“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.
“You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” Joel 2:25-27 ESV
In the wandering years of my prodigal sons, God led me to hold onto these verses from the book of Joel. He lifted my eyes to look for the promises that He was speaking, and He asked me to hold tightly to Him when nothing I saw looked like restoration. Some days the grieving threatened to swallow me when I lowered my eyes and looked at the present.
As I sat over my sewing machine, I wove my tears and my prayers along with those burdens. Joining fabrics as the machine whirred along, tearing stitches as the seam-ripper found out mistakes, and re-placing those errant pattern pieces only served to remind me of the process of our lives here on this earth.
How could You ask me to love more, to pray more? I have nothing left to give, I’ve given all I could, Lord.
Ah, but He wasn’t asking for my striving. No, He was asking for my hand in His. He was asking for my trust in His promises. He is the only One who could redeem those years that seemed to have been wasted. For in His heart, nothing is wasted. Everything that we have offered to Him, everything burned up on the altar, is making way for His great plan of redemption.
Those years of interceding at my sewing machine were accomplishing something far greater than just a hand-crafted item. He was joining my suffering with the suffering of those for whom I was interceding. Weaving our lives together through the stitches of prayer, an unbreakable bond was being formed. But I could not see it at the time.
It wasn’t until decades later as I found myself sorting and de-cluttering all of those scraps of fabric, left over from each project, that the years suddenly fell into a much larger pattern. Boxes and boxes of fabric, neatly folded and waiting for my next project had lain dormant through my increasing disability of chronic illness. I found myself asking the Lord the same kinds of questions from the vantage point of looking back over the years.
How could You ask me to love more, to pray more, when my hands were stilled from doing anything? I gave all that I could, but I never finished all the projects that I thought You had for me.
Ah, but He had never asked for my striving. He had only asked for my hand in His, joining in HIS heart of loving. What became of those “wasted” years of my sons’ wandering? He remade them, and used them for His new gifts. He took what the enemy had meant for harm, and is using it for good.
And what became of all of those “wasted” years of my fabrics lying in the closet? He remade my prayers into gifts that are eternal. He has been using these later years for new gifts of Holy Spirit intercessions.
And then He said, “Pass it along! Let the next generation of sewers be blessed as you pray one last time over the fabrics from your closet. A prayer closet stitched with love.”
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
Oh Dear Heart are you grieving The years of the locust and the cutter worm? While the storms ravaged the crops Did you sit in the ruins? Was there even a remnant of TRUST That remained?
Listen to the words He is speaking Here in this place of the AFTER. While the rains water the ground Hear the tune of the mist. Can you see the silver in the clouds That linger?
Our Sovereign will not waste one drop From the deluge of the flood. While He waits for the full harvest He sees the seed remaining. Will you trust His redemption That awaits?
He will restore and He will redeem From all the waste places. You will find His Glory there In the places of His testing. Can you taste the sweetness That rises?
The shame and the pain He does lift From the barren heart places. As you look back over the years See the way He has made. Can you live in the Faithfulness That transforms?
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25
“I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!” Psalm 27:13
Dear Holy Father,
Thank You for the love that You have showered over us, and over the ones we love. Thank You that Redemption has always been Your plan. Even when we have covered ourselves in the dust of our running, You have made the way for us to return and to rest in Your cleansing. Lord, help us to hold onto the promises You have spoken to us.
When we have no strength left to believe, would You help our unbelief? And when we return to striving, would You cleanse our hearts once again and show us Your own outstretched hand before us? Would You open a glimpse into Glory’s reign and show us the salvation of many that You intend to bring?
We praise You for Your marvelous grace, even here where all we feel are the wastelands of our pain. Thank You that You have called us back into Your faithful heart, into the fullness of Your redemption.
The fabrics lie folded and stacked in my closet, next to the threads and the needles, and the unfinished projects. A lifetime of sewing is huddled there together, as a sort of memorial, stories interwoven through the warp and weft of my memories and the God-moments of my life. Some fabrics are rough, easily wrinkled and scratchy, while others drape and flow through my fingers like spun silk.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17
Her name was Kathy, which means “pure and flawless” and in my memory I can see my friend’s flaxen glowing hair, her fair skin. While other girls were chasing boys, and attending dances, she and I were reading books and sitting in the branches of her giant willow tree. We sang at the top of our lungs, practicing harmony, and laughing at the way the old songs differed from our generation’s rock-n-roll.
