t make any sense, we can trust Your perfect will and Your desire to grow us and bless us.
Forgive us, where we have looked to the seen and bemoaned our lack or the closing doors. Forgive us, where we have based our identity on anything other than You. Father, thank You for loving us enough to withhold things, people and communities from us that You know will destroy the beauty of Your Son in us.
Thank You that You withhold no good thing from those who are upright, who walk in You. Father, open our eyes to see what You see: the beauty and perfection of YourWordto us and the healing it is bringing to our hearts. Oh LORD how we long to decrease that YOU may increase in and through us. Have Your Way in us!
Thank You for inviting us to commune with You through each setting apart. Thank You for silencing the enemy’s accusations through each closing door, so that we can hear Your Voice more clearly than ever before. Thank You for changing both our minds and our direction, for blotting out all our sins that we may now bathe in the refreshing and healing waters of Yourliving Word and Presence with us.
Welcome to Chapter 3‘sDay 2of Part 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a poem, story and prayer as a free will offering of gold, in praise of God’s precious presence with us and His heavenly touch.
How Long, Oh Lord? The pain wraps around me And I am felled Like a tree toppled, thudding As it drops to the ground.
The questions swirl Heavenward, in the morning Dew, light swimming Around my foggy eyes As they narrow and shut.
“Open your eyes.”
The order comes at me Like a voice from The sky, and I scrunch The sweat off my face As I try to gaze out.
While the pain throbs I see what had lain Hidden before me: Sparkles gathered on Every blade of grass And each leaf tip.
Colors shimmering White and bright, twinkle From the warm sun’s Beckoning to waken The early morning life.
“But one drop.”
Voice urges again To see with new eyes A Drop of Glory catches The sun but won’t let go And reflects a Golden ray.
My pain remains Underneath a covering So sweet and exploding with Glory in my heart As I have touched Heaven.
How Long, Oh Lord? While the Glory remains Your Golden Glory rests Inside my heart, Heaven Holds me here.
And I am loved.
“When the Sabbath was over, Mary Madgalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’” Mark 16:1-3
The days ahead can seem impossible for those who live in a state of constant pain. But when a sudden flare-up drops the pain to a whole new level, a flood of questions about the future can easily overwhelm even the strongest survivor. It is in those kinds of moments that I have had to face my own weakness head-on. I thought I knew how to lean into God’s grace, but when a new level of pain knocked me flat, I realized that I had simply grown accustomed to carrying the pain myself. “How will I function? How will I survive the days ahead?”
Crushed to my core, I heard a gentle whisper, calling me to acknowledge that it was never mine to bear alone. This life was meant to be lived only in HIS strength. Was there a gift then in the trial? Oh, yes, resoundingly yes! He rolled away the stone that I could not have moved myself. He walked me through a day when I never could have kept the Faith on my own.
Oh, beloved, are you crushed under the weight of questions and pain? We weren’t ever meant to bear that weight alone. Look up to His light today, and let Him show you the sparkling gold waiting in the midst of the trail: His presence is His gift for you.
“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. “ Mark 16:4
“These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7
Dear Lord Jesus,
We come crushed and broken to You today. We confess that we don’t know how to carry this pain any longer. Will you lift the weight from off of our shoulders? Thank You that You have already rolled away the stone. Thank You that the glory of Your presence is here for us today. We want to receive the gift of Your glory, the beauty of Your honor and praise today. In Your precious name we pray,
Welcome to Chapter 3‘s Day 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a testimony of God’s perfecting power in her weakness and a prayer inviting God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us.
When the LORD began to call me to share the Words and visions I saw with a family I had been praying for, I struggled. What if these were just figments of my imagination? What if they gave them false hope or upset them?
I could hear the enemy breathing down my neck: “God would never call someone like you to intercede for others in prayer. He would never give someone like you these kind of Words and visions.” When I looked at myself, I saw my newness in faith as a recently returned Prodigal, my mental illness diagnosis (CPTSD) and my sinful past and found myself beginning to agree with the enemy.
