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
The groans and the tears
On the floor at my feet.
Intercession swirled over my head
The pain that another felt
My heart like my own
God brought the questions
Then God sent His Word
Pray the answers
How could I explain the prayers
Poured from my belly
The longing for which I waited
They are The Apple of Your Eye
They are The Dearly Loved Ones
Whom You spilled Your blood
Months passed and years plodded
The prayers kept pouring forth
My soul where I carried grief
Bitter turned to sweet!
Prayers found fullness!
Even as my singing heart rejoiced
Even as the weight was lifted
A pin had pricked my soul
A bleeding kept pouring forth
A hidden chamber in my heart
A question lodged still remained
You saw it all my Lord Jesus Christ
You carried all those weights
I thought I would die underneath
Yours is the only heart fully able
Be the true intercessor for us all
Carries the hardest-hearted-sinner
But You ask us to join you there
Crawl up into Your lap of love
We speak the same words You speak
You want to show us the beauty
Only Love Eyes can look upon
Only Love spilled out can win
They are the ones
We are the ones
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.
Welcome to Day 1 of Part 3‘s Chapter 1 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a free will offering of incense in a poem inspired by God’s Word to her in the crushing.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5 (ESV)
How can I rest How can I open my palms Let go And rest?
How can I receive The Word That says You delight In me?
When Your Word in me Has closed doors on me In confessing My weakness and sin.
How can I receive Delight in that When Your Word calls me Depart, bereft?
Am I not mistaken? Does not each loss Each door closing Only affirm I'm lost?
"Oh my child," I hear You speak "In your pain, be still Know My Son is calling.
"Let the Sword of Life Now circumcise your heart That ears and eyes May open unto Me.
"For, I have come Not to call the righteous But to pour My oil Of mercy upon sinners.
"Receive My living water Feel My waterfall of grace Now splashing on your face Receive My goodness and mercy
"In My Son's crushing Of your pride and self Receive My oil Richly flowing.
"Yes, there's life In the womb Feel the Son of God Now crowning in you.
"Be not afraid, My child This labor pain you're feeling Is but a shedding of the old To birth the new.
"For, Christ wore A crown of thorns To place a crown Of life upon your head.
"In the garden of Gethsemane My Son drunk the cup Upon the Cross Your debt to pay in full.
"Now be Christ's friend Let the counsel Of the Holy Spirit Set you apart.
"Let each loss Become sweet gain For, into every crushing My oil of comfort pours.
"Let now My Holy Spirit pour Upon the soil Of all Christ's crushing.
"For, is it not your honor To bow before Him here To taste of His sacrifice For you?
"Has He not proven In His crushing for your sins His Bride is worth Far more than rubies?
"Yes, the enemy may rage In darkness all around you But hidden in Christ See your lamp glow bright.
"Sow now Into the good soil Of Christ's own Body Broken open for you.
"Let His seed of truth Long hidden in your heart Now reap perfect peace In the dying.
"Bring no longer a Burnt-out sacrifice of self But a free will offering In mercy richly flowing.
"Watch and wait My holy flame shall fall Upon the oil Of Christ's anointing.
"A fragrant incense In My fire shall rise Repentance and Refreshing reaping.
"Now, delight In Me, My child For I delight In you."
But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:55-60 (ESV)
‘You will also be [considered] a crown of glory and splendor in the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem [exceedingly beautiful] in the hand of your God.’ It will no longer be said of you [Judah], “Azubah (Abandoned),”Nor will it any longer be said of your land, “Shemamah (Desolate)”; But you will be called, “Hephzibah (My Delight is in Her),”And your land, “i.e. Beulah, pronounced Be-oo-lah.Married”; For the Lord delights in you, And to Him your land will be married [owned and protected by the Lord]. Isaiah 62: 3 – 4 (AMP)
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.
-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
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.
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
Deep calls unto Deep
My wounded Life
He now covers with His own
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?
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.
Welcome to Part 2Chapter 3‘s Day 7 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is sharing a poem as a final free will offering of gold, looking expectantly toward the eternal perfection that awaits us in Christ Jesus, as He completes what He has begun in us. She also shares the Scriptures that have inspired and form a part of herpoem.
He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits to measure around it. Below the rim, gourds encircled it—ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea. The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were toward the center. It was a handbreadth in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.
1 Kings 7: 23-26(ESV)
SEA OF HOLY FIRE
From North and South From East and West We come Your Temple raised.
Purified in fires we've met Refined and tested Your Living Word Has proved us Yours.
Not in our outward wiping clean But in mercy's washing clean In Your blood shed And Your Body broken
You led us the old to shed To know You In Your death And resurrection.
Purified of Satan's curse Washed in a cup of wrath You bore for us Our hearts awash in mercy.
