by: Carole L. Haines
“Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”
Sitting out on my porch this morning I was just listening to the sounds of Spring. Birds, bees, the occasional motor of a mower in the distance. But when all was still, what stood out the most was the sound of the wind in the trees. Wind creates a different sound, depending on the kind of tree it is moving through. Pine trees can sound like gentle Ocean waves. Maples, Sycamores, and Oaks create more of a flapping sound, like a flag. It was beautiful just to listen, to observe their movement and admire their strength.
The verse from Ecclesiastes above points to some of the Mysteries of God’s Activities in our lives. Jesus says this:
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
Even as the wind moves and sounds differently through different types of trees, the Holy Spirit moves differently, uniquely through each of us.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
I need you, My Sister, My brother. I need the unique gift you bring to the Body of Christ. We need each other. Varieties of ministries, varieties of effects, varieties of gifts; but the same Lord, the same God, the manifestation of the same Spirit moving through each of us. I love the incredible diversity of the rhythm of the Spirit through each one of us, that ebb and flow of His presence. Never try to be anyone other than uniquely and completely you, Dear Believer. We need each other. Only together, are we The Whole Body of Christ.
by: Carole L. Haines
I was praying this morning as I got things together for my husband’s breakfast when the Lord gently nudged me to apologize to him about something. He was still sleeping but I went in and woke him up to say, “I’m sorry!” He said he doesn’t mind me waking him because it shows how much I care about our relationship. He has the power to fall back asleep within seconds, unlike myself, who would pace the floor trying not to forget to apologize later. He spares me the uncomfortable, anxious waiting.
I must go to others more often than I care to admit, I have a bit of a mouth problem, kinda like a runny nose, only it’s a runny mouth (Ha Ha). Yet God showed me something about all these little obediences. It is all these acts of doing what God says, when He says to do it, that lead to ultimate transformation and maturity in my walk with Him, and in relation to others.
“Therefore, if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:23-24)
I go to others out of a love for God, not always a love for them. But it still changes my view of them, by valuing them as God does. I’ve received all kinds of responses, from denials that anything was ever wrong (even though their behavior toward me made me feel that this was not true), to embraces and thanks.
But no matter what response I get, I must go when God says go. I must obey the promptings of the Lord in these matters for my own healing and growth. It is up to the other person if they want to receive, deny, or accept it. That is not my responsibility. My call is to obey and I always try to do this.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18)
I have reached out to others but never heard replies. This can be so disappointing, and humbling. But the point is, I have done as much as is possible for me to do and I need to tell you, the peace is Oh so fine. I am free from guilt over these matters. All those little obediences have led me to have such an openness toward God. They truly lead to deep growth and contented joy. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.
By: Carole L. Haines
“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first and come up to Me on the mountain and make yourself an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke; and you shall put them in the ark.’ (Deuteronomy 10:1-2)
We all desperately need God’s Grace. Even Moses needed a do-over, several in his lifetime. He killed an Egyptian, forcing him to flee Egypt (Exodus 2:11-15). Here we see God asking him to make two new tablets because he broke the first ones in anger toward the Israelites as they worshipped Aaron’s golden calf (Exodus 32:19-20). But there was yet still a third time that Moses lost his temper.
The Waters of Meribah
“Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.” So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Numbers 20:8-12)
This third time, God pronounces a tremendous consequence for Moses’ sin. He would not be allowed by God to enter The Promised Land with the people. In the above Scripture we see Moses do three things against God’s will.
1) He calls God’s people “rebels.”
2) He says, “shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” He says “we,” as if Moses and Aaron are performing the miracle instead of God.
3) He strikes the rock 2x instead of speaking to it, as God asked him to.
Moses was allowed to lead the people to the Promised land, but Joshua would take over and lead them in. What a sobering lesson for us all. God forgives completely. His mercies are new every morning and His lovingkindness is everlasting. But God does leave some consequences in our lives that reflect some of the sinful or foolish choices we have made. I have those consequences and I am sure you do too.
But God’s allowance of these is all for our good and we can trust him with those, even though we may be confused or bewildered by them. But let me close this with God’s final earthly scene with Moses after he turns away back into the wilderness after Joshua and the people have crossed over into the Promised Land.
“Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” 5 So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. 6 And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day. “(Deuteronomy 34:1-6)
God’s mercy is so boundless. Moses gets to see the promised land; but the consequence stays in place. God will not be mocked. But look at the verse of Moses’ burial. Who buried him??? God Himself. God buried Moses Himself. It reminds me of the verse is Psalms:
Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones. (Psalm 116:15)
Thank You, Lord for Your incredible mercy, grace and patience with us. Thank you for all the do-overs and second chances. We are so blessed to belong to You.