Then, a leader I deeply respected affirmed the very accusations I was already hearing, when I asked for advice. And so a tug of war ensued. Until finally, I cried out in frustration. I told God enough was enough. Either I was going to zip my lips, or God had better show me that it was indeed He, who had called me to speak His Word into this family’s situation.
Moments later, three separate affirmations arrived. But the most amazing affirmation of all was what unfolded with a stranger, mere minutes after my prayer. I was standing at a train station minding my own business, when a man approached me. He asked to borrow my phone to call his brother to let him know he’d be late. I was frightened by his dishevelled exterior, but didn’t want to be rude, so I offered to call his brother for him and tell him.
After doing so, the man thanked me profusely and suddenly began to share parts of his life story. He started by sharing his full (Hebrew) name and his Christian upbringing. And went on to share of the incredible suffering his parents walked through and their inability to love him as he needed to be loved. He then shared about his struggle to believe and to be freed from his addictions.
I listened intently, praying for God to fill me with the wisdom I lacked. I longed to help this man see how much God still loved him and yearned to comfort and bring healing. It’s then, as we sat together on the train, that the Holy Spirit prompted me to openly share about the trauma I had walked through as a little girl and how God was leading me to a place of healing and forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit also provided a question to ask the man. It is this question that visibly moved the man. He kept repeating it and working through its implications. Suddenly, I saw compassion enter the man’s eyes as he spoke of his parents, rather than the hurt and bitterness that had been there moments earlier. The Lord was so clearly working in his heart.
I sat there beside him on the train, amazed. If it was not for the Lord’s promptings I would never have gone near this man. He stunk of alcohol and his dishevelled appearance both frightened and revolted me. But God was not put off by my fears or judgement. He pressed until I responded in grace and love as He wanted me to.
After this experience I knew. I knew that even in my newly returned Prodigal state, as I struggled through trauma triggers, God was calling me to intercede and speak encouragement into others’ lives. It’s then I knew the Scriptures and visions of Bible stories I was receiving in prayer were gifts from God, not given to hoard, but share.
As I shared what God had given me, it affirmed what this family had already been receiving from the LORD. It brought them such comfort and encouragement through a time of great loss and grief. In the months that followed, as I continued to share with them, God grew me in discernment and wisdom, burning away and shaking off the dross that was not of Him, as He continues to do today, even as I share with you here.
Oh there have still been moments since that day at the train station, that I have turned to hide and dim my light, believing the enemy’s accusations. But my God has been so faithful to return me to Himself and to remind me that His power is perfected in weakness. He has lifted me back out of the mire to set my feet upon the Rock and to shine the light He’s given me, brightly, in the places He has set me apart to make His glory known.
Thank You, Jesus, that You call the foolish of this world to shame the wise. Thank You that You call the weak of this world to confound the strong. Thank You that You call us, Your broken open vessels, to shine Your love brightly into the lives of those around us.
Father God, fill us with Your courage today to shine the light of Your love, where You call us to. Help us to turn away from the lies we hear that condemn us or those You are calling us to love. Help us instead to see Your reflection as we look into the mirror and as we look into the faces of those You have set before us.
Melt away our insecurities and fears in the truth of Your holy love for both us and for those you call us to bless. A love You expressed by pouring out the judgement each one of us deserved upon Your very own Son, so that we could be freed from our sin and shame, to run with joy into Your abundant life. Thank You, Father, for Your incredible sacrificial love, a love like no other.
Forgive us for the moments we have rested in the safe of our insecurities and fears. Help us not to be ashamed of our weakness or fearful in our inadequacies, but to lean into the perfecting power of Your living Word in our weakness instead. Fill us with the faith to believe You at Your Word. To believe that You will perfect Your power in us, precisely in and through our weakness.
As our knees shake and our hearts tremble, thank You that You are the God who presses us forward to do Your holy will. Awaken us in the light of Your loving countenance today. Clothe us in Your holy love, wisdom, strength and grace.
Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us in power that we may live and move and have our being in You and Your perfect love. Shine the light of Your love in and through us today that we may be a blessing, where You have planted us and where You are sending us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Welcome to Chapter 3 of Part 2. This week we are resting in the free will offering of gold: the perfection of Christ, the Living Word of God. Today, Anna is sharing an introductory post, as she reflects on how God compels us to bring forward this free will offering in Christ, through the shaking and refining fires He sends our way.
