Tag Archive | refuge

City of Refuge- Numbers 35

There is nothing I love more in my study time than that moment when God shows up and jumps off the page of His Word…rich, deep and four dimensional. I love walking around it and viewing it from all sides as God rotates and turns that picture…I love reaching out and touching those moments.

I have been in a rut lately. I have been rushed to get the kids out of the house in the morning and have been making time with God in my prayer journal and maybe a small devotional written by someone else. Long, deep walks in the Word have not happened a month. It’s been a rough, sick, cold season. I am ready for the revival and awakening of life that comes with Spring!

This morning, a bloom sprung forth. My heart is racing.

I have said it before…I am a Old Testament girl. Some would say that’s crazy because Jesus doesn’t show up until the New Testament. But, I beg to differ. He is written on each page and in every historical account all throughout the Bible. For me, when the Holy Spirit shows up during study time- it is like “Where’s Waldo”. Instead of having to hunt and search…He reveals Himself in living color. Vibrant and alive. I LOVE mornings like this.

This morning, I picked up where I left off in the book of Numbers. Numbers 35 to be exact. The Israelites are camped on the east side of the Jordan and God is talking with Moses…leading him to prepare them for what’s ahead. They are learning how the land will be divided, who will divide it and where they will each settle. God just said that a portion of the land from each tribe would be given to the Levites: 48 cities in all. Of those cities, six would be “Cities of Refuge”. Three would be on the east of the Jordan and three on the west. If a person kills another person, the offending party could run to a City of Refuge until the trial. It is here, that they would be kept safe from retaliation until the trial was complete and judgment was handed down. In Numbers 35, the definition of murder was also spelled out. Intent was the determining factor. Accidents happen but, hatred and malice would not be tolerated.

I am going to challenge you to read this for yourself, therefore, I am not going to copy the whole text into this blog. Please open your Bible to Numbers 35 and read through the whole thing. Don’t miss a word- you’ll not regret it.

Let’s skip forward to the consequences:

If a person is found guilty of murder, that person is put to death. There is no other consequence. And it is spelled specifically that NO RANSOM can be paid to avoid death. Period.

If a person is found innocent, then they cannot go home. They must stay in the City of Refuge until the High Priest dies. Then they may go home. No ransom can be paid for them to go home early. The ONLY RANSOM for this person is the death of the High Priest.

Do you see it?? Do you see HIM!!!?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

I am still swooning.

The only ransom for someone found innocent by the High Priest is the priest himself. Jesus. His blood, death, resurrection…He is my ransom. He is my City of Refuge. The only way I can go to my Heavenly home is through Jesus. Believing on and placing my full faith in Jesus as my redeemer. Because of Jesus, I will be found not guilty. Praise the Lord.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. ” John 6:44

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6

 

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…just hang there for a moment.

Oh, mercy! A treasure hiding in plain sight.

Thank you LORD for such a rich morning with You. Too much to keep to myself. I pray that you will help me plant seeds in others that you may water and grow as I am learning to bloom where I am planted.

 

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Adjust the Sails

I have been tired and stressed for a while now. I keep casting my anxieties and then picking them back up. So when my girlfriend reminded me that a weekend was long overdue, I jumped at the opportunity to escape the storms.

Perusing the nautically inspired wares while wandering a small bay side town- I found it.

A towel. Yup…a towel.

I looked at it and then walked away.

I came back to it and took a picture…and walked away.

I finally purchased it so I could take it home with me as a constant reminder.

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A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”

Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other,

“Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Mark 4:37-41

No, I can’t control the wind. But, He can. When the storms come, I need to be quicker and more diligent about adjusting my sails while praying for God’s will.

Amen.

I feel like I should end this post here.

But, in my travels there were some other reminders of God’s presence that I want to share.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. Psalm 23

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;
let the distant shores rejoice.
Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Psalm 97:1-2

Red Sea Rules- the same God who led you in will lead you out

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

A dear friend of mine gave me a gift…and what a gift! She passed me a little book that she had been reading; it really is little; maybe about 6 inches by 5 inches. Wow, big things come in small packages.

I could write a full fledged book review here, but I am sure that there is another site out there for that. I will, however, summarize this little treasure and hopefully coax you into reading it, too.

I can imagine that you’re on the edge of your seat, with pen and paper in hand, waiting….What’s the name? Who wrote it?

The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-given strategies for difficult times by Robert J. Morgan.

I know that this isn’t a typical post from me- God willing, I will be back to writing soon. For now, enjoy these truths.

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Psalm 51: reflections in the spin cycle

Another snow day; the third one this week. I have been sick for two weeks and have so much catching up to do. When it snows and rains like this, it’s best to save the septic field and refrain from doing too much laundry at home. After being down and out- the laundry has piled up higher than the mounds of plowed and drifted snow. Time for the laundromat.wpid-20150306_104041.jpg

The kids brought books to read while we waited. I assured them that it would be a reasonably short visit because we could do the drying at home. I was completely taken off guard when they reacted the way they did. The books and coats went into a chair by the window…they flipped over two of the three laundry baskets…and each took a seat.

Front row for the big show.

He practically had his face pressed up on the glass the whole time and only moved away long enough to float to one of the other machines. When the spin cycle began, they were whipped into a frenzy! To them, it looked like the clothes in the machine had just disappeared as the centrifugal force pressed them firmly against the inner walls  of the 62 lb. capacity beast.  A young couple sitting nearby began to laugh…who knew that laundry could be such a wondrous and magical experience.

They had never seen a front load washing machine before.

Two hillbillies in the big city.

Laundry. They were mesmerized, entertained, and positively pleased as punch.

I miss those times. Two years ago I could look at a tree in a storm as the leaves turned up to welcome the rain…and see God. There was wonder in my coffee, the clouds in the sky…God was evident everywhere. Even in all of the chaos of life, I was the one pressed up against the glass watching in amazement and awe as the spinning melted into the walls and God was at the center. There are seasons. God is always present…always working…always active. Sometimes we sit at the feet of Jesus and learn…and watch. Other times we are Martha, diligently working on the things He has given us to do.

This Martha season has been complicated and blessed. There are tasks that He has placed in my path…people…needs. I have been listening, and started out following His lead quietly. It was awesome! I could see how God was weaving people and situations together- all in one load. But, then the spinning started. I’ve gotten caught in the spin cycle. I don’t want to say “yes”–I don’t want to say “no”. I am spinning with my back pressed against the wall and everything is being squeezed out of me. It’s too fast. I am tired. And I am too loud about it. I have been too loud about my feelings and frustrations. I have been too loud about some of the excitement in my world…good news and bad. I have quickly become overwhelmed and now I have found out that I am overwhelming people around me. I need balance…AGAIN. So now I am feeling a bit alone in the spin cycle and the anxiety is creeping in. Feelings. The reality may not be overwhelming, but when the feelings are added in- Satan get’s the upper hand.

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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It’s time to very intentionally focus on God, not the things that make me anxious. [AGAIN] Not how I fail [STILL].

Psalm 51 is near and dear to me and I have found myself meditating on it a lot this week.

Just be quiet. That may be a good start. Oh, Lord. Please hit the reset button. My spirit is downcast within me.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

When everything has been squeezed out of me, there is a big void that only God can fill. I eagerly await that joy and willing spirit; His sustenance.

I have no idea what’s next. I feel like I haven’t had much to write here lately and am wondering if this season has passed, too. (The spammers have written more on my site than I have in the past year!)But, I will be still and wait. Maybe the spin cycle will stop- then, I can exit the spin and sit with my face pressed to the glass. When the spin starts again I want this perspective. I want this vantage point. I want to see all of the chaos melt away with God in the center – clearly. But, that’s what I want. I wonder what God’s plans are?

I have to focus on God’s plans. Not mine.

I must have FULL faith, because God is faithFUL. ALL THE TIME.

Out in the Cold

We took the kids skiing for the first time on Monday and MAN it was cold. When we hit the slopes I think the temperature had risen to a whopping 3 degrees. I am so thankful that there was no wind because the cold was quite enough. When I could feel ice forming in my nostrils, I decided that it was time to cover my face. Brrrrrr. THAT was cold.

At least I thought so until today.

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This morning at 7:45am it was 2 degrees. Not far off from where it was on Monday. But, today the wind is a factor. If you notice the picture above…the “Real Feel” is -18 degrees.

Yep. 18 degrees BELOW 0.

And I believe it.