We ran the race In Your jealous flames of love Your liquid gold now pouring In incense sweet arising.
Our hardened hearts You broke To flow in mercy Your Holy flame in trials thick and fast All dross destroying.
Made in Your image Temple Of Your Holy Spirit Purposed born
We bear Your Name To lay down our crowns At these Your feet.
Harps are playing Our hearts And lips Are singing:
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Revelations 14:3 (ESV)
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Revelations 14:2-3 (ESV)
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1: 12 (ESV)
Welcome to Chapter 2‘s Day 3 of Arise and Shine. Today, Anna is bringing forward a free will offering forged in the fires of affliction, as Jesus arose to defend His dwelling place with His judgment in mercy.
My Prodigal wandering began, when I began to believe that my God could indeed not have chosen someone like me: someone too young, too sinful, too needy and too broken. I agreed with the enemy’s twisting of Scripture and began to read God’s precious Word, no longer as an invitation to know my Jesus and His mercy more and more, but as evidence that I was doomed for hell.
So one day, when I had committed a sin I abhorred and was deeply ashamed of, I was certain that this was it. That now all I could do was bide my time till God did away with me completely.
Outwardly not much changed. I still attended church. I still played the good girl. But inside my spirit was crushed and my heart aching to be known by God.
Years later, on the day we buried my Mum, I learnt that she had noticed the change in me all those years earlier. My Mum was heartbroken by how her once exuberant and confident girl had retreated into herself. All those years ago when I felt so abandoned in my sin, my Mum began praying with her best friend for God to give me my confidence back.
Now all these years later, her prayers are being answered. For, my Savior is stripping away my confidence in myself and man that stole, killed and destroyed so much in my life. He is now rebuilding my confidence in Him alone.
What I didn’t know, as I sung this beautiful song as a teenager, with tears streaming:
and with such a deep longing for Jesus to rescue me, is that He was in fact already kneeling down to take me into His arms and carry me home, so close to His heart. He had heard my cry.
And now, I can hear and feel that new heart of His beating inside of me.
All these years later, as I sat singing that same song again, now with tears streaming in deep thankfulness to my God, I noticed something about the lyrics I hadn’t before:
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands … Nothing compares to the Promise I have in you.
I realized that I am the work of my God’s hands and that the very Promise of salvation was beating inside of me even then, all those years ago. For, though my sins of reading pornographic literature and masturbation were grave, my God’s mercy was so much more. While Satan convinced me that my God had now turned away from me for good, I now know my God’s heart was not hardened toward me, as mine was toward Him. No! His heart broke in compassion for His hurting child.
Jesus saw deep into my heart. Just as He did for King David in his sin, He caught my every tear in His bottle – even though those very tears were caused by my sin – and He turned what the enemy meant for evil into good. For, through my Prodigal journey, Jesus answered the deepest longings of my heart that I never realized He had heard me whisper as a little eleven year old.
And what were those longings? Those longings of His heart in me were to truly know His grace, the very meaning of my name Anna, the name my mother was led to give me from the womb:
Yes! In our prodigal wandering our God bottles our every tear. I now know that long before I began to run, He began praying for me. Just as He did for Peter, He interceded for me before His Father that my faith would not fail, and so that when I returned to Him after denying His Name, I could strengthen my brethren with my testimony to His glory and grace.
Just look at the life of Saul turned Paul and you will be reminded of what our God’s mercy is capable of. Oh may that mercy flow richly through us to anoint others to be saved, just as it did through Stephen as he was stoned to death at the direction of the very one whom he poured out God’s mercy upon.
May the persecution and affliction we walk through at the hands of our enemy only testify to the judgment our Savior bore for us that we might now declare not a judgment of condemnation against ourselves or others but a judgment of mercy.
For, God’s judgment toward us is not one of wrath because His wrath has already been satisfied at the Cross:
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.Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)
Our God’s judgment toward us is one of mercy because He is a God who keeps His covenant to a thousand generations for those who love Him. Because when we are faithless, He remains faithful because He cannot disown Himself in us. Because our God always finishes what He has begun. And because our God has set eternity in the heart of man to make all things beautiful in His time.
Many years later, I again walked through vicious attacks from the enemy, just as I had as a little girl. But this time, as I stepped out in faith and obedience to my Savior’s call and my own heart failed me, I cried out to Jesus for His heart. And He answered me:
A New Heart
Who you are Is not all that You couldn't ever be It never was And never ever once Will be.
Who you are is written On the palm of My own True hand The hand that shaped And formed you.
Fearfully and wonderfully Have I made your frame To hold the very Heart That bled and died and rose again To beat within your very own.
I ask not that you hold so tight I ask not that you strive I ask not that you try so very hard To be what beats within you even now.
All I ask is that you Come Sit at My feet Pour all out That hides behind That wall of shame.
