Participation

IMG_0674

I wanted you to see the “end of the matter.” In my last post, I used this flower bed to write about beginnings and endings. Now here is the “ending” picture. On a day when I was raking the last of the leaves this season, I captured this bed once again. It has bloomed all during its season, and as you can see the dandelions are still very busy. However, the season is completed and the enjoyment this bed gave to me and the neighbors was delightful. So now I rake the leaves and prepare the bed for winter. A season of rest is now due.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“For you were formerly darkness, but now light in the Lord: live as children of light:(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)approving (discerning) what is pleasing unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10 (KJV base with adjustments for better understanding from the Greek by Iris)

As I visited with the Lord on what we should share from His Word, He brought to mind a concept that He has been teaching me. The above verses do apply to that understanding as we will see. The concept is this: our Lord’s empowerment in us supplies what is needed for us to participate in Him (with Him, through Him) to accomplish the work of His heart in all matters. He usually does not do things by Himself but waits for one of us to “see” and “move” to accomplish those things with Him. That is because we are His Body. So as one not separate from Him, but organically in Him, we are led in Spirit to walk hand-in-hand, (heart-in-heart) with Him to do what He is doing.

We were all once people who lived in spiritual darkness. We did not understand through His Spirit and could not be led by Him in any way. But now, through Christ, we have been enveloped into His heart and Body. So we are as He is – light! Therefore we are to live that way – in light and as light. Verse 9 then gives us a way to judge as to whether something is of Spirit or not – for that which is of Spirit is goodness, righteousness, and truth! What a lens to see and live through! Because we are light, we can “see” what the Spirit needs and wants, and to obediently participate. That is what obedience is – Spiritual participation in His nature to accomplish His heart. Our ability to do that is found in faith – trust that He is leading and revealing. As we follow, more and more is revealed.

In this way, we approve, discern, prove, allow, test, and interact in what is pleasing in Him. Without our participation, much will remain for another to pick up. Our Lord works His way and heart among us, but what joy it brings to Him and us when we choose to do it with Him!

Thank you Lord Jesus, for loving us and empowering us to live “with” you in all we do. It almost too wonderful to grasp – you long for our participation in all you do. Amazing!

Better Is The End of A Thing…

Screen Shot 2019-06-08 at 3.49.18 PM

IMG_4890I had put this photo on my last post (in June, would you believe) as I had just begun the planting of my rock garden in the front lawn. Now it is in late August and here is the contrasting photo I took a couple of days ago. As you can see, it has been a really good year for the garden. I have totally enjoyed tending it (the little that it has needed) during these past few months. 

As I pondered the difference between the photo’s, my thoughts went to the following verse out of Ecclesiastes 7:8a:

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof ….”

This is the truth as is seen in the photos. I am also reminded of a similar verse in the same book, Ecclesiastes 7:1b:

“Better is … the day of death than the day of one’s birth.”

Both passages are saying the same thing.  The truth of the matter is easy to see in these photos. I have planted and watched and waited as the summer unfolded, and now it is almost Fall and I am receiving the splendor of the summer’s work and the end result is a glorious display. But is the death of these plants actually more glorious than their beginning?

As I have grown older, I have really wondered what was ahead for me. What would my end look like? After over 40 years of Bible teaching, and almost 35 years in Psalm 19, I was growing weary and wondered just how long I would be able to continue. Of course, until the Lord changed my instruction, I could not quit. I asked Him often for insight as to how to move forward in these later years.

Is it possible the Bible is right, even here in Ecclesiastes, that the end is better than the beginning? If I allow my experiences regarding the end of life and what I feel in my body to be the determining factor, as opposed to what the Word of God clearly states, would there be a hope into tomorrow that I might have missed? There certainly is a Fall and a Winter, these are true. Even in my Fall and Winter I know if I  train my heart and my spirit to expect the good of all the Lord has for me, instead of anticipating and expecting the difficulties of what age brings, He will be faithful to me and to His Word.

To my delight and unanticipated joy, He has not changed my instructions at all! Instead, he has provided people for yet more and more ministry. He is opening new and exciting venues for His Word, and He has sent key individuals to help me move into those venues. The horizon holds hope and excitement, moving me forward in my thoughts and belief systems. How I praise Him!