My Mom was a homemaker, her Mom left the house early each morning for her job. But each of us were given chores to finish before we could spend our summer afternoons together. Some afternoons were filled with swimming lessons, while other days we rode our bikes up and down our small neighborhood streets till our legs ached. But always we ended with long discussions about life. She knew I loved Jesus. She didn’t argue that, but she just couldn’t live the same lifestyle I thought was so important: every Sunday in Church, both morning and evening, and weeknight girls’ club classes as well. I wanted her to ask Jesus “to come into her heart” but she wasn’t sure what that even meant, so we shelved the topic, and instead spent our discussions on every other subject imaginable.
Into the light colored weft, a darker thread was being woven, filling the fabric with the warp of my flesh. I chose the path of the church, and she chose a different path. I had known it would come to this, I who was so set on my church commitments that I could not miss one Sunday to join her at her family’s weekly campground adventures. Not once. I thought I was choosing the better path. It took many years for me to see what I had missed.
In our pulling apart, the bonds of the fabric could easily have torn. We graduated, I was married. She chose a local college, I moved 600 miles away with my new husband. We wrote letters that kept us connected, and even though we were separated by miles, a deep bond was somehow still glimpsed by both of us. On one of my trips back home, she told of how thyroid cancer had struck her, and the months had been filled with harsh treatments and struggles. But her face was glowing as she eagerly told me the glorious news of finally seeing the beauty of surrendering her life to Jesus. We cried and we laughed that night, taking photos together of my pure and flawless friend holding my toddler son.
But the drifting apart wasn’t finished yet, as my life was plunged into testing involving a move to the other side of the country, a move back again, and years of living in other people’s homes. The letters to my golden haired friend slowed to a trickle, as I was at a loss to explain the confusion I felt during those years of breaking and reshaping. By the time we finally moved back close enough to rekindle our friendship, the cancer had returned to my friend, and she slipped into eternity the same fall that we moved back to our Midwestern roots.
And just as the fabrics of home were being re-folded and measured and cut, the dark threads of the fleshly warp were being marked with the colors of regret. Almost daily I thought of the times that I had neglected the friendship of one so dear. It took years for the roughness of that churchy fabric to be washed and softened. But when the fabric had finally worn down enough, I was filled with sorrow over the way I had chosen an ideal instead of the love of one precious heart. “Jesus, will You please tell Kathy how sorry I am for the years I neglected her?” Again and again through the years, I heard myself uttering that prayer to Him.
The fabrics lie folded and stacked in the closet, and my heart remembers each project. The abilities for the old ways are gone. My arthritic hands can no longer follow the precision necessary to measure and cut and sew. The old has gone, and yet, the new is here. I can hear Jesus whispering:
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
Jesus has taken the regret and filled it with colors so vibrant they cannot even compare to the old ways of seeing. And in the changing, the regret has been woven into a new warp and weft.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1 – 3
That old warp of ugly dark shadows has now become a vivid setting to show forth new colors not seen before. “No apology is necessary any longer” He whispers to me. “I have preserved the threads of your friendship, and it’s woven together into a pure and flawless garment. You both are clothed in me now.”
Romans 11:32 (ESV) For God has shut up all in disobedience, so that He may show mercy to all.
Haggai 2:7 (ESV) And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.
The Living Word
Strapped to the altar again
Shut up in disobedience
Denying this body's shaking
I'm tethered and taut.
In shame and fear
Of horrid pain
From seeping wounds.
Captive to the mask again
I cringe at who
I've become once more
The hypocrite, laid bare.
But in my weakness
Your power rises
Cutting pride's vicious ropes
You beautifully humble me.
Eyes of love
My face in light cascade
My weak and feeble frame
In warmth You bathe.
The tears now flow
Released in streams
My past I begin to see
Through mercy's eyes.
This time my heart
Your heartbeat knows
And Christ in me
The Eagle frees.
Upon this altar cries
"Sin and shame
Are not your name.
"For not you, but I
Have chosen 'n appointed you
To go and bear abundant fruit
That now in Me abides.
"Depart under a new authority
Seeing yourself as clean
Because of the Word
I have already spoken to you.
I have delivered you
Now in Christ alone
Your free will offerings bring."
