Friday, July 17, 2015

While it is Yet Night

Hello Girls,

On Saturday mornings at 7:30 am I do hot yoga with my sisters.
Before work my husband wakes up early so he can go to the gym before work.
On any given morning half the guys in my hometown are in a deer stand by 5 AM.
Kayla P. and I get to school 3 hours early on the morning of any and every competency.

What do all these scenarios have in common?
Someone is waking up while it is still dark in order to be prepared for the coming day.

Believe it or not, my sisters and I are actually refreshed after sweating a puddle while holding a head stand. We are ready to brave the Florida heat.
My husband is wide awake and prepared for any challenge the next 8 hours may hold.
Those camouflaged sportsmen are ready and waiting for cute animals to awaken.
Kayla and I have studied all of our notes from the past semester before the first professor arrives to turn the lights on. (They always start to say something, then shake their heads in defeat, knowing it's useless to tell us that sleep would do us more good than last-minute studying. Hey, just because you have 2 doctorate degrees doesn't mean you get to mess with our system, ok?)

Besides the practical applications of rising with the sun, there is a spiritual application as well. Just like every facet of our life, our walk with God requires set apart time of separation and quiet. Moments of stillness, like the night.

Proverbs 31.15

She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

This doesn't say what the Virtuous Woman was doing when she rose during the night, but whatever she did prepared her to be effective. By her preparation in the night, she fed her family and those who worked for her.                                                                           What does that role mean for you? Every day we are called to serve our patients, our husbands, boyfriends, family, and our friends with our love, our talents, our time, you fill in the blanks. But how can we feed others if we are not being fed?
Jesus, God in the flesh, even took time away in the night to commune with His Heavenly Father. Then amazing things happened.* 

And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up unto a mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea... Jesus spoke unto them, saying, Be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.                                           - Matthew 14.23-24,26

Night is a beautiful time of quiet, stillness, preparation, rejuvenation.

I call to remembrance my song in the night, I commune with mine own heart, and my spirit made diligent search.     - Psalm 77.6

Any one who has experienced a true friendship or true love understand those times in a relationship where words are not needed. You both find comfort in silence. Your bond is strengthened by the ability to share the quiet part of yourself with them. Being able to share stillness with another person creates the steadfastness to handle the ever-changing needs you both have in life.
Being quiet with God is hard. We feel like we always need to be talking. Or we are searching for Him to reveal something novel and groundbreaking to us. But every now and then we should stop talking and craving words. Read a passage you have read a thousand times before and just dwell on it. Go back and read your prayer journal or think of those times He has come through for you and answered your prayers. Turn everything off and just listen to Jesus music (for me that is Bethel Music or Rend Collective, who will probably make it into every post from here on out) or better yet, sit in silence with your mind on Jesus, asking Him to just be with you, content that He knows all of your requests anyway. 
Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.     - Psalm 42.8

Just like the virtuous woman, you will be ready to attend to the day when you rise in the night to prepare your heart and just be with Jesus. 
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips when I remember Thee upon my bed and meditate on Thee in the night watches.     - Psalm 63.5-6

Maybe we are struggling to be effective. Maybe we see people everyday who need to be fed spiritually, physically, emotionally and we don't know how to fill that need.
Maybe this is because we are not stopping to be filled spiritually.

David wrote that God's Word was sweeter than honey to him.**
Jesus said He was the Bread of Life and the Living Water.^
Give Jesus your stillness, your quiet hour this week and let Him fill you so that you can't help but overflow love to those around you.
Just like the Virtuous Woman did.
Just like Jesus did.

* And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called unto Him His disciples...     - Luke 6.12-13 
And in the day time He was teaching in the temple; and at night He went out and abode in the mount that is called the Mount of Olives. And all the people came early in the morning to Him in the temple, for to hear Him.     - Luke 21.37-38
 And He came out, and went as He was wont, to the Mount of Olives and His disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.     - Luke 22.39-43
** More to be desired are they (the Words of God) than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.     - Psalm 19.10 
^ And Jesus said unto them, I am the Bread of Life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.     - John 6.35

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Beauty of A Blank Canvas

Hello Ladies,

I received this text the other day from our lovely friend Ashton...

"Hey girl... I HAVE to tell you about a moment in clinic!!!! I was working with a patient and I walked in for the second treatment and she saw my Cross necklace and asked if I could pray with her!!! Coolest thing I've ever done with my faith like that, I had to share with you..."

Wow!! Teary-eyed, I asked her permission to use this (please don't freak out thinking that every cool moment you share with me will end up on the Internet :) ) 
Remember the last post that talked about the Virtuous Woman being clothed in scarlet? This is an example of how the material things we bear can lead someone to connect with us on a spiritual level and we can bless them through it. If we give God room to work, He will definitely take advantage of our willingness. Ashton, you go girl.

