Part 1 – Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place

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.

Recording of Introduction & Blessing
(Anna Smit)
Recording of Opening Prayer & Invitation (Bettie Gilbert)

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.

Opening Prayer

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)

Part 1: The Bread of Life

Welcome to Part 1 of Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mine. In the coming weeks, we will be resting in The Bread of Life (Jesus). In each chapter of this part, we will invite Jesus to feed and sustain us through His fresh, warm, living and active Word. Today, you will find the introduction to part 1 and next week, we will publish chapter 1 (which includes an opening prayer, poems and devotionals: material to sit with each day of the week).

Have you also noticed how our God longs for us to receive His fresh warm bread – Scriptures filled with His Spirit breath? How He longs for us to lay down those cold stones (Scriptures wielded in part by the enemy as accusations against us) that we have clung to as God’s condemnation of us?

When we walk through trauma or chronic illness, we are all too aware of our weakness and failings, and our accuser loves to turn that against us. And this sneaky accuser uses God’s precious Word to do so. Let’s take a look at how he did so with the disciple Peter.

But before we do so, let’s put ourselves in Peter’s shoes. He tries to stop his Savior from being captured, as he cuts the soldier’s ear off. And yet Jesus rebukes Satan in him, as he does so. Peter judges the situation from his present understanding, rather than from God’s eternal understanding.

Peter doesn’t fathom God’s plans, as many of us struggle to do when things “go wrong”, when we lean into our limited human and fleshly perspective. For, though God has put eternity into our hearts, not one of us can “find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesisstes 3:11, ESV).

Then, as Peter tries to draw near to Jesus, in his weakness of fear and pride, after deeply traumatic events, he bows to his idols and denies his very own Savior. And then that Savior of his is hung on a Cross.

Now, let’s look at what the enemy does with Jesus’ own words. Just after Peter denies Jesus for the third time, the cock crows three times, and Peter remembers only part of the prophecy Jesus had spoken over him (that he would deny Him three times before the cock crows), as Jesus looks him in the eyes. In response, Peter cries “bitter tears”, rooted in self, condemnation and shame. The Word used for “bitter” is described by Strong’s Concordance as having a usage of: “bitter, acrid, malignant” (see: Strong’s Greek 4089).

But now watch what Jesus does with the accusations of the enemy, that have led to these bitter tears. Just watch how Jesus takes cold stones – the words of Jesus devoid of the person of Jesus and devoid of the Holy Spirit’s breath – and turns them into fresh, warm bread.

First, He invites Peter to breakfast, together with the other disciples. He includes Peter, showing him that he belongs to Him. Then, He gives Peter fresh bread rolls and cooks the fish Peter has just caught over a charcoal fire. He lovingly feeds Peter, reminding Peter that every good gift comes from above and he takes one of the places Peter denied Jesus- the fire – and redeems it. Then, three times He asks Peter if Peter loves Him. He invites Peter to affirm that in Peter’s every single denial, and failing, the love of God remained so strongly present in him.

We also see how when Jesus asks him if he loves Him the first time and phrases it as: “Do you love me more than these?”, Peter is no longer able to place himself above the other disciples, as one who loves Jesus more than others. Jesus appears to be lifting off the heavy weight Peter had taken upon himself to prove his worthiness for the great calling of God on his life, by phrasing the question this way.

Peter, this time doesn’t respond with bitter tears of shame, but with deep grief, after Jesus’ third question. The Word (lypéō) used to describe his grief is, according to HELPS Word-studies the same Word that is used in Genesis 3:16 for the pain of child birth (see: https://biblehub.com/greek/3076.htm). This emotion, unlike shame, is no longer rooted in pride and self, but in relationship.

Peter is grieved that Jesus would even have to ask Peter if he loves Him. Of course, Jesus knows Peter does and that he has never stopped loving Jesus, but asking him this question turns Peter away from sitting in pride and shame, to affirming that the ever present love of Christ at work in us always remains. It reminds us all that nothing can ever separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus.

It’s probably not a coincidence that the Word for Peter’s grief is connected to the pain of child birth either. For, we can see how in this very moment Peter begins to birth the Promise Jesus spoke over him, at the very beginning of their friendship (Matthew 16:18 ESV):

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus appears to be, at Peter’s invitation, lifting the weight of this great calling off of Peter’s shoulders and placing it on His own. Simon is becoming Peter: the little rock, bowing to his true Rock and Redeemer, Christ, upon which the church is still being built today.

Bitterness – an emotion rooted in pride, fear and self – is replaced by grief -an emotion rooted in love and the other. Peter no longer thinks he should have been able to stand in his own strength (a thought rooted in self and pride). He realizes that he couldn’t and it grieves his heart that he has hurt his Savior. Jesus of course always knew this, but wanted Peter to experience it for himself, to understand that he needed his Savior to deliver him from sin and death.

This labor pain is something we all experience. For, we all experience the pain of giving birth to our Promise – Christ – the hope of glory in us. EVERY time we realize we can’t do the will of Christ in our weakness is a new opportunity to shed self and pride and to enter into the work of the Cross.

Each painful conviction is a moment for new life to be born in us, God’s invitation to be perfected in His power right in the midst of our weakness, as this song so beautifully puts it. No, Jesus is not ashamed of us in our need. It’s why He came:

As Isaiah 66:9 (ERV) puts it: In the same way, I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.” The Lord says this: “I promise that if I cause you the pain of birth, I will not stop you from having your new nation.” Your God said this.