By: Carole L. Haines
Navigating the world of the in-between is tricky sometimes. It’s that awkward time when one season of your life has ended, but where God is leading next is not as apparent. Sometimes God calls us away before He tells us where we are going next. I call this the “In-between Time.” I’ve been through it many times in my life. Many of those times were filled with fear and worry, but being older now, and having been through it often, I have an almost odd sense of peace and tranquility, though I still have no blueprints or clear path forward.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
My husband is on travel for the first time in years, because of COVID, and I miss him a lot. We’ve been married 36 years and you would think we’d be used to times of separation. We’ve been apart for as long as 6 months, and I hated it. This is only 6 days and I’m pining for him. It’s hard because I have just retired from my former career and am pursuing God’s calling in another direction. I’m most definitely in the “In-between Time.” We are at a new church, which is always hard for an introvert like me.
Now I tell you all this to simply set the stage for what God showed me today in a drive we took together. I started praying and crying out for direction and clarity. What I received back from God is that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, right in the middle of this world of the “In-between.” He coupled that assurance with the peace that passes understanding and the drive ended in a time of praise and worship, just me and God, alone in my car. It was so precious and beautiful, I almost wanted to drive right up into heaven and be with Him right now.
But He has more for me to do here, so I embrace the sentiments expressed by the Apostle Paul,
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.”
Are you in an awkward in-between time, one season is done but you don’t know where God is leading next? Fix your thoughts on knowing Him better, seeking Him more. O, what Joy He allowed me to experience with Him this morning in my crying out for clarity. Busyness isn’t always a sign of purpose.
A guest post by:
Bruce Nevin Haines
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things (including time) will be given to you.”
I had recently uttered a quick prayer to God and He unexpectedly and immediately replied. This was not an audible voice, but it might as well have been. The prompting from his Spirit was so swift and clear it actually unsettled me. This was the type of unsettling that would come from an unexpected correction or chiding. It leaves your ego a bit bruised, and gives you that “How could I have not known this?” thought that makes us feel a bit foolish.
Here is the quick prayer that I uttered: “God step into my life in new ways,”
“Then make room for me!” was God’s immediate reply.
I was stunned. I sat there and tried to unpack this two-line conversation. The answer was very fitting and appropriate to the question I had posed. God was of course right in his reply. But the way that I phrased the prayer was equally as telling.
In reality, my invitation for God to step in was putting all the responsibility on Him. I did not recognize that the room required for Him to step into was not there. I was not a good steward of my time and resources, and in that moment God let me know.
God’s Sovereignty is always present in our lives. But He does not rule and manage our time and resources for us. We are stewards, just as Adam and Eve were stewards of the Garden of Eden. We are to steward our lives in a manner that gives God the time He desires so that our relationship with Him will be thriving and nurtured. God is always faithful to His part. He will sometimes surprise us and step in unannounced. But He also wants for us to invite Him in.
Providing a reasonable space for a guest to stay is a courteous and responsible thing to do. We prepare. We make room. Often things need to be removed in order to make this room. I have a tendency to complain about my lack of time to get things done. But at some point I have to assess what is it that I really need to do?
How does God really want me to steward the time He has given me in my present circumstances?
If I feel like I am stepping into a crowded elevator, then it will be easier to enter after someone else leaves. Let us prayerfully consider what is taking up space in our own lives that otherwise would be used for God to step into.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
Cherished, Precious and Wanted (Pt. 4)
by: Carole L. Haines
A large part of knowing how much God loves us is the fact that Jesus not only invites us to be forgiven of our sins, but He invites us to belong to Him. Initiating a personal and intimate relationship with God. There is unspeakable joy in belonging to the Lord. That is what has been going through my head the last day or so. Jesus speaks this to us:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
Peter tells us this in his epistle:
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pete3, vs 9)
What an amazing privilege it is to finally find a place, a person that I belong to. O how my heart has yearned for this from my earliest days. Belonging to God, and to the Body of Christ is one of the greatest gifts of our Salvation. I searched for it in my family growing up, my friends, my husband, my children. I did not find that longing fulfilled until I met Jesus and walked with Him a long time. He is not going to cast me out or find something wrong with me and just ditch me. (John 6:37)
The Fallout of not belonging is devastating on a worldwide scale. Hate groups, gangs, broken families, broken nations, wars. I believe God created us to belong from the beginning because He as our Triune God, and as such they belong to each other. We are created in His image, therefore we yearn to belong to someone, to find a place that we fit in and are loved.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;… God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them…(Genesis 1:26-28a)”
7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)
God created us with a craving for belonging. His adoption of us into His family through salvation is the only experience perfect enough to fulfill that longing. “God demonstrates His love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Dear Child of God, You are cherished, precious and wanted by God, Your Creator, Redeemer and Friend. Come to Him and really gaze into the truth of that love in His heart. Receive it, believe it, rest in it from this time forth and forevermore. Have a Blessed Day.
