Part 3: Chapter 2 – Day 7: My All in All

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 3‘s Chapter 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing our final free will offering of goats’ hair (cursed sin offering) in a poem testifying to the power of the Cross. Jesus Christ has exchanged sin’s thorny affliction for life everlasting, in His atoning sacrifice for us all. Praise Him! Anna also welcomes you to sing an old hymn of thanksgiving with her, a song Anna sung at her mother’s funeral, who went to be with the LORD in 2014.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

COLOSSIANS 3:1-2 (NIV)
Beautiful but thorny dune flowers
My All in All



In the thorns piercing

Again and again and again


I remember

My shame.


But You

You remember

A covenant new.


You remember

My sin

No more.


You remember

Your Son's blood

Covering me.


You remember

Grace


You remember

Your daughter

Adopted, Yours.


And now

You're teaching me

To remember too


To remember

Your Word.


To remember

A crown of thorns piercing

Again and again and again.


To remember

Love pouring forth

From a Cross.


To remember

Rejoicing.


To remember

A cloak.



To remember

A ring.


To remember

A table set

In the presence of my enemies.


To remember

Oil

Pouring on my head.


To remember

In each and every thorn

I have always found

And will always find

More of


You.



More

Grace upon grace.



More

Mercies

New every morning.



More

Compassion

That faileth not.



More

Faithfulness

In my faithlessness.


More

Perfect Love

Driving out all my fear.


More

Power

Perfected in my weakness.



For, You're teaching me

To embrace You

As:



My LORD

My Husband

My Maker.


The Lover of my soul

My Best Friend

My Rock and Redeemer.



My Savior

My shield

My refuge and the Lifter of my head.



My sword of truth

My helmet of salvation

My shield of faith

My breastplate of righteousness

And my shoes of peace.



My

All in all.




Thanks to Mark Boss @vork for making the photo used in the graphic available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/dONAV335IGQ

casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 10:5 (KJV)

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 7: The Great I AM

Welcome to Day 7 of Part 2‘s Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem as a final free will offering of silver, together with a link to a Scriptural song she sung as a little girl that God continues to bring back to her to encourage her. We, Bettie and Anna, pray that these daily offerings of praise, declaring God’s redemptive power, have been an encouragement to your heart this past week. Even as we have been editing these offerings ourselves, to publish here, God has brought us deeper repentance, freedom and joy also.

The Great I AM

Turn not back in pain
But toward the I AM
He's watching over every step
Before, above, around
His everlasting arms beneath.

Turn not back in despair
But toward the I AM
He's redeeming every piece
Broken to whole at the Cross
His Word a lamp unto our feet.

Turn not back in fear
But toward the I AM
He's lifting every accusation
In the light of His truth
Leading us all to repentance.

Turn not back in shame
But toward the I AM
He's righting every wrong
In thought and deed and word
Wrapping His cloak around us.

For the Son of God came
Not to condemn but save
He's a well of living water
Springing up to eternal life
Come let us drink from -

The Great I AM.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 6: The Thread of Redemption

Welcome to Day 6 of Part 2‘s Chapter 1 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a testimony of God’s redemption in her own life and heart and invites you to join her in prayer at the end. This is an edited version of a blog post she published here on shalomaleh.com at the end of May.

A few years ago, I sat lamenting my past and all the decisions that were made on my behalf as a child that I saw as pushing me down my Prodigal path. In effect, I was blaming my parents for the path my life had taken. But as I began to do so, God began to ask me to look for His thread of redemption weaving through every decision made on my behalf.

I blamed my Dad for choosing to send only me to a non-Christian school and taking me away from my “safe” environment. But God asked me to open my eyes to see what He had gifted me in those years. It’s then I saw the beautiful souls He had had me befriend from multiple nations and multiple faith backgrounds. Jesus taught me so much through these girls, who were so genuine with me and, unlike me, didn’t hide beneath a veneer of self-righteousness. 

Through these girls, I now see Jesus showing me my own need for salvation. For, the sins I saw them fall into, I saw reflected in my own heart. The only difference was that no one but God saw that darkness hiding in me. Jesus was showing me that it’s not Christian environments that are our Savior, but Him alone.

