Potential

Potential: The possibility of something happening or of what someone will become in the future; latent qualities that may lead to success in the future. 

 

 

This morning I sat on my porch during a thunderstorm and marveled at the magnificence of our Father. I have enjoyed my lilies this year; they have been beautiful. I noticed many new buds on the stalks that would become big, stunning blossoms. Sadly… they only last a couple of days then they begin to fade. But I also I noticed the new buds on the lilies, the hibiscus, the small rose bush and even the blueberries. I am eagerly anticipating the sweet taste of the blueberries and the morning I am greeted with the brilliant colors and delightful fragrance of the flowers. Potential. Today I see their potential, tomorrow the fullness of their destiny. 

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In the spring there is nothing more exciting to me than buying flowers to plant in my flower beds. I break up the hard ground, add new soil and look for bigger pots to grow more flowers. I love Miracle Grow products! As I pour on this blue liquid I have great expectation of bigger blueberries or increased blooms.

Hidden within each of us, our Father plants a small portion of His own DNA, a tiny seed ready to explode, bloom and reach our destiny. He then plants us into fertile ground so that we might reach our full potential. (Acts 17:26, Read it!) What dreams were placed in your heart by our Father that hold the key to your potential? What abilities or even disabilities has He allowed in your life to prune or even fertilize your potential? With great expectations, He pours on His “Miracle Grow” products such as faith, hope, joy and even sorrow and difficulties, knowing exactly what each of us will require to reach our potential, our destiny. He is the Master Gardner. John 15:1 I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. (The Message Bible).

 

 

Scrolling through FaceBook I read the story of a young, hopeless boy in the slums of Haiti who has just graduated with honors from West Point Academy as a full citizen of the United States. He is a strong warrior who may just command the army of our nation one day. Who knew? Who could see his potential? God and the boy’s father. (click here for the story)

Then there is the story of the little boy who kept the sheep on a hillside in the Judean hills around Bethlehem. Everyone else saw him as a shepherd, but God saw the potential of a great warrior king who could bring Israel into the fullness of its destiny. King David. 

Rich Butler, my son-in-law once said, “An acorn is simply an oak tree that hasn’t reached its potential…yet.” 

 

 

As we look at the lillies and even the acorns let’s remember to look into the faces of newborn babies, of children, of friends, of little boys born in the slums of a poverty-stricken nation and see the potential. Let’s pray for hope and faith to come and water the potential in each of them. Who knows what your small prayer might kindle? Who knows what spark your kind words might ignite? Begin to look past the present and nourish, encourage and pray for their potential to manifest. Who knows if that dirty faced, snagged toothed little boy might become the hero, the president, the king.

 

 

Potential plus the power of God?

Nothing is impossible! 

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Spring!

The first thing the Lord did when He created man was to place him in a garden. So many times Jesus spoke of farmers, crops, and flowers. One of my favorite scriptures is from Matt. 6: 28-29“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

I have been quite busy working in my garden and loving every minute. There is something about digging in the dirt that brings fulfillment to my heart and fullness to my soul. Psalm 23 that states, “He restores my soul.” For me, one of the best ways for my soul to be restored is to have dirt under my fingernails. Last year was such a busy year for us and by the end of 2017 I was quite burned out. I seemed to have lost the joy of everyday life. Talk about a dry spell. So the Lord in His mercy has had me to pull way back on many things, re-evaluate everything I was doing in ministry and just rest. No, not sleeping, but finding rest for my soul.

How would the Lord restore my soul? My body was fine. My spirit seemed to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But my soul? Dry, tired, no joy and even a feeling of sadness. I needed restoration.

Matt. 11:28-30. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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I began to ask, “Lord, how do I walk with you, how do you do it?” I thought I needed to be at every meeting, in touch with every person I knew, take care of all the problems of my children (ouch!) and the list goes on! Talk about two big issues.

Number one: Who is in control? I quickly discovered it was not me!

Number two: I had a big case of FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out!!!

As I surrendered Number One to the Lord and am learning to release others to him and to say “No” to other things, BJ is still traveling to many meetings and prayer assignments. I am staying home, planting flowers, digging in the dirt.

The second one seemed to be a little more difficult. I had a big case of the “what if’s.” What if no one remembers me? What if I miss out on the Big Thing? What if everyone is there…. And no one misses me? You see, we all want to be invited to the party! No one likes to be left out.

And guess what? Most everything, all the meetings, went right along without me just fine. Does that mean I’m done, not important? Not at all. You see I have found peace working in my garden. The Master Gardner is right there with me, enjoying the beauty He created and I help to grow.

When the time comes, if it comes, I will be back out there, going and doing. But my prayer is that I will be wiser than before, I will pray to hear if I am to go or to stay.

If I go, he will direct me, I will walk in joy and fellowship with others and love the busyness of it all, especially the opportunity to teach, share and pray with others.

If He says stay, I will be content to stay, be quiet and be still and KNOW that He is God. You see, that is where my soul will be restored. That is where I will find his rest. That is where I will find Him: In the garden looking, smelling and enjoying the lilies. I will be walking in the unforced rhythms of His grace. In my garden.

 

 

Mary, Did you Know?

 

Oh! The joyous sound of carolers singing the familiar songs of the past. Some written hundreds of years ago and others written within the past few years. All proclaiming the miracle of the ages: the entrance of the infinite King of Kings, God himself, into our finite sinful world.

He chose two young, innocent regular people like us to usher him into this life. Mary and Joseph.

What were they thinking when the Holy Spirit informed them of this unique, supernatural event that was to take place? Fear? Excitement? What we do know for sure is that they were humble and very obedient and after the angel’s visit to Joseph it seemed they never wavered.