By: Carole L. Haines
In our discovering of how cherished we are to Christ; we will find that Jesus’ last day with the disciples is very telling in just how precious they were to Him. It is also easy to ascertain through this discourse from John 13-17, what are the issues closest to Jesus’ heart. In chapter 13, He washes their feet as an example of how to love one another, In 14, He is comforting his followers with thoughts of heaven and fellowship with Himself, the Father and provision of the Holy Spirit as our helper when Jesus has ascended. One of His followers asks this question of Jesus:
“Judas (not Iscariot) *said to Him, “Lord, what has happened that You are going to reveal Yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will follow My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. The one who does not love Me does not follow My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:22-24)
One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the sense of His presence with us. Jesus’ answer to Judas’s odd question is to make clear that we will sense God’s presence when we love Him because God will come and make His dwelling with us. The “if” here is very important, “if” we love Him and follow His Word, we will be aware of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit dwelling with us. We need to devote ourselves more to loving God than any other endeavor in the world.
We can claim we love Him by pointing to works we do for Him, but here he states that to love Him is to follow His Word. The word “follow” here means: “to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard.” I have oftentimes run off out of the presence of Jesus without fully hearing what His heart is speaking to mine. So anxious to be doing things for Jesus instead of attending to His Word and Will for me specifically. Lots of yielding and surrender is needed to discern God’s heart. Jesus speaks of this intimacy in John 10:
“When he (The good shepherd) puts all his own sheep outside, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 However, a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (vs. 4-5).
It takes time and effort to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn His voice so intimately that we recognize the voice of strangers. Sometimes we ourselves can be a distracting voice from our Good Shepherd by running off before He finishes telling us His Will and Way for us to walk in. In Christ’s answer to Judas’ question about revealing Himself to us but not the world, the key in Christ’s answer is the time spent in devotion and love of intimate fellowship with the Lord. He doesn’t want our works, He wants us. Let us sit before Him long and often. Then we will know just how cherished, precious and wanted we are
By: Carole L. Haines
As a seed, I have lived what feels more like the life of a Wildflower than that of a cultured one. The winds of life have carried me in directions I would never have chosen for myself. Jesus speaks this to us,
“The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
This is how my life has felt, but in reading this verse, that’s how it is meant to feel, guided and carried by a force greater than my own. When we think about seeds, they are helpless and dependent upon the right conditions to grow. Most need some sun-light, all need water and soil. I have seen beautiful flowers growing out of the most unusual places. I have seen flowers growing out of old tree stumps in the forest. I have spied them growing from cracks in the pavement. Wildflowers are some of the most resilient flowers of all, therefore I favor them so much. I spread wildflower seeds in my garden every year and wait to see what beauties I get. I then watch to see their resilient seeds regrow from places in the yard where the winds have blown them.
I imagine most of us feel like the winds of life have come and scattered our seeds in places we never dreamed we’d find ourselves. At first, I tried to harness the wind and steer it into my own directions, but now I am learning to ride the wind of the Holy Spirit and see my life as more of an adventure and ponder where He will carry me. Meanwhile I will bloom for now where I have landed, trusting God to bring forth much fruit as I sit before Him in His Word. Truly spoken are these words of Christ,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)
Ride the Mighty Wind of the Spirit, Beloved seeds of God. You will bear fruit wherever He takes you, just remain faithfully abiding in the Vine (John 15).
by: Carole L. Haines
It’s amazing how God’s Heart is right there, open and drawing us toward Himself all the time. It’s a force unleashed so often through prayer. Here I thought I was going to be dropping some gems for you all (arrogant, huh?), but God always has much bigger plans. God revealed to me over the last few days just how bound up I still am into what I will call the “spirit of rejection.” God’s Word calls us to freedom. His call is to, “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” Let’s look at God’s call in its context.
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
In the business I am in, there are what we would refer to as “Calls to Action.” These encourage a potential client to respond to the proposal given in some form or fashion. God’s Word has these too. In the above Scripture we see several. Our Calls to Action are lay aside, run, fix our eyes on, and consider.
1) Lay aside every encumbrance and sin that so easily entangles us
2) Run with endurance the race that is set out before us
3) Fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author of our faith and the one who
Is our faith’s finisher (Philippians 1:6)
4) Consider and meditate on Jesus who;
A) recognized the future joy
B) Endured the cross
C) Despised its shame
D) Sat down at the right hand of God
God is giving us calls to action that will lead us deeper into the freedom that was bought for us by Jesus Christ. Just listen to these tender words of Jesus toward His followers:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
What are calls to action here, followed up by Jesus beautiful promise to come back for us. List them and meditate on them as You seek the face of Jesus. Breathe in the fresh truth of how deeply Jesus yearns for His Bride, the Body of Christ, to be with Him where He is.
O yes, Dear Believer, You are Cherished, Precious and Wanted. Sit with Him and soak in that truth for awhile. Be Blessed this day.