Part 3: Chapter 3 – Day 6: The Song of My Father

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie 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.

Over 20 years ago I had a dream that is still crystal clear in my mind today. In the dream, I was carrying a baby, and walking through a church parking lot. Standing under the awning at the Church’s entrance was an older man who was singing this song:

I will pour on you

the oil of gladness in the morning,

I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.



I will burn off all the dross

Stir up what remains

And I will pour on you

the oil of my joy.

As the man sang, it was the most beautiful voice that I had ever heard, and somehow I knew it was an angel singing God’s own song over me. However, I barely paused to listen and hurried on my way to complete my task. In the dream I returned to the parking lot, still carrying the baby, and as I walked past, the man was still singing the Father’s song over me. And then I awoke.

~~~~~~~~

All these years later, I recognize the voice of my Father calling me to come with Him, to allow Him to pour out His oil over me. He has stilled my busy caring and serving, and I have been brought to a place of rest at His feet.  Yet, even in the resting, the pain and fatigue have threatened to steal every drop of joy that I have known. In the instinctive reaction to physical pain, there are days that my arms are curled into my side, hunching my shoulders and neck into a place of self-protection.

The spasmed fascia in my neck shows how that hunching and curling has contributed to yet more pain. Last week as the physical therapist gave my neck and spine the gentle prodding and stretching that is part of the Myofascial Technique, suddenly I realized my arms were pulling up to my chest as a flaring of Rheumatoid Arthritis pain in my wrists was triggered.  But in that jerking, the Lord of Love brought a release.

“Offer the pain up to Me now,” He invited.  And He reminded me of the word that He has been speaking to me all summer: Incense.

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8 NIV

 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:3-4 NIV

As I thought about the incense and the prayers of the saints, and as I thought about the anointing oil, neither the incense nor the oil was created without pain. The spices for both were ingredients that were scraped, chiseled or gathered from various trees and herbs. They were then crushed, and pounded, and boiled through a distillation process to remove the dross before they were finally pure enough to be used for the proper purposes. (You can read more in Exodus 20 for the Lord’s specific instructions.)

I have become acquainted with crushing and burning and boiling away the dross of my life.

During the time when that dream was first given, I was deeply burdened and interceding for dear ones in a former church. Some of that intercession was never acknowledged, in fact, it was rejected and spurned.  I returned my prayers back to the Father, and found forgiveness for those who had rejected me.  But I never understood that the pain could be offered as a gift also.

I tucked the pain down deep, moved on, and asked God to show me His next steps in my life. But the explanation of the setting for the dream was never fully understood until just this week when these verses came to mind:

 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:22-27 ESV

Truly, those prayers that I carried felt like a kind of labor pain, Holy Spirit birthed praying. And through all those years of serving and praying, I carried those babies–those prayers–close to my heart. It was a natural, instinctive reaction to the pain that I felt.  But the Lord now whispered a gentle invitation to me from within my place of resting here:

Offer that labor pain, that baby, up to Me now, letting My Holy Spirit carry the incense of your prayers to Me fully. Allow My Holy Spirit to carry what you were never meant to hold onto. The pain is too heavy, it will always leave you hunched and curled. But I will pour my oil of joy on you as you release the incense of your prayers and pain.

“Incense”



The prayers of God’s people

rose

The smoke of incense wafted

behind

The Holy of Holies curtained

between



The priest in anointing oil

covered

Entered the curtained room

unveiling

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing.



And the Father sang His song over His people.



As the fragrance of our Savior

wafted

the offering of His pain

became

the prayer that rescued our souls.



His blood shed for me.

His pain borne for mine.



My pain and prayers lifted as

offering

Fragrance wafting with Savior’s

joining

Gift of rescue now

delighting.



And the Father sings His song over His people.



My heart now covered in oil

anointing

Enters into His Holiest Heart

releasing

Cloud of incense fragrance

trailing



The oil of HIS joy is pouring.

And while the Father has been singing His song over me, He has been pulling the pain up from those hunched over places. His oil of joy has been seeping into every hunched and curled place.

Are you acquainted with crushing and pounding and hunching and curling?

Could you hear the Father asking of you the same thing He has been asking of me?

Sing with Me here.  The pain and prayers have always been woven together, and I long to hear your voice singing with mine.

From within my own place of weakness here, I offer His song back to Him now, and I ask Him to bring to you the blessing of His oil of joy flowing over you:

Dear Father,

We come before You now confessing our weaknesses and seeing the dross that has accumulated. We long to lay down the pain that has been too heavy for us to carry. Will You open our hunched and curled arms to lift this incense up to Your Holy Spirit to carry now? Thank You for allowing us to join You in the prayers we have carried. Oh, but thank You that You see the weight that was never meant to stay on our shoulders. Receive the offering of this pain now. We give to You the prayers and the pain alike. Pour the oil of Your joy upon us now, as we rest within Your singing love.

In the precious name of Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

Part 3: Chapter 3: Aaron’s Budding Staff

Welcome to Part 3‘s Chapter 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to Aaron’s budding staff. In the days to come, Anna and Bettie will be adding free will offerings of praise, testifying to the blossoming Word of Life in their hearts and midst, to the bottom of this post.

We read in Numbers 17:10 (ESV): And the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” The budding and blossoming rod was thus placed in the Tabernacle’s tent of meeting – the same tent we shared about in Chapter 2 that was made of goats’ hair, a durable fabric that helped protect the Tabernacle through the long years in the wilderness.

Numbers 17:5 (ESV) speaks of why God made Aaron’s staff to sprout: And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” Some of the Israelites had grumbled about Aaron’s privileged position as a priest and had challenged Moses’ God-given authority.

