Reflections

Last week was a national holiday here. Golden Week occurs from the end of April through the first few days of May and is a week that has four national holidays.  Many people travel during this time.  We took the time to escape from the big city and visit my husband’s parents in the countryside. I love spending time here. I enjoy the fellowship with family. I also enjoy the slower pace and the long walks along the river and the rice fields.  At this time of year, the farmers are flooding the rice fields and beginning to plant. I never get tired of seeing the reflections in the water.  The view depends on the time of day. Sometimes you can see the mountains reflected and other times you can see the buildings that are in the area.

As I was walking and thinking about all I was seeing, I began to think about other types of reflections.  The most important reflection would be what I know and meditate on about my God.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
~A. W. Tozer

In the comments of a post by Whitney, she mentioned keeping a list of what she learns about God from her daily Bible time on her phone.  I’m a notebook and paper kind of girl, but I don’t always have a notebook with me.  I do find myself using my phone for things more often than not. So I started a note in my app on my phone called “One Thing” based on Psalm 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.”

When I was a much younger woman, I remember that an assistant pastor at our church encouraged us to get one thought from the Word each day.  I have tried to maintain this habit for years, but I don’t always write it down. If I do, I might write it on the page for the day in my bullet journal.  I liked the idea of having it in one place on my phone so that I can see it any time I want.  I have found myself reviewing my “one thing” while waiting in line or sitting in the car. These are times when I would not have my notebook with me.

In closing, I would like to share one of my recent entries.  Maybe you’d like to share one of your thoughts from the Word in the comments.  I’d love to hear from you.


 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12

“…make those verses our own through faith and obedience. For a stronger faith, focus your mental energy on the verses God gives you. That’s the best exercise of the soul. Where there is a command, obey it. Where there is a prayer, offer it. Where there is a truth, believe it. Where there is a message, repeat it. Where there is a promise, claim it by faith.” ~Robert Morgan, author of Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation.

This is My Word

As the snow falls from heaven,
As it comes in swirling showers from the sky,
So is my Word.
As the rains bring the water to the earth that is thirsty and dry,
So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not return empty:
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.

As the rain brings renewal
And the tender buds begin to come alive,
So is my Word.
Giving seed to the sower,
And the bread to the hungry ’til they thrive,
So is my Word.
And the Word of my mouth, it shall not return empty;
It will bless the earth wherever it is heard.
This is my Word.

O Lord, when I am weary,
When I feel the days I’m living are in vain,
My God, help me be faithful to the Word You have given to proclaim.
Proclaim the Word, and you will go out in joy,
And be led forth in peace,
And the hills will break before you into song.
So be faithful, brave and true,
For I will go before you,
And when your earthly journey here is done.
I’ll say well done, well done!

As the snow falls from heaven,
And the rain comes in showers from the sky,
This is my Word.

Words and Music by Pepper Choplin

Housekeeping

I’ve been doing some “spring cleaning” here at the blog.  I removed some of the clutter in the tabs and there is a new bio links page.  I created this for people who come from Instagram.  Instagram only allows one link in your profile.  You may notice an affiliate link for Rachelyn Jewelry.  This is not a monetized blog and I do not run monetized social media.  Rachelyn is a sweet Christian young lady that makes beautiful high-quality jewelry. I share it on Instagram occasionally.

I have also started another blog for our supporters.  This helps us to keep them updated more regularly.  If you would like these updates, you can subscribe to Japan for Christ: Melton Ministry Updates.

Have a blessed day!!

Stay in the Sanctuary: God’s Ways


In a previous blog post, I wrote about staying in the sanctuary.  This is where God speaks to us and we can gain His perspective about the world around us.  As I have studied this more, I realized there is a whole lot more for me to learn about God and His sanctuary.  While a sanctuary can be a place, there is also the aspect of God’s way and His holiness.

God’s Way 

“Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?”
~Psalm 77:13 

The Hebrew word used for ‘thy way’ means a road or manner.  Spurgeon defines it as a mode of action.  Derek Kidner in his commentary defines sanctuary as holiness.  In other words, ‘thy way is in holiness’.  I love how Kidner explained this.  “Holy in such a context, is a formidable word, conveying the aspect of God as one who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’; fearful as an enemy but glorious as a friend.” 

In verse 19 of Psalm 77 we read, “Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” We don’t always understand what God is doing.  We can’t always see His footsteps and know the path that He is taking. We can’t see His footprints in the sea. We do know that God is holy.  Because of this, we can be sure that whatever He is doing is just and right.  Spurgeon says “…it is rich consolation that we can trust [His way], for it is in holiness.” When we are staying in the sanctuary “all is light, all is clear” even though we may not understand exactly what He is doing.

