I know that I already shared about a new prayer prompt that I am using in my quiet time with the Lord, but y’all, it is yielding such amazing truths. So, here I am, once again, to share with you what the Lord is teaching me through it. Let me remind you what I am doing. I spend a few moments each morning reading one of the Psalms, and as I do, I look for PRAISE PROMPTS.
On Saturday morning, the Lord got out His highlighter and showed me something very special. Today my everyday jesus post is all about what He showed me this time.
I read Psalm 16 on Saturday morning and the Lord highlighted one specific word: refuge. I feel like the Lord might just reserve His highlighter for slow learners like me!
Refuge: (noun) shelter or protection from danger or trouble; a place that provides shelter or protection
As I thanked Jesus for being my refuge, I was reminded that I had read this same word several other times since beginning my new prayer prompt. I did a bit of research and discovered that, in fact, I had read about ‘refuge’ in previous Psalms.
Did you know the word refuge is used in the Bible 95 times (ESV)? FORTY SEVEN of those uses are in the Psalms. I’d say that it is a pretty important word if He used it that much in just one book!
When I think of the times in my life that I have needed a refuge, without fail, it is during times of stress and trial. God knew that life on this fallen orb would offer plenty of times when we would need a refuge.
What does a refuge look like? Here are some things that might be considered a refuge:
Bathroom (if you are a mom of small children)
Almost without fail, every use of the word refuge in the Psalms is associated with God being our refuge, our safe place in times of trouble and trial. When life tosses difficult circumstances at me, God is my refuge; my safe place. I know that I can always go to God, and He will protect me. His Words offer life and comfort. His Holy Spirit lives within me to guide me.
If trouble and trial is your lot in this season, I want to encourage you to seek refuge in Jesus and in His Word. Spend time with Him and learn from His Word. Allow Him to highlight something from Scripture that is specifically for your heart. Neither Jesus, nor His Word, will ever let you down.
Here are a few verses about refuge. I hope they encourage you today.
Psalm 16:1 ~ Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
Psalm 18:2 ~ The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 25:20 ~ Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Psalm 31:1 ~ In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me!
Psalm 46:1 ~ God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
I love how gentle the Lord is with us. Sure, sometimes I need a smack on the head to make me realize I am not on a good path, but other times, all I need is His gentle whisper into my heart. Last week, that is what I received. Today, I want to tell you about it as we continue our everyday jesus: seeing him in the daily-ness of life series. #everydayjesus.
I have begun something new in my daily prayer time; something that reminds me and helps me to praise my God. I feel like intentional praise is something that gets the short end of the stick in my prayer life. It is easy to rush into asking and confessing, but I find praise to be something I do not give nearly enough time. So, I determined that I would pick a different Psalm each morning, read it, and in it, find something that I could turn into a prayer of praise to my Jesus. So far, it is an wonderful addition to my prayer time!
On the first day I entered into this new practice, I was also a bit down about the lack of focus, clarity, intentionality, as well as productivity in my writing over the past 6 months or so. It has been ten months since HeBrews: A Better Blend launched, and almost two years since I wrote anything substantial, like a Bible study. I’ve been feeling the itch to write, and am beginning down that path, but was just a bit melancholy over the lack of anything of substance emerging from my keyboard recently.
I opened my Bible to Psalm 1 (ESV), which is a Psalm I fell in love with many years ago. It is a lovely reminder of what the sold out heart of a Christ-follower should look like. On that day, Jesus showed up in one particular phrase, and ministered deeply to my heart. Here is the entire Psalm, with that one phrase highlighted:
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
The blessed man (and woman) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.
Seems pretty innocuous, right? Well, hang tight, because what the Lord whispered into my heart was HUGE.
He highlighted the yields fruit in season part of the verse. Then he asked me a question,
“Leah, does a fruit tree bear fruit year-round?”
Obviously, even to a dim bulb like myself, the answer is ‘no’. A fruit tree only bears visible fruit in a specific season. The rest of the year is full of times of preparation, renewal, and growth, but no fruit on which to feast.
Have you figured out where the Lord was taking me?
He reminded me that, just like a healthy fruit tree, there will be seasons of quiet preparation, renewal and growth in my writing and speaking life. Those are seasons to be embraced, not despised or rushed away. They are seasons where the Lord teaches and corrects; seasons of pruning and fertilizing what is already there.
Talk about a paradigm shift for me. No season lasts forever. There will be another fruitful writing season…speaking season…mentoring season……____________________ season. You fill in your own blank.
