Welcome to Arise and Shine: Beloved You are Mine. This is Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place of Part 1: The Bread of Life. You can choose to listen to the introduction (read by Anna Smit) and the opening prayer (read by Bettie Gilbert) in the two recordings below, or read on further below.
Have you ever noticed that God gathers us together in the most unlikely ways? Have you ever noticed that every way He sets us apart is His Way of joining us together in His suffering?
Sometimes, chronic illness or trauma can make us start to believe God has sidelined us, set us aside. It can even make us feel like we don’t truly belong in God’s family, or that we are second-rate citizens somehow. We can believe that God’s beautiful setting apart, the breaking of His Bread of Life, is His rejection of us.
But then God begins to open our eyes. He cups our face in His hands and lifts our eyes up and away from the ground. It’s then we begin to see how He is building His dwelling place in our hearts and our very midst. How He is weaving our lives together with people we never would have met, were it not for the suffering He has invited us to join Him in.
As He lifts our eyes to His, we suddenly see how He has been breaking the box we had tried to put Him in. How He has been leading us out into His yearning world for His good good purposes: to recognize Him and honor Him in those we previously would have ignored, or even condemned in their need.
It’s then we see how our very weakness is becoming the birthing place for new life: in us and in others through us. How He is using our very weakness to gather us together the world over, to restore His broken Body.
We suddenly see how His Spirit is laboring in intercession in and through us. How He is unveiling His goodness and mercy before our very eyes. How He is inviting us to celebrate His holy breath in every child of His He sends us, as we begin to see His Promises alive and kicking in them and through them, in ourselves.
We see how He is causing us, just as He did Peter, to now live out the very Word He had long ago put into our mouths to speak. We see how His humbling in our weakness has been His Way of setting us free to walk in His purposes, unafraid and unashamed.
In the flesh, we see the now: but Jesus sees eternity. All made whole and complete in Him already and He’s always inviting us to come sit up there in the heavenlies with Him to see what He sees. To live by faith and not by sight.
Have you too noticed that it suddenly changes everything to realize that we were busy grieving something God has already restored? And yet it’s in entering into that pain of our setting apart, and finding Him present there, that this new sight comes. It’s as we join Him in His suffering that He catches our every tear and turns our mourning into dancing, at the sound of His Voice.
Oh how easy it is to try and push through the pain, to numb it away, to detach ourselves from it or to sink into it as our just deserves, as bitter tears flow. But right there in the midst of that pain, Jesus is inviting us to come in and sup with Him.
He is not ashamed of us in our weakness. It is His gift to us, that He might unveil His power in us, right there.
Just as He did with Peter, He breaks us apart from those we idolize, in our weakness, not to hurt us or to divide His Body. No, He breaks us apart to build us back up in His pure and unadulterated Word and to unify us all by the power of His Spirit.
For, it’s in our weakness and setting apart from others, we begin to hear Christ calling us into His death and resurrection. It’s then we realize, like Peter, that it is not man or our own ability that gives us the authority to live out and speak the Word God has called us to. It is God and God alone.
It’s then we grow in the confidence of God’s calling upon our lives, releasing the path our lives take into His hands also. Like Peter, as Christ continually asks us to take up our Cross, to face persecution for doing the will of God, Christ enables us to abide in Him and His comfort. He enables us to keep loving and forgiving others, as He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
And in our suffering for doing the will of God, it is such a gift knowing that it is Christ who is performing and completing each good work in and through us. In this freeing knowledge we can begin to rejoice in our sufferings for the sake of others, as we recognize that in our flesh we are filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24). We can praise our God, “who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, ESV).
For, even when the Words we speak and live out appear to fall on deaf ears, we can be assured that God is at work, spreading His fragrance far and wide and taking the Word deeper into our own hearts. Each time He calls us to surrender others into His hands, is a new opportunity to die to ourselves and live unto Christ Jesus and His power to save us and those we love. It is God’s invitation to be cleansed by the Word of truth and grace, as He reminds of His eternal Promises.
As we sit together with Jesus this week and in the weeks to come, may He continue to open our eyes to see and celebrate Him binding us together in love into a dwelling place in which He lives, by the power of His Spirit.
May Christ slow us to savor His beautiful heart in our setting apart for His glorious purposes. May we see His love and mercy flowing freely in this womb of His choosing. In this dark place may we see Him growing new life in us to be birthed in His beautiful timing.
May God help us not to push through the pain we feel, nor to turn away from the pain in shame. May He help us instead to enter into the pain we feel to find Him so very present there. May we see His heart of compassion and mercy growing so strong in us, as His intercession begins to flow freely in and through us, as we enter into His suffering. May we see Him give us beauty for ashes, as He fills us with the faith and trust to believe Him at His Word.
May specific Promises from His Word rise up within us, as the Holy Spirit compels us to bring them forward to Jesus as beautiful freewill offerings, filled with His breath. May each Promise that flows directly from the throne of God, wash over our hearts, cleansing us of all unrighteousness and quickening our hearts to beat in tune to His. May He lift any heavy yoke of responsibility we have taken upon our shoulders, enabling us to die to ourselves and arise afresh in Him.
May we daily arise and shine afresh in Christ Jesus, as He opens our hearts to see and celebrate all the ways in which we “too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). May we recognize each setting apart as His way of building His dwelling place, not through human hands but through the power of His Holy Spirit.
May we continually be reminded of the sovereign hands of our mighty God who holds all together by the power of His mighty Word and breath. May we see the beauty of the path of His choosing for our lives.
May our Abba Father show us that “Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” (Hebrews 9:24, ESV). May we see the power of His loving labor of intercession at work in us and those gathered around us, the world over. May Christ be magnified in our midst.
Dear Holy Father, Precious Son, and Beautiful Spirit,
We bow here before you, awed at the beauty of your plans. You have set before us YOUR ways to bring freedom.
Will you cleanse our hearts and wash away the sin and the dross that we have chosen in place of you? Will you set our vision upon the beauty of You instead of the world? Will you bring YOUR holiness into our offerings?
Transform these offerings into YOUR freedom, and come to us Lord. Will you make your dwelling place in our humbled hearts? WE are YOUR people, and YOU are the ONE we long to worship.
Abba Father, we pray in your Son Jesus’ Name, Amen
Our Invitation to You
Join us here each day this week, at the feet of Jesus, as we add another portion of Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place. Each devotional, prayer and poem we will add here daily is filled with free will offerings Christ invited us to lay at His feet. Now, we invite you to join us, through our sharing here, in bringing your own personal free will offerings before the LORD, through the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us all.
Day 1: Longing for Home (a devotional by Bettie Gilbert)
Day 2: Our Holy Dwelling Place (a poem by Bettie Gilbert).
Day 3: The Unveiling of the Great I Am (a poem & devotional by Anna Smit)
Day 4: A Harvest Breaking (a poem by Anna Smit)
Day 5: At the King’s Table (a devotional & poem by Bettie Gilbert)
Day 6: Growing into Love (a devotional and poem by Anna Smit and artwork by Wendy Simpson)
Day 7: Silent No More (a poem by Anna Smit)