Psalm 92:12-15 reads this way:

“The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

I choose to say yes to this Word and to trust Him in faith!

My heart moves forward, pondering His marvelous truth. I want to encourage you to have a beautiful today, whatever season you are experiencing, and a genuine hope for what tomorrow might hold.

 

 

Beginning and Endings

Screen Shot 2019-06-08 at 3.49.18 PM

Life is full of both – beginnings and endings. We are always working with one of them, or both at the same time in various aspects of our lives. The photo above is of my raised flower garden in our front yard. I have wanted to get all the weeds out and get it ready for annuals. I was given the combo that I have placed there, by a dear friend and her great niece for Mother’s Day but had to wait until two things happened before I put it in place. First, I had to wait until it was warm enough. That has been true for a few days now, and second, I had to have time to weed out the garden, remove the tulip leftovers and then get the soil dug up and ready for planting. Both of those came together this morning, so I was able to get it done before noon.

However, this “beginning” was not as simple as I thought. In the last few years when I have planted in the bed, I noticed there were a lot of what I thought were root clusters in the soil. You know, the kind left behind from the plants that were there last summer. So I knew I would need to dig the dirt and turn it over before planting was done. Well, let me tell you I was in for a surprise. The root clusters were not leftover from the year or years before at all. Instead, they were massive roots – tree roots, that had invaded this nice tasty spot. No wonder the plants did not prosper well, even though I really fed them well.

So the work began, to begin a “beginning.” I dug, cut, pulled, fell over backward in the bed, worked some more, and shook out root cluster after root cluster which had invaded my fertile bed.  Finally, that was done, now back to digging, oh, but there’s more – root clusters that are, and tree roots, and clusters. Well, just before it became too warm for me outside, I was able to get the chicken wire in place. Oh, I forgot to tell you, we have an abundance of squirrels and they are fed by a neighbor, so no way to discourage their exploration in my gardens. So I learned a few years ago to place chicken wire on top of the soil, and they will not destroy my plants. It works!

The photo is of the finished product. I will be putting more annuals in the spot this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, but for my lunch time and resting time. It is enough.

Now for the ending. I am sad to say that only three of my iris plants bloomed at all, and we are in their final glory days. The ones that flourished are indeed glorious. Here are images of them. I love them so and miss all the other colors which have beautiful flags but no blossoms. I think they just got too much moisture with the very, very cold wet spring. So here are those endings.

If I were judging, (and of course I am not), I would say the endings are more glorious than the beginnings. Isn’t that always true? The seed or the knob or the flag, even the stalk, is not lovely at all, but then it blooms, and its ending brings glory to the entire cycle.

Lord, thank you for my flowers, and beds, and the joy of being able to dig in the dirt. Thank you for teaching me about beginnings and the endings, and may I spend my time enjoying both instead of mourning for yesterdays blooms. You are glorious, Lord Jesus, and you make our lives that way – every day – all the way through when seen through your eyes. Thank you, Lord!

That No One Be Moved

woman-praising-God-in-the-wheat-field

1 Therefore, when we could not stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the Good News of Christ, to establish (strengthen) you, and to comfort (encourage) your faith; 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions (pressure, tribulation, persecution). For you know that we are appointed (destined) to this task.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 NHEB  (All words in ( ) are other meanings of the previous word in Biblical Greek and inserted by me for your understanding).

After our class in the Institute of Biblical Studies (Empowered Ministry#4) this past Tuesday evening, one of my older students who has diligently studied his Greek for many years, came to me to share something he found during our class study. He traced a word (as he often does) and found a precious nugget. We enjoyed the nugget, and I took the time to research it after class. It indeed was a delightful nugget of truth. As I have thought about it during this week, I wanted to put it in a post to share with you.

Notice in verse #3 (the others precede it here, so we keep it in a proper context), that Paul tells the Christians in Thessalonica that he has sent Timothy to them to encourage them, so they do not become discouraged and moved in their hearts away from the truth of the gospel. “…that no one be moved by these afflictions.” He had told them they would experience some of the same types of affliction (notice optional words in the passage above) that he was experiencing and did experience when he preached the Gospel. He wanted to warn them that the good news of Jesus Christ will get them in trouble with religious people as well as idol worshippers. As he was reaffirming his love and concern for them, he used a word that is translated here as “moved.” He did not want them to be moved from believing. Then he told them they are appointed (destined as he is) for such pressure.