How does that speak to you, friend? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Linking on Friday with Grace & Truth
Linking up on Tuesday with Kelly at #RaRaLinkup!
Rainy days and Mondays….that song from the Carpenters is apropos for the past week here in the south. We have had a lot of rain, but I’m trusting the Lord knows that we need it. Well, it is Monday, or almost Monday, depending on when and where you are reading this. Welcome to my Monday series, everyday jesus: seeing him in the daily-ness of life. #everydayjesus
As Greg and I worshipped yesterday, we were blessed by a powerful sermon on the importance of the Holy Spirit. It was a reminder that is appropriate for any Christ-follower, but especially those of us in ministry.
Dr. Cooper reminded us how the Spirit worked under the Old Covenant, how He worked in the life of Jesus, and how He works in the life of the believer post-resurrection and ascension. I’m not going to recap his entire message, but if you are interested in hearing it, you can go here.
What really smacked me between my eyes, (and was a reminder from Jesus) was one sentence from the section on how the Spirit works in the life of the believer. Dr. Cooper said that we have many tools today that are used to help share the gospel….good tools, the internet, tracts, musical productions, gospel cubes, blog posts, link-ups, tweets, and so much more. But the truth is that there are only two things that are necessary for the good news of Christ to go out. Two things:
The Message of the Gospel
An Anointing to share the Message
A gospel tract is a good thing, but it is not a necessary thing. A piano, or guitar, or any other instrument is a good thing, but they are not necessary things for the spread of the gospel. All the godly blog posts in the world are good things, but they are not necessary things for the spread of the gospel. Here is the sentence that got me:
We have confused the tool with the Message.
Yes, God has called me to write blog posts to share His word. Yes, God may have called you to sing to share His gospel. Yes, God may use a tract or a gospel cube to help explain the gospel. However, we must not place more emphasis on the tools than we do on the Message of the Gospel.
The Disciples of Christ, after being baptized with the Holy Spirit, spread out across the ancient world, sharing the gospel, and thousands came to Christ. Those disciples did not have tracts or blog posts or tweets or gospel cubes. They had the Message of Salvation and an Anointing by the Holy Spirit. That’s it.
God has given us the Message. The question is whether we are operating in the anointing of the Holy Spirit as we share it. Every word we speak, every post we write, every tweet, every word that is sung should be under the inspiration and Anointing of the Holy Spirit. Because, if they are not, we need to stop talking/writing, and get back to basics:
The Message of Gospel shared under the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Pretty convicting, huh?
On Mondays we take a few minutes to reflect on the ways we have seen Jesus in our daily lives over the past week or so. I call these Monday posts everydayjesus: seeing him in the daily-ness of life. # everydayjesus
Today, however, I want to do something a bit different. Instead of talking about how I saw Jesus in my daily life, I want to enter into a few moments of self-examination with you. Because, you see, there will be times in our lives where we are an example of Jesus to other people.
That whole thing scares me, really. I am so error-prone, mistake-riddled, and just plain sinful, that to think of others seeing Jesus because of me….well, it just doesn’t seem plausible.
We know it is true, however. In the book of Titus, which my small group and I are studying right now, we find Paul urging Titus to:
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works (Titus 2:7 ESV)
Paul is reminding Titus that he should model the life of Christ for the people of the island of Crete. In that way, they would find Jesus.
This week I was reminded of the importance of modeling the Jesus-life as I read Mark Noll’s excellent book entitled, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada. I happen to enjoy history, and this book gives me more than a plateful of it.
Early in the volume, Noll recounts the history of Catholic missionaries to the North American continent. He tells of Jean de Brebeuf who worked among the Huron Indians of New France (Canada) for more than a decade in the early 1600s. He prepared Christian literature in the language of the Hurons, and ultimately won many to Christ.
Eventually tribal wars forced the Hurons to move from the region. As a result Brebeuf was martyred in 1649 by the archenemies of the Hurons, the Five Nations Iroquis. Consider a quote by Noll about Brebeuf’s martyrdom.
It says something of the stature he [Brebeuf] had gained among the Native Americans that when he was finally killed, after excruciating torture, the Iroquois cut out his heart and ate it so that they might receive a share of his courage. Emphasis, mine
Although the Iroquois may not have recognized Brebeuf’s courage as Jesus Christ, that was exactly what they were seeing.
As I read that, I was forced to stop and ponder my own life. Do others see Jesus in me?