Last night as I was praying, I was asking God to protect all of those out there who do not have shelter or warmth. This is dangerous weather and it wouldn’t take long for disastrous consequences if one stayed outside too long. This morning, God reminded me that there are people who have shelter and physical warmth who may be freezing, too. He placed a familiar scripture on my tongue…

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

I have to admit. I can be a bit anti-social. I tend to fluctuate between times of activity and being surrounded by people – and times when I need to be alone and quiet and to not have the influence of others. I think that’s natural…especially when you look at Jesus as the example. He got away alone after being surrounded by people quite often.

However, I get selfish. God gave me the ability to “feel”. I feel the emotions of others. It’s difficult to explain so I won’t bother, but when you feel for others it can become exhausting and draining. So, I need to spend a day alone. I have to tell you that the temptation to REMAIN alone is great. But, that reveals a selfishness in me. It would be easier and more comfortable to be on my own. I don’t like gossip, can’t wrap my head around the tornadic drama that seems to swirl around certain people, women have so many emotions and they are exhausting…and my four walls are so comfortable. Man, that sounds awful and judgmental when I speak it out loud- but, I am being honest. And selfish. So, God reminds me from time to time that He gave me that gift, and it’s no good unless I use it. When I feel…I have to respond.

There was a particular Wednesday night Bible study that occurred over this summer that I remember clearly. I even remember where I was sitting that night because it was not my normal “spot”. The Pastor said, “Don’t be a Lone Ranger Christian”. We need community. We need to build each other up, correct, steer, love, support, sharpen, nourish, supply for and cry on each other–all in Jesus’ name. We need these things ourselves and we need to provide for these needs in others.

Being alone and out in the cold is dangerous. Being a sheep away from the flock leaves us exposed to cold and to prowling wolves.

If you don’t have a group of people today, just pick one person.

As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Yes, we are all accountable to God directly- but, He wants us to have someone in the flesh here on this earth, too. Whether that person is your husband, wife, sister, Sunday School leader, adult child, neighbor or friend- remember this: there is One who binds us together in love.  When the cold times come, we need to have a friend to warm us with the Word and God’s truth. As we wrap around each other to strengthen each other, Jesus wraps around us so that we will not be easily broken.

 Today, God gave me that reminder and I wanted to share it with you.

Don’t get caught out in the cold alone.

These Four Walls

Sitting here in my “spiritual winter”…wrapped in the Word. It would be a lot more comfortable if God would stop knocking on the door.

Every time He knocks…I have to get up.

(Yes, you’re right in detecting a bit of sarcasm.)

I have been thinking a lot about these four walls: the walls of my room, my house, the walls that hedge up this family unit, the walls of my heart. These comfortable walls.

In the past month…while sitting comfortably in these four walls…God has been preparing me to be pushed out.

He is feeding me like a mommy bird would before she gives her baby a push. It’s a long way down…fall or fly?

I asked him if I could forgive a friend while sitting in these four walls and He said “No, you have to GO.”

I asked him if I could keep my opinion on a certain matter within these four walls…today I am heavy about it.

Today I am so heavy about the matter, that I had to leave these four walls and walk the undeveloped area around the church. Tall trees, fallen trees, dead trees and new trees, briars, bushes, and a rust colored blanket of leaves thick upon the ground. A clearing and cabin. Four more walls…but all doors are locked.

Blogging is great and has been for two years! I have been able to share with all of you about God’s interactions in my life -and I have been able to do so while in the safety and security of these four walls.

Safe and secluded.

God is dragging me out of these four walls kicking and screaming. I can feel it. He wants me to speak up—audibly. He wants me to speak out—humbly. He wants me to link up—in close proximity. Real people, real conversation, real community….real conflict. (sigh) I’d really feel better about it if He’d let me do all of this from the comfort of these four walls. Blogging and blending in…not intimate and adjoining. I feel vulnerable without these four walls.

No, I am not anti-social or phobic. I actually love  the company of other people. I am just really good about keeping my thoughts, feelings and opinions close to my chest and keeping others at an arms-length distance. God wants to change that. Out of these four walls. Refuge…in these four walls? Or in Him?

Then my hubby sent me a devotional that he had received in his email today. It was all about an “Audience of One”. While I am Mary at His feet in these four walls…I am the audience of one. He wants me to get out there and thrive for Him- without fear of man. He wants me to do for Him and be for Him and live out loud for Him. FOR HIM. HE is the audience of ONE. THE ONE.  It’s not about anyone else, and certainly not about me. It’s about God’s pleasure and not my own. It’s not all about my comfort in these four walls. It certainly wasn’t about Jesus’ comfort with those three nails.