I blamed my parents for the trauma of my childhood. I blamed them for making me feel like Jesus had abandoned me and my little adopted brother, as in their pain, frustration and exhaustion, they began to follow the letter of the law and abandoned the Spirit’s leading in their methods of discipline. But God asked me to open my eyes to see my story through the lens of truth and grace.

Now, I know my parents never forced me to worship them. My parents never forced me to put my trust in them above God. I chose to clothe myself in lies and turn to sin to numb my pain. I now know that Jesus has given me the gift of free will – the free will to choose Him, to be set apart unto Him.

I now know that He so longed for me as a little girl to rest in His love and acceptance. He longed for me to persevere through suffering, by abiding in Him and His Word to me, a Word that did not return void, but reaped the fruit for which it was sent, more than twenty years later.

I now know I have been given the honor and free will to rejoice in the hope of glory that will not put me to shame, as I choose to be set apart according to the purposes of God:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5 (ESV)

I now know that to honor my mother and father was to honor Jesus in them. It was to allow Jesus to set me apart for His purposes. It was to discover that I have the free will to deny myself, take up my Cross and follow Jesus that He might bless each one of us. 

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-37 (ESV)

Jesus showed me that when my parents dedicated me to Him as a baby and when I gave my heart to Him as a four year old, He bound Himself to me. I became His.

My parents and I invited Jesus to become the author and finisher of my faith, in response to our Heavenly Father’s invitation and Christ has shown Himself faithful and still is, daily. Now, I see how Jesus used my parents’, my little brother’s and my own weakness to perfect His power. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, ESV).

God knew my prideful and adulterous heart needed this experience of being set apart, so the branches that were not bearing any fruit could be cut off and burned. Now, through His patient labor of love and mercy, I am embracing the discipline and pruning work God first began in me as a little girl. And I am seeing the fruit of His labor of redemption: His buying back of my life and heart from sin and death.

For, Jesus is turning my mourning into dancing. Through each new setting apart, He is opening my eyes to see by faith and not by sight. Through my experiences of His faithful and never-forsaking love, my heart is learning to trust and obey Jesus. Now, I know that “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, ESV).

Yes, forever He will be the Lamb upon the throne:

Dear Abba Father, thank You for the thread of redemption running through our families and the beauty You are bringing from the ashes of our past. Help us not to sit in the ashes of our old life, longing for someone to bring us to You and to make us acceptable in Your sight, when Christ has already made us acceptable in Your sight. Remind us that Christ has given us the power and authority to pick up our mats and walk into the new life You have ordained for us.

Father, forgive us for defining ourselves and others through the eyes of the world. Open our eyes to see Your redemption at work in our lives, to see all the ways You have already been transforming our hearts and minds to look more and more like You, through our setting apart. Open our eyes to the beauty of the unseen: the fruit of the Spirit You have been growing in us, as You have cut off and burned all the branches that were not bearing fruit in our lives.

Help us to embrace the Cross, to honor Your Son’s obedience, as He took upon Himself our sin and our suffering at the Cross, by now taking up our own Cross to follow Jesus. Help us to hear and obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings, to put to death the works of the flesh and to heed Your call to be set apart unto You alone. Teach us to trust You that we might pray without ceasing, even when it hurts. Help us to hear Your call and to continually pour our hearts out before You in the loss and pain. Help us to listen for Your Word to us, that we might be transformed by the renewing of our minds, that by testing we may discern what is Your will and what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Help us not to bow to our idols of pride, self and man, but to recognize the honor You are bestowing on us to fill up in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, the church, as You set us apart that we might be holy, as You are holy. Teach us, moment by moment, to walk in the light of Your truth. Give us undivided hearts that we might fear Your Name above all else.

Open our eyes to the beauty of Your setting apart that You have purposed to destroy our idols and make us truly One in You, just as You, Your Son and the Holy Spirit are One. Thank You that it is You who works in us, both to will and to work for Your good pleasure. Continue to bow our knees in awe of Your majesty and power and glory. In Jesus’ Name, 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

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 4: Garments of Praise

Welcome to Day 4 of Chapter 2 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a story about the threads of redemption woven by God in our friendships.

