On January 1st, I started listening to Genesis chapter 1 with the goal being to follow along the storyline of the whole bible throughout 2022. In doing so, I'm also trying to have a "take-away" each day.
When I got to the encounter between the serpent and Eve (with Adam too) in Genesis 3, I asked this question to myself:
"Who are you going to listen to?"
Just like Adam and Eve, we have one of two options.
One, we can listen to our Maker, who is the God that created everything good and perfect and beautiful. He is in all and through all. He is the author of light and life and love. He is all wise and knows the inner workings of each one of us. He is holy. He is glorious. And amazingly, he offers his glory to us!
Or two, we can listen to the enemy of our Maker. In Genesis 3, he is the serpent in the garden who is more crafty than any other beast of the field. Elsewhere in the bible he is referred to as the deceiver, the accuser, and the father of lies. He lied to Adam and Eve back then and he lies to us every day. He twists God's truth. He tempts us with lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
Sadly, Adam and Eve pushed away God's clear direction and gave into the serpent's deceiving words, and therefore, we have this ongoing wrestle today.
But the good news is this, our Savior Jesus has come! We have his living word and we have his abiding Spirit!
With the Helper, we can wisely discern and powerfully overcome the tactics of our enemy.
In 2022, how about we choose to be in the word of God?
His word will guide and direct us. His word will help decipher truth from lies. His word is our greatest weapon as we walk in this fallen world.
Who am I going to listen to this year? Who are you going to listen to?
Each one of us has one of two options.
Maker of heaven and earth, God of glory, Holy One, Author of Love, Giver of Life, help us to listen to YOU!
For some reason, I have had a picture on my mind, one that I drew years ago for my kids when they were all "in the nest". I dug it up from a journal and want to share it today in hopes that it is a blessing to you. The verse that goes with this picture is Matthew 23:37:
Jesus said, "How often I wanted to gather you children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings...".
Other verses to visualize concerning "His wings" are these:
He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4
For You are my help; I will sing of joy in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 63:7
After thinking about these verses, can I just rest in the fact that I am a "little chick in a big barn yard" who has the sweet opportunity to be pulled inside and protected underneath the warm wings of a mighty "mother hen"? There I will find both peace and joy; there the clamor stops and the security starts. Why do I sometimes choose to go chirping about in blind forgetfulness, turning this way and that, anxious for nothing? What else "out there" could be more inviting than the blessings found underneath His wonderful wings?
We get pulled out by so many distractions and temptations. Let us refocus out gaze on our Provider, the One that loves us most, even more than we love ourselves. He knows us best, and gives us what we need, when we need it. His best is there for the taking...underneath His wings. The movement with Him is the movement that brings us most life, not the self-scampering we tend to do alone out in the far corner of the barnyard.
With this image in mind, little chicks, let's choose to chirp out loud a prayer in unison today:
Dear Lord, Thank you for your loving care that is found underneath Your merciful and mighty wings. Cause our hearts to long for You above all else. You move us about with Your loving guidance and sweet freedom. There are so many lures that want to pull us outside of Your protective love, but give us the foreknowledge that these are mere temptations with no end benefits. Pull us inside of Your wings, and become our refuge from this culture, our protection from ourselves, and our shield from the enemy. Give us what we truly long for, which is "Your love that is better than life" (Psalm 63:3). Yes, hide us, sweet Savior, in the shadow of Your wings. Amen
After I read a passage of Scripture, I like to close my eyes and see it come alive in my mind; the picture gives me more understanding of the words.
Today, I saw Psalm 116 in three different stages:
1. The psalmist is captured and he is crying out for help. "The cords of death encompassed me, and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow... I cried, 'O Lord, save my life.'" (v. 3-4)
2. The Savior hears his cry and delivers! "I love the Lord because He hears my voice...the Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me...He has loosened my bonds." (v. 1, 6, 16)
3. The psalmist then cannot help but give thanks and praise for His Savior's grace and compassion. He says, "I shall pay my vows (of thanksgiving) to the Lord, oh may it be in the presence of all His people...Praise the Lord!" (v. 18-19)
This psalm is the cycle of life, is in not? What cords are tied around you today? Worry, fear, doubt, pride, shame? Cry out to your Savior right now. He hears your voice and will faithfully cut these constricting chains. Leave these strongholds at the foot of the cross; don't pick them up again. And then, with free hands, loosened feet, and a full heart, GO to many and tell them what the Lord has done for you. Praise Him today for the continuous and redemptive act of love manifested at the cross. Yes, praise the Lord!
(see other posts: Picture Scripture, Picture Scripture II, III, IV)
As I was thinking/praying this morning about what to submit for my bi-monthly post, the thought "Picture Scripture" came to my mind. Picture Scripture is the name of a journal that I had created a year ago for my sons, Bink and Davis, as they went off to their respective colleges.
Interestingly (providentially?!), only MINUTES after I asked the Lord to confirm this idea as the appropriate post to submit this morning, I got an out-of-the-blue-text from my son Davis that simply said:"Reading my picture scripture"; and then he added this page of his journal, that I will now share with you:
I texted Davis back, thanking him for his part in this post, and then added these words, which again, are now for you: "God loves to work through His children! Be His confident light today." Praying that each one of us will understand, believe, and then live out the passage above (II Cor. 5:14-20). Indeed, may the love of Christ control us!
*If you enjoyed this "picture concordance", more of the same can be found on my website under the titles Picture Scripture III and Picture Scripture II.
In response to my last post (see Picture Scripture II), below are two more pages from my sons' journals. Enjoy the deep truths alongside the simple "picture concordance":
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
As I sent my boys off to college, Bink as a junior, and Davis as a deer-in-the-headlights freshman, I couldn't help but throw in those last motherly comments like, "Brush your teeth" or "Wash your sheets every now and then" or "Fruit not fried". We mommas just can't help being mommas, can we?!
Another desire, however, that runs deeper than the physical instruction for my sons (and my daughters) is about their daily walk with the Lord. Over the summer, I put a little journal together for my boys called Picture Scripture. Inside the pages, I wrote out a passage, and then put simple pictures beside it. Hopefully, this will help my boys hide God's word in their heart. It's kind of like a "picture concordance"-- the red letters beside each phrase match the red letters beside each explanatory picture.
Here are two of the passages within the current 25 page journals. Bear with the stick figure art, but enjoy the truth of God's Word. As you read it, ask yourself, "Where am I in this picture?"
Hopefully Bink and Davis will remember to brush their teeth, wash their sheets, and eat healthy foods. But really, I do have to let all this go; they're big boys now. But what I will always encourage and remind them to do in whatever creative way that I can is this: to read God's word, to meditate on God's word, to embrace God's word, and to LIVE God's word each and every day of their manly maturing life.
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
(Paul defends himself before Agrippa), "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. This is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to the small and great alike." Acts 26:19-22
When we hear from you, whether it's directly from your word or through someone's biblical teaching or by the prompting of your Spirit, give us the desire to obey your commands. Make us willing to speak about who you are so others can come to know you as Savior. Prevail in, through, and around us. Amen.