One of the primary meanings of the Greek word used for “moved” is “to wag the tail.” In other words, our attitude toward opposition is to greet it with a welcome joy and knowledge that it is what we are appointed to experience.

Years ago, one of my mentors who is now with the Lord, during a time when I was often misunderstood and opposed, said to me, “Iris, when such things begin to happen to you, get out your butter and knife because the Lord is about to give you bread.” I thought that was such a strange thing to say, but just a few days later, something I did to bless another person, was twisted into something I had not intended at all. As I drove away from their home in tears, the phrase my mentor had said came to my mind. I dried my tears and began to worship and praise my Lord. My heart was lifted into hope, and love just flowed from me to the one who was troubling me.

Did He give me bread? Oh yes, an entire banquet, but it was a matter of Spirit at first, and not physically for a long while. But I began to rejoice and that held me through that time and much more opposition in peace and “wagging my tail” — I was not moved. Eventually, that all reversed in a rather dynamic way.

His promises are true, and as we discover more and more about how we are to live in the Spirit, we will learn to rise above the pain into His joy. Thank you, Lord, for making these things clear and empowering us to enjoy you — deeply in the middle of rejection and pain.

Sharing – The Spiritual Dimension

In the Spirit, there is a dimension to sharing that is not often known. When our Lord Jesus told His apostles, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and then poured His Holy Spirit into the church on that beautiful Pentecost Day so many years ago, He eliminated any form or definition of distance between Himself and the person who chooses to be one with Him. That means He is always with us; whatever we do, He also does. 

While this feels a bit scary when we fully grasp the consequences of the “never leave you” and the responsibility that brings, I believe we need to look at another aspect of this union in Him. 

We can share deeply with one another in the natural and we are familiar with the benefits of those relationships where that is possible. Sometimes that leads to pain within deep fellowship, but it is always worth the price to be close in heart with others. It provides the benefit of hugs and sweet belonging places.

When it comes to opening to the reality of our Lord’s presence – always with us, we find He generously desires to live with us with a  sense of His presence — wherever we are and whatever we are doing. We have the capacity of deep sharing with our beloved Lord. When we begin to grasp this, then we can spiritually develop that presence to allow Him access 24/7 as well as learning His emotional delight in us and around us. The word “lonely” doesn’t exist here. 

This joy of sharing in His heart is not so much emotion (although it often has an emotional expression in our love with Him), but is instead a deep well of strength. Notice Isaiah 12:2-6 (KJV)

 “2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. 3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. 4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted. 5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Read verse #3 once again. Notice that joy is the container we use to draw the water from the well of salvation. Everything we need is in the “package” of salvation given to us as a gift for the asking from our Lord. Within that salvation is everything we will ever need. The strength to accomplish all He has specified for our day, our “now,” is fully supplied in our relationship in Him, and is accessed by this “joy.” As we open to receive, no matter what our circumstances may be, we find strength in Him, we do not possess on our own. It is a power (the container) to access all He has for us.

As we learn to share our life with Him and in Him, we begin to experience His presence experientially and the strength of that experience in sharing. This experience is possible to access when we set our hearts and minds on things above and not on our matters. (See Colossians 3:1-3) 

Learning to share with Him and in Him means not only do I know I am with Him always, but it also tells us that He can now share with me His thoughts and His concerns. When we pray in this perspective, we begin to see how to pray very productively because we “see” it from His point of view easily. Those revelations make our prayer time much more productive and much, much less work.

Beloved, readers, we have much ahead in this relationship in Jesus. Let’s begin to open to this sharing purposefully and allow the sharing in Him to heal the heart. This will begin to release the pain of our living as well as project us forward in the life in the Holy Spirit much more thoroughly than previously experienced. 

Look Again!

Whatsoever things are true, lovely, noble….

The recent political events in New York State, namely the legalizing of late-term abortions, is abhorrent to all of us who believe human beings are all made in God’s image from conception. But this is just taking matters into the evil domain entirely. In case you wondered, I am very pro-life! I wanted to make that very clear as we step into the heart of this article.