The fabrics lie folded and stacked in my closet, next to the threads and the needles, and the unfinished projects. A lifetime of sewing is huddled there together, as a sort of memorial, stories interwoven through the warp and weft of my memories and the God-moments of my life. Some fabrics are rough, easily wrinkled and scratchy, while others drape and flow through my fingers like spun silk. 

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matthew 9:16-17

Her name was Kathy, which means “pure and flawless” and in my memory I can see my friend’s flaxen glowing hair, her fair skin. While other girls were chasing boys, and attending dances, she and I were reading books and sitting in the branches of her giant willow tree. We sang at the top of our lungs, practicing harmony, and laughing at the way the old songs differed from our generation’s rock-n-roll. 

My Mom was a homemaker, her Mom left the house early each morning for her job. But each of us were given chores to finish before we could spend our summer afternoons together. Some afternoons were filled with swimming lessons, while other days we rode our bikes up and down our small neighborhood streets till our legs ached. But always we ended with long discussions about life. She knew I loved Jesus. She didn’t argue that, but she just couldn’t live the same lifestyle I thought was so important: every Sunday in Church, both morning and evening, and weeknight girls’ club classes as well.  I wanted her to ask Jesus “to come into her heart” but she wasn’t sure what that even meant, so we shelved the topic, and instead spent our discussions on every other subject imaginable. 

Into the light colored weft, a darker thread was being woven, filling the fabric with the warp of my flesh. I chose the path of the church, and she chose a different path. I had known it would come to this, I who was so set on my church commitments that I could not miss one Sunday to join her at her family’s weekly campground adventures. Not once. I thought I was choosing the better path.  It took many years for me to see what I had missed. 

In our pulling apart, the bonds of the fabric could easily have torn. We graduated, I was married. She chose a local college, I moved 600 miles away with my new husband. We wrote letters that kept us connected, and even though we were separated by miles, a deep bond was somehow still glimpsed by both of us. On one of my trips back home, she told of how thyroid cancer had struck her, and the months had been filled with harsh treatments and struggles. But her face was glowing as she eagerly told me the glorious news of finally seeing the beauty of surrendering her life to Jesus. We cried and we laughed that night, taking photos together of my pure and flawless friend holding my toddler son.

But the drifting apart wasn’t finished yet, as my life was plunged into testing involving a move to the other side of the country, a move back again, and years of living in other people’s homes. The letters to my golden haired friend slowed to a trickle, as I was at a loss to explain the confusion I felt during those years of breaking and reshaping. By the time we finally moved back close enough to rekindle our friendship, the cancer had returned to my friend, and she slipped into eternity the same fall that we moved back to our Midwestern roots.

And just as the fabrics of home were being re-folded and measured and cut, the dark threads of the fleshly warp were being marked with the colors of regret. Almost daily I thought of the times that I had neglected the friendship of one so dear.  It took years for the roughness of that churchy fabric to be washed and softened. But when the fabric had finally worn down enough, I was filled with sorrow over the way I had chosen an ideal instead of the love of one precious heart. “Jesus, will You please tell Kathy how sorry I am for the years I neglected her?” Again and again through the years, I heard myself uttering that prayer to Him.

The fabrics lie folded and stacked in the closet, and my heart remembers each project. The abilities for the old ways are gone. My arthritic hands can no longer follow the precision necessary to measure and cut and sew. The old has gone, and yet, the new is here. I can hear Jesus whispering:

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

Jesus has taken the regret and filled it with colors so vibrant they cannot even compare to the old ways of seeing. And in the changing, the regret has been woven into a new warp and weft.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1 – 3

That old warp of ugly dark shadows has now become a vivid setting to show forth new colors not seen before. “No apology is necessary any longer” He whispers to me. “I have preserved the threads of your friendship, and it’s woven together into a pure and flawless garment. You both are clothed in me now.”

I delight greatly in the Lord;

    my soul rejoices in my God.

