Friday, July 10, 2015

Not A Fire, But A Light

A couple of days ago, the kids and I were talking about our speech. We talked about how, in Scripture, our words can be a fire...destroying everything in it's path. Our words can also be like that of the Pharisees...leavening the whole batch of conversation. In the context of the gospels...that leaven was a bad they were teaching the traditions of man as though they were the commands of God (Matt. 15:9).

But, as I read Psalm 34, I couldn't help but see the beauty of words spoken in a way that honors the Lord and the aroma they can be to those around us!

"I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. Proclaim with me the Lord's greatness; let us exalt His name together."
Psalm 34:1-3

I love the progression of these first 3 verses. It starts with our own hearts being full of praise to the Lord....not sometimes, not in pockets throughout the day, but at ALL times. As we live this life of praise, it results in OTHERS hearing and their hearts becoming happy in Christ, which leads to them giving praise to the Lord, as well. This type of life does not result in forest fires...but results in lights shining in the midst of darkness as we proclaim the one who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light!

"I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; see, I do not keep my mouth closed - as you know, Lord. I did not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I spoke about Your faithfulness and salvation; I did not conceal Your constant love and truth from the great assembly." Psalm 40:9-10

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A Great Cloud of Witnesses

Hebrews 11 is a beautiful chapter full of examples, full of a great cloud of witnesses that have gone before and women who have walked by faith in the midst of trials, uncertainties, riches, foreign lands, walled cities, persecution and even death .

I have found myself reading over and meditating on this passage as I reflect on our move to Canada. Now, I by no means believe that our family should be listed in the "Heroes of Faith" passage...but, as believers, we are called to walk by faith, not by sight...and there are many things in this chapter that my heart resonates with. Of course, as the chapter draws to a close, there are many things that I can't even imagine going through...torture, mocking, scourging, imprisonment, death...and my heart quickly cries out for God's mercy and grace to cover our dear brothers and sisters around the world who are walking in the "valley of the shadow of death".

Right now, the Lord has seen fit to take our family, not into a valley, but up onto the heights...quiet literally! The Lord has given us a home in what is called "Promontory", translated: a point of high land.

"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." Hebrews 11:8-10

Our "tent" is absolutely lovely! We only saw pictures of it on-line...but what a joy it was to walk into our new home and see it in person. Of course, arriving to over a dozen men and women ready to help us move in, balloons and posters of encouragement draped throughout the house, food in the fridge, freezer and pantry, and a host of other sweet blessings throughout the house made our home feel like a haven before one box had even been unpacked. We may not have known fully where we were going or all that awaited us...and we truly felt like foreigners entering the land as we waited at the border for almost four hours to get approval and the necessary documents for settling in Canada, but we so beautifully felt the pleasure of God that day and rejoiced in His steadfast love!

"A man's steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way." Psalm 37:23

Each of us has a visitor's record with our name on it. A reminder to us, and to the Canadian government, that we are foreigners and temporary residents. With those titles comes a list of what we can and cannot do in this land we now call home. It is a living illustration of a spiritual reality that I am thankful to be reminded of, yet again. You see, all of us who have been saved by grace, no matter where we live, hold a "visitor record". Our citizenship is in Heaven.

"These (that great cloud of witnesses!) all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been remembering that land they came from, they would have had opportunity to return. But they now aspire to a better land - a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:13-16

While we all may be foreigners on earth like the saints who have gone before us, we do not greet God's promises from afar...we now proclaim Christ, in Whom all the promises of God find their fulfillment (2 Cor. 1:20). We are so excited to join the ministry here at Valley Heights Community Church and link arms with them as they proclaim the "excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9), and we are so very thankful for the prayers that you have lifted up on our behalf! We know they are as incense to the Lord and they have been sweetness to our hearts.

So, as the pages start filling up in this new chapter of our life....may our praise and prayer be the same:

"I will praise the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I will boast in the Lord; the humble will hear and be glad. Proclaim with me the Lord's greatness; let us exalt His name together."
Psalm 34:1-3