Monthly Archives: May 2014

Our Place of Refuge

Yesterday morning, a stray dog showed up at my front door. I was already late for my first appointment of the day so I left in denial. That is, I left trying to convince myself that he wouldn’t be there when I returned.

At the end of a very long day, I arrived home hoping for the best.  However, strange cat cries coming from the tree near the garage warned me that a golden retriever was coming to greet me and not my cat.  Sometime during the day, April May had faced reality and sought shelter in branches higher than her enemy.

I cannot climb trees like my cat to escape my fears, but when I am fainthearted, especially at the end of a long day, I can seek God in prayer.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
~Psalm 61:1-3

Since denial wasn’t working, I cried out to God for help finding the owner of this playful dog that was following me as though I was the one regularly feeding it. Eventually, my new best friend and I came upon some neighbors who knew another neighbor who actually would provide food and shelter for him for the night. I was so thankful to walk home alone, but April May wasn’t sure so she remained in her place of refuge.

When my husband came home, April May cried out to him.  He heard her, gently helped her down from the tree, and brought her into the house.  Likewise, at just the right time God gently invites you and I to leave behind our earthy fears and to live daily by faith in the Lord’s presence, our place of refuge.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
For you, O God, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
So will I ever sing praises to your name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
~Psalm 61:4-5, 8

Amen and amen!

The Gift of Light

When my husband opened his birthday box from Amazon and found a flashlight set inside, we both knew why our daughter had sent this particular gift. She remembered the Sweet family tradition of giving flashlights as birthday gifts.

She grew up hearing about her grandfather buying a flashlight for her father to take as a birthday gift whenever her grandmother was to busy to go to the store. My father-in-law was convinced that this gift of light was both practical and fun! While my children were growing up if I was unable to take them to the store to get a birthday gift, they took flashlights that their father had helped them pick out.

On early morning sunrise walks, I have been celebrating God’s practical and fun gift of light. But I am also aware that my spiritual life needs the gift of light. Jesus is that gift. Our Lord is both the resurrection and the life (John 11:25).  Indeed, Jesus is the resurrection and the light of life!

So like the Psalmist, you and I can rejoice and praise God for the light of life we have been graciously given.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life. (Psalm 56:13 ESV)

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Life-giving Forgiveness

As I take time to prayerfully examine the condition of my heart, Psalm 51 is teaching me about the resurrection power of forgiveness. When did I feel most welcome in God’s loving presence? When did I feel distance from God’s goodness?  Questions like these help me to see the true spiritual condition of my heart and to receive the wise correction I need.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
~Psalm 51:6 (ESV)

I am so thankful for bright early morning sunrises. They keep reminding me that the all-powerful Creator of the heavens and the earth also creates clean hearts and renews right spirits within those who delight in truth as God does.  Moreover, spiritual renewal and resurrection happen each time my sinful heart receives God’s life-giving forgiveness.

May you and I be taught wisdom in our secret hearts as we seek to understand the resurrection power of forgiveness.

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A Powerful Holy Spirit Reminder

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”
~Psalm 50:23 (ESV)

I am afraid of forgetting the many blessings of Easter morning, so I have been waking up early to watch the sun rise. I want to remember that Christ is risen…risen indeed! It just seems too easy to delete the reality of the resurrection from my short term memory and move on with ministry and daily life without taking time to honor and glorify God.

Each new morning, I have been reminding myself to receive from God the power of Holy Spirit. But more than that, as I offer prayers of thanks for God’s daily presence and seek to order my day in this way, I am given a glimpse of the salvation of God. In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul describes, even better than I can, what happens in these early morning moments.

God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are.
We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.
~Romans 8:16 (MSG)

May God be glorified as you and I receive each day a powerful Holy Spirit reminder of who we really are…God’s children.

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Praise the Name of the Lord

After the resurrection, the disciples of Jesus waited for the full revelation of what new life in Christ would look like. It takes strength and courage to look into the unknown and trust that God truly plans to give us a hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).  In these days after Easter, I am learning how the practice of praising God keeps my heart attune to power of the resurrection.

Lately the praise song Wonderful Merciful Savior by Phillips, Craig and Dean has given me strength and courage.  Here are the words:

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and friend
Who would have thought that a lamb could
Rescue the souls of men
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper
Spirit we long to embrace
You offer hope when our hearts have
Hopelessly lost the way
Oh, we hopelessly lost the way

You are the one that we praise
You are the one we adore
You give the healing and grace
Our hearts always hunger for
Oh, our hearts always hunger for

Almighty, infinite Father
Faithfully loving Your own
Here in our weakness You find us
Falling before Your throne
Oh, we’re falling before Your throne

There is something special about praising the name of the Lord.  A new sense of hope is  resurrected within my soul.  Perhaps that is why the psalmist tells us to praise the name of the Lord.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
And he has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the Lord. (Psalm 148:13, 14 NIV)

Thanks be to God…Amen and amen!