Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 6: Heaven is Singing

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?

Dear Father,

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

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 5: Trust

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of bronze. Her poem shows us how the LORD exchanged her human judgment of His Sword’s painful dividing to see the gift of His healing and wholeness coming in each setting apart unto His heart of mercy toward her.

TRUST

Trust isn't the absence of pain
Trust isn't the absence of tears
Trust isn't the absence of gaping loss.

No! It's Christ
Inviting me into His arms
In the Sword's dividing.

It's perfect Love driving out my fears
Bottling all my tears
It's the everlasting arms beneath me.

It's the sure foundation
Of God's Word
Catching me as I leap toward Him.

It's Christ yielding my heart
To each and every painful wounding
That He may humble me to heal me.

It's Christ taking my weary and divided heart
To exchange it
For His surrendered, trusting heart

It's my Rock and mighty Redeemer
Perfecting His power
In weakness.

So I resist the enemy
In every accusation flung as the pain returns
To rest instead on my Promise.

In each and every ache's returning
Let me now heed the Spirit's quickening
To turn toward and not away.

Let my tears now flow
My knees now bow
And my heart now open.

For, each boasting in my weakness
To God's glory and God's grace
Wafts Christ's sweet incense high.

No! Trust is not my holding tight
To what my God has rightfully taken
To draw me unto Himself.

It's releasing each precious Word
No longer in shame
But in worship and praise.

It's watching and waiting
Expectantly
For each and every Promise to unfold.

It's Christ birthing fresh trust in me
As a fountain of grace
Now gushes and pours down upon me.

It's bringing my broken heart to Jesus
To find His whole heart
Beating there.

It's finding my salvation
In returning and resting
Upon the pillow of My Promise: Christ Himself.

So I will lay down
Each accusation birthed in pride
To now receive my Abba Father's pride in each surrender.

For, the branches
Were never meant
To support the Vine.

But the Vine
Died and rose again
To give life to each branch.

So, I shall put down my roots
No longer into human soil
But ever deeper
Into the good soil
Of Christ's heart for me.

May He
Become my trust
Pressing into Jesus
May I find the Word
Flowing fresh
As living water
From the throne of grace.

Yes!
Those aches
Those tears
Those gaping holes
They're the very
Building stones.

The building stones of trust
Are the Word of God's
Dividing.

For Love Himself
Is the only righteous
Judge.

The Son of God
Who came not to condemn me
But to seek and save me.

To declare my weakness, His strength
And my brokenness, His wholeness
By the power
Of His Living Word.

The only Way
The only Truth
The only Life
Is Jesus.

Come
Let's take His hand
Make Him our trust.

Come
Let in the Sword's sweet dividing
Eternal peace
In the blood of Christ
Now flow.

For at the Cross
What Christ now joins together
No man can separate.



Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 4: He Will Carry Us

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering of bronze. Her story and poem show us how the LORD exchanged her human judgment with His freeing judgment and her prayer invites us into thanksgiving.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.  Luke 15:1-6

As I listened to the verses being read aloud, my heart started pounding more rapidly. I heard the words, but I saw myself in the story. As Jesus put that lost one on his shoulders and began to walk home, something broke loose in me. It was what I had been longing for almost every night within this chronic illness wandering: to be lifted and carried away from the thorns.

Over these past years, since my chronic illness diagnoses, I have met my Savior, my Shepherd, in more intimate ways than I ever could have imagined. He called me beautiful when I found myself so ugly. He called me chosen when I found myself separated and cut-off. He called me by His own royal name when all I could hear was minimizing and neglect. He called me His daughter, and I hid in His embrace.

But when I listened to the story of that one lost sheep, I realized that even after those many precious words He had spoken to me, I have still felt tangled in thorns and separated from where I was supposed to be. I have still rebelled at the thought that this place of weakness could be the very place that He knew I would be in. When I have looked longingly back at the place of my own strength, I have not acknowledged that this place of tangled thorns has been the place designed for precious carrying by Him. For if the thorns had never tangled me, I would never have felt the amazing intimacy of His arms when all of my own physical strength had been utterly depleted.