Anna invites you to join her, as she shares of how God opened her own eyes to see life blossoming, where she least expected it, as the Holy Spirit prompted her to stop pleading in unbelief and to instead start praising Him in the fresh faith He filled her with, as she turned her face toward Him.

When I, the returned Prodigal, first began praying for my own loved ones to come to faith, I prayed in the flesh. I prayed from a place of unbelief, rooted in pride and self. And yet, even in that place, God saw my true desire to know Him in His death and resurrection. 

He honored the tiny mustard seeds of faith – the Word He had fed me since I was a little girl- that lay buried and dormant in my heart. He took them and broke them open unto life. 

Each seed began to unfurl and flourish and bloom, by the power of the Holy Spirit that He poured out upon me, as I sat at His feet. Physically, at first, nothing changed, but spiritually: everything. For, my heart awakened, quickening to the touch of the Holy Spirit. 

As I began to pray, rather than compelling me to plead for my loved ones’ rescue, the Holy Spirit compelled me to arise in thanksgiving and praise. He placed one Promise from God’s Holy Word after another before my eyes and invited me to take His hand and walk into the truth of my loved ones’ salvation in Christ Jesus. And then, He commanded me to look for proof of His Presence at work in them. 

I was astounded to find Him so very present, where I had deemed Him absent. He led me to so much repentance, as I gloried in His power and grace. 

Psalm 105:3 (ESV) Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Through it all, it was as if He was asking me afresh, what He had asked me, right at the start of my walk with Him: “Who do you say that I am, Anna?”

And as He did this, I continually found myself weeping before Him. Why? Because as I lifted up those Promises before Him, I was not just affirming my loved ones’ salvation, I was affirming my own salvation and redemption in the LORD. 

I was shedding my own unbelief, rooted in pride and idolatry. I was taking off the accusations of condemnation I had allowed the enemy to clothe me in, to instead put on my breastplate of righteousness and belonging in Christ. 

I was deflecting the darts of the enemy, as I picked up the shield of faith to declare every human rejection for doing the will of my Heavenly Father, as Christ’s choosing of me to be conformed unto His likeness and to pour out the love and comfort He was pouring into me, out upon others.

I was shaking off the dust of every place that did not receive Jesus in me and putting on the shoes of peace to walk into the knowledge of God’s completion of the good work He had begun in them and in me in that place. 

I was laying down the works of the flesh and picking up the sword of truth to speak the Word of completion and wholeness into situations of incompletion and brokenness.

I was putting on my helmet of salvation, as I woke up daily to study and listen to the Word of God, to find God returning the Word to me, when prideful or selfish thoughts threatened to consume me. Instead, I found Christ consuming the dross in me, as each testing I faced proved the gold of His Presence and love in me. Not me, but He tied His belt of faithfulness and truth around my waist, declaring me His.

I found myself recognizing and laying down the thoughts the enemy was feeding me, to instead exercise the mind of Christ. I began praising God for His good and perfect judgments in my life, even where these judgments were causing me deep pain, as the Holy Spirit lifted me up above the frey. The eyes of my heart began to open to receive the beautiful and salty grains of truth Christ was gifting me through my loved ones.

And now, I know that Christ has been interceding in me, not just for others, but for me too. For, through it all, God has been purifying and cleansing my own heart, as I have prayed for and spoken the Word of God over others. He has been busy making His home in my own heart, humbling me to receive the Word I have prayed over others in my own heart.

What I saw as God’s withholding as a child, I am now beginning to receive as His gift to me. When everything looks like it is falling apart, as we pray –  trust me: it is. But only ever so that it can all fall back into alignment, according to the will of the Father in Christ Jesus, in whom every Promise is Yes and Amen

Yes, through prayer, Christ is inviting us to let go of our worldly peace to receive His peace that passes all understanding. He is inviting us to let Him take off our masks of self-righteousness, that He might reveal the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in His face.

He is inviting us to let Him break open our hearts hardened by sin and rebellion to restore our faith in Him. He is holding out His new heart of flesh to us that we might hear, see and receive Him in those He has set before us: including our Prodigal loved ones.

Truly, truly, when I was young, I used to dress myself and walk wherever I wanted, but now that I am older, I am stretching out my hands, and Jesus is dressing me and carrying me where I do not want to go. And yet as I am ending up where I would never have chosen to go of my own accord, I am tasting a love, joy and peace beyond measure in the arms of Jesus.

He truly is giving me a double portion, as I, His prisoner of hope, am returning to Him: my only true stronghold and mighty deliverer.

I believe, when Aaron’s staff budded, it did so, not to declare Aaron’s superiority above those who were jealous of his setting apart. No, it did so to silence the accusations of the enemy against the elect of God and to remind Aaron’s brothers and sisters that no one comes to the Father, except through Christ – the living and breathing Word of God who sets each one of us apart according to His purposes. For, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8:33, ESV).

Aaron’s and Moses’ holiness became visible, not just in the budding staff, but also in the incense Moses called Aaron to burn before the LORD amongst his dying people. As he burnt that incense, it brought a halt to the plague killing his rebellious brothers and sisters in the LORD. Faith was rewarded in their obedience to the LORD’s direction, as His rod and staff comforted them in the valley of the shadow of death.

But it was never Aaron’s and Moses’ own perfecting work that halted that plague. As Moses said in Numbers 16:28 (ESV) “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.  It was the Holy Word sprouting in them, as the Word accomplished what He was sent to do. For, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away (2 Corinthians 3:16, ESV) to reveal Jesus and His holiness in our midst.