For he has clothed me with garments of salvation

    and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,

as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,

    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Isaiah 61:10

Thanks to Alexander McFeron @alexmcferon for making the profile photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/-dC8jIuwwDY

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 3: The Living Word

Welcome to Day 3 of Chapter 1 from Part 2 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem and various Scriptures.

Romans 11:32 (ESV) For God has shut up all in disobedience, so that He may show mercy to all.

Haggai 2:7 (ESV) And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.

The Living Word



Strapped to the altar again

Shut up in disobedience

Denying this body's shaking

I'm tethered and taut.



Pouring confessions

In shame and fear

Of horrid pain

From seeping wounds.



Captive to the mask again

I cringe at who

I've become once more

The hypocrite, laid bare.



But in my weakness

Your power rises

Cutting pride's vicious ropes

You beautifully humble me.



Eyes of love

My face in light cascade

My weak and feeble frame

In warmth You bathe.



The tears now flow

Released in streams

My past I begin to see

Through mercy's eyes.



This time my heart

Your heartbeat knows

And Christ in me

The Eagle frees.



Your Voice

Upon this altar cries

"Sin and shame

Are not your name.



"For not you, but I

Have chosen 'n appointed you

To go and bear abundant fruit

That now in Me abides.



"Depart under a new authority

Seeing yourself as clean

Because of the Word

I have already spoken to you.



"From disobedience

I have delivered you

Now in Christ alone

Your free will offerings bring."



Shemyahnihe'ra

Your renown, Your Name

Now reflected silver pure

You're shining so bright in me.



No longer I

But Christ in me I see

Your burning coals

My lips in praise now open.



A JOY

My heart explodes

A waterfall of grace

Splashing on my face.



My broken walls

You have rebuilt

Salvation and deliverance

In Jesus' Name.



Hemmed in

Your nail-pierced hands

Your palm

Upon my head.



In returning and rest

A harvest of peace -

Christ - in my every shaking

Is awaking.



No, I will not die

But live to tell

What You: my LORD

Have done.



My life You've set apart

Drawing a line in the sand

Every accusation lifting

I hear You call me: daughter.



Resting on the mercy seat

Now, I can obey

My Savior's call

To truly sin no more.




Freed from all condemnation

I lift my lamp up high

Upon salvation's hill

Replanted in the Living Word.



Romans 9:29 (AMPC) It is as Isaiah predicted, If the Lord of hosts had not left us a seed [from which to propagate descendants], we [Israel] would have fared like Sodom and have been made like Gomorrah.

Isaiah 11 (Complete Jewish Bible) 1 But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai, a shoot will grow from his roots. 2 The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai — 3 he will be inspired by fearing Adonai. He will not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, 4 but he will judge the impoverished justly; he will decide fairly for the humble of the land. He will strike the land with a rod from his mouth and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips. 5 Justice will be the belt around his waist, faithfulness the sash around his hips.

Malachi 3:10 – 12 (ESV) Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 2: The Water of Life

Welcome to Day 2 of Part 2, Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Bettie is sharing a devotional on The Water of Life.

Have you ever been thirsty?
I am speaking about the kind of thirsting
In which you feel so thirsty there is a fainting in your soul.

I have been in that land of thirsting,
And I have watched the shimmering waves
Of heat baking the desert sands
As my parched soul
Looked up to Heaven
Waiting
For even one cloud to form.

Many years ago, my family traveled and shared a drama in which I portrayed The Woman at the Well. Week after week, in many different settings, my lips spoke the cry of a woman so thirsty that she begged for a drink when the well was right before her. You see, Jesus had offered to her a different kind of water: a filling up for her soul’s thirsting.

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14 

As the weeks and the months passed, every time I spoke those woman’s words, a deeper longing was planted in my own heart. I didn’t know it at the time, though. I thought I was being filled, as I gave out the words of Jesus, week after week.  

Ah, how does it happen? How does a cry in our heart become lodged so deep that only another longing can answer in return?

