Surprised by Beauty (Just let go and know)

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By: Carole L. Haines

Have you ever planted something in your yard, walked away and forgotten all about it?  You didn’t tend it, water it, fertilize it, and yet somehow, it flourished and bloomed. My son was out mowing in an obscure part of the yard and came in to say, “Mom, you’ve got to see these lilies in the corner of the yard behind the gazebo!” I walked out and sure enough, there they were, big beautiful blooms that seemingly came out of nowhere.

The Kingdom of God is like that.  We are the fertile ground. God places the seed inside of us. We grow in dormancy, unseen by the world. Then suddenly God pulls back the curtain, at just the right time, and all the beauty He placed in us is displayed before mankind. He is glorified and all we can do, is fall at His feet, and say, “I don’t even remember planting that, Lord!”

That’s because you didn’t, He did! He is growing His grace and beauty inside of us, through drought and dry times. He is sheltering us from the heat of the day underneath the shadow of His wings.  We don’t even see it growing inside of us, and we can only stand back in awe as He displays His glory through us for all the world to see.

We know we had nothing to do with it.  We are just yielded vessels, striving to love our Heavenly Father and be grateful to Him for His great kindness; when He just blazes glory through us.  Our God is so amazing.  I have learned, in my many years of being a Believer in Jesus, that it’s more about being yielded and surrendering; than striving and straining.  God’s Word tells us to:

10 “Cease striving (to sink, relax, sink down, let drop, withdraw, let go, to be quiet)

and know that I am God; ( Learn to know, recognize, know by experience)
I will be exalted among the nations,

 I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our stronghold.

Selah. (Psalm 46 NASB)
Just let go and know, know God. Stop trying to figure it all out and get to know God. Get to know Him by experience, by taking your hands off the wheel of your life. Get out of the driver seat and become the passenger. God says: I will be exalted, I will be exalted.  God is with us, He is doing a beautiful work in each of our lives.  The biggest thing standing in the way of becoming God’s beauty is our own tight grip upon the wheel of our lives.  Just let go and know. He will never fail you. You may be bewildered, confused, confounded by some of the ways He works, but He never, ever fails you.  I know that after walking with Him for more than 4 decades now.  Just let go, cease striving, and Know Him. Invest in your relationship to Him. Yield and surrender, yield and surrender.

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What makes you think I want your life?

 

DSC01648by: Carole L. Haines

My husband told me a story about a friend of his who answered an acquaintance’s arrogance with this statement, “What makes you think I want your life?”  The man was a few years ahead in the same line of business as my husband’s friend, and without being asked for advice, was giving out a litany of how to become as successful as he was.  He was basically telling this guy, “Do these things and you can have the kind of life I have.” A life of wealth, luxury and ease was what was being solicited to our friend. I couldn’t help but think of Satan’s Temptation of Jesus.

Again, the devil *took Him to a very high mountain and *showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus *said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” (Matthew 4:8-10)

O, how the world loves to think we want to have what they have, be who they are, do what they do.  We hear it from Movie-dom, Sports Arenas, Business offices, and unfortunately, even the occasional pulpit.   Hebrews 12 gives us a list of what we now have in Jesus Christ:

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
23 to the general assembly
and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the Judge of all,
and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
(Hebrews 12:22-24)
Then, as if all that was not enough, God tops it off with:

26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrew 12:26-29)

A kingdom that cannot be shaken.  God actually desires to remove from our lives, our dependence upon the very things the world runs after, brags about and tries to peddle to us. But just look at our beautiful inheritance in Christ. I don’t want or need anything the world is peddling. I echo the sentiments of our friend, “What makes you think I want your life?”  Jesus speaks the truest of Words when He says this:

31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31-34)

Thank you, Dearest Lord Jesus, for the life You have bought for me, and freely given to all who believe in You as Savior.

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First and Foremost

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By: Carole L. Haines

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to let God give us His own view of ourselves. First and foremost we give ourselves to God fully and unreservedly, as Oswald Chambers says:
God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. True surrender is a matter of being ‘united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death’ (Romans 6:5) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him. And after you surrender–then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.