Your renown, Your Name
Now reflected silver pure
You're shining so bright in me.
No longer I
But Christ in me I see
Your burning coals
My lips in praise now open.
My heart explodes
A waterfall of grace
Splashing on my face.
My broken walls
You have rebuilt
Salvation and deliverance
In Jesus' Name.
Your nail-pierced hands
Upon my head.
In returning and rest
A harvest of peace -
Christ - in my every shaking
No, I will not die
But live to tell
What You: my LORD
My life You've set apart
Drawing a line in the sand
Every accusation lifting
I hear You call me: daughter.
Resting on the mercy seat
Now, I can obey
My Savior's call
To truly sin no more.
Freed from all condemnation
I lift my lamp up high
Upon salvation's hill
Replanted in the Living Word.
Romans 9:29 (AMPC) It is as Isaiah predicted, If the Lord of hosts had not left us a seed [from which to propagate descendants], we [Israel] would have fared like Sodom and have been made like Gomorrah.
Isaiah 11 (Complete Jewish Bible) 1 But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai, a shoot will grow from his roots. 2 The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai — 3 he will be inspired by fearing Adonai. He will not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, 4 but he will judge the impoverished justly; he will decide fairly for the humble of the land. He will strike the land with a rod from his mouth and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips. 5 Justice will be the belt around his waist, faithfulness the sash around his hips.
Malachi 3:10 – 12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
The earth beneath you Trembling. All you've ever known Shaken. The ground beneath you Quaking. All you've ever known Taken.
You're groping. Choking. Falling. You reach, But no hand to hold.
You hear those voices: “Too little. Too much. Not enough. Your punishment alone to carry.”
And so you fall, Deeper still, Till deep dark mirey cave You feel beneath. And though its darkness weighs as lead, It numbs the pain so deep, The shame too cruel. "Safe here" you breathe at last.
"Object of dread, I am. Forgotten, broken vessel, Is who I am." Terror thickens air, Lying tongues to pour. Lead weighted more.
Strength does fail. Body waste. Tears no longer flow. A loss so deep, No words to find. And still no single hand to hold.
Your breath you feel Anxious grip. All that leaves your trembling lips "LORD, My God." Silence piercing. Weeping, tearing heart.
But then, You hear it. Tender, loving Voice. Still, sweet sound Arise.
"My beloved. My pearl. My precious daughter dear. The work of My own beating heart, Come now. Take this, My outstretched hand.
"The ground may tremble, Earth may shake And all you've ever known, Ripped from beneath your feet. But I, your loving Father, do rest beneath, Even here, even now.
"My hand upon you. My breath within you. My countless thoughts of you So very precious still. Even now, I hem you in Before, behind Even here, no lying tongue Does from My own True gentle mouth depart.
"Be still, and know YOUR one true God I AM. Never have I ever, Never will I ever, Leave you all forsaken lone. For each and every tremble, shake Does purposeth My crop Too bountiful For any human hand To seed, thresh, harvest true.
"Hold fast, My girl, To sword of truth, To promises birthing here, even now, To heaven's coming Here on earth. For, to each and every Prisoner of Hope eternal strong Who turns My way Restoration double I do declare.
"Hold fast, my child, Not to lying tongues But tender loving truth. Hemming in before, behind Grace so precious, pure. Roaring, rushing waters Pour and cover still. For I, Your God I AM. Even here, even now."
In Psalm 31: 18, King David cries: “Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.” (NIV). Those lying tongues often go into overdrive, when our world is shaken by deep loss, grave illness or seemingly hopeless situations.
But what our enemy knows and wants us to forget is that the Great Overcomer resides in us still, even here, even now. For “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV).
In fact, the losses and trials we are walking through have been permitted by God to strip away our reliance upon ourselves and upon all others, so that Christ’s resurrection power may be unveiled in us. Or as 2 Corinthians 4:11 (ESV) puts it:
For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
For, our Abba Father wants us to learn to receive from Him. He wants us to learn to rest upon the foundation of His love for us, so that our strivings might cease, as we learn to enter into His Sabbath rest. So that His labor of love may begin to flow out of us, fully and freely, as we drink deeply of His living water.
In that place of resting upon Him, He longs for us, like the Israelites, to discover His provision for us, that has nothing to do with our our own labor or perfecting work, but rather everything to do with Christ’s work of redemption: Him buying us back from sin and death that He might lavish His love out upon us:
Joshua 24:13 (ESV) I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’
1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
No lie can ever separate us from Christ’s eternal love for us. No matter what emotion we feel and what accusations the enemy plagues us with, these do not define who we are: God alone does and always will. And He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious sought-after pearls: His own true and beloved sons and daughters.
And because He has gifted us the pure and righteous heart of Jesus, we are worthy in His sight. All our sins, in thought, word or deed are covered in the cloak of grace. All He asks of us is: “Come now. Take this, My outstretched hand”. And He will guide us until we die (Psalm 48:14) and Christ is unveiled in us, fully and wholly.
Will you join me in prayer today?
Thank You, Lord, that You are the strength of my heart and promise to remain faithful to me to the very end, even when I turn away in fear, shame or despair. Thank You, Lord, that lying tongues can never define who I am.
Lord, just as your humble servant David, I beseech you to silence all lying lips that are plaguing me now. Help me cast down and pour out all the lies I have come to believe that are shackling me and pressing me away from You. Help me to turn toward You to receive Your loving arms and all-covering grace.
Lord, I claim your beautiful promises over my life today. As a prisoner of hope, whose stronghold is in You alone, I now receive double of all that has been torn from me, believing You have granted it to me and I will yet see it with my own eyes.
As a daughter/son of the Most High King, I now receive Your strong hand upon my head, Your protective wings, as You hem me in from before and behind, and Your countless precious thoughts of me.
Lord, I am yours alone. Lead Me on in Your way everlasting, into all the Truth there is that I may dwell in Your beautiful house all the days of my life, to gaze upon Your beauty and seek You in Your temple.
Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the free will offering of silver. She gives examples from her own life of how God has compelled her to bring forward this free will offering – the Promise of redemption. And Bettie and Anna invite you to join them in prayer at the end.
We will be adding additional poem, prayers and devotionals to this page, on the theme of silver and redemption, as the LORD directs.
Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; Exodus 35:5
In the temple, 100 silver hooks held up the curtain ushering the priest into the Holy of Holies and the presence of God. These hooks were made from the free will offering of silver brought forward by the Israelites and King David for the building of the Temple.
Silver was also melted to make the basins and bowls for the ritual purification and cleansing of the priests. And it was used to make the silver bands with their hooks of silver for all the pillars that held up the court. Additionally, it was used to make two trumpets of silver, of hammered work that were used “for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out” (Numbers 10:2).
Silver is known as the currency of redemption and a metal refined and purified by fire:
“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.”
(Psalm 12:6, ESV)
Take away the dross from the silver,and the smith has material for a vessel;
(Proverbs 25:4, ESV).
Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
and instead of iron I will bring silver;
instead of wood, bronze,
instead of stones, iron.
I will make your overseers peace
and your taskmasters righteousness.
(Isaiah 60:17, ESV)
30 pieces of silver were paid to redeem a slave from captivity. 30 pieces of silver were paid by the religious leaders to Judas, so he would betray Jesus with a kiss. 30 pieces of silver were thrown by Judas back into the temple, before he hung himself. 30 pieces of silver were used to buy the Potter’s field to bury the bodies of foreigners.
Thus, the free will offering of silver symbolized the very redemption Christ would bring through His death on the Cross. The Word “redemption” in Hebrew literally means a buying back. God bought back our hearts, freeing us from our enslavement to sin, through the very betrayal of man.
For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah 52:3, ESV)
So, now, when Christ compels us to bring forward the free will offering of silver, we are literally bringing forward His Promise of redemption. We are bringing forward God’s Promise to buy us back, fully and wholly. We are declaring His faithfulness to move through His Living Water (the Spirit-infused Word of God) to:
lift up the Body of Christ (which includes those of us who are His) and bring it to complete healing and wholeness
strengthen us and establish us in Christ
to gather us together and cause us to depart at His command, as the trumpet is blown.
In what situations have you found God encouraging you to bring forward His Promise of redemption? In what ways have you noticed God has been redeeming you and others you know?
God has been redeeming me personally through repeated breakings. Through these breakings God has helped me to differentiate between the voice of our enemy, with his cruel accusations of condemnation, and the moment by moment revelation of the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
In setting me apart unto His purposes, Christ is helping me to lift up the Name of Jesus above all else. He has been teaching me, through the pain and sorrow of each surrender, to lay before Him His Promise of redemption and in those moments He has been filling me with renewed trust and faith in His faithfulness to fulfill His Word to me. He has been opening my eyes to see all the redemption He has already brought through each surrender.