When this happened, the Lord challenged me to begin to “Look Again” into realms of the Spirit and see what was happening. So as we “look” together, I believe we will see some significant things we need to look at and keep in our minds.

Our enemy and the source of evil is very limited. He does not create anything – only react to it. So what is happening in Holy Spirit understanding that the enemy is trying to get us to overlook? You see, while we are so busy cursing the darkness, we are missing the true because that evil is not at the core of our lives. If he can get us to spend time rebuking him and concentrating on the supposed greatness of his wickedness, then we will be working in his ballpark.

Our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit are on the rise in NY State and throughout the United States. He is making great strides in the hearts of His people and multiplying by masses in areas where we do not see. I know this is not apparent in the natural, but it is true in the Spirit of God. The power and the change are on His side. While we spend our time in the negative end, He is dramatically changing the scene in the Spirit.

So how are we to know this, since it is not in the “real” world? It is here, and we will begin to see if we open our minds and hearts to the Word. Our instructions are to think and talk about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, the excellent and the praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8) Also we are told to set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-2)

This does not mean we put our heads in the sand and ignore what is evil around us. It does mean we begin to take charge of our minds and voice and then begin to put the enemy under our feet (Ephesians 1:22-23) by refusing to join what he wants to accomplish. This means we get involved positively in matters around us and begin to be a part of the answer instead of lamenting how bad it is.

That negative attitude gives praise in the wrong direction. The enemy does not care if it is negative – in fact that gets us thinking as he thinks. Instead, praise our true Lord and watch His hand as the things in the Spirit become the “real” world for all.

The Lord taught His disciples to pray “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” Then they were commissioned to go into all the world and make that change. If we do not “see” and understand in the Spirit, how will we ever bring it here?

So how do we get involved? If the Lord has not shown you what you are to do as you read the above, then let’s first get busy praying for our Godly politicians, and electing more of them. Let’s make prayer and the results of prayer our priority as we choose the “seeing” He has for us individually and collectively. Then let us choose to love beyond differences and see no person as “the devil himself,” but choose to pray in the positive directions and instructions of Scripture to bring effective change. Of course, then we vote when that opportunity presents itself. I am confident the Lord Himself will speak to you about how you can positively be involved in His heart toward the present circumstances.

Meditations On A Snowy Day

I am in my LazyBoy comfortable chair, on this very snowy afternoon in Central New York in January 2019. A storm is supposed to bring us a lot of snow, and really, we have not had a “big” one this winter so, we will see if it comes as planned.

You see, there are not many weather events that happen to us in this location that will do anything but slow us down a bit. We do not have to work with hurricanes, tornados, and only a little bit of flooding every now and again. Snow, with all its inconvenience, comes and because it often comes we as Center New Yorkers have learned to work with it and if not enjoy it, at least not let much of it stop us.

However, a big storm, well that is different. Everything will stop. There is no panic, because tomorrow, or at the very latest, the 2nd day, all roads will be clear and most power restored – and life goes at its regular pace. But you see, now at this beginning period when traffic slows down, and most are planning on an evening at home, there is a rare anticipation of quiet in the heart.

Joe has gone to the Center this afternoon to complete some work on the music for his service tomorrow. It may get canceled, but just in case, the music team will be ready. So I am home alone with my electric fireplace going in the corner and sweet instrumental praise music in the background. There is still some light traffic in the bustling road out my picture window, but it will soon be paced slowly, or not at all. It is already so still (the snow muffles all sound) that one can get lost in the quiet. I love it.

So many want to be in the sunny climate, and I enjoy that too, briefly. When the Lord commissioned Joe and me to move to the Northeast in our mid-twenties, we had no idea how deeply we would learn to love it. The people are warm and genuine, and to be able to be in such stillness and beauty, well, it is just amazing and such a blessing to watch and enjoy.

Yes, the cold does hurt when it is really, really cold and it eventually “gets to me” somewhere in late February or early March, but it is still beautiful, and I would not miss it. Watching the snowfall and knowing our Father has made each of the flakes unique is a study in wonder. They are numberless – and so are we, the people of His love – yes, each one of us also unique.

Lord, thank you for the beautiful snow and for displaying your wonder for me today. May each day, although not wrapped in this kind of quiet, find you and then allow you to wrap us in the peace that goes way beyond quiet.