The Thornbush

I see the thorn-bush set in my path
And I ponder the way ahead
Can I make my way cleanly around
Or must I offer my arms to be torn in the passing?

I look for tools to cut away the brambles
And I find them waiting for my use
Can I gather the branches without snagging
Or must I give over my hands to be bloodied in the holding?

I hear a voice calling me to lay down the struggle
And I see the Gardener watching me
Can I pause long enough to allow for His help
Or will I willfully stomp my feet in the tearing of pain?

It is HIS garden after all that offers this path
And I find the journey ahead planned by Him
Can I see the beauty in the thorn-bush here
The eternal weight of glory being given in this suffering?

The eternal weight of glory being given in this suffering?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

And then God highlighted another set of Scripture verses, and I pondered them for weeks, leaving the windows open in my search browser so that I would see them every time I opened the internet. But when I thought about my Lord carrying that lone, bleating sheep over the rutted pathways, I suddenly saw such a beautiful picture in these verses where He had me pause:

Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them. Psalm 126:6 NIV

Jesus weeps over each of us lambs. We are the ones for whom He has planted such deep seeds. We are the harvest, we are the sheaves He is singing over as He carries us so close to His heart, right over His shoulders.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Psalm 84:5-7 NIV

And when I am finally brought to those places where all my strength is found only in Him, I am part of His seed sowing AND His harvest. I am one of those who are called “they” in these passages, part of the singers flooded with His springs of water, dancing in His pools of strength.

Have you glimpsed those tangled thorns capturing your strength? I would love to pray with you today as we allow our Shepherd to come after us, to pick us up, and to place us over His own shoulders.

Dear Lord Jesus,

We come to You today, admitting that we have been Your lost lamb, so tangled in thorns that we have no strength of our own left. Forgive us for looking back longingly, trying to find our own way out of the piercing. Would You help us to look up to You and find Your arms so sufficient for us?

Thank You for the seeds You have sown in our hearts. Thank You for the harvest that You are reaping even now, as You lift us and place us close to Your heart. 

Help us to drink deeply of Your springs of life-giving water. Help us to sing with You through the valleys transformed by YOUR strength.

We praise You for Your deep love that is even now working for us an eternal weight of glory, right here in this place of suffering. We worship You, our Blessed Savior, Good Shepherd, and Loving Lord.

In Your name, we pray,

Amen.

Photo: From Anna Smit’s private collection.

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 3: A New Heart

Welcome to Chapter 2‘s Day 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward a free will offering forged in the fires of affliction, as Jesus arose to defend His dwelling place with His judgment in mercy.

My Prodigal wandering began, when I began to believe that my God could indeed not have chosen someone like me: someone too young, too sinful, too needy and too broken. I agreed with the enemy’s twisting of Scripture and began to read God’s precious Word, no longer as an invitation to know my Jesus and His mercy more and more, but as evidence that I was doomed for hell.

So one day, when I had committed a sin I abhorred and was deeply ashamed of, I was certain that this was it. That now all I could do was bide my time till God did away with me completely.

Outwardly not much changed. I still attended church. I still played the good girl. But inside my spirit was crushed and my heart aching to be known by God.

Years later, on the day we buried my Mum, I learnt that she had noticed the change in me all those years earlier. My Mum was heartbroken by how her once exuberant and confident girl had retreated into herself. All those years ago when I felt so abandoned in my sin, my Mum began praying with her best friend for God to give me my confidence back.

Now all these years later, her prayers are being answered. For, my Savior is stripping away my confidence in myself and man that stole, killed and destroyed so much in my life. He is now rebuilding my confidence in Him alone.

What I didn’t know, as I sung this beautiful song as a teenager, with tears streaming:

and with such a deep longing for Jesus to rescue me, is that He was in fact already kneeling down to take me into His arms and carry me home, so close to His heart. He had heard my cry.

And now, I can hear and feel that new heart of His beating inside of me.

All these years later, as I sat singing that same song again, now with tears streaming in deep thankfulness to my God, I noticed something about the lyrics I hadn’t before:

I sing for joy at the work of Your hands … Nothing compares to the Promise I have in you.