Is He evident in my speech, my writing, my courage, my love for my family and friends, my work, and my worship?
What about you? Do others see something in your life that would make them want what you have, like the Iroquois wanted what Brebeuf had?
In the good times and the bad, do you and I model Jesus for a desperately lost and needy world?
‘Tis a sobering thought, friend. A sobering thought, indeed.
Everyday Jesus is with us. #everydayjesus. In my Monday series, I am being intentional in seeing Jesus in the daily-ness of life. Sometimes He is more evident than other times. Sometimes, I have to quiet myself, look back on the week, and ask Him to show me when and where He was present. Today I want to share with you how Jesus made Himself very visible as He answered a prayer I had been praying for a few months.
It has been about a year and a half since I finished writing HeBrews: A Better Blend. Writing a Bible study is hard work, friends. It requires mental concentration, spiritual oneness with the Holy Spirit, and lots of uninterrupted time. After writing From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy, my heart was not moved to write something major again for about 2 years. Then, the Lord directed me to write from the book of Hebrews, and thus HeBrews: A Better Blend was birthed.
A few months ago, after a year and half without the itch to write anything substantial, the itch began returning. I had already begun to pray about what the next writing project would look like. Once I knew I would write again, I began to ask the Lord, in earnest, to show me the topic, the title, the Scriptures, the words of the next writing project. I had hoped it would be another Bible study, but knew that was up to God. About ten days ago, I began to sense that the next project would likely be another study.
This week, the Lord made clear to me what that project will be. I wrestled for the better part of a half-day with the title of the project. I played with at least ten different titles, and nearly gave up. Finally, He gave me the working title of my next major project. This is how He works with me. He gives me one small piece at a time, until eventually, I have the entire revelation of His will for my writing. Thank you, Lord, for entrusting me with words that point the world to YOU. I’m humbled, and I’m honored.
Let the writing commence!
On Friday and Saturday I had the privilege of serving the ladies of Habersham County, Georgia’s WMU (Women’s Missionary Union) at their annual retreat, which was held at Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, Georgia. It was a sweet time of service for me, and I pray a time of challenge and growth for the ladies.
I had the pleasure of meeting some of the sweetest ladies over the two days, and came away from the event feeling so blessed. One of the ladies I met is the topic for today’s everyday jesus story. #everydayjesus
On Friday afternoon, I stood at my product table and watched a younger (probably in her late 60s) lady help an older woman (early 80s) to a chair next to my table. The younger woman looked at me, and when I smiled, she said, “This is Anita. She was a missionary.”
Immediately, I was intrigued. I walked over, picked up the pillow in the chair next to Anita, and settled in beside her. Her white hair, kind eyes, and softly wrinkled skin hinted to me that this lady had some stories to tell. I introduced myself and asked her about her missionary years.
Anita Roper and me
Anita was an IMB (International Mission Board) missionary to Nigeria for over 40 years. She taught school in Nigeria, and was the spearhead for the GA (Girls in Action) arm of the WMU for all of Nigeria.
She and I discovered that we have a mutual friend, Jo George. Jo G, as I call her, was my high school guidance counselor. Anita and Jo G used to lead Vacation Bible School in my hometown when they were young women, sixty-plus years ago.
Anita eagerly shared stories of ‘her girls’…..young Nigerian women who were under her tutelage and care. She told me of one who is now at a high level in the Nigerian government. She shared that every year she re-connects at a reunion with those Nigerian women she ministered to who now live in the US. As she talked, her eyes lit up and her love for ‘her girls’ was evident.
I looked at her and with a huge lump in my throat said, “Anita, you are one of our heroes of the faith.”
She lowered her eyes, paused a moment, and said, “God is good.”
I replied, “All the time.”
Without missing a beat, Anita said, “And all the time…”
I finished, “God is good.”
Anita gave her adult life in service to the girls of Nigeria, telling them about Jesus and the love He has for them. Although she did not speak of trials during her years of service, I know that life as a missionary is not without more than a few of them.
Anita retired in 1992, but continues to love and serve Jesus even in her 80s.
I saw Jesus in Anita. Her love for the girls of Nigeria, her devotion to Jesus, and her dedication to spreading the gospel were all evidence of her faith in Christ. It was all I could do to hold back tears later as I spoke and saw Anita’s beautiful face in the crowd. How fitting that my topic for that evening was the LEGACY that we are leaving for the generations that come behind us.
Linking up at Kelly Balarie at #RaRalinkup and Grace & Truth: