Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 2: Blossoms of Peace in His Time

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering in a testimony 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.

Interestingly, sifting seed involves blowing it up into the air to remove the head (also called chaff) and to have it immediately drop to the ground. And this isn’t a one-time process. As I began to look more closely at this process and the prophecy Jesus spoke over Peter of allowing Satan to sift – or winnow – him like wheat, I began to see the hidden blessing Jesus wanted me to uncover in my own experiences of being sifted like wheat.

I now see how the Holy Spirit has lifted me up into positions of authority, when I, by the grace of God at work in me, have followed the law of God. But then I have become prideful, denying that it was always the grace of God that enabled me to fulfill the law and that He had lifted me up and not me and my goodness. 

I began to see myself as the head and as oh so deserving of all the gifts for “all I have had to suffer through and give up”, turning my back on the greatest gift of all- Jesus and His love for me – compared to whom all else is rubbish. But praise God, He has never allowed me to stay in that position of pride, just as He didn’t allow Peter either.

He has repeatedly humbled me, repeatedly removing the chaff of self, as He has pressed my knees to the ground to die to myself and to sow unto the Spirit. As John 12:24 (ESV) puts it:

Verily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Now, I know that the seed in us is JESUS. It is He, who bowed low on the ground for us in Gethsemane, to drink the cup to take upon Him our sin and affliction, and to die on that Cross to save us. The chaff is our old self. But as Christ humbles us, yielding us to the Father’s will through HIS sacrifice, He cracks open our hardened hearts to lift off the old us (the chaff) to reveal Himself in us (the seed). He leads us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

When I came back to faith, I believed I was called to and could draw others to Christ by my good example. So, God repeatedly invited me into situations that exposed my need for His grace and healing. It’s then, as He had me confess my sins before unbelievers, and they responded with such warmth and compassion, confessing their own weakness and sin also, that I began to see that it is His Spirit in me that is drawing me and others closer and closer to Jesus.

Sadly, after my symptoms of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder disappeared, I glorified my healing, my church friends and the steps I had taken to get to that place of healing. I even began to believe God had called me to show others “how to heal”. So, in His kindness to me, God brought new trauma triggers to bring me to my knees, to expose my desperately deceitful heart and to remind me who my only Savior, Rock and portion is.

It was like He was asking me: “Anna, are you telling me you can teach people how to heal themselves?! How dare you set yourself up as an idol for others to bow before. How dare you glorify yourself and not Me.” Oh how deeply humbling it was for me, as God led me to confess my sins, one after another, and to speak of His love and grace for me in my weakness and need.

But when God called me to leave my church, rescuing me from the spiritual abuse I was experiencing and the resulting division in my heart, I spiraled into shame. I clothed myself in the enemy’s accusations and reverted to fighting back in the flesh. 

I began hiding in self-righteousness, so I could again “belong” to a local church body that I saw as being a necessary component to “belonging” to God. And I sought honor and approval in the world – via jobs – to compensate for the humiliation I felt, in having nothing left to “do” and “prove my worth”, as I began to let go of God’s beautiful Word to me, just as I did as a teenager.

But, God ever so patiently just kept taking me in and out of these places I longed to go. He never took away my free will, but rather, restored it to me so that through my falling down and His catching of me, I would learn to trust Him and seek His leading. Through each new place He took me, He compelled me to surrender my idols, one by one, and to take back my self-control in Him, so I could bring free will offerings before Him. 

Free-will offerings rooted in His love for me, rather than religious sacrifices induced by fear and shame. In giving me what I thought I wanted and needed, He in fact uncovered the true desires of my heart to know Him. 

To know this Jesus who is patient, who is kind. This Jesus who does not envy, who does not boast, who is not proud. This Son of God who does not dishonor others, who is not self-seeking, who is not easily angered, who keeps no record of wrongs. This God who does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. This Messiah who always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. And to know that I can always trust His judgment that is sent to heal me and to reveal His heart of flesh that is beating inside of me even now.

He has patiently yielded me to His good and perfect will, feeding me His pure and unadulterated Word to root me in the truth of His love for me, and to lead me to repentance. And He has showered me in His pride, every time I have humbled myself in obedience beneath His mighty hand.

I remember after God compelled me to leave one employer after only a month, how He woke me up to go downstairs in the middle of the night to pray for my former boss. As I bowed low on the floor to pray, in response to God’s prompting, God’s love, compassion and mercy just began to pour out of me for this man, and I literally felt oil pour out on my head and the hand of Jesus rest upon my head. It was such an incredible experience. 

And yet even then, as I shared about this all with a church-going friend that I wanted to like me, I boasted in my own strength and goodness. I put myself on a pedestal for praying for my enemy: when it was in fact GOD who had brought that surrender in me.

I wanted her to approve of me, and I wanted to belong to her church community, I had started sporadically attending. But God later showed me, that in my desire to belong to that place, I was hiding His beautiful light. I was keeping my mouth shut, when He was calling me to open it wide to declare His Name. I was continually retreating behind a mask of self-righteousness to remain acceptable. In denying His Name and the finished work of the Cross, I caused division in my heart, a division that triggered trauma in me, leading me to speak up and to go and bear fruit that abides.

A few days later I sat bemoaning that employer yet again before unbelieving friends of ours. I was seeking to save face after once again being jobless, when God had only just showered me in honor to show me that I am no victim, but a victor in Christ Jesus, not sent to glorify myself in the world, but Him, in my humility.

I hadn’t learnt the lesson God had wanted to teach me through all of this: Psalm 16:2 “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” Yet, beautifully, one of those present said something that so deeply convicted my heart in response that God led me to repentance through it.

No, there is NOT one ounce of goodness in me apart from God. But that is the beautiful and freeing thing to realize, isn’t it? I can never, in fact, be holy apart from Christ. Oh I still have moments I forget this beautiful truth, as pride rises in me. But praise God He always rises to defend me – to compel me to clothe myself in His holiness that is mine in Christ Jesus, as I bow low in repentance. 

It has always been Jesus yielding me in surrender to His will. Now, I know my Heavenly Papa was not ashamed of me in each breaking, but oh so proud of me for taking up my Cross to follow Him.

For, that is in fact what shines the face of Jesus upon others in their own weakness. Upon those whose hearts have been tilled to receive the truth and grace of God. No, those who long to know Jesus won’t ever find Him in my self-righteousness, in my pedestal living, nor in me puffing myself up in my positions in ministry or the workforce, and striving. They and I will see Jesus most in my repentance: in Christ’s holiness transforming me from glory to glory.

All along, I have always been in the hand of God. And yet sadly, I was constantly seeking church leaders, church friends, various self-help programmes (Christian and non-Christian) and worldly or church standing to “rescue me” and lift away the shame I felt at my weakness and sin being “put on display”. All along Christ was inviting me to become less that He might become more and more visible in me.

I didn’t deep down know in my heart that God has always had me safely in His hand – even all those years I walked as a Prodigal, believing Jesus had abandoned me. Now, I know that all of this humbling was sent to teach me – and others through me – to trust Jesus and to deep down know that He has already walked before us and that He will never ever forsake us.

Praise God, that each place He sent me, He lifted me up to winnow the beautiful golden seeds of His Word in me. Lifting off the chaff of my prideful old self, the heavier seeds of glory dropped into the good soil of His heart for me, to join Christ in His death and resurrection that each one might break open unto new life in God’s beautiful timing. 

I now see the beautiful fruit of repentance He has been growing in me: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I can now see and praise God for the blossoming staff of His leading in my life and heart. 