Jeremiah 1:11-12 (ESV) And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

Isaiah 11:1-5 (ESV) There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Day 1: He Gives Us More Grace

Day 2: Blossoms of Peace in His Time

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 4: Pressed, Shaken, Poured

Welcome to Day 4 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our fourth free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a poem that testifies to the power of Christ’s intercession through His Body.

As she put the finishing touches to it, her praying sisters affirmed God’s Word afresh in the emails that began pouring in and in the warmth of the Spirit pouring out upon her. May you too feel that warmth of the Holy Spirit pouring out upon you as you read this free will offering today. May God assure you, in whatever you are facing, that you are NEVER alone. May His Spirit continually affirm His Presence with you and His Promise to you that you can never ever be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

You can also listen to today’s post in the recording below.

Isaiah 61:11 (AMP) For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will [most certainly] cause righteousness and justice and praise
To spring up before all the nations [through the power of His word].

PRESSED, SHAKEN, POURED

Oh how it stings
Reflections
Of Your searching
And knowing
In the mirror
I behold
A hardened heart
Bitterness
And unbelief
Sowing.

A storm begins to rage
Which way to turn
A heart divided
In the fear of man
And yet I still
Crave stillness
Still
In My Prince
Of Peace.

Torn every which way
I finally turn
Toward My Prince
To find
His prayers
As incense lifted
My groanings
In a fellowship
Of faith
A Voice is given.

"Blessed is she
Who is not offended
On account of Me,"
I hear Your Voice crying
"For, blessed are
The peacemakers
Those who mourn
The poor in spirit
The contrite
And pure in heart
For, they shall see
Me.

"Sow no longer
To the wind
Reap no longer
A whirlwind of thistles
But join Me now
In My death
And resurrection
Sowing unto peace
A harvest
Of righteousness
In My Spirit
Reaping."

Miles apart
And yet in Spirit One
I now reap
Not what I have
Sown
But what my sisters
In Christ
Have sown
In prayer.

A tent of goats' hair
In wisdom they have spun
My journey
Through the wilderness of sin
In steadfast mercy
Ever covering.

Christ's cursed sin offering
In their bowing knees
Is lifted high
A Voice
Into my wilderness
Now crying.

In Your searching
And knowing, my God
I now see
No longer my sin and pain
But Your loving face
Reflected
Silver pure.

For, this shaking
And pressing
I now know
Is Your steadfast love
Your mercies
New every morning
Shaking and pressing
To lift my chaff of self
To harvest
The Son of God.

For, as You shake
And as You press
My hardened heart
Is broken open
Your gold
Revealing.

Pressed, shaken and poured
Your righteousness
It runneth over
In abundant oil
On my head
In mercy flowing
My mind transforming
Your Word
A lamp
Unto my feet
In flaming oil
Now glowing.

Hemmed in
By thistles
I have met
Your grace
A wide open
Spacious place
In Your face
I AM
Gracing.

My cup
Now runneth over
In the presence
Of my enemies
Your heavenly
Presence
Has set a table for me
In prayers of mercy
Here rising.

Yes! Your goodness
And mercy
Shall follow me
All the days of my life
I'm back home
In the house of My LORD.

Your headship
My chaff has lifted
My idols
And sin are bowing
In the power
Of Your Love
A love that covers over

A multitude of sins.

Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 2: In the Hollow of His Hands

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our second free will offering of goats’ hair in a testimony to God’s faithfulness in our faithlessness.

When my parents decided to return to New Zealand, after almost six years as missionaries and church planters in Germany, it meant saying goodbye to the only place I could remember as home. On the eve of our departure, my elementary teacher gave me a goodbye present. A heart-shaped book, composed of threaded pages full of poems, messages, photos and drawings. 

Each classmate had created one page, but the page that is now engraved upon my memory, is my teacher’s. On her page there was a sketch of huge hands, palms wide open, holding a little sparrow.

That first year in New Zealand, I felt so out of place, with my strange accent and different way of speaking and doing things. Seeing my parents struggling with so much too, I shared very little with them, trying hard not to become an added burden to them. But God saw my need and gave me a new friend, who loved the LORD with childlike fervor.

What did her name mean?

Twin

Her name was a derivative of Thomas, a name which “appears to be related to the Greek noun τομη (tome), meaning a cutting or cleaving, which in turn comes from the verb τεμνω (temno), meaning to cut or cleave.” (Source: https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Thomas.html#.X7x7Hjm0s0M).

It’s only now I see how, just as with the disciple Thomas, God was inviting me to touch the holes in His hands and feet. For, He wanted me to realize that the moment I had responded to the Father’s call to repentance as a little girl, He had bound Himself to me.

The holes in His hands and feet are evidence that (Isaiah 49:16, ESV): “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” On that Cross, Christ restored the breach in my walls of salvation. He became my cursed sin offering, bearing the penalty I should have borne, to atone for all my sins: past, present and future.

Although she only stayed for a year, God invited me through this friend to touch His nail-pierced hands and wounded side, to remember that His power is perfected in our weakness. Now, looking back, I can do so.

As a preteen, however, I agreed with the enemy’s accusations against me in my sin, and the more I did so, the more I hid and the more I was bathed in feelings of shame and unworthiness. I had faced rejection from those I loved and trusted most in speaking up for someone who couldn’t speak up for himself, and the enemy used this to feed me accusations of God’s abandonment that I, in my fear of man above God, readily agreed to. But into all this, God gave me a new friend. This friend openly shared her weakness with me and God’s nearness to her in it all, inviting me into a deeper walk with God.

I remember my hunger and thirst for God growing. I remember moments of worship, where the Spirit of God descended powerfully, overwhelming me in kindness, gentle conviction and stunning grace. I remember the joy of my baptism at 12 years old. But I also remember the humiliation and sting of rejection I felt, as I saw the response of someone I deeply respected to the Holy Spirit’s anointing upon me and my open confession of sin and weakness.