I realized that I am the work of my God’s hands and that the very Promise of salvation was beating inside of me even then, all those years ago. For, though my sins of reading pornographic literature and masturbation were grave, my God’s mercy was so much more. While Satan convinced me that my God had now turned away from me for good, I now know my God’s heart was not hardened toward me, as mine was toward Him. No! His heart broke in compassion for His hurting child.

Jesus saw deep into my heart. Just as He did for King David in his sin, He caught my every tear in His bottle – even though those very tears were caused by my sin – and He turned what the enemy meant for evil into good. For, through my Prodigal journey, Jesus answered the deepest longings of my heart that I never realized He had heard me whisper as a little eleven year old.

And what were those longings? Those longings of His heart in me were to truly know His grace, the very meaning of my name Anna, the name my mother was led to give me from the womb:

The final birthday card my Mum penned with her shaking hands, less than two months before she went to be with Jesus, overcoming the evil of brain cancer with the blood of Jesus and her word of testimony.

Yes! In our prodigal wandering our God bottles our every tear. I now know that long before I began to run, He began praying for me. Just as He did for Peter, He interceded for me before His Father that my faith would not fail, and so that when I returned to Him after denying His Name, I could strengthen my brethren with my testimony to His glory and grace.

Just look at the life of Saul turned Paul and you will be reminded of what our God’s mercy is capable of. Oh may that mercy flow richly through us to anoint others to be saved, just as it did through Stephen as he was stoned to death at the direction of the very one whom he poured out God’s mercy upon.

May the persecution and affliction we walk through at the hands of our enemy only testify to the judgment our Savior bore for us that we might now declare not a judgment of condemnation against ourselves or others but a judgment of mercy.

For, God’s judgment toward us is not one of wrath because His wrath has already been satisfied at the Cross:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)

Our God’s judgment toward us is one of mercy because He is a God who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations for those who love Him. Because when we are faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot disown Himself in us. Because our God always finishes what He has begun. And because our God has set eternity in the heart of man to make all things beautiful in His time.

Many years later, I again walked through vicious attacks from the enemy, just as I had as a little girl. But this time, as I stepped out in faith and obedience to my Savior’s call and my own heart failed me, I cried out to Jesus for His heart. And He answered me:

A New Heart

Who you are
Is not all that
You couldn't ever be
It never was
And never ever once
Will be.

Who you are is written
On the palm of My own
True hand
The hand that shaped
And formed you.

Fearfully and wonderfully
Have I made your frame
To hold the very Heart
That bled and died and rose again
To beat within your very own.

I ask not that you hold so tight
I ask not that you strive
I ask not that you try so very hard
To be what beats within you even now.

All I ask is that you
Come
Sit at My feet
Pour all out
That hides behind
That wall of shame.

Cast it out, that it may die
Death to all that holds you
Captive, even now
Not to who you are
But to who those lying tongues
Would have you be.

Rise and shine instead
In all My Light of Grace
That beckons from behind
That wall
No more.

Into My loving arms that wait
To each beat of flowing truth
That girds you now in who
You truly are in Me
Forgiven, held and pure
That’s who You are in Me
And evermore will be.

As I laid each accusation of condemnation before Him, He declared His judgment against me as annulled at the Cross. He asked me to hear and heed the new heart beating inside of me. And that heart declared me:

Forgiven, held and pure
That’s who You are in Me
And evermore will be.

And so, I clasped His hand to depart the old I once believed to be true to enter the new with Him. Now, my faith is no longer in myself or others. It’s in Christ and Christ alone. I now come boldly before the throne of grace in my time of need. I confess my sins freely before God and man. I now lift up my soul to Jesus because I trust Him to save me, moment by moment.

Now, I know that it is precisely my broken heart and crushed spirit that compells my precious Jesus to draw near to me to save me. And so, I cry out to Him, who hears my every cry and bottles my every tear:

Can the prey be taken from the mighty,
    or the captives of a tyrant be rescued?
For thus says the Lord:
“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken,
    and the prey of the tyrant be rescued,
for I will contend with those who contend with you,
    and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:24-25 (ESV)

He heard my mother’s pleas. He saved her child and He’s still doing so daily, as this child of His heart is now learning to lean all her weight upon Him. Praise Him for HIS gracious Words to us. For, they are indeed like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and healing to the body.