I now see, how under His leadership and in His strengthening, I am daily choosing to die to old thought patterns and arise unto the new. Through all the surrenders, I am beginning to see my past through new eyes: Christ’s eyes of redemption.
Now, rather than trying so hard to do the “right” thing to prove myself worthy, which I did when I subjected myself to man’s authority (much like the disciple Peter did before Paul rebuked him for being a hypocrite), I am learning instead to allow Christ to prove me His. I am learning to still and listen for the moment-by-moment revelation of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit. I am learning to obey the Living Word of God – Jesus – who speaks inside of me. The Living Word that is now becoming a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
I can see how Christ has taken ownership of me, buying me back from the enemy who once had tethered me to sin, striving and idol worship (of self, church, religious leaders and friends). Through every surrender His labor of love has wrought in my heart, God has opened my eyes to the gift of free will He has given me, the free will to choose Him and the true desires of my heart.
And in this purifying work of the Living Word, Christ is redeeming the years that the locusts ate. God is even using my Prodigal past for good. He is using my honest boasting in my weakness to His glory and grace, to strengthen my relationships, bring peace and joy to my home and heart, and to root me and others ever deeper in His truth, love and mercy. He is perfecting His power in my weakness.
In our LORD Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer, nothing is ever wasted. Not one detail of our stories is ever too shameful or unimportant, but rather each detail becomes an essential part of God’s masterpiece, declaring His love and great mercy to the world.
When God reminds us through His Word that the old has gone and that we are not to look back on our past, it means that when we give our life to Jesus, our slate has been made clean. Our failings turn from being a shameful burden to carry, to evidence of God’s great love and compassion for us and His power to save and redeem our lives for His glory.
Peter’s heartbreaking denials of Jesus now declare the power of the Cross to save and redeem us all. They remind us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Saul ordering the execution of Stephen now awakens our hearts to the depths of God’s mercy that we too can draw upon in suffering and persecution. It also reminds us of the power of the Cross to open our own and others’ blinded eyes to see and to give us new names, declaring us new creations in Christ Jesus. Paul’s thorn in his side reminds us all, even today, that God’s power is perfected in our weakness and not in our own ability, health or strength.
Perhaps you too, recognize Jesus doing a similar work of redemption in your heart and life, as He has been in mine. For, Christ labors in each one of us to exchange our heart of stone for His heart of flesh. A heart of flesh not hardened by sin and pain, but compelling us to willingly join Christ in His suffering that we might draw upon His love and mercy to declare each heart set before us: eternally His. A heart of flesh declaring each one of us purchased by the blood of the Lamb and our inheritance of redemption – complete healing and wholeness in body, mind, heart and soul – as safely sealed by the Holy Spirit.
And oh how I long, as I am sure you do also, to see this redemption unveiled in us all: fully and wholly, when Christ returns.
Dear Great and Glorious Lord,
We come before you acknowledging that we are so in need of redemption. You are Holy and we are not. You are pure and we are tainted. Lord will you daily cleanse us from our old way of thinking? Will you continue to take away our striving and show us that You alone have the power to redeem us from our sins?
You, our God, have purchased salvation for us with the precious blood of your own Son. May we let you redeem us from these sinful ways of living, and find Your gift of new life flooding into our hearts.
And as we boast in our weakness, may our testimonies to Your glory and grace and the blood of the Lamb arise to silence the accusations of the enemy against our brethren. May Your redemption not just flood our own hearts, but others’ also, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.
In the precious name of your Holy Son, Jesus, we pray.
Welcome to Day 7 of Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem filled with Scriptures and the Scriptures that inspired it.
Gates of Praise
I am your light and your salvation I am your glory within Call your walls: salvation Your gates: praise.
I am your glory within Swing wide you heavenly gates Your gates: praise Let the King of Glory come in.
Swing wide you heavenly gates Return to your fortress, prisoners of hope Let the King of Glory come in Light shines in darkness.
Return to your fortress, prisoners of hope I am a wall of fire around you Light shines in darkness I am the Lifter of your head.