I remember slowly retreating from God’s desire to draw me near, becoming fearful of the cost of the Holy Spirit’s anointing. I did not recognize the honor He was seeking to bestow on me, in my setting apart, as He called me to bow my knees in humilty, in the confidence of His love for me. Instead I chose to fear man’s rejection of me above my holy God, turning my back on the greatest gift of all. I remember beginning to numb my pain by retreating from those around me, spending hours with my nose behind books.

Then, several years later, I remember the terror that filled me as I committed the sin of masturbation, a sin I was too scared and too ashamed to confess to anyone. It’s then, as I listened to the enemy’s accusations against me more and more, I began to believe I was irredeemable and that God had rejected me for good.

I believe God gifted me that dear friend, who openly boasted in her weakness, to sing His truth over me. When I look back, I see His faithfulness to me in my faithlessness and His desire to uproot my confidence in myself and in the love and approval of man, to reroot me in His love and approval alone.

My new friend is now proof of God’s compassion and mercy to me. Her presence in my life reminds me that God’s mercies are new every morning. Now, I know that in my struggle to come to Him, I can cry out to my LORD to save me – again and again- and that He always will. For, He perfects His power in weakness.

What did my new friend’s name mean?

God is an oath.

Years later, we moved towns and my father decided to send me to a non-Christian high school. Arriving in the second year at a huge city school, after four years at a little country Christian school, then still accompanied by my five brothers and sisters, and now alone, had me feeling insecure and out of place. But even there God continued to sing His truth over me. A classmate welcomed me into her little group of friends.

What was the meaning of her name?

Bold kin or family.

God was reminding me that He is our Abba Father who boldly welcomes outsiders into His outstretched arms.

Months before this major transition and move, God also gave me another friend who would become my very best friend, and still is one of my two best friends today. Amazingly, our new home ended up being only a 5 minute bike-ride away from hers. She became one of our family and I became one of hers.

When I look back, I see God’s faithfulness to me in her friendship so much. She (and later her husband and children) never stopped loving me, welcoming me into their life and praying for me (and my family) through my long Prodigal journey home. 

Oh don’t get me wrong, she grieved behind closed doors and her heart struggled to understand the path I was on, but she stood by me, being God’s faithfulness to me in my unfaithfulness.

What are the meanings of my best friend’s first and middle names?

Little rock and God is an oath

And what was the meaning of my elementary teacher’s name all those years earlier?

Downey one.

This is a reference to goats’ hair, a material that was once upon a time woven to make the curtains of the tabernacle furnishings. A durable fabric, designed to sustain the frequent moves of the tabernacle through the wilderness. And here again, God’s hand is so beautifully present through my teacher.

In Exodus 35:26 we hear that: “all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats’ hair.” I wouldn’t be surprised if the Holy Spirit had stirred my teacher’s heart up to draw those hands with the sparrow all those years before. 

For, it’s almost as if she was spinning goats’ hair to cover and hide me with Christ, on the eve of my departure into the wilderness. For, even through all those years of unbelief, God never ever took His Holy Spirit from me. He became the cursed sin offering on the Cross for me and my faithfulness in my faithlessness. And each friend who welcomed me into her midst is now physical proof to me that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

For, Christ was the hand of sufficient grace in my weakness. He was the hand of compassion, when I turned away in fear and shame. He was the hand of family, my bold kin who claimed me as His no matter where I went. He was the hand of truth, a rock and anchor for my slipping feet, even when I could not see Him. 

And He was the One who gave me eyes of faith to see and behold Him for who He truly is, in His perfect timing, when He had set me exactly where He wanted me, according to His purposes for my life. He has turned and still is turning the enemy’s attacks against me into good.

Now, as I look back, I can remember how He in fact never ever stopped praying through me. For, even as I stopped praying for myself, believing myself irredeemable, I kept praying for others around me – seeing them as worthy of God’s love and grace. 

Now, I know that all who call upon the Name of the LORD are saved, because we are all worthy of God’s love and grace. Not because we deserve it, but because the blood of Jesus does, the blood that was shed to hide us in the righteousness of God. “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) Yes! Our sinless Jesus “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25) and “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV).

And what was the name my parents gave me?

Anna Louise.

These names mean grace and famous warrior. Now, I know that grace and famous warrior is Jesus. For, it’s no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.

Just as Peter, I have discovered that the name Jesus gave me reflects how God desires to build His church. Not by our might, nor by our power, but only ever by the Spirit of the LORD whose power is made perfect in our weakness. 

I believe Peter was called the rock because the moment Peter decided to follow Jesus, Simon (meaning “has heard”) died and Jesus – the Rock – arose in him, in response to him hearing the call of his Heavenly Father. And the gates of hell could never prevail against that. Just as they cannot prevail against any child of God’s.

For in giving our hearts to Jesus, we have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3). And “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, ESV).

Shortly after our move to Germany. My mother and I, the year I gave my life to Jesus.

I now see how God never stops singing the truth over us in every little detail of our life. Through every heartache, loss and trial He reminds us that, just as His eye is upon the tiniest of sparrows, His eye remains on us too. He never leaves or forsakes us. For, all Promises are yes and Amen in Christ Jesus.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2 KJV)

Celebrate Jesus

Come, let’s celebrate the life of Jesus at work in us and our loved ones. Those huge hands, palms wide open, holding that tiny sparrow are His promise to each one of us.

That He sees us and knows us. That He hems us in, from behind and before. That He lays His hand upon us (Psalm 139:5). That wherever we go, His hand guides us and His right hand holds us fast (Psalm 139:9-10). That no one can ever snatch us out of His mighty hand (John 10:29, Isaiah 43:13).