Worthy is HE alone of all honor, glory and praise:

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 2: A New Offering

Welcome to Chapter 2‘s Day 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem the LORD spoke to her heart, as she felt like she had nothing left to give. She was judging her circumstances with her human understanding. God invited her to see and embrace His judgment of her situation and to celebrate His refining work in her.

May God speak to you through it too, encouraging your heart in those places you feel you have nothing left to give. May God cleanse each one of our eyes to see what He sees.

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
    and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil. Proverbs 16:6 (ESV)

A New Offering

Oh my heart
So worn, so torn
Emptied of all tears
No more to give.

Kneeling here
At these Your feet
What do I have
To offer You, My Lord.

"My child" I hear
A gentle Voice within
"Here at My feet
You have given all
An offering of poverty
But more than
Ever before.

"Shed here your clothes
Of old
And let me clothe you
In the new
A living Hope
An inheritance imperishable
Now your crown.

"Behold, the new has come
Shed here the old
Arise now in the morning sun
Shining ever brighter
Till the full light of day.

"I have not left you orphaned here
My breath to you I give
To carry, lead and guide
Sending out
My Light and Truth ahead.

"Behold then, open here your eyes
Do you not perceive it?
My way in the wilderness?
My rivers in the desert?

"My righteousness within
I have forged
Behold the jealous fires
Of My love
The dross of all your
Prideful striving
I have consumed
My rivers of peace
To bring.

"Drink of my living water
Let your weary heart
Now rest
On everlasting arms beneath
My grapes to harvest
No longer just in one,
But in each and every season.

"My rivers shall now
Stream freely
Washing all devouring
And destroying tongues
Away.

"My chosen and anointed child
Watch your delight
Now grow, abound
For, My Spirit shall now reveal
A flood of beauty
All your buried desires
I am breaking open
To fulfill.

"Promises of covenant
True and pure
You shall now declare
No longer in trembling
Fear of man
But in trembling awe
Of your Maker
Your Husband and LORD.

"See now my Word of life
Not empty return
But accomplished
In leaves of beauty
And abiding fruit
In the soil
Of My heart for you
Now flourish."

You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not recorded in Your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call; This I know, that God is for me. Psalm 58:9 (AMP)

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” Luke 24: 1-4 (NKJV)

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Day 1: A Tree of Life

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 2‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna invites you to join her as she shares the first free will offering of bronze: a poem that sprung up, as God spoke to her in her bitterness, through multiple losses. She also invites you to join her in a time of prayer and praise and worship.

Proverbs 14:10 (ESV)
The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.

John 12:24 (ESV)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.


A TREE OF LIFE

Guard thy heart
My child
Let not one bitter word
Or thought or deed
Take root and
Thistles reap.

Oh yes
My dear
Pierce it does
Just as My crown of thorns
But even then
Draw near.

Let each thorn
Beckon to you "come"
Pour all out
That not one bitter word
Root where tender
Heart resides.

Come, I'll soothe
And bind and balm
For, this wound
I have inflicted
Is not sent to harm you
But to heal you.

Now bury
Each and every
Blessed seed
No longer
At the feet of man
But in the good soil
Of My heart for you.

And in the dying
Of each seed of wheat
Behold my love and mercy
Turn Your every
Bitter
Into sweet.

See each Promise
You have clung to
Now no longer
Hope deferred remain
But in My death
And resurrection
Bountiful desires
Manifest.

Not eye for eye
And tooth for tooth
But love so strong
Each seed
Be broken, bled
My blood for you

In undeserved mercy
Pouring.

Behold now
In death's shadow
Your idols are no more
For taking up your Cross
To rest in Me
You see by faith
And not by sight
My broken Body
Now made whole.

Behold now
In the dying
To your old
A tree of life
In love
I'm pruning
Now strongly rooting
To overflow
With fruit for food
And leaves
For tender healing.

Grace upon grace
In the fullness
Of My love
For My blessed Body
Watch Me
Every month
A bountiful crop
Now harvest.