I am a wall of fire around you Call your walls: salvation I am the lifter of your head I am your light and your salvation.
Psalm 24: 9 (ESV)
Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.
1 Chronicles 16:28 (ESV)
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Psalm 22:3 (ESV)
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Isaiah 60:18 (ESV)
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
Zechariah 9:12 (ESV)
Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.
Isaiah 62:1 (ESV)
For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
and her salvation as a burning torch.
John 1:14 (ESV)
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (MSG)
6 It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful. 7 If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us.
On Rock He teaches Me to build With human hands I go to work Believing My self-righteous works The Rock Must build.
And so He sends me forth In waters deep Storms now come My human rock To shipwreck Break On foreign shores.
I sift the debris Eyes laid low Yearning now My rock of old To clasp But on foreign shores This rock of old Now lies Shattered, broke Undone, I cry.
But in my weeping My Father bows my knees Each missing grain to see Now bathed in Light My tears are washing Hidden treasures In shifting sands Laid bare Eternity Now glowing.
My Abba Father's Promises As gifts in weakness Now laid bare Hidden treasures An abundance Out of the seas My God Is drawing out.
Let waters Rise Let storms now Come Let sand here Shift My God's Promises Shall then In Spirit rise to Glow.
Rejected by humans But chosen by my God And precious to Him Each missing grain Sparkles bright Each jewel In shifting sands I see unveiled.
His living stone My Father builds Into a Holy Temple In the Father, Son And Holy Spirit - One A holy priest I now come Offering Spiritual sacrifices Acceptable to God Through my LORD and Savior Jesus Christ Alone.
Deuteronomy 33:18-19 Of Zebulun he said, "Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going forth, And, Issachar, in your tents. "They will call peoples to the mountain; There they will offer righteous sacrifices; For they will draw out the abundance of the seas, And the hidden treasures of the sand."
Isaiah 61:11 (AMP) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness and justice and praise To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].
Welcome to Day 5 of Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a prayer, a Scripture, a poem of praise and a link to a praise and a worship song.
Father, thank You for all the ways You are proving Your presence and resurrection power in and through us. Open our eyes more and more to recognize Your love at work in us.
Today, we choose to celebrate Your fencing in as Your way of setting us apart unto Your purposes. Thank You that the pain we feel in our hemming in is proof that You are at work in our hearts, making us more like You.
Help us to yield to Your labor of love. Thank You for Your training of us in righteousness that proves we are Your beloved children and that You are a good Father, who cares deeply about us.
Help us through each fencing in to bring forward Your Promise to clothe us in pure white linen. Make us overcomers in Your Name. Search and know us from the inside out. Uncover any offensive ways at work in us and lead us in Your everlasting way. Cast out all fear of punishment in us through the work of Your perfect love that we might come boldly before the throne of grace in our time of need.
Create in us a clean heart. Renew a right spirit within us and restore unto us the joy of our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
THANK YOU, LORD
Thank You, LORD For grace That covers me For innocence You've paid In scourge And pain so cruel I'll never know.
Thank You, LORD For giving me What's undeserved Of cruel and harsh This heart here turned To selfish tides And prideful waves To anger's chains And holding reigns.
Thank You, LORD For love so great It reaches deeper still Than cruel and harsh Than selfish pride and anger's reigns To all accuser's claims Would rather hide From sight unseen In shame to chain.
Thank You, LORD For fencing tight In holy linen white For Spirit drawing in And holding tight The dust of desert's strife From hardened heart to strip And righteous wrap In dazzling white Of undeserved bright.
Thank You, LORD That washing dazzling white You speak each hidden sight The pain, the fears and doubts I know not bleed beneath My heart to cast and pour My cup not just outward cleanse But inward search to know In Spirit wash From death to Life.
Thank You, LORD For grace That covers me For innocence You've paid In scourge And pain so cruel I'll never know.
Welcome to Day 4 of Chapter 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a devotional (a poem, story and prayer) centered on Scriptures that the LORD is continuing to take deeper into her own heart.
Since I was little, I have loved to help others. As the oldest daughter in a family of six children, I had ample opportunity to help out. I took great pride in my “mothering responsibilities”, as I took it upon myself to help my Mum out, particularly with looking after my youngest brother and sister, to give my busy Mum, who also carried many responsibilities outside of our home, a break and allow her to get other things done.
