Part 5: Chapter 2 – Day 1: I Remember You

Welcome to Day 1 of Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward the first free will offering of purple thread (royal compassion). 

Isaiah 49: 14 – 16

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
And the Lord has forgotten me.”
“Can a woman forget her nursing child
And have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.

Dear Traumatized Child,

When you come home to Your Abba Father, you will be so excited. Like the woman at the well, you will run to tell others in your church about the depths of His love for us all. You will see women weeping and you will know they too have just experienced what it is to be seen and known in the depth of their wounding. You will rejoice as they too see that their faces are not covered in the shame of their sin, but radiant in the redeeming love of Christ.

But then, as you step out in faith and go where your Father asks you to, the thorns given you as a gift will at first pierce your resolve. You will share of the piercing with leaders you trust. You will share of the waves of fear and shame that are pursuing your body unto death, but instead of arms reaching out to hold you and truth arising to defend your soul, the thorns will be pressed even deeper still. Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.

In the thorns piercing 

Again and again and again

I remember

My shame.

But it’s then, God’s healing will truly begin to flow. As you join Christ in His suffering, His compassion will overwhelm you, as you see your past through His eyes of mercy for you. This time, you will turn toward your God in trust: you will cry out from your own heart that is failing you and listen for His Voice and His new heart rising from the depths. 

Then, ever so slowly, through His patient teaching, you will learn to stop seeking sanctuary in a building, in religious leaders and in your own perfection and strength. You will learn instead to seek the sanctuary of Jesus Christ: the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

When you cannot stand through the attacks that come, He will hold you and you will watch as He tethers your feet to the ground, as you long to die. Your feet will not be moved, as you watch your very weakness testify to His power, the hope of glory, Christ in you. 

Each day, when the waves return, you will pour out your heart in Laments. You will be overwhelmed by His precious Word to you. Joy and peace will rise from deep within you, thanksgiving and the sound of singing, as He lifts you above the waves, even as you feel them crash and pound your flesh. You will arise in Him to glory in each and every Promise fulfilled. 

But You 

You remember

A covenant new.

You remember

My sin 

No more.

You remember 

Your Son’s blood 

Covering me.

You remember

Grace 

You remember

Your daughter

Adopted, Yours.

Then, as He draws you out and sets you apart for His purposes, you will watch Him lift every accusation against you. He will use every weapon forged against you to perfect and complete you in Himself. He will persuade you to put Your trust in Him alone. For, He will teach You to walk in the light of His truth – His living and abiding Word. A Word that will reveal His undivided heart in you, a heart that fears Him above all else, answering the prayer He gave you to pray so long before.

He will open your mouth to celebrate His authority, His character and His warmth growing within you. Clothing you in His reputation, He will fix your gaze on His face, melting your frozen heart to reveal His heart of compassion there, giving you a Crown of beauty for the ashes of your dross.

You will rediscover the joy of praise and thanksgiving springing up out of your anguish. You will experience the healing power of the Spirit of God arising in you, slaying the accuser of your brethren and freeing you from your sin and pain to love others as Christ first loved you. Held in His nail-scarred hands, you will die to pride and self, becoming as nothing to the world to gain your eternal inheritance, your portion in Christ alone: your All.

It’s then you will begin to taste the freedom of humbling yourself beneath the mighty hand of God. You will daily learn to embrace His grace in your weakness, turning from your sin, as you grow in discretion and discernment, watching Him raise you as His own beloved daughter.

Your knees will bow in awe, as He strengthen your relationships in His holy Word and begins reaping fruit in and through you that you have so longed and prayed for, but all but given up on. And oh how you will experience the peace of being still and knowing that He alone is God.

It’s then as the thorns continue to pierce, you will weep in thanksgiving for a God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. A God who clothed Himself in wrath: who took upon Him the thorns of all our sin and pain. Why? For the joy set before Him: a healed and whole Body of Christ.