Proverbs 13:12-13 (ESV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself,
but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.


Proverbs 11:30 (NASB)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And one who is wise gains souls.



Revelations 22:1-2, 14 (ESV)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son to this earth to carry the judgment our sins deserve. Thank You for refusing to leave our deceitful hearts to their own destructive devices, for sending Your Son to die for us, so that we now have direct access to Your mercy. 

Thank You, that You are no stranger to our hearts and that unlike man, You willingly exchange our bitterness for Your abundant joy, as You turn our hope deferred into desires fulfilled, through the power of Your holy Word.

Father, we invite You now to uncover and break open any bitterness that is lurking in our hearts. Forgive us for resting in our fleshly judgment of our earthly circumstances. Perfect Your power in our weakness now. Help us to let go of our idols, of the judgment of man and of our own fleshly judgment. Help us to embrace Your healing and wholeness, so we can see ourselves and others through the light of Your love, truth and grace. 

Fill us with fresh faith. Cause us to rest in the fulfillment of Your Promises that a tree of life might spring up in us, bearing healing leaves and fresh fruit for food for not just us but the nations of this world.

Thank You for Your soft and tender heart of love and mercy that is so strongly present in us. Help us to bring forward the free will offering of bronze. Help us to joyously surrender our own judgment and the judgment of others to rest in the finished work of the Cross: in the judgment Your holy Son has already borne for us and those You are asking us to surrender into Your hands. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Will you join me now in a time of praise and worship?

Part 2: Chapter 2 – Bronze Judgment

Welcome to Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing an introductory post on the free will offering of bronze, including a prayer she penned together with Bettie and a link to a Michael W. Smith song.

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

The bronze from the wave offering was 70 talents and 2,400 shekels. Exodus 38:29 NIV

The site Bible History tells us:

“The main use for bronze was in the tabernacle furniture within the outer court, in the places where exceptional strength and heat resistance was important. Bronze has a melting point of 1,985 degrees. Since the altar was a place where intense heat was present it was overlaid with bronze.

Ex 27:1-2 You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide–the altar shall be square–and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze. NKJV”

Source: bible-history.com

Interestingly, it was also used for the large brazen reservoir or molten sea, where the water was stored, in which the priests washed their hands and feet. This took over the role of the laver of the tabernacle. “It rested on 12 brazen (bronze) oxen, facing in four groups the four quarters of heaven.” (SEA, THE MOLTEN; SEA, THE BRAZEN, W. Shaw Caldecott).

Bronze is also used in Scripture to refer to what is strong, lasting and enduring:

The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron. Deuteronomy 28:23 

His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult. Daniel 10:6

His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. Revelation 1:15

“Then I will make you to this people

A fortified wall of bronze;

And though they fight against you,

They will not prevail over you;

For I am with you to save you

And deliver you,” declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 15:20

But it is also used to describe man’s stubbornness, pride, idolatry and corruption:

All of them are stubbornly rebellious,

Going about as a talebearer.

They are bronze and iron;

They, all of them, are corrupt.

Jeremiah 6:28

“I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, Isaiah 45:2

Interestingly the old temple, with its strong, brazen sea, bronze furniture and bronze-covered altar, was of course destroyed. Through the power of the Cross our human offerings, that have been corrupted by rebelliousness, stubbornness and idolatry are now also being destroyed. For Christ is now purifying us through the trials we face, that we might bring forward new free will offerings of bronze in Him, offerings unpolluted by the world’s judgment.

In Christ bearing the judgment for our sins, we can now endure the refining fires on this earth. Empowered by the Living Word, rather than turning to idolatry, stubbornness and pride, we now learn, through Christ’s loving discipline, to lay down the judgment of the world for Christ’s. We learn to see ourselves and others through His eyes.

Christ then exchanges our false judgment of situations, self and man, with His pure and unadulterated judgment. As Scripture puts it:

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:14 (KJV)

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5: 21 (ESV)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 8 – 9 (ESV)

And so, contained in the free will offering brought forward by the Israelites was the Promise of the Cross. Now, we can rest in the Promise: “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9, ESV). Praise God!