I thought I knew how deep the well in my own heart was. I thought I felt the fullness of my Lord’s Words when I shared His heart with those around me.  But I had only scratched the surface.  I offered my praise, and I offered my worship, and my Lord knew what was required to let me see my own unmet longing.

The desert of pain
And the heat of suffering
Burned away the
Half-met longings
To uncover
The well where
Full-hearted cries
Could finally be heard.

I have some very dear friends who continually pray for my healing. They wait in hope for the day that Jesus will restore movement to me, and a full remission in this place of pain. Where would I be without their sweet prayers of HOPE? And I do see improvement from the awful heat and swelling that began this journey of disease.

But there is a deeper healing 
In my soul
That I would never trade
Even for just a day
Without physical pain.


For how can I tell
Of the wondrous
Filling
For my soul's
Thirsty well?

How can I sing
Of my Savior's dear Presence
Carrying my heart
To His bosom of rest
When the pain
Overwhelms?

And how will I share
These dewdrops of love
Poured down on my heart
When the desert sky
Breaks
With the water
From Heaven?

Is your heart facing a desert sun today? Are you fainting as the heat of the day wastes your soul?  There is a filling that can happen for you too, my friend.  There is a place of stillness close to the heart of God where He calls you to come.

It is His very Word spoken at the end of our drama, week after week. I longed for those words to be mine, years ago, but it took the pain of suffering to bring them home to my heart:

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”  Revelation 22:17 NIV 

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Day 1 – Even Here, Even Now

EVEN HERE, EVEN NOW

The earth beneath you
Trembling.
All you've ever known
Shaken.
The ground beneath you
Quaking.
All you've ever known
Taken.

You're groping.
Choking.
Falling.
You reach,
But no hand to hold.

You hear those voices:
“Too little.
Too much.
Not enough.
Your punishment alone to carry.”

And so you fall,
Deeper still,
Till deep dark mirey cave
You feel beneath.
And though its darkness weighs as lead,
It numbs the pain so deep,
The shame too cruel.
"Safe here" you breathe at last.

"Object of dread,
I am.
Forgotten, broken vessel,
Is who I am."
Terror thickens air,
Lying tongues to pour.
Lead weighted more.

Strength does fail.
Body waste.
Tears no longer flow.
A loss so deep,
No words to find.
And still no single hand to hold.

Your breath you feel
Anxious grip.
All that leaves your trembling lips
"LORD, My God."
Silence piercing.
Weeping, tearing heart.

But then,
You hear it.
Tender, loving Voice.
Still, sweet sound
Arise.

"My beloved.
My pearl.
My precious daughter dear.
The work of My own beating heart,
Come now.
Take this, My outstretched hand.

"The ground may tremble,
Earth may shake
And all you've ever known,
Ripped from beneath your feet.
But I, your loving Father, do rest beneath,
Even here, even now.

"My hand upon you.
My breath within you.
My countless thoughts of you
So very precious still.
Even now, I hem you in
Before, behind
Even here, no lying tongue
Does from My own
True gentle mouth depart.

"Be still, and know
YOUR one true God I AM.
Never have I ever,
Never will I ever,
Leave you all forsaken lone.
For each and every tremble, shake
Does purposeth My crop
Too bountiful
For any human hand
To seed, thresh, harvest true.

"Hold fast, My girl,
To sword of truth,
To promises birthing here, even now,
To heaven's coming
Here on earth.
For, to each and every
Prisoner of Hope eternal strong
Who turns My way
Restoration double I do declare.

"Hold fast, my child,
Not to lying tongues
But tender loving truth.
Hemming in before, behind
Grace so precious, pure.
Roaring, rushing waters
Pour and cover still.
For I, Your God
I AM.
Even here, even now."

In Psalm 31: 18, King David cries: “Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.” (NIV). Those lying tongues often go into overdrive, when our world is shaken by deep loss, grave illness or seemingly hopeless situations. 

But what our enemy knows and wants us to forget is that the Great Overcomer resides in us still, even here, even now. For “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, NIV). 