Sometimes I feel I am always at a new beginning with God, you know, starting over.  The closer I get to God, the more His light shines on my darkness, and the more I see my own need for change.  But this morning He blessed me so much when I spoke to Him of this.  I didn’t pray out loud, just a yearning in my spirit, deep down inside. As soon as I opened the verse of the day from Bible Gateway, I knew He heard my cry and would carry me through to the end. Here’s the passage He brought to me today:

Psalm 138 (NASB)

 I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. I will bow down toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.
All the kings of the earth will give thanks to You, O Lord, When they have heard the words of Your mouth. And they will sing of the ways of the Lord, For great is the glory of the Lord. For though the Lord is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, And Your right hand will save me.
The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Everyday, First and Foremost, I am His, I am His, and He will accomplish His will in me as I stay yielded to Him.  Though, at times like this, I feel confused. First and Foremost, I am His.

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The Wonders around me

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The Wonders around me

By: Carole L. Haines

I never cease to be amazed at the wonders around me

Hummingbirds zing to and fro between the crimson colored feeders

Deer run skipping, leaping, almost dancing by the field next to mine

Pine trees hover over me like a hen gathering her chicks beneath her wings

And the scent in the air I breathe, just tinged with the slightest hint of Honeysuckle

Seeds I planted just months ago, turned into flowers of glorious colors

Tiny seeds, so minuscule, so insignificant to most Trampled underfoot by most,

yet so treasured and uplifting to all who pause to gaze

Bees flitting from blossom to blossom, gathering, carrying

Songbirds singing tunes so familiar, yet so new after such a long Winter’s stay

I see Your handiwork everywhere I look

And I am so grateful, just so very grateful, God, for you

The Works and the Word of God.

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world.
In them He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.
10 They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.

PSALM 19

I hear Your call dear Lord, away from old things, and into new.  I know not where You are leading me now, but I know and trust You.  You are a Good, Gracious and Faithful Lord, Savior, Friend and God. I love because You first loved me. Amen

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Power beneath our feet

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By: carole l. Haines

I have been absolutely mesmerized by the recent pictures of the Volcanic eruptions in Hawaii. How often do we think about the power beneath every step we take each day?  The Earth’s Outer core is liquid rock, moving freely beneath us each day, while its innermost core is solid, composed of an iron-nickel alloy (Wikipedia). I never thought about it until those amazing pictures of the Eruption in Hawaii recently forced my mind to take stock. I looked up facts on the Earth’s Core, on Volcanoes, etc.  I just couldn’t get over the immensity of what I was seeing.

This all made me think of what the Bible says in Philippians 2:12-13

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Oswald Chambers commented on this passage by saying this:

With focused attention and great care, you have to “work out” what God “works in” you— not work to accomplish or earn “your own salvation,” but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord. (From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition)

There is power in every believer in Jesus Christ.  God is at work in us both to have the “want to” and the “ability to” accomplish His will on this earth.  There is a yielding to God’s leading that takes place. I watched with amazement as the Lava from the Volcano just went wherever it found a place to flow.  It created rivers of molten rock throughout communities, making its way to the Sea.  There was no stopping it, no stemming the flow, no diverting of the pathway.  It was impossible to do anything but watch in awe and trembling, as the Eruption went on for weeks.

God is at work within each of us, seeking to make us an unstoppable force for His Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is being built by God through us. What an amazing privilege and honor to be a part of His Eternal Plan.  Sit before this precious and all-powerful God today and praise Him for both the “want to” and the “ability to,” do His will.  He is able and will make a way where there seems to be no way, in and through each of us.