To the world my life (and my ailing health) looks like a failure, but I now know to God, my “failures” are proof of His workmanship – His labor of love in me. For, each surrender was wrought by His holiness in me, to yield a harvest of peace in me. And the suffering I am bearing in my body, as my heart begins to reveal the impact of the trauma triggers, is proof to me that I am filling up in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. So that I may declare the glory of Him who has called me out of darkness into His glorious light.

Jesus has proven to me that He will never leave or forsake us, but remain with us, lifting off our every fear and our every burden of sin, loss and pain, as He leads us to die to ourself and live unto Him. A living and breathing that causes us to flourish, as we become who He has created us to be.

Our Emmanuel is with us, always. He is our portion, our eternal inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High King. As we delight in Him, may He continue to lift off the chaff of our old self to reveal Himself: the true desires of our heart. May we receive Jesus: the only One worthy of our praise.

Philippians 4:8 KJV Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Celebrate Jesus and Lift the Veil

As you read the Scripture below aloud, what word or phrase lingers? 

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal why it lingers and what God our Father wants us to see, know or do in response to His Word to us.

John 12:24 (KJVVerily, verily I say unto you, unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Now, will you take a moment with me to ask God to search and know our hearts that He may reveal which Promises from His Word are failing to take root in our hearts because we have been placing our faith in something or someone other than Him – and not allowing Him to sow that seed into His steadfast heart of love inside of us.

Part 2: Chapter 3 – Day 7: Sea of Holy Fire

Welcome to Part 2 Chapter 3‘s Day 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem as a final free will offering of gold, looking expectantly toward the eternal perfection that awaits us in Christ Jesus, as He completes what He has begun in us. She also shares the Scriptures that have inspired and form a part of her poem.

He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea. The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.

1 Kings 7: 23-26 (ESV)
SEA OF HOLY FIRE

From North and South
From East and West
We come
Your Temple raised.

Purified in fires we've met
Refined and tested
Your Living Word
Has proved us Yours.

Not in our outward wiping clean
But in mercy's washing clean
In Your blood shed
And Your Body broken

You led us the old to shed
To know You
In Your death
And resurrection.

Purified of Satan's curse
Washed in a cup of wrath
You bore for us
Our hearts awash in mercy.

We ran the race
In Your jealous flames of love
Your liquid gold now pouring
In incense sweet arising.

Our hardened hearts You broke
To flow in mercy
Your Holy flame in trials thick and fast
All dross destroying.

Made in Your image
Temple
Of Your Holy Spirit
Purposed born

We bear Your Name
To lay down our crowns
At these
Your feet.

Harps are playing
Our hearts
And lips
Are singing:

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelations 14:3 (ESV)

And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
    O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
    O King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord,
    and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
    All nations will come
    and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Revelations 14:2-3 (ESV)

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1: 12 (ESV)

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?

Chapter 1: Day 7 – Silent No More

Day 7 of Chapter 1 for Arise & Shine. A poem written by Anna Smit.

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.

Galatians 2:19 (ESV) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God.

The tomb is laden
My soul there lies
Entombed, the law a noose
Around my neck is bound.

The tomb is laden
My heart of stone
Entombed to sins
In shame I've hid.

The tomb is laden
My voice is silenced
Entombed to pain
No man can see.

But Christ my tomb
He saw
But Christ the tomb
He walked toward.

Lain in linen white
His cries my own release
My sin and death He bore
My heart to balm and bind.

In the tomb
My Savior breathes upon this flesh
Now crucified with Him
I AM resurrected strong.

Entombed by flesh no more
I now live by faith
No! Not in my flesh
But in the Son of God arising.

The Son of God
Who loved
And gave Himself
For me.

To the law now dead
No longer a noose
But mercy and faithfulness -
Jesus - around my neck I daily bind.

Watch my Savior
Rise and shine
The Son of God
Has set His Temple free.

For it's no longer
I who live but Christ in me
His Voice for Zion's sake
I shall not keep silent!

Proverbs 31: 18 (ESV) Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Proverbs 3:3 (ESV) Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 (KJV) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.