This story fit perfectly with the next portion of the Virtuous Woman's chapter in the Bible...

Proverbs 31.14

She is like the merchants' ships, she bringeth her food from afar.
Upon reading this verse to my husband, he proceeded to make fun of me for 5 minutes about my "eat seasonal" and "shop local" mantra that I preach to him, stating that the Bible is commanding me to go to Walmart and get those strawberries from California and buy only clothes with the Made in China tag. 
After pretend-laughing with him and wondering what in the world this could actually mean, God shed some enlightening comfort on the subject. 
In true Proverbs 31 fashion, this woman will go to great lengths to acquire what is needful for her family. She will search to the ends of the earth to sustain herself and her family. She goes the distance, just like the merchant's ships that bring her her food. And after she deals with the merchants...

Proverbs 31.18

She perceiveth that her merchandise is good, and her candle goeth not out by night.
 Nowadays Good is a down-played, overused word that adults always tell children to replace with something better, like Excellent, Marvelous, or Superb. In the Bible, however, Good was used to describe God's satisfaction with His Creation and Martha's choice to sit at Jesus' feet instead of host a party.* Good means Favorable, Best, Right. 
(Right now you are anxiously awaiting the connection between the opening God Moment and this piece of scripture...)
The Virtuous Woman was seeking to buy that which would do her Good. The most valuable gift we can attain is the gift of eternal life.** Just like the merchant brings the Virtuous Woman the best of the world, Jesus has brought this precious gift to our feet, and it is paid in full, bought with the highest price, and ours to claim for free. There is nothing more marvelous than that. 

Perceive: to know by experience and observation. 
She perceives this Goodness. How can she know what is Good without first experiencing Goodness and gaining wisdom from these experiences? I imagine that she experienced a lot of different merchants in her day. Some may have tried to sell her cheap wool full of burrs and jewelry that turned her skin green. But others took honor in their trade, making sure she got only the best, and showing her how valuable their merchandise is so that she will tell her friends to come to their table and experience it for themselves! 
Some of us have been spiritual shoppers. We may have looked in many different places, gone to many different tables to find something fulfilling and satisfying, but found that it was painful and dirty, it turned us green. 
Friends, only Jesus will satisfy us fully and completely. His Message is clear, uncomplicated, and honest. Knowing Him is to know Goodness itself. Our perceptions change. Our life and decisions will no longer be guided by those bad experiences in the market, but on the Holiness of Jesus Christ.^ Now that's Good. 
She perceived that it was good "*comma* and" her candle stayed lit all night. 
In other words, when she realized the gem she had in her hands, she could not set it down even to sleep. She stayed up all night weaving fine linen from the wool she bought so she could sell it back to the merchants and purchase necessities for her family, literally or spiritually... 

Proverbs 31.24

She taketh fine linen and selleth it, and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
When we really experience Jesus, we are bothered, we are changed. We have a purpose and it cannot wait until tomorrow. Even when it was dark, she did not put down her work. When she was tired she did not give up. In that stillness and with the light from a single candle, she kept at the work God had given her. And in the morning she is able to present the fruit of her work to the merchant. 
Nicole and her beautiful crocheted creation.

Can you imagine the thrill our Lord receives when He watches us use His gifts to create, to grow, to help others come to know Him? What are we doing with the good things He has given us?^^ 
The merchant gave her wool so she make linen to make girdles. Remember the wool spiel from before?
Jesus took us when we were stained and unfit to help ourselves and His blood, the blood of the Lamb, washed us white as now. He purified us and made us whole, useable. 
We are ready to be woven into beautiful cloth. Maybe it will be used to clothe the poor, or to wipe the tears of a struggling friend, or to bind a wound that hasn't been able to heal. 
Perhaps you have received that cleansing, but you don't know how to create anything for Him in all this darkness. Again, it's all about how you perceive the darkness...

The dark is just a canvas
for Your grace and brightness
You're the song, You're the song of our hearts
Though I'm broken, I am running
Into Your arms of love
The pain will not define us
Joy will reignite us
You're the song, You're the song of our hearts
                                        - Rend Collective
                                                                                      Music Video

Even when no one is beside us and darkness is around us, He is giving us a light to illuminate our heart and encourage our spirit. When you feel like there is nothing Good, keep searching for Him, keep bearing that Cross, and keep creating.                             You never know who else is looking for something Good. 

* And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good...     - Genesis 1.31
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His Word... But one thing is needful and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.     - Luke 10.39, 42
** For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.     - Ephesians 2.8-9
^ And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.     - 1 John 5.20
^^ As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.     - 1 Peter 4.10