Christ invites us to renew our minds in His mind, by feeding on the Bread of Life – the living Word that He speaks to us, from moment to moment. He continually invites us to shed our fleshly and worldly perspective, to listen to and obey the law of love – Jesus.

Just as He did the disciples, Jesus constantly invites us to let go of established religious laws and traditions, in the name of love and mercy. The adulteress should have been stoned to death, according to man’s interpretation of the Word of God. But, Jesus speaks a better Word: for mercy triumphs over judgment.

When Jesus lets her go free and invites her to sin no more, He also invites her to put her faith in Him, rather than herself, just as Jesus invited Peter to do. By entrusting themself to Jesus, they were no longer under the law, just as we aren’t, when we give our hearts to Jesus. For, we are then in a relationship with our Messiah, who has fulfilled the law for us and is ever at work in us, by His Spirit, moving us to repentance. Or as Romans 7: 6 & 17 (ESV) puts it:

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code […] So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

And when we give our hearts to Jesus, as Peter did, we also no longer desire to sin because we don’t want to break our Savior’s heart. But where sin does show itself in us, when we do what we do not want to do, Jesus moves to convict us of our sin and of His righteousness, and we quickly put the sin present in us to death. Godly sorrow leads us to a repentance (a change of our minds) without regret.

This growing relationship of trust and faith is evidenced in how quickly Peter is convicted and led to repentance by Paul’s rebuke. He no longer sits in shame, as he did after his denials, but convicted of his hypocrisy and Christ’s righteousness in him, Peter quickly leaves the religious leaders he had been sitting with, who were keeping people caged in the law.

He allows God to set him apart as a follower of Jesus, facing persecution and death on a cross in doing so. The relationship of love and trust that Jesus has built up with him, breaks Peter’s fear of man and idol worship, piece by piece, as Peter renews his mind in the Bread of Life. Peter doesn’t hear Paul’s voice in that rebuke, he hears and recognizes the Voice of Jesus in Paul.

Peter chose to follow the Son of God whose saving power he had now intimately experienced. Now, he knew he could trust Jesus, no matter the earthly consequences or the religious rules Jesus asked him to break in the name of love and mercy. He knew that: “He who calls [us] is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV). Peter knew that in his weakness (the fear of man and pride), Christ would continue to empower him to follow Him and sanctify him in doing so.

In the three affirmations of Christ’s ever present love, I believe Jesus shows Peter that the prophecy He spoke was never meant to condemn him. Rather, it was Christ’s invitation to Peter to clasp His outstretched hand of mercy and to see the birth of the Promise spoken over him.

For, with each command to feed His lambs and sheep, Christ reminds Peter that, as Romans 11:29 (ESV) declares “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”. All we have to do is take God’s hand of mercy in our weakness and trust Him at His Word. For, when our God promises something, HE is faithful to complete it (Luke 22:32, ESV):

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

You see the sifting by the enemy was only ever allowed to bring Peter to his knees in his weakness, so that Christ’s power might take over and empower him to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for his life. A plan and purpose he could never ever have carried out in his own strength.

Just watch Peter, after he has been through even more humbling, through Paul’s mouth. See how it is no longer Peter laboring here. No! It is Christ interceding in and through Peter, as Jesus speaks His Word through Peter to heal, restore and redeem His beloved children:

Acts 3:6-9 (KJV) Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Jesus already knew Peter’s weakness intimately, long before He chose and called Peter for His purposes. Jesus knew that it is in this weakness that He could humble and empower Peter. Just as Jesus also knows each of our weaknesses intimately. Even before we were born He already planned out exactly how He would use the enemy’s sifting to humble us also and yield us to His beautiful will in and through our weakness.

No, not one of us is exempt from this humbling, as it is God’s beautiful way of lifting the weight of our calling off of our shoulders, so that we might rest in His labor of love and mercy. This is how we are born again in Spirit breath.

Jesus took upon Himself all our weakness, sin and failure, so He could nail it to the Cross. So that He could restore us to Himself and grow our trust in Him through an intimate experience of His love and mercy. As Paul puts it:

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

Through the life of Peter, Jesus reminds us that (Isaiah 55:11, ESV):

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

You see, it’s never been about us and what we could do for Jesus. It’s always been about the mercy of our LORD Jesus Christ and HIS labor of love in and through us.

As more and more is stripped away from us, Jesus uncovers our secret weapon – the fresh, warm Bread of Life – He has already put in our mouths for such a time as this. For, He – Jesus – is that Bread of Life.

In the coming weeks, may God uncover the warm, fresh bread He has already placed in our mouths. May every Bible passage the enemy has ever wielded against us to steal, kill and destroy, now be returned to us in Spirit breath, in the fullness of who Christ is, to heal, restore and redeem. May mercy triumph over judgment.

May God use what the enemy meant to harm us and others to bring more and more life in and through us. May God persuade us through intimate experiences of His goodness and mercy, in relationship with Him, to humble ourselves in our weakness, again and again, that we may rest in His beautiful labor of intercession in and through us.

May Jesus arise and shine in and through us, as we bow the knee to hear our Abba Father declare: “Beloved, You are Mine.”

Chapter 1: A Dwelling Place

Chapter 2: Clothed in Fine White Linen