Cast it out, that it may die Death to all that holds you Captive, even now Not to who you are But to who those lying tongues Would have you be.
Rise and shine instead In all My Light of Grace That beckons from behind That wall No more.
Into My loving arms that wait To each beat of flowing truth That girds you now in who You truly are in Me Forgiven, held and pure That’s who You are in Me And evermore will be.
As I laid each accusation of condemnation before Him, He declared His judgment against me as annulled at the Cross. He asked me to hear and heed the new heart beating inside of me. And that heart declared me:
Forgiven, held and pure That’s who You are in Me And evermore will be.
And so, I clasped His hand to depart the old I once believed to be true to enter the new with Him. Now, my faith is no longer in myself or others. It’s in Christ and Christ alone. I now come boldly before the throne of grace in my time of need. I confess my sins freely before God and man. I now lift up my soul to Jesus because I trust Him to save me, moment by moment.
Now, I know that it is precisely my broken heart and crushed spirit that compells my precious Jesus to draw near to me to save me. And so, I cry out to Him, who hears my every cry and bottles my every tear:
Can the prey be taken from the mighty, or the captives of a tyrant be rescued? For thus says the Lord: “Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken, and the prey of the tyrant be rescued, for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children. Isaiah 49:24-25 (ESV)
He heard my mother’s pleas. He saved her child and He’s still doing so daily, as this child of His heart is now learning to lean all her weight upon Him. Praise Him for HIS gracious Words to us. For, they are indeed like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and healing to the body.
Worthy is HE alone of all honor, glory and praise:
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 affirmthat 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 goodnessand 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.”
Life is hard, so very hard. Oh yes, we know the truths of God’s beautiful Word, don’t we? But there are days the darkness presses in. Days our hearts, our minds, our souls struggle to breathe, to believe.
Where do we go on those days? When waves of crashing grief pull us under? When triggers of our past rip open deep wounds and leave us gasping for air? When it feels as if someone has strapped us into a frightening rollercoaster and our screams cannot escape?
Is there a place for us, for us wounded and broken, for us who have been told if we’d “just trust God at His Word” our storms would subside? For us, who run to hide behind closed doors, ashamed, weeping and fearful?
These are questions Bettie Gilbert, Anna Smit and their friends have wrestled through, lashed by the winds and waves of physical, mental and emotional turmoil. In Arise and Shine: Beloved, You Are Mine, a series of poetry, prayers and devotionals, we share how God has been meeting us right there. Not just once, but again and again. How He has been revealing hidden treasures in our struggles to breathe and believe.
These are treasures shrouded in the materials God’s people brought forward for the building of a Holy Temple centuries ago. Treasures now ready for the unveiling.
There is a place for us. Right here, right now. For the wind and waves, they define us as HIS. As fiercely loved, eternally chosen children of God, divinely called to “Arise and Shine!”
Song of Songs 2: 8 - 17, ESV The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely. Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.” My beloved is mine, and I am his; he grazes among the lilies. Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.
As the Lord calls us to Arise and Shine, He has let us know that we, His people, have now become His own dwelling place: the Temple of the Lord.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ 2 Corinthians 6:16 (NIV)
Is there a parallel then, between the setting up and arranging of the early Tabernacle and the building up of our souls, God’s Holy Temple, in Jesus Christ, today? We have experienced it, and still are experiencing it, to be so.
Come, let’s invite Jesus, through His living Word and testimony in us, to uncover our Abba Father’s desires within us. Come, let’s listen for the free-will offerings of His grace that He is calling us to bring forward to Him today. May we come to know His love for us more and more, loving and obeying Him in return. May we see the unveiling of His new Temple in our own physical bodies and in His unified Body, His Bride, as a whole.
We invite you, through the poems, prayers and devotionals of Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mineto take ahold of Jesus’ hand and our own. Come, let’s together discover and rediscover the power of:
Take these simple offerings that you ask of us, and transform them into a sweet-smelling aroma where Your Truth will be clearly heard. We pray for each child of yours You have led to read these words. May each one hear the calling of Your Spirit to join in with the offering of herself.
Thank You for shining Your light on the dark places that You want to transform and redeem in our hearts. May Your Spirit bring a beauty to Your people, and join us together as Your own Temple. May we hear Your call to us, as You ask us to show You our hearts, and come when You call.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
May you arise and shine in the light of Christ, for Beloved, you are theLord’s!
Bettie Gilbert and Anna Smit have been compiling Arise and Shine to publish in a book (since 2017). But we both sensed God’s call to instead release the book He has been writing on our hearts these past few years, here at ShalomAleh.com. We will publish the poems, prayers and devotionals, piece by piece, as He directs us. You will be able to find these posts under the category Arise and Shine: Beloved, You are Mine.