Isaiah 57:15 (ESV) tells us:

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Are there gifts the LORD longs for you to receive in the meaning of place names or the names of people on your and your loved ones’ life journeys thus far? Is He longing to comfort Your heart, as you see His hand in the tiniest of details?

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.

Isaiah 45:5-6 “I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is no other.

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 7: Sunrise in Vietnam

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing our final free will offering of incense that she penned in 2016. It is a powerful story of Christ’s intercession at work in her, taking us all on a journey into the heart of God for the beautiful people living in Vietnam.

We pray that your hearts are being so encouraged to continue pressing into Jesus, to see His incense rise in intercession in and through you. Our own hearts are being so encouraged also in sharing old and new testimonies. May praise and worship rise in each one of our hearts and be on our lips as we bow in awe of our mighty God who always lives to make intercession for each one of His children, who never leave His safe hand. May we recognize His face and Presence waiting to be uncovered in those He sets before us and moves us to intercede for.

How did I get to be in that incredible place?  And why am I telling this story now, in the middle of this RA/Fibromyalgia Season of re-learning my place?

Another word-sharing-session with my counselor brought me to the place of remembering.  I told her that I still wanted to be up and doing and walking away my anxieties. I am not finding the PEACE here that I thought I should have attained by now.  So my Counselor asked if I could take a walk through the memory hall of my mind.  The same emotions that were triggered during the actual pleasant times can be triggered again, proven by studies, simply when we remember those times.

Shortly after she proposed a time of remembering, a new Blog-Friend of mine found out that I had taken a God-Planned-Adventure to Vietnam, and she stirred up these very memories when she shared her own Adventures.  Thank you Valerie, at gracewithsilk  for asking to hear about my story!  So today I am walking over the land that a healthier and stronger me was allowed to witness.

I was probably 17 or 18 years old when I had a vision while I was praying. I saw myself in an Asian Village, being so thankful to share in a love that was God-given.  I assumed I would be a Missionary. But my life took a different turn, and decades later, as a stay-at-home Mom, I found myself wrapped up in the story of my Pastor and his Wife, trying to adopt a baby from Cambodia. 

I prayed and agonized with them through a very long and difficult adoption process.  When they returned with their beautiful baby boy, I sat amazed by the pictures in their slideshow.  It looked like the Asian Village in my vision from so long ago.  Tears rolled down my face, as I felt the Lord say that I had been in that village with them through my praying.  Ahh beautiful, I thought.  Now I know why I had that vision. End of Story.

But God’s endings are not the same as ours.  Another decade later, and this time our oldest son took a trip to Vietnam with his new friend.  We didn’t know that a possible marriage with his friend’s sister was in the itinerary.  But again, Jesus finds ways to let a Mama know how to pray.  On the very night of the marriage, half-way around the world, my heart was burdened to pray for my children’s spouses, with an urgency like never before.  So when our son came home and asked us to pray with him so that his new wife could get a VISA to come to America, my heart had already been prepared.

Sunrise over a small village in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

Years of praying, and crying, and waiting were finally answered in the spring of 2011, when her VISA was approved.  When we finally met our new daughter-in-law, loving her was easy because my heart had been captivated before she ever set foot in America.

So when she asked me to go with her back to Vietnam for a Family Reunion Party later that fall, I thought my heart would burst.

Breakfast time in Vietnam means noodle soup (not cereal) and tea (not coffee.)
A trip to the market across the street from the family’s house happened daily. Even when I thought I would lose my way, my daughter-in-law held my hand and treated me with honor, so that I knew I was in the safest place I could be.
This Grandma, (51 at the time,) managed to stumble into the flat-bottomed boat for a ride down the river. When God calls out the Adventure, we never know where He will lead us.  As a 17 year old, looking for a future of purpose, I thought I knew what LOVE looked like.  I thought I would be the one teaching those around me what God’s Love looks like.  But HE is the teacher, and HE knows how to plan the future that will bring about HIS Beauty in every place HE leads us.
Sometimes Beauty looks like a small table, child-sized by American standards, set with simple fruit, prepared by the hands of a family that speak a language you cannot understand, opening their hearts for LOVE to be shared.

My journeys now feel large when I can take a day-trip involving a 3 or 4 hour car ride.  But my times for Adventure are not finished.  When I let Jesus plan my journey, whether through chronic illness or healthy travels, HE will set my feet in the good place of HIS choosing: Finding BEAUTY and LOVE each step of the way.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 3:20-21

First published at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2016/05/18/sunrise-in-vietnam/

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Day 6: All For Love

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a free will offering of incense in a testimony of God’s sufficiency in our intercession in Him, Scriptures and a poem of praise and worship.

May you be blessed in the encouragement and comfort Bettie brings us all in Christ Jesus. Come join us tomorrow for another post from Bettie: a powerful story of answered prayers, taking us all on a journey to the beautiful country and people of Vietnam.

If you feel so led, will you join me in lifting Bettie and her family up in prayer this weekend as she and her husband move in with their daughter and her family. They are saying goodbye to their home of many years to welcome God’s sufficiency for them in this new phase of ongoing surrender, as her husband’s health and hers continues to deteriorate. May God fill us with His precious Word to pray over Bettie and all those He calls us to intercede for in His Name.

The day started out slowly, like most of my days, but I felt Jesus with me. As He had been speaking more words about surrender, I felt that I was listening this time and preparing for what He would take me through. This waiting time to find a medication that would bring the RA back down from an inflamed state felt like it was taking too long for my own time-table. So, I continued to ask Him to uncover more of my own desires for self-sufficiency that still lingered within. As I had been asking my friends for prayer, I thought that I was on the road to acceptance.