There is beauty in the gift of helping and serving others, but what God has opened my eyes to, is that serving can become an idol that begins to gong like a cymbal, where the lines of responsibility become blurry. A few weeks before my Mum died, she looked at me and said something like: “Anna, I was a bad example to you girls. I had no boundaries in place. Don’t follow my example.” Now, don’t get me wrong. My Mum was one of the most loving people I know, but now that God has broken the idol I made of her, I see what my Mum meant. There were indeed times, where she too became like a gonging cymbal and these were times that she took on responsibility that was not hers to shoulder.
When I began to see this idol present in my own life, God encouraged me, not to try to “fix” it myself, but to lay the responsibility for my transformation in His hands. But as I began to do so, He began to fence me in, more and more.
Again and again, He had me build up something, only to ask me to lay it back down soon after. Again and again, He had me invest in people, communities and ministries, only to then ask me to leave and surrender everyone and everything into His hands.
Through these first few breakings and surrenders, it felt like God was punishing me. It felt like He was taking away things and people from me because I wasn’t “good enough” to stay and to serve in these places. But ever so slowly, I am beginning to see this fencing in of God, as His precious gift of rest in pleasant places.
It has been His Way of growing me in grace and truth, of teaching me to walk within His safe boundaries. For, after each breaking, I slowly began to see that each surrender was drawing me into a deeper and deeper rest, and a shedding of responsibilities for others that were never mine to carry.
I am now seeing how the Word God spoke over me at the start of all this shedding and burning away, is now reaping so much fruit in my life:
The funny thing though, is that God has been fulfilling this Word, by showing me that I am incapable of making Him alone my portion and my cup. Maybe, you too recognize your inability in this department. If so, maybe this next verse has also been a painful verse for you too, because like me, you recognize yourself as being the “unwilling” one God speaks of.
Maybe you too recognize your past failures to return and rest and to sit in quietness and trust. But what God has been showing me, is that He knows I cannot set good boundaries for myself and that I cannot rest and be still in and of myself, that I actually do not know how to make Him alone my portion and cup.
He showed me that this is yet another reason why He sent Jesus to die on the Cross for me, so that He could take up residence in me and teach me how to walk within His pleasant boundaries. And what I am noticing, is that when I ask Him to set those boundaries for me, in response to His leading, He is so very faithful to do so and oh the joy and peace and love that flows from a heart that rests in these pleasant places with Jesus.
Just yesterday, I yet again, found myself in a place, where God showed me I had become like a gonging cymbal, because I had chosen to take on responsibility that was not mine to carry. In this case, it was the opinions of others – the fear that I would be blamed for the choices of others, over whom I carried leadership responsibilities. This fear of man was rooted in me not recognizing God’s ultimate sovereignty. In me not recognizing His ultimate responsibility over the gifts He has entrusted me to carry out in His Name.
And this fear drove me to take on a responsibility for the behavior of others and to snap, rather than flow from a position of resting in God’s love. As the fear grew inside of me, so did the assumptions I began to make of others and their behavior and so did my snapping.
But then, God in His kindness, placed me before an elderly women who began to boast in her weakness, who spoke of having forgotten her mask and now having to bike back home to collect it. The gentleness of God shone so brightly from her face and as I shared of having had the same thing happen before also, I felt God slow my heart to the pace of His own.
It’s then I reached out to apologize to someone I had been snapping at moments earlier, someone who I had made incorrect assumptions about, in my haste, driven by fear. I also noticed how that snapping came, after I had felt a gentle nudge from God to take a break, but rather than do so, I had kept going.
And so, as that conviction and repentance flowed from the grace of God, I also recognized I needed God’s help with boundaries in another part of my life. So, I turned to Him and asked Him to be my boundary lines in that space also.
You see, recently I have stepped out in faith with something new and I was reminded that I need God to time the unfolding of this new responsibility, step by step, so that it doesn’t encroach on other responsibilities He has given me. So, I asked Him to time its unfolding, also so I can finish something else well that is in its final weeks.
As I did so, I found myself rejoicing over even the simple conversation this new ministry had brought yesterday. I recognized how refreshing it was to pour into a young woman, without laying any expectations on the outcome of our contact. As I shed the responsibility for this contact’s unfolding, my peace and joy increased, as I recognized how even if it comes to nothing, the conversation alone was such a gift to me.