As you gather here with us for the 7 days of chapter 2 of Part 2, Bettie and I invite you to join us in bringing forward your own free will offerings of bronze through Christ Jesus.  But before we begin let’s pray:

Dear Abba Father,

We confess that we have allowed our hearts to be crushed beneath the weight of this world’s judgment. We confess that there have been times we have gotten so weary, because our sins are ever before us. Forgive us.

Father, we invite you now, and moment by moment, to wash our conscience clean with the water of Your Holy Word that we might see as You see. Renew us with the Life that only Your Holy Spirit can bring to us. 

Father, we praise and thank You that through Your Son You are even now yielding us to the transforming work of Your living Word, so that our minds might be renewed to test and approve what Your will is– Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Thank You that You are empowering us to shed the judgment of this world to receive the pure and unadulterated judgment of Your holy and righteous Son, Jesus. Thank You that You came into this world, not to condemn it, but to seek and save the lost.

We are so hungry for the freedom that only the blood of Your Son Jesus can bring.  Thank You that Your Son has borne the judgment that should have been ours, so that we can now live in the overflow of Your cleansing mercy.  As we walk through the fiery trials You have sent to purify us, thank You that You are shedding our pride, striving and idolatry, that we might rest ever more in Your pure judgment.

As our hearts ache and we become weary, help us to bring forward the free will offerings of bronze in Christ Jesus. Help us to lay before You the Promises that declare that Your Son has borne the judgment for all our sins in the past, present and future.

Set us free, in Your prompting and empowering, to abide in Your pure and unadulterated Word that we may flourish, and bless others to flourish also, in the abundant life that is ours in Christ Jesus.

In the Precious Name of Jesus we come before you now. 

Amen.

May this song overwhelm you in the love and tender mercy of our God. Come let us arise to declare Him LORD of all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Romans 11:33 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip each one of us with everything good that we may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 12:20-21, ESV

Day 1: A Tree of Life

Day 2: A New Offering

Day 3: A New Heart

Day 4: He Will Carry You

Day 5: Trust

Day 6: Heaven is Singing

Day 7: Sovereign

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 7: The Great I AM

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 2‘s Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem as a final free will offering of silver, together with a link to a Scriptural song she sung as a little girl that God continues to bring back to her to encourage her. We, Bettie and Anna, pray that these daily offerings of praise, declaring God’s redemptive power, have been an encouragement to your heart this past week. Even as we have been editing these offerings ourselves, to publish here, God has brought us deeper repentance, freedom and joy also.

The Great I AM

Turn not back in pain
But toward the I AM
He's watching over every step
Before, above, around
His everlasting arms beneath.

Turn not back in despair
But toward the I AM
He's redeeming every piece
Broken to whole at the Cross
His Word a lamp unto our feet.

Turn not back in fear
But toward the I AM
He's lifting every accusation
In the light of His truth
Leading us all to repentance.

Turn not back in shame
But toward the I AM
He's righting every wrong
In thought and deed and word
Wrapping His cloak around us.

For the Son of God came
Not to condemn but save
He's a well of living water
Springing up to eternal life
Come let us drink from -

The Great I AM.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 6: The Thread of Redemption

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 2‘s Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a testimony of God’s redemption in her own life and heart and invites you to join her in prayer at the end. This is an edited version of a blog post she published here on shalomaleh.com at the end of May.

A few years ago, I sat lamenting my past and all the decisions that were made on my behalf as a child that I saw as pushing me down my Prodigal path. In effect, I was blaming my parents for the path my life had taken. But as I began to do so, God began to ask me to look for His thread of redemption weaving through every decision made on my behalf.

I blamed my Dad for choosing to send only me to a non-Christian school and taking me away from my “safe” environment. But God asked me to open my eyes to see what He had gifted me in those years. It’s then I saw the beautiful souls He had had me befriend from multiple nations and multiple faith backgrounds. Jesus taught me so much through these girls, who were so genuine with me and, unlike me, didn’t hide beneath a veneer of self-righteousness. 

Through these girls, I now see Jesus showing me my own need for salvation. For, the sins I saw them fall into, I saw reflected in my own heart. The only difference was that no one but God saw that darkness hiding in me. Jesus was showing me that it’s not Christian environments that are our Savior, but Him alone.