In fact, the losses and trials we are walking through have been permitted by God to strip away our reliance upon ourselves and upon all others, so that Christ’s resurrection power may be unveiled in us. Or as 2 Corinthians 4:11 (ESV) puts it:

For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

For, our Abba Father wants us to learn to receive from Him. He wants us to learn to rest upon the foundation of His love for us, so that our strivings might cease, as we learn to enter into His Sabbath rest. So that His labor of love may begin to flow out of us, fully and freely, as we drink deeply of His living water. 

In that place of resting upon Him, He longs for us, like the Israelites, to discover His provision for us, that has nothing to do with our our own labor or perfecting work, but rather everything to do with Christ’s work of redemption: Him buying us back from sin and death that He might lavish His love out upon us:

Joshua 24:13 (ESV) I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant.’

1 John 3:1 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

No lie can ever separate us from Christ’s eternal love for us. No matter what emotion we feel and what accusations the enemy plagues us with, these do not define who we are: God alone does and always will. And He says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, precious sought-after pearls: His own true and beloved sons and daughters. 

And because He has gifted us the pure and righteous heart of Jesus, we are worthy in His sight. All our sins, in thought, word or deed are covered in the cloak of grace. All He asks of us is: “Come now. Take this, My outstretched hand”. And He will guide us until we die (Psalm 48:14) and Christ is unveiled in us, fully and wholly.

Will you join me in prayer today?

Thank You, Lord, that You are the strength of my heart and promise to remain faithful to me to the very end, even when I turn away in fear, shame or despair. Thank You, Lord, that lying tongues can never define who I am. 

Lord, just as your humble servant David, I beseech you to silence all lying lips that are plaguing me now. Help me cast down and pour out all the lies I have come to believe that are shackling me and pressing me away from You. Help me to turn toward You to receive Your loving arms and all-covering grace. 

Lord, I claim your beautiful promises over my life today. As a prisoner of hope, whose stronghold is in You alone, I now receive double of all that has been torn from me, believing You have granted it to me and I will yet see it with my own eyes. 

As a daughter/son of the Most High King, I now receive Your strong hand upon my head, Your protective wings, as You hem me in from before and behind, and Your countless precious thoughts of me

Lord, I am yours alone. Lead Me on in Your way everlasting, into all the Truth there is that I may dwell in Your beautiful house all the days of my life, to gaze upon Your beauty and seek You in Your temple.

In the Name of Your precious Son, Jesus, Amen.

Part 2: Chapter 1 – Silver Redemption

Welcome to Chapter 1 of Part 2 from Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is introducing us to the free will offering of silver. She gives examples from her own life of how God has compelled her to bring forward this free will offering – the Promise of redemption. And Bettie and Anna invite you to join them in prayer at the end.

We will be adding additional poem, prayers and devotionals to this page, on the theme of silver and redemption, as the LORD directs.

Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze; Exodus 35:5

In the temple, 100 silver hooks held up the curtain ushering the priest into the Holy of Holies and the presence of God. These hooks were made from the free will offering of silver brought forward by the Israelites and King David for the building of the Temple. 

Silver was also melted to make the basins and bowls for the ritual purification and cleansing of the priests. And it was used to make the silver bands with their hooks of silver for all the pillars that held up the court. Additionally, it was used to make two trumpets of silver, of hammered work that were used “for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out” (Numbers 10:2).

Silver is known as the currency of redemption and a metal refined and purified by fire:

“The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.” 

(Psalm 12:6, ESV)

Take away the dross from the silver,and the smith has material for a vessel;

(Proverbs 25:4, ESV).

Instead of bronze I will bring gold,

    and instead of iron I will bring silver;

instead of wood, bronze,

    instead of stones, iron.

I will make your overseers peace

    and your taskmasters righteousness.

(Isaiah 60:17, ESV)

30 pieces of silver were paid to redeem a slave from captivity. 30 pieces of silver were paid by the religious leaders to Judas, so he would betray Jesus with a kiss. 30 pieces of silver were thrown by Judas back into the temple, before he hung himself. 30 pieces of silver were used to buy the Potter’s field to bury the bodies of foreigners. 