As we seem to be watching the world fall apart around us and we face our own daily trials, may we stay in the sanctuary of God’s Word.  It is there that we can learn of His ways and find the peace that we crave. It is there that we learn of His holiness so that we can gain the perspective that whatever He does is just and right.

__________
I like to use the Blue Letter Bible app for study.  It is easy to look up the meanings of the words in the original language.  There are also commentaries available in the app to use.  I do have a set of Spurgeon’s Treasury of David, but it is also available in the app. 

The photo is of Matsumoto Castle.

Stay in the Sanctuary

My word for the year 2022 is perspective.  This isn’t something that I just draw out of a hat.  I’ve heard some say that their word for the year chooses them.  I’ve said that myself, but in truth, God gives me my word.  I usually know what it is by October or November of the previous year.  It always comes about through my study and work on the word for that year.  God is pealing back the layers and has something else for me to learn.  Some things take a year, some take longer.  For the past three years, I had three different words: hope, abound and believing. All are from Romans 15:13.  Sometimes I am a slow learner!  

As the last two years have unfolded, there have been unprecedented things going on in our world.  Living abroad, I may have a little different perspective on those things than others in my peer group.  There are times when my perspective becomes blurred.  I don’t know what to think.  There are times when that blurred perspective can turn into discouragement and a sense of hopelessness.  It was during one of those times that I realized I needed to gain God’s perspective on what is going on in the world around me.  

I searched on a Bible website for the word perspective in the King James Version.  The response I received was, “Sorry, we didn’t find any results for your search.”  As I dug a little deeper, I found that while the word might not be there, the idea is.  I’ve also realized that there is only one way to gain God’s perspective on the world around us.  That is to stay in the sanctuary.

What exactly does it mean to stay in the sanctuary?  

In Psalm 63:1-2, the psalmist says, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.” The ESV says, “my flesh faints for you…”  The psalmist needed His God!  According to my study Bible, this was written by David while he was in the wilderness of Judea.  He was either running from Saul or possibly Absalom.  He was desperate in His need for God!

Webster defines sanctuary as a consecrated place, the room in which general worship services are held.  A secondary meaning is a place or refuge and protection.  Strong’s defines sanctuary as a sacred place that is set apart.  So a sanctuary is a consecrated place that is set apart and provides a refuge and protection.  Spurgeon* said that the sanctuary was “where God met [David] and manifested Himself to him.”  

Where is the sanctuary for us today?  

It could be a place.  Maybe it’s in a comfy chair.  Maybe it’s in a quiet room.  When I had small children at home, I often asked my husband for an afternoon to go to the library.  There I would find a table in a far corner away from everyone.  The place is not as important as what you do while you are there.  Our true sanctuary is God’s Word.  It is here in His Word that we can hear His voice as He speaks to us.  It is here that we gain His perspective on world events, what is happening in our private world and even what is going on in our own heart.  It is here that we have a refuge and find protection.

I want to write more about this in the future. For now, I encourage you to stay in the sanctuary of God’s Word.  Instead of sinking in discouragement and hopelessness from yet more bad news, run to Him in the sanctuary and be encouraged as you begin to look at life through the lens of His Word!  As Spurgeon said, “There is no help like that which is of God’s sending, and no deliverance like that which comes out of His sanctuary.”

*****

*Spurgeon’s Treasury of David has proved to be invaluable as I study through some of this for myself.  I have the three volume set, but you can access his notes here for free.

Blessed is she who has believed…

The First Songs of Christmas by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is one of my reads for the month of Christmas.  The focus is on the songs of Christmas.  Years ago, a Titus 2 lady in my life encouraged me to ask the Lord for some new thought each holiday season. That has become my habit each year since.  This little devotional book has given me so much to think about.

I’ve also been thinking about how to wrap up my year with my one word for 2021, believing. The entry in the devotional for day 5 has provided much food for thought for me during this season.  

“The word translated “blessed” in Luke 1:45 is a different word than the “blessed” of verse 42, the one that equates to eulogy. This one (“Blessed is she who has believed”) is the Greek word makarios, meaning “one whom God makes fully satisfied”—not because of favorable circumstances, but because God Himself provides the satisfaction. To be makarios is to be fully content, even in situations that are less than ideal, solely because God lives in us through Christ. In other words, it’s the state of being saved. No matter what we are called to endure as Christians, we have all we need … because we have Jesus.”