Until another small set-back pushed me over the edge, and the tears spilled out.

Many years ago, the Lord took me through a long season of intercession for several friends and family members.  It was a time of deep stretching.  And it became my first lesson in learning that only God’s Grace is sufficient.  The burdens became too heavy for me to carry on my own. I knew that the prayers themselves were being birthed in the Spirit, as words and Scriptures would flood my mind.

Then many years after that, the Lord opened a way for this small town Midwestern girl to travel with my new Vietnamese daughter-in-law by ourselves to Vietnam for a 3 week visit with her family. She had only been in the US for 7 months herself, and I had never been out of the country.  I knew I was in over my head.  I knew that God’s Grace would have to be my sufficiency.

In those seasons, the night-times were places where Jesus often called prayers up from the deepest places of my heart.  Pages and pages of old journals document the hard and the sweet words He spoke through my prayers.  Prophetic and surprising, so many of those prayers were answered in just the way God had asked me to pray.

So when I cried at the self-sufficiency being taken away in this season of Chronic Illness, the Holy Whisper of God surprised me:

This is not a foreign place for you, my daughter. I have prepared you for these days already. You have learned that my Grace is sufficient in every place of prayer. Am I not sufficient for you here?

And suddenly I was whisked back in time, remembering those days . . .

“All For Love”


The words gushed out of my heart

But

The groans and the tears

Fell

On the floor at my feet.



Intercession swirled over my head

And

The pain that another felt

Hurt

My heart like my own



God brought the questions

And

Then God sent His Word

To

Pray the answers



How could I explain the prayers

That

Poured from my belly

And

The longing for which I waited



They are The Apple of Your Eye

Lord

They are The Dearly Loved Ones

For

Whom You spilled Your blood



Months passed and years plodded

On

The prayers kept pouring forth

From

My soul where I carried grief



Bitter turned to sweet!

Prayers found fullness!

Intercession fulfilled!



Even as my singing heart rejoiced

And

Even as the weight was lifted

Yet

A pin had pricked my soul



A bleeding kept pouring forth

From

A hidden chamber in my heart

As

A question lodged still remained



You saw it all my Lord Jesus Christ

And

You carried all those weights

When

I thought I would die underneath



Yours is the only heart fully able

To

Be the true intercessor for us all

Who

Carries the hardest-hearted-sinner



But You ask us to join you there

To

Crawl up into Your lap of love

While

We speak the same words You speak



You want to show us the beauty

That

Only Love Eyes can look upon

And

Only Love spilled out can win



They are the ones

We are the ones

Oh!

I am the one

The apple of Your eye



“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye,” Deuteronomy 32:10 NIV

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 NIV

When we see the cross set before us, we look upon the One who shed His own dear blood, and we wonder how. We wonder why.  When all the answers are filled up in only one word: His love led Him there. He took JOY to redeem us back to the heart of His Father.

Have you let Him show you the love He carries for you?

Do you know that you are the apple of His eye?

Dear Lord Jesus,

We do come before you, falling to our knees. How could you have loved us so? We know that we are so hard-hearted, and we must admit that we are filled with our own self-sufficiency. Some days we are so proud of that sufficiency.

Oh, Lord, forgive us for all these ways that we turn away from You. And yet You still love us and call us back to Yourself.

Will you give us glimpses of the depth of Your love? Will you wash away more of our places of pride? And will You fill us with the immeasurable love that only You can bring?

We need You so much. We long to be with you Jesus. We praise You for Your beauty and Glory.

In Your precious name we pray, Amen.

First published at: https://bettiegsraseasons.com/2018/03/26/all-for-love/

Part 3: Chapter 1 – Incense

Welcome to Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is introducing us to the free will offering of incense – spices brought forward by the people and a grinding and perfuming process completed by the High Priest.

Offering surrendered:

-Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord:

spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense;  Exodus 35:5,8

-And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. Exodus 30:7-8

Promise Given:    

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. Revelation 5:8

The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Revelation 8:4

The aroma has become so familiar to me that even one whiff will set my mind in the direction of evening time, and resting. In fact, my husband has become acquainted with that aroma, even though he himself does not use the fragrance.  It is the fragrance of the oil that I massage into my diseased joints, night after night: the pure oil of Frankincense.  Recommended by many who are familiar with the healing properties of essential oils, Frankincense has many benefits, both by documented sources and oral traditions.

But did you know that Frankincense has another kind of history? Why did the Magi bring that specific gift to the infant Christ? And how were the Ancient Hebrews so familiar with that fragrance?

We first hear of Frankincense and its appointment in the 30th chapter of Exodus, as the building of the Tabernacle and its appointments are being directed by the Lord.  A special altar set aside for offering incense to the Lord was described, as well as the special ingredients for the making of the incense offered there.  Frankincense, with its Hebrew meaning closely associated with the Hebrew word for the color white, was an aromatic resin to be combined with other highly fragrant plants and resins, for a special combination of odors to be offered continually before the Lord.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha and galbanum—and pure frankincense, all in equal amounts, and make a fragrant blend of incense, the work of a perfumer. It is to be salted and pure and sacred. Grind some of it to powder and place it in front of the Ark of the Covenant law in the tent of meeting, where I will meet with you. It shall be most holy to you. Do not make any incense with this formula for yourselves; consider it holy to the LORD.’” Exodus 30:34-37

Holy, set apart, consecrated for the Lord’s service only, this combination was recognized as something not to be taken lightly, something that signified the Presence of the LORD in their midst.  And, yet, when a small baby was born in the tiny village of Bethlehem, ancient scholars, traveling to witness a prophecy being fulfilled before their eyes, gave three very special gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  They were acknowledging the presence of Royalty, and the presence of the Most High God in their midst.  Jesus, the Son of God, dwelling here in the world of men.