Thus, the free will offering of silver symbolized the very redemption Christ would bring through His death on the Cross. The Word “redemption” in Hebrew literally means a buying back. God bought back our hearts, freeing us from our enslavement to sin, through the very betrayal of man. 

For thus says the LORD: “You were sold for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money.” (Isaiah 52:3, ESV)

So, now, when Christ compels us to bring forward the free will offering of silver, we are literally bringing forward His Promise of redemption. We are bringing forward God’s Promise to buy us back, fully and wholly. We are declaring His faithfulness to move through His Living Water (the Spirit-infused Word of God) to:

  • purify us 
  • cleanse us 
  • lift up the Body of Christ and bring it to complete healing and wholeness
  • strengthen us and establish us in Christ 
  • to gather us together and cause us to depart at His command, as the trumpet is blown.

In what situations have you found God encouraging you to bring forward His Promise of redemption? In what ways have you noticed God has been redeeming you and others you know?

God has been redeeming me personally through the repeated pruning of healthy branches and the cutting off of dying branches in my life. Through His good gardening, God is helping me to be able to differentiate between the voice of our enemy, with his cruel accusations of condemnation, and the moment by moment revelation of the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit’s promptings. 

In setting me apart unto His purposes, Christ is helping me to lift up the Name of Jesus above all else. He has been teaching me, through the pain and sorrow of each surrender, to lay before Him the accusations haunting me, so He can arise in power through His Holy Word to me. He has repeatedly cleansed my conscience, plowing up my unbelief to fill me with fresh faith and Promises from His Word to lift up in praise. 

I now see, how under His leadership and in His strengthening, I am daily choosing to die to old thought patterns and arise unto the new. Through all the surrenders Christ is working in me, I am beginning to see my past through new eyes: Christ’s eyes of redemption. 

I am learning to trust Christ to prove me His. I am learning to still and listen for the moment-by-moment revelation of God’s Word by the Holy Spirit. I am learning to obey the Living Word of God – Jesus – who speaks inside of me. The Living Word that is now becoming a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. 

I can see how Christ has taken ownership of me, buying me back from the enemy who once had tethered me to sin, striving and idol worship (of self, church, religious leaders and friends). Through every surrender His labor of love has wrought in my heart, God has opened my eyes to the gift of free will He has given me, the free will to choose Him and the true desires of my heart.

And in this purifying work of the Living Word, Christ is redeeming the years that the locusts ate. In our LORD Jesus, our Rock and Redeemer, nothing is ever wasted. Not one detail of our stories is ever too shameful or unimportant, but rather each detail becomes an essential part of God’s masterpiece, declaring His love and great mercy to the world. 

When God reminds us through His Word that the old has gone and that we are not to look back on our past, it means that when we give our life to Jesus, our slate has been made clean. Our failings turn from being a shameful burden to carry, to evidence of God’s great love and compassion for us and His power to save and redeem our lives – and others’ – for His glory.

Peter’s heartbreaking denials of Jesus now declare the power of the Cross to save and redeem us all. They remind us that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Saul ordering the execution of Stephen now awakens our hearts to the depths of God’s mercy that we too can draw upon in suffering and persecution. It also reminds us of the power of the Cross to open our own and others’ blinded eyes to see and to give us new names, declaring us new creations in Christ Jesus. Paul’s thorn in his side reminds us all, even today, that God’s power is perfected in our weakness and not in our own ability, health or strength.

Perhaps you too, recognize Jesus doing a similar work of redemption in your heart and life, as He has been in mine. For, Christ labors in each one of us to exchange our heart of stone for His heart of flesh. A heart of flesh not hardened by sin and pain, but compelling us to willingly join Christ in His suffering that we might draw upon His love and mercy to declare each heart set before us: eternally His. A heart of flesh declaring each one of us purchased by the blood of the Lamb and our inheritance of redemption – complete healing and wholeness in body, mind, heart and soul – as safely sealed by the Holy Spirit. 

And oh how I long, as I am sure you do also, to see this redemption unveiled in us all: fully and wholly, when Christ returns.