At the end of this introduction, you are invited to join Anna and Bettie in prayer. Each day, we will then also add a new free will offering of gold – poems, prayers and testimonies of praise and thanksgiving to our God. May each offering encourage you also to bring forward your own free will offering of pure gold in Christ Jesus.
Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: gold, silver, and bronze; Exodus 35:5
Interestingly, gold, like silver, was given by the Israelites as part of the wave offering:
The total amount of the gold from the wave offering used for all the work on the sanctuary was 29 talents and 730 shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. Exodus 38:24 NIV
“A salient point regarding the wave offering: it is lifted up and presented to the Eternal, but then waved back toward the priests and given to them for their use in doing the Eternal’s work.” (Source: https://talmidimyeshua.org/wavedfirstfruits.htm). Likewise, even the Levites themselves were given to the LORD as a wave offering, being consecrated to Him, before being put to work in the Temple as priests.
Today, we too, are set apart, or consecrated, unto God as royal priests that we might declare His greatness.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV)
If we look at the Hebrew Word for “wave”, we discover it means:
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
offering, shaking, wave offering
From nuwph; a brandishing (in threat); by implication, tumult; specifically, the official undulation of sacrificial offerings — offering, shaking, wave (offering).
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
And this Word:
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:26-29 (ESV)
Have you also noticed that it is through the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our weakness, as we shake and tremble, that God sets us apart to serve Him, as He shakes off all that has no part in Him? Praise God perfect and flawless Jesus -the Word fulfilled at the Cross – chose to perfect His power in human weakness, that He might now, through His Spirit, perfect His power in each one of us.
Have you noticed God’s shaking in your own life recently? Have you found yourself, like me, trembling at His call to you, wondering how someone like you could fulfill such a call? Then, you (and I) are in good company.
For, have a look at Paul’s words to us from 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (MSG):
“I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.”
What a beautifully humbling and freeing experience for Paul in his weakness, and what a precious reminder to all of us today that our God perfects His power in weakness. As we yield our weakness to Him, Christ’s pure Word arises in us in power.
And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times. Psalm 12:6
Interestingly, the gold the Israelites once brought forward for Solomon’s Temple was used to overlay the clasps, fillets and capitals. These items strengthened the weakest parts of the Temple’s frame and joined the many curtains into one whole curtain.
Do you see how Christ now literally strengthens and makes us – His Body – whole, perfect and complete in Himself, through the work of the Living and breathing Word in us. He literally overlays and joins us to Himself, the Head, and thereby to each other also, through each shaking and refining fire.
For, now, through Jesus, our spirit is united to the Spirit of our God, so that at the sound of His Word our hearts hearken to obey Him:
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 Corinthians 6:17 (ESV)
It’s then, as we put out our nets afresh at the Voice of Jesus, just like Peter did, after a long tiring night of battling in his own flesh, that we discover that our Jesus – the Word made flesh – always knows best. For the Word’s timing, instruction and love for us is perfect and flawless.
It’s right there, as we watch Christ’s power being perfected in our weakness that we also come to know our Jesus and His love for us and His Body, more and more intimately.
No! We “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but [we] have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:15-17 (ESV)
No, in our muck and mire of self, praise God we have the power of the Spirit of God breathing in life and power into us:
Do you see how our Abba Father is answering the prayer His Son, Jesus, prayed, right before He gave His life at the Cross for us? Through His Spirit, He is now laboring to make us One, not in and through our own perfection or strength, but in His perfecting power in our weakness and imperfection. He is sanctifying us and unifying us in the gold of His Word (John 12: 17 – 23, ESV):
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
As we prepare to share our free will offerings of gold with you in the coming week, we invite you also to join us in laying the Promises of our God before the feet of Jesus in our weakness. May He write His flawless Word upon our hearts and perfect His power in our every weakness. May He bind us – His Body – together in love as we come to know Him more and more intimately, through every shaking and purifying fire sent our way.