Fast forward a few decades, and Jesus’ disciple, the one who was called “The Beloved of the Lord” gave us another picture of the sweet fragrance of the incense. This time, in his vision of the actual Heavenly Temple and the Lamb of God upon His throne, John was told how we, the people of God have a place before our Lord’s throne:

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” Revelation 5:8

The color white

Pure and sweet

A fragrant offering lifted up

As the smoke of the Incense

Rose before my LORD.


The Frankincense

Of the Lord’s Incense

Set apart as Holy, consecrated

Expression of Worship

Rose before my LORD.


The Christ Child

Sent to dwell below

With the people of this world

Expression of Royalty

Rising before the LORD.


The Christ Gift

Given so pure

For the sins of us so dark

A Sweet Smelling Sacrifice

Rising before the LORD


Beautiful Jesus!

Deep calls unto Deep


My wounded Life

Broken, Despised

He now covers with His own

Pure Fragrance

Rising before the LORD


Worship so pure

Prayers set free

He is calling from my heart

As a new Incense

Rising before HIS Throne.

Will you join Anna and I in prayer today?

Dear Father,

Thank You that Your Holy Spirit carries every prayer of Your Son in us – our Great High Priest, who was crushed for our iniquities – before Your holy throne.  Thank You that Your Son holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Thank You that, he is therefore able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to You through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

We bow before You now, as we acknowledge that there is none like You, the Only God who listens and hears His people when they cry.  May our voices be sweet to Your ears, and may our praises be glorious before You now. In the name of Your precious Son Jesus we pray. Amen.

And we welcome you to join us in the coming days for our daily free will offerings of incense in Christ Jesus that we pray encourage you to bring forward your own free will offerings of incense in Christ Jesus.

Day 1: Delight in Christ

Day 2: The Jealous Flames of Love

Day 3: My King, My LORD In Me

Day 4: A Pleasing Offering

Day 5: Loosing the Promises of God

Day 6: All for Love

Part 2: Chapter 3 – Day 6: Holy Fear

Welcome to Part 2 Chapter 3‘s Day 6 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a poem and testimony as a free will offering of gold, declaring the goodness and mercy of God flowing richly in the place of His burning.

Into days of multiplied fear, and multiplied trials, I heard God whispering to my fearful heart to pause and learn more about a proper fear: 

The Fear of God ~~~ The Holiness of God

“He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever—holy and awesome is his name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.” Psalm 111:9-10 NIV

When my healthcare team prescribed a set of new and intense treatments, I asked many of my friends for special prayer. My body seemed prone to severe side effects whenever I started a new medication regime. But what no one could have foreseen was that not only would I have severe side effects once again, but I would also display severe allergic reactions, and be forced to make an emergency room visit because of those reactions. Even in that place, God was so gracious to preserve and protect me.

But with over 30 medication “failures” under my belt, the questions continued to haunt me, “What is the purpose? Why has God kept asking me to keep going forward? When does too much become TOO MUCH?” 

Instead of giving me an answer, my Lord directed me to remember an old entry and poetry that He had gifted to me several years before. While I may not know the answers, I can see the Lord here in this ground with me. A ground named HOLY, and a ground named FEARSOME, because the Lord of All has given me His presence:

Grounded

grounded
here in this sand
quick sand
it feels

days run
together
when duties
long stilled
echo the halls

changing plans
i follow the
sun
mete out my
moments

seeking a
firmness
wanting a
strength i
lose my clenching

find what was
missing
seek what is
losing
life laid down

LORD of the moment he holds me beneath where ground shifts
i watch him plant seeds in my feet standing ground sand shifting
and life is here blooming watered from well springing up


HOLY GROUND

“’Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’”
Exodus 3:5

and my heart started pounding
when i heard a whisper
calling my ground
holy

What if the very place where the trial looks hardest,
where the ground seems most burnt
is actually the place most holy
in the eyes of the ONE who is changing
my heart?

This poetry came after my husband and I had driven to our favorite prairie park, only to see it desecrated by a recent spring-time “controlled burn.” It certainly was not a pretty sight there. But those controlled, or prescribed burns are so necessary to steward and manage the lands for conservation.  

According to the Wisconsin DNR’s site, “State wildlife officials conduct prescribed burns on public lands throughout Wisconsin in the spring to improve wildlife habitat, control invasive plant species, restore and maintain native plant communities and reduce wildfire potential.”

Did you know that many native grasses and wildflowers develop deep roots that can withstand the high heat of the fires, while the invasive plants are shallow rooted, and give way to the heat?

So, where does that leave my heart when the fires rage inside? Is there a similar growth that might happen after the raging of the fires subside? 

When we revisited our favorite park just a few months later, it was hard to imagine the way that fire birthed life into the worn-out prairie lands. A lush growth of fresh green covered every area that had been burnt over just weeks before.

These burnt-out shifting sand places of our lives become HIS fertile land when we let Him have the final say. 


For those of us who fear the flames, can I offer a prayer?

Dear Lord of the Harvest,

What an Amazing LORD you are! Will you open our eyes to see YOU in the shifting sands and burnt-over ground of our days?

Will you help us to loosen our hold and lift up our fears, to find YOU at work in the fertile soil, the sandy loam of hearts set free? And will you pour the gold of Your Holy Spirit into our hearts, that we would be transformed into YOUR HOLY GROUND.