As a mother I know what it is like to look into the sweet face of your newborn. The wonder. The joy. This tiny innocent face so precious. I’m sure Mary felt the same as most all mothers feel at that intimate moment. Love. Joy. Peace.

Then shepherds arrived, telling of the angel’s visit and proclamations! Knowing the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy and his birth, what were her thoughts? Did she and Joseph discuss all of these strange, wonderful events?

This newer carol has captured my heart, describing these first moments of his arrival into our cold, dark world.

Take a few moments today to listen to this song. Let these words take you back to that cave 2000 years ago and stand in wonder and worship of the child born that night.

“Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12. GW translation)

 

 

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Why Bethlehem, the Redeemer City?

Jehovah had spent four thousand years preparing, creating, and setting the stage for this moment in history. It is totally amazing to see how it all came together in a tiny little hamlet called Bethlehem.

Judah’s tribe was known as the redemption tribe because of the law of the kinsman redeemer. This law was initiated when a husband died and left his widow with no children. This law stated the nearest male relative would marry the widow to provide an inheritance for her and also to carry on the dead man’s name. Through a series of events found in Genesis 38, Judah’s tribe originated based upon this law.

Moving along the family line, 1 Chron. 2:51 tells us, Salmon, of the redeemer tribe of Judah, married Rahab, the courageous woman of Jericho, and was the father of Bethlehem. It was in Bethlehem where Boaz, son of Rahab, married Ruth to redeem the inheritance of her dead husband and Bethlehem became known as the redemption city. King David and Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, were both from Bethlehem of the bloodline of Judah.

And Bethlehem, meaning the “house of bread” was and still is known for its delicious bread. In the house of bread, the Bread of Life was born.

Not only was this the land of the redemption tribe of Judah, in the redemption city of Bethlehem, but it was also the place where the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were born. It was necessary for Jesus, our Passover Lamb, to be born in the redeemer city of Bethlehem, known as the house of bread, in the redeemer land of Judah of the bloodline of the redeemer tribe of Judah.

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Savior (Redeemer), who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

Again, why Bethlehem? Of course Bethlehem! No other place in the earth could have received the Savior of the world, the Redeemer, the Passover Lamb.

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Songwriters: Jeremy Michael Lubbock / Pierre Marchand / Sarah Mclachlan. © The Bicycle Music Company

Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

When My Heart is Overwhelmed

53384266861__6A804B9E-63C0-4B76-B89F-432DBC9A3513December First! Christmas decorations up. Christmas cups in the cupboard. The tree, decorated by the sweet hands of grandchildren shining cheerfully in the corner of the living room.  And even a few presents wrapped and under the tree.

This morning as BJ and I sat having our own devotions, with tears in his eyes he read:

“Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61, NKJV)

Several years ago from the southern tip of New Zealand (where the sign pointing south said, “Next stop, Antarctica”) BJ and Joseph, our son, released the sound of the shofar and   worshiped the Lord. Truly from the ends of the earth they had cried out to Him.

Then picking up my own devotional book I read: “From the ends of the earth will I cry out to you. And when my heart is overwhelmed, Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

What are the chances? Always 100% with God! This morning our hearts were overwhelmed with His presence, His goodness and His love.

But what does this scripture have to do with Christmas? Everything! Life without peace is totally overwhelming. From the first fig leaf, we have tried to cover ourselves, tried to hide, seeking for a safe place. From the very beginning he heard our cry and sent a baby to answer that cry. God came down, dwelt with us, loved us and became our cornerstone, a Rock that is higher than we are. Jesus, son of man, Son of God.

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The ROCK that is high than I

Are you overwhelmed by the rush of the Christmas season? Overwhelmed by what is happening in our nation and world? Overwhelmed by situations in your own life?

Cry out to Him. Run to the Rock that is higher than you are. A Rock that is higher than any situation that presents itself today. This Christmas season each time you see a manger remember He came, not just as a baby but as a Rock. No longer a baby in a manger, He is the risen King of all kings and Lord of all lords. Fully, abundantly able to answer even the smallest cry from a hungry heart.

 

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Salt

saltRecently a friend was going through a difficult time in her family life. As we spoke she made the statement, “I need the community of believers right now. I need to worship with others. I have prayed, read and listened on line to worship, but I just need to experience Jesus with skin on.”

A few days later I learned that some women from her prayer group had kidnapped her and taken her out to dinner. They laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for her and simply loved her. When we spoke again she sounded very different. She had been with believers, not in a church service, but in a restaurant where they laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for each other and my friend was restored in her spirit. Her situation had not changed, but her total outlook had been refreshed and she had the courage and strength to go on.

I was reminded that years ago I made bread. I had put in the yeast, the flour, honey and oil. I had kneaded it and it rose and became five beautiful loaves of bread. The aroma filled the house and I sliced a piece right away. I watched as the butter melted and mixed with the honey on this delicious looking, amazing fresh hot bread, straight from the oven.

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WELL YUK!!! What was wrong with this bread?!

I had forgotten to add the salt. I had baked five beautiful loaves of bread. And I threw away five beautiful loaves of bread.

No salt.

Jesus told us we were to be the salt of the earth. My friend had all the ingredients to walk through this pain. She had the Word. She had the Spirit. She had Prayer. But sometimes we all just need a little salt to complete the recipe. We need the salt to make the bread of adversity  palatable. We need the salt to help us share the load so we can grasp hold of the hand of the Lord and just keep walking forward.

We all need a little salt sometimes. And at other times, we need to BE the salt. The Lord told us to bear each others burdens. The Book of Proverbs tells us that when one falls the other can lift him up.  Building community with other believers in so important in our lives. God created community in the garden. Jesus walked in community with his disciples. We were created for community. We need each other.

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So go and be salt to your world!