Will you join Bettie and I in prayer?
Dear Holy Father,
Only you are pure and perfect! You are altogether lovely, with no blemish found in You! Oh that our hearts would worship you in the splendor of Your Holiness! And yet, You would come to us, weak and lowly, and offer to make us Holy, even as You are Holy.
We await the day when we will be fully perfected with You in Your city of pure gold. We offer our hearts to you now, in the Name and Beauty of Your Son Jesus.
May our hearts be open to receive your gift of perfection through your own Blameless, Dear Son. Stir our hearts, through Your shaking and refining fires, that we might invite You to make Your perfect home in us, now. Thank You for Your shaking and Your refining fires that are removing the dross in us, to reveal and lift up the pure gold of Your Living Word, Jesus, in and through us.
We await the day when we will be fully perfected with You in Your city of pure gold. We offer our hearts to you now, in the Name and Beauty of Your Son Jesus.
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. Revelation 21:8
The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass. Revelation 21:21
Welcome to Day 7 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a story + poem as a final free will offering of bronze, showing us how the LORD invited her to let Him exchange her judgment with His own, in and through her weakness.
Several years ago, I found my heart turned to bitterness, much like Naomi did, after her husband and sons died and she decided to return to her homeland. But as I layed my bitterness before the LORD in a poem, as I sat with the name Naomi had given herself, God exchanged my bitterness for joy, just as He did for Naomi.
Gather, You tell me Gather, my broken dreams? Gather, my heart broke in two? Gather, all I've poured and emptied out? Gather, here my broken self?
What do I gather? When all I have is broken Shattered? Mara, she said to call her Mara is the word I'd choose A bitter hand dealt.
Gather, You tell me Gather, Your tears here for me wept? Gather, Your heart here broke for me? Gather, all You've poured and emptied? Gather, Word made flesh?
But not till much later, did I see that this place of desolation I found myself in, came about because of God’s jealous love for me and my family. For, He refused to allow my heart to remain divided in its affections, just as He refused to allow Naomi’s heart to remain divided also.
Perhaps, like me, you didn’t realize that Naomi had moved to Moab with her family during a drought. Rather than trust God to provide for them, they had chosen to seek refuge outside of the safe boundaries God had given them to dwell inside of. When things got tough, rather than wait upon the LORD, they took matters into their own hands. And yet, even there, God remained faithful to His covenant of love.
All those years later, as tragedy struck and Naomi was left bereaved, she decided to return to the land of her faith, and Ruth decided to accompany her. What Naomi saw as God dealing her a bitter hand, was in fact God’s plan of redemption at work.
He was leading her to return to her first Love, where this time, in her place of great need, she would listen for the LORD’s Voice and not the enemy’s. There, God directed her to send her daughter-in-law into the hands of Boaz: her kinsman redeemer. A man of God who would provide bountifully for Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.
Boaz foreshadows our own kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ. For, Jesus Christ has redeemed our family line, through His own blood. He has purchased us back from the enemy, freeing us from our bondage to sin and death.
In my place of desolation, I came face to face with my Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus, who showed me that my loss was in fact my gain. In that place of great loss my true sinful heart was exposed for all to see, so that my God could reveal His true heart of love and mercy toward us all.
I deserved judgment, not mercy. My idolatrous affections and numbing my pain in sin deserved God’s wrath. But just as in the case of Naomi, God honored the deeper desires of my heart, He had planted there. Desires to love Him from my whole heart.
And so, He took away my idols, one by one, leaving me bereft. But in that place, as I bemoaned His bitter hand, He arose to declare me His and to redeem my Prodigal journey.
Just like Naomi, I had once fled my God’s safe boundaries, choosing to fend for myself, after deciding in a time of drought – when God appeared not to be answering my cries – that my God had abandoned me and those I loved. I descended upon my Prodigal journey that would take me to the other side of the world.
After opening my eyes to a newborn faith (incidentally exactly when my childhood cries to God in prayer were answered, more than twenty years later), God took me back into similar situations of rejection that I had found myself in as a child, as I obeyed my God’s calling to speak up and to confess my weakness and sins openly.