I blamed my parents for the trauma of my childhood. I blamed them for making me feel like Jesus had abandoned me and my little adopted brother, as in their pain, frustration and exhaustion, they began to follow the letter of the law and abandoned the Spirit’s leading in their methods of discipline. But God asked me to open my eyes to see my story through the lens of truth and grace.

Now, I know my parents never forced me to worship them. My parents never forced me to put my trust in them above God. I chose to clothe myself in lies and turn to sin to numb my pain. I now know that Jesus has given me the gift of free will – the free will to choose Him, to be set apart unto Him.

I now know that He so longed for me as a little girl to rest in His love and acceptance. He longed for me to persevere through suffering, by abiding in Him and His Word to me, a Word that did not return void, but reaped the fruit for which it was sent, more than twenty years later.

I now know I have been given the honor and free will to rejoice in the hope of glory that will not put me to shame, as I choose to be set apart according to the purposes of God:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5 (ESV)

I now know that to honor my mother and father was to honor Jesus in them. It was to allow Jesus to set me apart for His purposes. It was to discover that I have the free will to deny myself, take up my Cross and follow Jesus that He might bless each one of us. 

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-37 (ESV)

Jesus showed me that when my parents dedicated me to Him as a baby and when I gave my heart to Him as a four year old, He bound Himself to me. I became His.

My parents and I invited Jesus to become the author and finisher of my faith, in response to our Heavenly Father’s invitation and Christ has shown Himself faithful and still is, daily. Now, I see how Jesus used my parents’, my little brother’s and my own weakness to perfect His power. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV).

God knew my prideful and adulterous heart needed this experience of being set apart, so the branches that were not bearing any fruit could be cut off and burned. Now, through His patient labor of love and mercy, I am embracing the discipline and pruning work God first began in me as a little girl. And I am seeing the fruit of His labor of redemption: His buying back of my life and heart from sin and death.

For, Jesus is turning my mourning into dancing. Through each new setting apart, He is opening my eyes to see by faith and not by sight. Through my experiences of His faithful and never-forsaking love, my heart is learning to trust and obey Jesus. Now, I know that “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).

Yes, forever He will be the Lamb upon the throne:

Dear Abba Father, thank You for the thread of redemption running through our families and the beauty You are bringing from the ashes of our past. Help us not to sit in the ashes of our old life, longing for someone to bring us to You and to make us acceptable in Your sight, when Christ has already made us acceptable in Your sight. Remind us that Christ has given us the power and authority to pick up our mats and walk into the new life You have ordained for us.

Father, forgive us for defining ourselves and others through the eyes of the world. Open our eyes to see Your redemption at work in our lives, to see all the ways You have already been transforming our hearts and minds to look more and more like You, through our setting apart. Open our eyes to the beauty of the unseen: the fruit of the Spirit You have been growing in us, as You have cut off and burned all the branches that were not bearing fruit in our lives.

Help us to embrace the Cross, to honor Your Son’s obedience, as He took upon Himself our sin and our suffering at the Cross, by now taking up our own Cross to follow Jesus. Help us to hear and obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings, to put to death the works of the flesh and to heed Your call to be set apart unto You alone. Teach us to trust You that we might pray without ceasing, even when it hurts. Help us to hear Your call and to continually pour our hearts out before You in the loss and pain. Help us to listen for Your Word to us, that we might be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that by testing we may discern what is Your will and what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Help us not to bow to our idols of pride, self and man, but to recognize the honor You are bestowing on us to fill up in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, the church, as You set us apart that we might be holy, as You are holy. Teach us, moment by moment, to walk in the light of Your truth. Give us undivided hearts that we might fear Your Name above all else.

Open our eyes to the beauty of Your setting apart that You have purposed to destroy our idols and make us truly One in You, just as You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit are One. Thank You that it is You who works in us, both to will and to work for Your good pleasure. Continue to bow our knees in awe of Your majesty and power and glory. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 5: Eternal Redemption

Welcome to Day 5 of Chapter 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a personal story of redemption.

“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.

In the name of Your son Jesus we pray,

Amen