God has truly been shedding the old and uncovering the true desires of His heart within me, desires that draw me into His heart of surrender, love, gentleness and kindness. He has been lifting the weight of so many responsibilities.
God so patiently grows our hearts to steward well the gifts He has entrusted us, by teaching us how to rest in His authority and guidance, moment by moment. By God’s grace I have definitely come a long way, and yet I also recognize room for so much more growth. I am so excited to see how He enlarges my heart even more in the coming months to run in the path of His commands and I pray you are too. For our LORD is so very faithful.
Father God, I thank You for the gift of Your Son. I thank You that You have shed abroad Your love in our hearts, through the gift of Your Holy Spirit, who is now guiding us into all the truth, for we know that the Holy Spirit does not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to us the things that are to come (John 16:13).
Thank You that You promise us that “so shall [Your] word be that goes out from [Your] mouth; it shall not return to [You] empty, but it shall accomplish that which [You] purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which [You] sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV). Thank You for fencing and hemming us in, even when You knew we would not understand it at first and see it as Your punishment of us. Thank You for Your loving disciplineand great patience with us. Father, help us, through each fencing in, through each closing door and breaking, to trust Your heart of love toward us.
Yield our hearts to Your discipline and cause us to bring forward the pure white linen of Your Son that You might clothe us in the garments reserved for those who overcome in Your Name. For, “Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5, ESV)And so, this very moment we acknowledge that we cannot overcome the world in our own strength, that we cannot make You alone our portion and our cup, without Your teaching, leading and guidance. And so, we let go of our striving and ask You now to clothe us in Your purity. We ask You to fulfill the Promises of Your Word to us.
Today, we like King David, declare by faith that “Lord, you alone are [our] portion and [our] cup; you make [our] lot secure.The boundary lines have fallen for [us] in pleasant places; surely [we] have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16: 5-6, NIV). We declare by faith that we shall see the fulfillment of this Word in our lives. Be our boundary lines, oh LORD and reveal the pleasant places of Your choosing for us, where our hearts can rest in Your heart of love, gentleness and kindness.
Shut the doors that need shutting. Open the doors that need opening and teach us how to yield our will to Yours that we may live from a position of rest, flowing in Your love. LORD be the One who serves and loves through us, by the power of Your Holy Spirit and Word of life. Continue to break our idols of responsibility that shackle us to fear and sin. Cause our hearts to return and rest in You and to dwell in quietness and trust in You.
And as we read through this poem that You gifted me (Anna) so long ago, bring such joy and peace to our hearts in the knowledge that You are so very faithful to teach us how to seek after Your heart above all else and how to rest at Your feet. Help us to let go of any shame we feel because of our past failings and to walk into the newness of life You are holding out to us. Help us also to receive Your patience with us, to see ourselves as Your children who You are so proud of, who You are teaching step by step. Help us to see and celebrate all the ways we have already grown to rest in You. Thank You that we are so blessed in You. In Jesus’s precious Name, Amen.
SEEK MY HEART
Blessed are those Who listen and heed Come close, And sit at My feet.
Blessed are those Who know how to rest, To abide and draw Upon who I AM.
Blessed are those Who heed not praise Of men, But seek My heart for them. Listen My daughter well To these words of love -
Be still, and know Even now, even here, I sit beside, And hold your hand.
Do you hear angels sing, Choirs to My glory? Rush of waterfall Pouring down upon you?
See all shackling silt Coming loose Purity revealed in Sea blue deep
Welcome to Day 2 of Chapter 2 from Arise & Shine. Today, Bettie Gilbert invites you to join her at the feet of Jesus, with a poem she penned, as she poured out her heart and listened for the LORD’s response to her. May God bless each one of us, as we draw near to Him today, as Bettie did in this poem. May He cause us to bring forward a free will offering of pure white linen ourselves, as we lay before Him all that is swirling inside of us. May He clothe us in His pure white garments of grace.
“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5 (NKJV)
My heart aching
What have I missed?
I am only a sinner
But saved by grace?
Out of the fog
“Are you listening My child?
You are My Beloved
Will you take My hand?”
“Can you hear My voice?
I have called your name
Are you holding to My promise?”
What am I holding onto?
A Kingdom that cannot be shaken
Is it true that I belong?
Now set free.
Am I dancing?
With feet not broken
Will I hold on a little longer?