Dear Great and Glorious Lord, 

We come before you acknowledging that we are so in need of redemption.  You are Holy and we are not. You are pure and we are tainted. Lord will you daily cleanse us from our old way of thinking? Will you continue to take away our striving and show us that You alone have the power to redeem us from our sins? 

You, our God, have purchased salvation for us with the precious blood of your own Son.  May we let you redeem us from these sinful ways of living, and find Your gift of new life flooding into our hearts. 

And as You compel us to boast in our weakness, may our testimonies to Your glory and grace and the blood of the Lamb arise to silence the accusations of the enemy against our brethren. May Your redemption not just flood our own hearts, but others’ also, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God.

In the precious name of your Holy Son, Jesus, we pray. 

Amen.

Day 1: Even Here, Even Now

Day 2: The Water of Life

Day 3: The Living Word

Day 4: Garments of Praise

Day 5: Eternal Redemption

Day 6: The Thread of Redemption

Day 7: The Great I AM

Chapter 1: Day 5 – At the King’s Table

Welcome to Day 5 of Chapter 1 for Arise & Shine, a devotional written by Bettie Gilbert.

“’Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’ And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.”  2 Samuel 9:7,13

The story of Mephibosheth, the one Scriptures say “was lame in both feet,” always touched a deep chord in my young heart. Here was a boy who was the son of Jonathan, and the grandson of King Saul—the one who tried to have David killed. Yet when his entire family was killed, and his home was destroyed, King David invited him into his own Royal Palace, all for the sake of the covenant made with his father, Jonathan, years before. 

As I first heard that story decades ago, something critical to my way of seeing was planted in my child-like heart. And when God saw that it was time, He reawakened the earlier question by asking a second question.

Is it true that the King of Heaven would really invite me to HIS own table?

And how can that be possible, since I have only grown more disfigured over the years?

As chronic illness stripped away my old way of living, I wondered what would happen as the years progressed. Would I be able to bear up under the pain? Would bitterness finally one day take root? I felt powerless to stop the darkness I felt as I watched my own lameness grow more pronounced.

As the chronic pain and inflammation wore away at the strength of my feet and ankles, another label was placed onto my identity: lame and slow. How could the King, the perfect Royal One, ever look on me as beautiful again? Would I ever be found worthy to come to His table?

And then He opened the pages of a long-forgotten story. He placed my heart in the open air of HIS royal Temple, and He invited me in, showing me the seat next to His own dear Son. Joint-heir with Jesus, He called me: “Come inside with me! The Kingdom of God is within you. I am not offended by your pain, and I am already here, waiting for you to open the door.”

Feasting With The King

Where is my home?
Where is my dwelling place?
Everything I’ve known
What I’ve seen
Has been devastated

What can I do?
Where can I belong?
Everything I’ve done
Where I’ve worked
Has been swept away

How should I feel?
How is life to be lived?
Everything I’ve tasted
What I’ve shared
Has been covered up

I hear a voice
Speaking my name
Ushering an invitation
And setting me on a new path
All for the sake of a choice
Made on my behalf
An eternity ago

How is the table spread
Here before me now?
How is the King’s house
The place of my dwelling?
Why would my name
Be the one He calls?

He sets me at His Home
He calls me His child
He opens the door

All for the sake of Love
All for the sake of Covenant
A kindred heart promised
A kindred heart responded

And suddenly my lameness
Doesn’t matter anymore
The King calls my name
Feasting at HIS table
Eating of His bread
Forever I belong with Him.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. Revelation 3:20 NIV

Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21 KJB

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the voice of Your invitation. We pause and shake ourselves when we first hear Your call. How can it be? We know of our lameness all too well. We don’t belong at the Royal Table, and we aren’t worthy to feast with You.

Oh, but thank You for the gift that You poured over our hearts when YOUR own son entered the covenant of grace on our behalf! Now You call us worthy because of HIM, and You seat us at the table of Your presence to feast with You.

Help us to receive the joy of Your presence today. Help us to rest at Your table with You. And help us to lift our voices in praise of Your son, our Savior Jesus.

In His name we pray,

Amen.

Thanks to Andreas Rønningen @andozo for making the profile photo for this post available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/S2YssLw97l4