Just as when I was little, I wanted to bow before man to be loved and accepted. Or I wanted to try to “persuade” those before me to “see the truth”, turning to fleshly means of fighting. I see-sawed between the two. But each time, after a period of asking me to stay and persevere in His truth and grace, as He continually cleansed me of all unrighteousness, God commanded me to depart under a new authority: His.
What I didn’t see until after several of these breakings and losses, is that my losses were in fact my gains. For, through each loss I went through, God was restoring more of my heart to Him. He was restoring my first Love for Him and redeeming the years the locusts had eaten.
Now I know that the droughts we walk through, when it appears our prayers are falling on deaf ears, are God’s gift to us. God’s gift sent to uncover our own sinful and divided hearts to cleanse and restore them unto Him. He was never ashamed of me in that place of the enemy’s attack. For, He allowed these attacks to expose my idolatrous and divided heart, so He could invite me to enter into His wholeness: to exchange my faith in my idols of self and man for a faith in Him alone.
Now, I know why He gave me a very specific Scripture-based prayer to pray repeatedly over myself, right after I came home to Him: a prayer I still pray today: “Father, teach me to walk in the light of Your truth. Give me an undivided heart that I might fear Your Name above all else.”
Like Paul, I too have now discovered, and am still discovering daily, that all else is rubbish compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ as my LORD and being found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. Now, I too can sing: “It is God for me.”:
Each time Jesus purposely led me into a death and resurrection. He led me to face the sinful nature of my own heart and my inability to save myself and others. And then, in each death, as He asked me to leave and He closed the doors behind me, He gave me His heart of love and mercy. He wrote His Word deeper and deeper upon my heart.
I have become as dead to the people and communities He commanded me to leave, but alive to Him and His Word of love and mercy toward me and toward them. God is turning my bitter into sweet in and through my weakness.
He is answering His tearful intercession for me through my mother, all those years ago. Those answers are coming through my weakness and God’s grace to me: not through anything I have done to deserve it. They are coming through Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as the trauma triggers shaking my body in each place of idolatry have alerted me to the division occurring in my heart. These triggers have led me into stilling to hear and obey the Voice of God, to take steps to heal and guard my heart.
What the enemy sent to steal, kill and destroy me and my family, God is turning into good, to bring deliverance, healing and abundant life in Him. Praise Him!
It's then I see You There beside me strong Hand in mine Walking to the Cross
Your Body broken Shame and mocking On You laid Pierced and bled in pain In the tomb You lay.
Till Your heavens Darkness rent Curtain raised, Now in two I hear You rip.
Christ, You raise My broken life In the breaking Of Your Body From the tomb New life unwrap.
Your songs releasing Now my human soul Awakening Your Living Word Declaring me Whole.
Embraced in love Steeled in truth Sent in Grace's Own true Breath Into Your world That's yearning For You:
I AM mercy's hands And mercy's feet.
Broken, You make whole again Dark, You shine my night to Light Tears, You cup and pour to Joy aflame Fear, You still in Perfect Peace My feet, On righteous path You tread Sure and steadfast Held.
Gather, You tell me. YES I shall gather The tears You wept for me The heart You broke for me All You've poured And emptied into me I shall now receive:
The Word Made flesh.
Garden of My Lord Enclosed and sealed For a time such as this Your spring has broken Your fountains I hear Crashing, pouring.
For, Your love and mercy You've gathered Now to rush and pour Sovereign For Your own delight In me.
For, wondrous Are Your works My soul knows it Very well.
Praise You, Jesus!
“You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain” (Song of Songs 4:12).
May we all rest in the love and mercy of our Creator today. May we come to know and taste, more and more, that our smallness and weakness is not our shame to carry, but ordained of God to draw us ever deeper into knowing Him and being known by Him, that we might declare the wonders of His works:
Welcome to Day 6 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a story + prayer + poem as a free will offering of bronze, showing us how the LORD invited her to let Him exchange her judgment of herself with His own. She also invites us into a time of prayer and reflection.