“Blessed is she who has believed…” 

After meditating on something, I often write a paraphrase.  You could say, God has made her who has believed fully satisfied with Himself.  As I thought about this, I began to see some evidence of it in my life over this last year.  One of my verses for the year was Matthew 21:22. “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  Many times I have cried out to the Lord while not necessarily believing that I will receive.  I have been convicted about that and working on changing it.  One result of that is that I have found myself talking to the Lord more and more.  Another result is that I can see that I have received.  I’m not talking about the Lord giving me everything I thought I needed or wanted.  He hasn’t answered every request the way I hoped or in the timing I desired; however, I am finding that the dissatisfaction of past “unanswered prayer” is fading and that I am becoming more satisfied with God Himself.  I have all I need because I have Jesus! 

As I was thinking about the correlation of believing and the blessing of satisfaction in the Lord, I couldn’t help but notice something.  Every time I make the choice to believe that God is good, I see more of His goodness. Every time I make the choice to believe that God is faithful, I see more of His faithfulness.  Every time I make the choice to believe that God will provide, I see more of His provision. Every time I make the choice to believe that God loves me, I see more of His love for me. This is God blessing the one who has believed. This is the joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13).

We know that Mary experienced this satisfaction because of her beautiful song in Luke 1:46-55.  Most scholars believe that she was around 16 years old!!  Marvel over all that she believed about her God as you read.

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold,
from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things;
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him
from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats,
and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham,
and to his seed for ever.

How about you?  What thought are you meditating on during this Christmas season?  Do you have a sense of God making you more satisfied with Himself?  Why not spend some time meditating on Elizabeth’s words about Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed…”

I’ll Pray Again

Our youngest son and his family began their first ministry earlier this year.  He is serving as a youth pastor.  As we are currently visiting in the states, he invited us to the church for a special concert they were having Wednesday night.  It is always a blessing to participate in these kinds of things since we don’t get to do it in Japan.  

If you have followed me for very long, you know that music is an important part of my walk with the Lord.  Time and time again the Lord has used Word-filled music to speak to my heart and to help lift me out of a pit of discouragement.  

Last night, Ben Everson introduced the following song that he wrote with pastors in mind.  He talked about the target that they have on their back.  Satan doesn’t want them keep doing what they are doing.  He encouraged everyone to pray for their pastor and his family.  

Once again the Lord used music to minister to my weary heart.  I wanted to share it here with you.  Listen and read the words that I have shared below and let’s all pray again!

It was late Sunday night
The car door closed softly,
Footsteps came up the stairs.
Young Pastor Tony
Met his wife at the entrance,
His face lined with a thousand cares.
“We′ve been here two years and nothing’s changed,
These people won′t listen at all.
I’m out of answers, and I’m feeling small.”
But as he read in the Bible, page after page,
His heart was convinced to stay in the race.
He knelt by his desk, then lay on the floor.
“Tho′ I don′t understand what it’s for,
I′ll trust one day more.”

I’ll pray again, I′ll kneel again.
I’ll knock on the door, askin′ for more
Strength for the fight, peace in the night.
Trusting by faith, the answer He’ll send.
I’ll pray again…”

At a quarter past two,
Again in the morning,
A mother wakes up again.
Her youngest daughter has a special condition,
They say that she won’t pass ten.
Tho′ worries so great, and nothing’s changed,
“Does God understand us at all?”
We′re out of answers and we’re feeling small.
But as she read in the Bible page after page,
The comfort came in right along with grace.
Her hand held her daughter and they knelt on the floor.
“Tho′ we don’t understand what it′s for,
We’ll trust one day more.”

We′ll pray again, we’ll kneel again.
We’ll knock on the door, askin′ for more
Strength for the fight, peace in the night.
Trusting by faith, the answer he′ll send.
We’ll pray again…

When the darkness surrounds you,

And God seems so silent,
Your back′s against the wall.
You may be tempted to doubt God’s goodness,
It feels like, He won’t hear your call.
The questions take shape and cloud your mind.
“Is God in control after all?
My life′s out of balance and I’m going to fall.”
But as you read in the Bible page after page,
You′ll see that He’s there, and He’ll never forsake.
Surrender your life is all you must do.
You begin to see God′s point of view,
He′s there to change you.

You’ll pray again, go kneel again.
Go knock on the door, askin′ for more
Strength for the fight, peace in the night.
Trusting by faith, the answer He’ll send.
Go pray again.
Go pray again.
I’ll pray again.

~Ben Everson

Bow the Knee

There are moments on our journey following the Lord
Where God illumines ev’ry step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes
When the path grows dim and our questions have no answers, turn to Him.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall,
The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

~Chris Machen