We bow here, on this very ground, and worship You, our holy and awesome King.

In the name of Jesus we pray, 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

Receiving My Papa’s Pride

Recently, I once again dropped to my knees to cry out: “oh, LORD, break this horrid sin of pride in me.” But what I heard God speak to me, broke me. I heard Him reply: “Anna, can you let me be proud of you? Do you know just how proud I am of you?”

I just cried and cried and cried. I realized I was so focused on myself that I was failing to praise my God for all HE has been performing in and through me. I began to see how HE has been so strong in me. How HE has been perfecting His power in me. How every time HE has drawn me to come to Him in my weakness of pride, HE has bowed my knees in deep humility, to rest at His feet.

The One Word God gave me for this year was “celebrate“. I sensed Him asking me, not to celebrate what I could physically see, but what HE has been opening my eyes to see in the Spirit: His eternal Promises unveiled. His life, breath and person unveiled in all those He has been calling me to intercede for through the power of His living Word at work in me: including myself.

And as I listened to a sermon on pleasing God today, I wept again, as I saw Him affirm His pride in me. For all those times I went where He asked me. I spoke what He asked me. I faced the enemy’s accusations. And I closed the doors He asked me to, to find myself all alone with Him. Rejected by man, but oh so loved by my Papa.

My Abba Father suddenly turned my thinking on its head. All those places, I left, with my head bowed in shame, as He asked me to leave. All those places, where the Word God had me speak and live out was rejected and I wanted to stay and bow before man, believing man to be God. All those places are not a testimony to my shame. They are a testimony to God’s saving grace. To the Son of God’s obedience at work in me and my Abba Father’s growing pride in me.

Each of those closing doors were Christ’s invitation to receive His internal vindication, by the power of His Holy Spirit. The internal vindication Jesus received, as He walked this earth, facing one rejection after another, for doing the will of His Father. For, Jesus glowed in the love and affirmation of His Papa, who was oh so proud of Him.

I suddenly saw how each closing door has been Christ growing His heart of love, mercy and compassion in me. I saw how those closing doors have been God’s humbling to enable me to enter into His Sabbath rest.

For, each closing door has brought me to my knees in gut-wrenching, honest lament and in that place He has opened my eyes to see what He sees and He has filled my heart with His pure emotions and thoughts. He has enabled me to embody the Word He spoke through me in each place He had me leave.  

For, He has repeatedly broken my heart in grief for those I left behind, causing me to pour out prayers of blessing over those who have accused and even condemned me. He has spoken His Promises of life over them through my mouth. I have literally felt His oil of anointing pour out all over me, with my knees pressed to the ground. And He has also humbled me to search for and retrieve the beautiful grains of truth hidden in each accusation.

“Draw near to me, Anna, and I will draw near to you.” Bitterness and unforgiveness only has room to grow in my heart, where I begin to clothe myself in the enemy’s accusations to believe that man’s rejection is God’s rejection of me. It only has room to grow in me, when I withdraw from my God, believing it is He who has withdrawn from me.

But praise God! My Papa is teaching me to remember that HE never leaves His children and so, when I feel His absence it’s because I have withdrawn from Him. He is teaching me in those moments, to turn back toward Him. To draw near to Him to pour out all that’s hiding within me. And right there my God puts everything in its rightful place, humbling me in my pride to rest in His saving grace.

He vindicates me and those I feel condemned by, by the power of His Holy Spirit. He opens my eyes to see HimJesus – in the face of my every accuser, until all I can do is weep at His mercy – not for those who have accused me – but for me. 

His mercy at calling me unto Himself, so that my knees would now bow before Him alone to rest in His labor of intercession and love through me. So, that the Word He had me speak before them and the Word He had them speak before me, can now be brought to life, in me and in them, in our breaking. So, that I can see the fruit of the Word He gave me to pray 6 years ago. The Word He has kept praying through me all this time: “Oh LORD, teach me to walk in the light of Your love. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear Your Name above all else.”

Oh yes, I have messed up, grandly. I have clung to the enemy’s accusations. I have clung to people as my god. I have turned around and asked people’s forgiveness for doing the very will of my God. I have walked in unforgiveness and bitterness.

But now I see, how God has been training me in righteousness. How He has been growing me in gentleness and kindness. How, through each breaking, He has been humbling me to rest in Him alone, to surrender all else into His hands that I may love others as He loves me. How He has been fathering and mothering me.

Now I see, I am a new creation, no longer in condemnation. For gone is the old. And here is the new!

Now, I no longer see these closing doors as my shame. I see them as proof of God’s heart of mercy and compassion at work in me. I see these closing doors as His stepping stones for me. Stepping stones into greater and greater humility and a deeper and deeper knowing of His love for me and His pride in me.

Yes! Papa! Today, I choose to receive Your pride in me. I honor You for all You have done, all You are doing and all You are yet to do through Your Son. For, I know I am not my own. I am Your masterpiece.

And You, You are making something so beautiful out of me: not because I am so strong and so good, but because You are so very faithful to Your Promises. You are so very faithful to perform and complete every good work You begin. Praise You!

I choose to celebrate You, Jesus. I choose to celebrate the Promise: the unveiling of more and more life in and through You. For, no! You are not done with me – with any of us – yet! Come, LORD Jesus, come!

This is the eleventh installment of Anna Smit’s personal testimony to the love and mercy of Jesus. These installments of her testimony are God’s answer to all of us who have walked a path of trauma and heartache, believing our God has abandoned us. For He has never ever forsaken us and He wants us to know it, and to see the fingerprints of the Cross – and His unending love for us – all over our lives. For the first installment see: Love Never Ends