They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Exodus 38:8 NIV
The Lord had asked His people to bring many items and offer them to be used for the building of His holy dwelling place among them. When He asked for items of bronze to be given, there were women serving who gave some of their most precious items. For you see, they had used their bronze mirrors during those days of wandering in the wilderness, showing them daily glimpses of how their faces were portrayed.
This Scripture tells us that the women who served the Lord and His people gave away their only way to view themselves. And how did the priests make use of those precious bits of their daily lives? The molten bronze was fashioned into the basin where the priests cleansed themselves before they offered the sacrifices that would bring God’s holiness to His people.
The way that those women viewed themselves and those around them was transformed as the bronze was melted, poured, and pounded into the vessel made for cleansing. Now the image seen was that of the priests bowing and washing before the holy sacrifices were made.
Are you seeing the beautiful symbolism yet?
The surrender of those women was not lost on me, as the Lord asked me to ponder my own way of looking at myself and those around me. I found myself weeping as the Lord brought His true mirror before me, and showed me the difference between what He sees when He looks at me, and how I have viewed myself.
Has my mirror been melted, poured, and pounded into the Lord’s cleansed and true vessel of seeing yet?
Or have I clung to the wilderness way of seeing, judging my image by my own faulty standards?
Years ago, as a young teenager, God had spoken beautiful words into my heart and over my life as I read the story of the young teen Jeremiah:
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:4-9 NIV
I longed to follow after the Lord, and to speak the words that He would give me to share. But not long after God had spoken the words of Jeremiah to me, I heard a phrase uttered, “Oh, that person is just too heavenly minded to be any earthly good!” And something burrowed itself down into my soul. I heard myself asking God:
“Is that me, God? Is that why my words are not heard? It MUST be me.”
I tucked away my own stories of God’s faithfulness, preferring instead to listen to all the other great stories around me. In the very beginning of my journey, I listened to a lie about myself, and let that lie take root. And judgment quickly clouded my vision.
Years later I heard more words uttered, and I let that lie take root even deeper, until the Lord began to shake it loose, and show it for what it truly was. He let the light of His truth shine directly into the darkened corner of my heart.
Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. Psalm 85:10
He cleansed my eyes with the water of His mercy, and showed me His way of seeing not only myself, but those around me who had also given in to the lie. His mercy washes us clean from our bitterness, and brings us the only way to see clearly: through HIS own righteousness.
If your own eyes have been looking in a bronze mirror, and you have found yourself questioning a lie that has been spoken over you, can you ask the Lord to kindle His flame and shine His light on your heart? What does HE see when He looks at you? Jesus refines and He washes with a holiness that brings us His Truth and Life. Can you let Him wash away the judgments and lies that have rooted in your own heart?
We come before you now, humbled by the awesome strength and glory that You dwell in. And Father, we are awed that You would love us so much, that You would open the way for us to dwell with You through Your precious Son’s sacrifice.
Will You forgive us for the pride that we have fought so hard to hold onto? And will You continue to lift the blinders off of our eyes, to show us the true cleansing that You have for us?
What a blessed fellowship You have granted to us: to be carried by You through every day, to be in sweet communion with You, through Your own Blessed Holy Spirit. We praise You for the true way of seeing that You have granted to us through Your merciful love gifted to us. Thank you for the song that You are singing as You declare us beautiful in Your holiness.
In the Precious Name of Your son, Jesus, we pray, Amen.”
As we now sit with the poem Bettie penned, as the LORD cleansed and opened her eyes, may the LORD now also cleanse and open our own eyes. May we too hear heaven singing:
lie slithered along the floor where my heart followed along questioning hsss sound of darkness i let it stay did not bid it go hardly knew when it came to live but always hsss sound of darkness questioning who i thought i was then hidden words found utterance not by me another had let the darkness settle on his heart too hsss now lies swirled over head joined entwined in darkness bitter root twisting weed grew around my shady corners soul barren deeps YAWEH! a flame kindled where slithering scattered hissing tried to cling LORD of light shining lies fled when truth sounded song fluttered love won secret heart drew in beautiful intimacy restoring true heart no bitter root HEAVEN IS SINGING
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 NLT