I was looking around my home today at these four walls and something caught my eye. Check it out…

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Look closely….

 

 

Look closer….

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….right there!

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There it is…”Faith”. Hanging on a hook in the mudroom, right under the leash.

Ok, ok…I know that I am feeling a little more “poetic” than normal today…but, c’mon!  “Faith” and restraint hanging on the same hook? The word-picture shot straight through me. Restraint leaves this house far too often and faith stays on the hook just inside the door. He wants me to step out of these four walls…in full faith.

So, I flash back to my walk in the woods earlier today. My walking buddy was my mutt, Cooper. As I reflect on that trip outside of these four walls, I recall a distinct difference between Cooper and I (besides the obvious four legs and hair). He was led by his nose…pulling, moving forward, straining against the harness with a taut leash, following his nose, full speed ahead. He is a hound and he was doing what he was created to do. I, on the other hand,  was pulling back, cautious about footing, looking for obstacles, testing out bridges for stability, wondering about snakes- yikes. So I wonder, which one of us was really restrained.

God’s up to something here. And it’s going to take me outside of these four walls. Pray for me folks. I’m gonna need it…full faith in absence of fear.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

More than I can handle (part 2)

If you need to catch up, I left off here.

This morning, I was reading in 1 Corinthians 10. It’s a place I have been many times before but something new stuck out today.

Whenever folks go through trials like what my sister and bro-in-law are facing, there is a phrase that I hear a lot. I may have even said it once or twice myself.

“Just remember, God never gives us more than we can handle.”

Wait. Is that true?

It sounds nice, but I think in this case, maybe God’s word was spoken…much like a childhood game of operator…and the meaning was changed and morphed over time. God’s word is true, so that is where I went.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Temptation. That’s what this phrase is referring to. Not trial.

James 1:14-15 goes on to explain…

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 

So if I am the fish…temptation is the wiggling worm on the hook. The worm itself is not the issue- I can swim away from that. The sin occurs when I make the choice to take the bait. No matter how the worm tastes initially, the hook disguised by that wiggling worm can do quite a bit of damage. It’s never a pleasant experience.

James says that God doesn’t tempt, but allows us to be tempted.

So, let me back up here. When my bro-in-law is suffering from another health trial in a line of many- is that a temptation? No. It’s a trial.

I love the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of trial:

NOUN

A formal examination of evidence before a judge, and typically before a jury, in order to decide guilt in a case of criminal or civil proceedings:the newspaper accounts of the trial the editor was summoned to stand trial for libel
 A test of the performance, qualities, or suitability of someone or something:clinical trials must establish whether the new hip replacements are working
  2.1An athletic contest to test the ability of players eligible for selection to a team.
 2.2(trials) An event in which horses, dogs, or other animals compete or perform:horse trials
 3A person, thing, or situation that tests a person’s endurance or forbearance:the trials and tribulations of married life
A test to determine suitability or eligibility, testing a person’s endurance for forbearance.  Right on.
James 1 has a lot to say about trials…
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Back to that phrase that we offer to people during their trials…”Remember, God never gives us more than we can handle.”

I want to challenge that today.

When we are tried, He ALWAYS gives us more than we can handle.

But, God never gives us more than HE can handle.

These are the moments, when we are in over our head…when the situation is infinitely more than we can handle…when we are overwhelmed and powerless; These are the moments when we acknowledge our need for God and surrender all things to Him. Because, there is nothing that HE cannot handle. Blessed moments of overwhelming trial. God wants us live out our faith and trust that He  has everything under His feet. It means we have to pry our white-knuckled little fingers off of the steering wheel. But, that wheel was never ours to grip anyways…after all, we are in the passenger seat.

So I offer this to you. Next time you have a trial or if you encounter someone who is struggling, consider this…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

As far as our trials go…I believe that God wants them to be more than we can handle, so He can show us exactly what He CAN handle.

An update on my bro-in-law: After days in ICU and a week total in the hospital, he arrived home on Saturday. He is still recovering, but is doing to comfortably at home. Please continue to pray for them as their faith walk continues.