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Those wounds look angry

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By: carole l. Haines

I remember hearing as a child, “OOOOOO, those wounds look angry.” I never knew what that meant, but later I came to find out that it meant the wounds looked infected. I have a couple of those infected wounds on my arm right now, from gardening and coming into contact with poison ivy.  It made me think about our emotional wounds. Can they get “angry” looking too? Do emotional wounds hove the potential to get infected?  My own personal experience tells me that they do.  God made us deeply feeling people, even as He Himself expresses emotions. God has said in His Word that He:

“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” (Genesis 6:6)

“Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses,” (Genesis 4:14)

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Exodus 34:6)

God was sorry and grieved.  At times, His anger burns.  Yet, He is also compassionate and gracious, abounding in lovingkindness.  Emotions are a part of how we are made in the Image of God.

But our anger, bitterness, frustration, etc. can cause wounds that get infected, that look angry. To cure infection, you need something stronger than the infection itself. In our bodies, there are antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria.  But sometimes our own antibodies are not strong enough and need help from what we call antibiotics. These assist the body in killing certain fungi and bacteria during an illness. They assist our own immune system and strengthen it to fight what we cannot fight alone.

When it comes to infected emotional wounds, we need God to come alongside us and enable us to fight it and heal. Forgiveness is the greatest weapon in our arsenal when it comes to this malady, and forgiveness is only possible when we recognize just how sinful we ourselves are.

I love what Ecclesiastes says:

20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins. 21 Also, do not take seriously all words which are spoken, so that you will not hear your servant cursing you. 22 For you also have realized that you likewise have many times cursed others. (Ecclesiastes 7:20-22)

Infected emotional wounds can often come from a inability to see ourselves as we really are.  We are all sinners. We are all in need of a Savior. He is Jesus Christ.  Our Savior summed up the Law and the Prophets in two commands,

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

I’ve often heard it said that the three most important words in a relationship are, “I love you.” But I am inclined to think that they are, “I forgive you.” When it comes to our angry emotional wounds, the two-sided coin we must use is love and forgiveness. Only God is strong enough to help us do this.  Bring your angry wounds to God today and ask for His help in loving and forgiving others. He will make a way for healing and restoration for you, even where there seems to be no way.

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The Prisoner of The Lord

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By: Carole L. Haines

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 NASB)

Paul considered that his imprisonment was from the Lord.  He wasn’t bitter, but he was concerned for those Believers with whom he had interacted, to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. Why is this? I believe that it is because Paul could no longer walk among them.  God had imprisoned Paul for the purpose of writing the Epistles which would ultimately become a large portion of the New Testament. Now Paul didn’t know that while he was writing them. Perhaps his imprisonment perplexed him, made him feel trapped and useless.  But Paul did not become bitter and began to do his “walking in a manner worthy,” through the writing of letters to all the Churches he had helped establish.

God has a purpose for all the happenings in our lives, whether we are walking in freedom, or we feel imprisoned within our circumstances. God has a perfect plan.  God promises us that He will work all things together for our good and calls us to love Him and trust His purpose for our lives (Romans 8:28). There were times that I felt imprisoned at home with three little ones under my feet, but I knew I was called to raise them up. Looking back now, I see how important that really was, and what an awesome privilege it was.  I work in a learning center with young children now, and I see mothers every day, who wish they could stay home with their little ones. I was blessed, and enjoyed that blessing immensely, even on the days I felt trapped. I love what Henry Blackaby says about our circumstances in his book Experiencing God.

“Never allow your heart to question God’s love. Settle it on the front end of your quest to know Him and experience Him: He loves you. Every dealing He has with you is an expression of His love for you. God would not be God if He expressed Himself in any way other than perfect love! What you believe about God’s love for you will be reflected in how you relate to Him. If you really believe God is love, you will also accept that His will is always best.”
Henry T. Blackaby, Experiencing God

God was using Paul’s imprisonment, to help us learn to walk in a manner worthy. If Paul had not been imprisoned, he would have just gone to the Churches in person and shared his heart.  Because of his imprisonment, we have the writings that God accomplished through Paul to teach us how to live the life of faith we have, and to glorify God in all we are.

So yes, at times we are all “the prisoners of the Lord,” for a purpose, and that purpose cannot necessarily be known while we walk the earth.  Trust God in your circumstances. He has reason for all He does, and He promises to work it all for good, as we love and trust Him and His purposes for our lives.

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