So that you and all His beloved, traumatized children would never ever have to bear the weight of these awful thorns. So that these very thorns piercing you would become a gift of healing and redemption through the resurrection life of Christ at work in you, through the living Word of God ever calling you to remember HIM, the joy set before you: a healed and whole Body of Christ. The God who chose you to become His compassion and gift of mercy to an aching world.

One day, you will weep for this one and only God who chose you, even knowing you would harden your heart in sin. Knowing that you would turn away from the very piercing sent to heal you, sent to smash your idols and free you of your chains. 

You will come to see that this God chose you to give you a future and a hope – putting plans into motion not to harm you, but to bless you and His Body. For, through His piercing, He is rewriting your and His Body’s story of sin and death into a story of grace and resurrection life, ever unfolding. 

One day, instead of believing He turned away from His little girl, you will finally see how He turned toward her. You will see how He held you in the nail-scarred palm of His hand all those years that you thought He had abandoned you. 

You will see that He placed you exactly where He wanted you, right where the thorns being sent to hurt you would in His beautiful timing, in His sacrificial blood, redeem you and His Body, as you bow at the foot of the Cross. 

And now 

You’re teaching me 

To remember too

To remember 

You.

To remember 

A crown of thorns piercing

Again and again and again 

To remember 

Love pouring forth

From a Cross.

To remember  

Rejoicing

To remember  

A cloak. 

To remember 

A ring 

To remember 

A table set

In the presence of my enemies 

To remember 

Oil 

Pouring on my head.

To remember

In each and every thorn 

I find more of

You.

My crown of thorns

You wore

You bled and died

To exchange my sin and death

For a crown of life

Beauty

Everlasting.

Beloved traumatized child, rejoice! The pain of those thorns has been lifted. Because of the joy set before Him, His Body healed and whole, Christ died on that Cross to take your crown of thorns upon Himself and to exchange that crown of thorns for a crown of life everlasting!

Much love,

Your Future Self, redeemed, restored and being transformed from glory to glory, by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of your testimony in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 73: 21 – 26 ESV

21 When my heart was grieved

    and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;

    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;

    you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,

    and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?

    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,

    but God is the strength of my heart

    and my portion forever.

Colossians 1:24 (ESV)

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotions, L.B. Cowman, p.388

It is not until a beautiful kernel of corn is buried and broken in the earth by DEATH that its inner heart sprouts, producing hundreds of other seeds or kernels. And so it has always been, down through the history of plants, people, and all of spiritual life—God uses BROKEN THINGS.

Part 5: Chapter 2: Purple Thread – Royal Compassion

Welcome to Part 5‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is introducing us to the freewill offering of purple thread: royal compassion. Join us in the coming days for our personal free will offerings in Christ Jesus, praising Him for His compassion to us.

Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:
6 blue, purple, and scarlet thread;

Exodus 35:5-6

Is it possible to be poured out and yet be more full than before?

Is there a fire that quenches thirsting?

These are questions that have haunted me. The first one was a longing that rested deep in my heart throughout so many years of serving. After giving and giving and serving and serving, I would find myself lying depleted at the feet of Jesus. I let Him pour His heart more deeply into mine, and then I would return to serving.  Inevitably, the cycle would begin again. Fill up, serve, deplete. Fill up, serve, deplete … Something was missing.

And then the fires began. In my joints, in my aching bones, and in my searing soul, the fires brought a thirsting I did not know I was capable of feeling. How long until this dry season would be changed to life giving rain?

Instead of being filled, I was emptied.

Instead of being relieved, the heat became hotter.

And in the middle of the weak and weary days, God spoke a word that felt impossible for me:

20170810_174442-picsay-02

The point was not lost on me. Of course I was and am INsufficient. There is only ONE who can meet that title, and in the listening He  began to uncover more of His all-sufficient grace than I ever dreamed possible.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

He carried me when I thought I could not stand. He kept me resting when I thought the weary rest-less-ness would consume me. And in it all, He brought me to His feet, just to enjoy HIM there. There were no pressures to fill up just so that serving could deplete the storehouse once again.

As my Rheumatoid Disease progressed, and it became apparent that the medications were not bringing remission, and it became apparent that my weaknesses could not be hidden any longer, I heard those questions being asked of me again. HE was asking me,

Is it possible to be poured out and yet be more full than before?

Is there a fire that quenches thirsting?

Along with the questions, He began to stir a prompting for the word Compassion. The Scripture accompanying that word was filled with its own set of questions–questions that the Lord had asked Himself:

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused. Hosea 11:8 NIV

At a time in history when God’s own people had turned away from Him, when He had every right to reject and leave them, His compassions were stirred within Him. I turned to the Commentaries on BibleHub’s site for more thoughts on these verses in Hosea. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary expresses it this way:

Man’s compassions are nothing in comparison with the tender mercies of our God, whose thoughts and ways, in receiving returning sinners, are as much above ours as heaven is above the earth.

and further,

Holy trembling at the word of Christ will draw us to him, not drive us from him, the children tremble, and flee to him. And all that come at the gospel call, shall have a place and a name in the gospel church.

And just what does that compassion of Christ look like? He was rejected and had every right to leave us to ourselves. Yet He looked on us, and His compassions–those same compassions of His Father–were stirred within Him:

He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 

Matthew 9:36 NIV

They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews.

Mark 15:17-18

The Oxford Dictionary says the origin of the word compassion is derived from two words: “suffer with.”  And I began to see a connection between those two words, “sufficient” and “compassion.”  Over these last few years, while feeling the depth of my own weaknesses, Jesus has asked me to be willing to join with Him in the fellowship of His suffering. He began to show me the depth of HIS sufficiency for me last year. He began to work in me the longing to “boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ might rest upon me all the stronger.”

In the midst of that longing I heard a whisper, “Are you willing to be broken for Me, as I was broken for you?”

Can I do that? Can I begin walking down this road of compassion, rejoicing from within my own brokenness? Can I say that I want to taste compassion, knowing that it means to suffer alongside?

Mercy River


Oh Lord Jesus,

In my weakness returned

In my weary o’rwhelmed

I hear my heart crying, NO MORE!

Please can’t I stay here, on the shore?



Oh Jesus You cried,

In this sorrowful cup rejoined

In this painful drink o’rwhelmed

I heard Your lips crying, Take from Me!

Yet Not Your will, bore Father’s freely.



So Come My Lord,

In Your calling returned

In Your way o’rwhelmed

I fall in Your river, MERCY plunging!

In Your arms of Love, Compassion holding.

While I was looking for the answers to those two original questions, He asked me to praise Him with ALL of my inmost being, EVERY cell, even the broken and weak cells.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,  Psalm 103:1-5

The ONE who asks the questions is forever faithful. I can trust Him in these places of mystery, because the ONE who came down from Heaven’s Royalty to suffer alongside of us, is the fire burning within my soul now. 

He is the flame of the Holy Spirit lighting up our night sky, declaring to His broken and weary Body: come and taste of Christ’s compassions, of His tender mercies, of His comfort like no other.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:16-20 (ESV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

I can praise His name with everything within me because it is HIS compassion gifted to me–in me–through the Royal blood of Jesus now pulsing through my veins. It is HIS compassion now freely pouring out of me upon other thirsty hearts and souls through Christ, the hope of glory in me.

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

1 John 1:4-5 

Would you pray with me today?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for showering us with compassion. Before we even understood that we needed it, You met us and prepared the way for us to return to You. 

Forgive us for trying to manage the serving and the giving on our own. Forgive us for looking for relief from the heat of pain in our own ways. 

We come trembling before You now, and acknowledge that we are too weak to find it in ourselves to say “yes” to join You in Your suffering. Oh but thank You for being the all-sufficient One who would carry us into Your own heart of compassion. 

Thank You that Your Royal life-blood covers us, and now flows within our veins. We lift up our praises to You now. Our every cell, even the weak and diseased, cries out to worship Your greatness here. There is NO ONE like You, our great King and Savior.

As we worship You here in our brokenness, let Your light be seen in us. Declare Your compassion in and through us, LORD. Clothe us, Your children, in the royal thread of Jesus. Make us One.

In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 

1 Peter 2:19 – 23 (ESV)

Day 1: I Remember You

Day 2: I Know You

Day 3: I Give You My All

Day 4: We Receive You

Day 5: I See You

Day 6: I Lift Up My Whole Heart

Day 7: I Join You in Your Suffering

Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 5: Here I Am, Send Me

Welcome to Day 5 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony the LORD gifted her through her weakness and need. It testifies to the blossoming staff of Christ’s holiness that leads and comforts us through the valley of the shadow of death, shedding the old for the new, as He calls us into His rest and peace.

Have you ever reflected on the end of Moses’ life? Of God taking him home, rather than allowing him to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land? Recently, I have been doing so. A prophetic Word of encouragement I listened to, caused me to pray for God to humble me and show me what part I have played in His decision to call me out of particular places and break friendships with particular people.

After each breaking, He led me to so much repentance and into more and more healing. But as I prayed this time, I invited Him to help me see the full picture and to help me shift my focus from His protection of me to His love for His church. As I did so, He brought to mind various instances, where rather than directly confronting people He asked me to, I chose to do it “my way”. I walked in fear and pride, rather than in faith and love. I skirted around the issue, rather than confronting it directly.

He also reminded me of how I had clung to my pain, blaming my brothers and sisters in Christ for it, rather than inviting Him to heal the wounds the enemy had inflicted upon me. He showed me how He purposely uncovered and exposed these wounds in me through each fresh attack, not to hurt me, but to heal me: to teach me to see with His eyes and to fight in the Spirit and not in my flesh.

He showed me that in taking me out of each place, just as He did with Moses, when he too became frustrated and angry at those God had sent him to shower His grace upon, He was not just protecting me, but He was also protecting my brothers and sisters in Christ from the unthankfulness and evil present in me. He continually led me out to take His grace deeper in my own heart and to invite me to bring Him my pain, piece by piece, that He might lift it from me, by the power of His Word to me.

As God brought the story of Moses to mind, He reminded me of the verses I had sat praying through at 2am for the day to come. In these verses, I discovered that the “unthankful” are those who have not experienced God’s grace and that the “evil” are those who are “pain-ridden”. As I prayed for those who have been openly hostile toward me (the meaning of enemies), I was convicted of my own open hostility toward others. God returned the Word I was praying over others to me, to draw me deeper into His grace and lift away my pain, in transforming my thoughts and my vision.

Only through the last breaking did I realize that the very thing that has frustrated and angered me most, has also been frustrating and angering my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I pointed the finger, God wanted me to see the log in my own eyes: my own unwillingness to acknowledge the grace He has repeatedly poured out upon me and to bring Him my pain that He might heal my festering wounds.

Interestingly, the day before I had wept in thankfulness for God’s grace for me, as joy filled me to overflowing. And what had I prayed through that morning? A verse that included the Word “joy” that I discovered in this instance, according to the Bible lexicon I consulted, literally meant acknowledging and recognizing God’s grace in our lives.

As I reflected on that once more, my heart was so convicted at my lack of thankfulness for God’s grace in each decision I made to become angry and frustrated at my brothers and sisters. Like Moses, I had fled as a young person. I had run into the desert, after taking matters into my own hands to “save” my brother, and failing miserably.

Moses had murdered a man to take revenge for the harm inflicted upon his brothers in the LORD. I had murdered too – for Christ tells us that anyone harboring hatred in his heart toward another is guilty of murder also. I had harbored hatred toward those spreading false teaching, who I saw as responsible for my parents’ decision to discipline in the flesh, rather than in the Spirit of God, a decision that caused considerable harm to my adopted brother.

And I now realize, by not confessing that hatred when He brought me home to Him, I allowed it to grow and fester, rather than allowing God to free me from it and fill me with His love, in remembering His grace to me. Ironically in my own hatred, frustration and anger, I have been lifting myself up above God and I have been striving in pride, rather than abiding in the Vine: exactly what I have accused others of in their decision to support and spread the false teaching.

Like Moses, I too experienced the depths of God’s grace as He met me in my weakness and sin. As He chose to descend in power into my midst to lead me back home and into His purposes for my life. But also like Moses, I became unthankful and evil, as I chose to do things my way and not God’s.

Like Moses, I never wanted to be God’s mouthpiece. Perhaps, Moses, like me, assumed that his people would struggle to receive someone they saw as being undeserving of God’s favor, someone who had been lifted out of captivity and showered in the riches of God’s grace. And perhaps Moses, like me, was resting too much in his own lack of status amongst his people and his inability to persuade them, when he asked another to speak for him, rather than trusting God to speak through him and perfect His power in Moses’ weakness.

Crazily it is precisely the extravagance of God’s grace poured out upon us in our sin that best equips us to become His missionaries. For, as God’s Word reminds us: “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” But we who know the extravagance of God’s love and mercy – woe to us, when we forget our first love and do not recognise how far we have fallen from God’s grace.

Yes, like Moses, despite God extending me such incredible grace, I chose to have others speak for me and to get frustrated and angry at my brothers and sisters, rather than doing exactly what my God had commanded me to do. It broke my heart reflecting upon that today. But my fresh experience of God’s grace in my discouragement yesterday and remembering the mercy God showed to Moses after he was buried, fills me with hope that God can still make something beautiful of the mess I have made.

Do you recognize yourself in any of my fresh convictions? If so, I invite you to join me in prayer.

Father, thank You that You are slow to anger and rich in mercy toward us. Forgive me for not doing exactly what You asked me to do in the past. Forgive me for leaning into fear and pride, rather than into the arms of Your Son and the faith and love He was waiting to fill me with by the power of His Word to me.

Forgive me for pointing the finger, and choosing not to address the log in my own eyes. Forgive me for not confessing my own sins and pain and not trusting You to speak through me and to perfect Your power in my weakness. Thank You for setting me apart to make me holy as You are holy. Thank You for continuing to pursue me and call me into Your purposes for my life. Thank You for perservering in love and mercy toward me.

Father, Your Word tells us:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Father, I confess my unbelief. I confess that I have not believed that You will reward me for diligently seeking You and Your will. Forgive me for fearing my own lack of status, inability and weakness above Your holy Name. Forgive me for resting in myself, rather than in Jesus and His love for me and the Church. Forgive me for becoming weary of doing good.

Father, here I am, just as I am. Weak, needy and without any standing before my brothers and sisters, but ready for You to use me, mould me and shape me, as I do what You ask of me. I invite You to send me out afresh. But as You do so, help me to stay like a little child before You.

Keep me humble, rooted in Your love and affections. Whenever I turn to the left or to the right, thank You that I will hear a Voice from behind saying: “This is the Way, walk in it.” Embolden me to walk in it.

Cause me to be more in awe of Your power and might than in my own lack of status, weakness and inability that I might do exactly what You ask of me, without waivering in unbelief and pride. Do not allow me to get angry or frustrated at my brothers and sisters, nor to condemn myself and spiral into shame, but continually lead me to repentance that I might abide in You and Your love for me and Your Church.

Continually remind me of Your overwhelming grace toward me that I might turn toward You in my need and receive the grace that You long to pour back out of me onto my brothers and sisters in Christ. Help me to be slow to anger and quick to listen to You and Your Word to me.

Cause me to not just listen but do every Word You speak to me. Cause me to release every accusation of the enemy that I might dwell secure and be at ease, without dread of disaster. That I might love others freely and without expectation because You first loved me and will always love me in that way.

In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Isaiah 6:4-8 (ESV)