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.

My God is a Rock

We are living in such troublesome times.  I’m coming to the point that I don’t want to turn on my computer because I don’t want to see what might be waiting for me.  I don’t think I am the only one. Recently, I had a particularly difficult day.  As I was mulling things over in my mind, the Lord brought this song to my mind.  I thought I would share it with you.  Perhaps you need to hear it too.

Broken Bones

There are times in life when God is working in your heart and showing you things about Himself from His Word that are too personal to share with others.  Not because you don’t want to be transparent and open, but because it loses something when shared with others. It is an intimate time between you and your God.

Since my return to Japan the end of February, I have had some of those moments.  During my recent time as an invalid, I have had more of those moments.  God has been my refuge during this time of quarantine from corona virus and now another type of quarantine of being confined to my chair.

My devotional this year is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.  The author had no way of knowing what would be going on in my life the year I chose to read his book.  He had no way of knowing what I would be enduring on a daily basis as I read his entry for that day. But God knew.  I have no doubt this year was the year God wanted me to read this devotional.  The entry for June 1st cemented that for me.  God is faithful.  He knows our need.  He plans in advance to meet those needs before we are aware we will have them.


God’s care comes in many forms. He cares enough to break your bones in order to capture your heart.

I wish your care was always easy, predictable, safe—
a cool drink
a soft pillow—
but you are too wise,
too loving,
too committed to your work of
transforming grace.
So your gracious care comes to me
in uncomfortable forms:
the redeeming care of
disappointment,
the unexpected
trial,
suffering, loss.
These things don’t tell me you’re
cold-hearted,
absent,
uninvolved.
No, each is a sign of
zealous grace,
redeeming love.
I struggle to grasp how much you
care,
so I struggle to rest in that
care.
You care enough to give me what I
need,
not what I want.
You care enough to break my bones
in order
to recapture my heart.

For further study and encouragement: Psalm 51 (especially v. 8)

“Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.”

Tripp, Paul David. New Morning Mercies . Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Psalm 91

The group memorizing Psalm 91 at Do Not Depart is finished according to the schedule.  I am still working on it.  I’ve been struggling with the last few verses.  I’ve also been struggling with the meaning behind some of the verses.  We know that God allows pain and suffering to those who love Him, so what does He mean when He says, “No evil shall come nigh thy dwelling.”  I have done some study on my own, read my study Bible notes and notes in a commentary.

You may remember that I have been pretty much confined to a chair due to a recent injury.  Today I took the time to go back and read the posts that were written about each week’s memory verses.  I would encourage you to do that even if you didn’t memorize the chapter.  They were such a blessing to me and gave me much to think about.  We live in such tumultuous times.  God is our peace.  It is my prayer that we will all run to Him for protection.

Here are a few of the most thought-provoking statements in those blog posts to me.  I wanted to write them out for my future reference and thought I would share them with you.  If you read the posts or have been meditating on Psalm 91, please share some of your thoughts in the comments so we can encourage one another.  I linked to each post in the Bible reference.

Psalm 91:1-2, “Regardless of the devastation that the coronavirus threatens us with, we can rest assured that if we stay in our shelter, once the storm passes, our souls will have survived.

And we will still be with God. Together.

He’ll help us pick up the pieces and put our lives back together. Then, as now, He will remain our refuge, our fortress, our God.

In Him we can trust.”

Psalm 91:3-4, “The mouse had taken the bait. And lost his battle.

We, however, don’t have to take the bait of worrying, of panicking, of complaining. We can go higher. Call for help. Avoid the traps.

God knows where our traps have been set, and if we’ll shelter in His nest, we will be safe. He’s got this. Let’s let him fight this one for us.

Count on His faithfulness.
Trust His goodness.
Rest in His love.”

Psalm 91:5-6, “We have a safe place in Jesus, despite our vulnerability in the world.

Ultimately, vulnerability isn’t our weakness. It’s our opportunity—to run to safe refuge in God.

It’s in God’s shelter that we are finally safe.”

Psalm 91:7-8, “While our bodies are just as susceptible to destruction as any other, our souls are not as susceptible. They are protected.

Our immunity doesn’t rest in the physical (although God can still perform miracles there also). Our advantage comes in the peace of God’s presence in us and around us.”

Psalm 91:9-10, “By trusting in God as our refuge, we not only are protecting ourselves, we’re also protecting those ‘near our tent.’

God’s protection ripples out.

When you stay close to God, others around you also benefit by His shade.”

Psalm 91:11-12, ” He doesn’t always stop the catastrophe from happening to us in the physical realm…Even when we can’t see God, He sees us. We are always on His mind and always in His works.”

Psalm 91:13-14, “Getting to know God more doesn’t have to be complicated. But you do need to consciously choose it.

Loving God more means spending more time with Him, being more aware of His presence, learning more who He is, talking with others about Him, talking more in person with Him.

The more you know God, the more you’ll love God. You’ll then hold on to Him in love because you want to, not from guilt or fear or obligation.

You’ll know Him by name.”

Psalm 91:15-16, “We often don’t see the gifts. Our blindness causes us to miss out on God’s good gifts.”

I think, perhaps, the fact of God’s presence is the dearest truth to me next to His love.  It is something that I dwell on continually. God reminds me of it when I don’t. This psalm is full of reminders of His presence.

Thank you, Lisa, for allowing the Lord to use you in this way.  The time spent in this psalm was exactly what my sore, anxious, weary heart needed.

God knows what He’s about.

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts Him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out–
God knows what He’s about.

~untitled and unattributed in a volume by V. Raymond Edman,
The Disciplines of Life

 

Returning to Change

By the time you are reading this, I have returned to Japan.  Many things have changed since we departed for our furlough the end of April 2019.  Favorite restaurants have closed.  Favorite shopping places have closed. Even a favorite shipping company that we used to ship items from the USA has closed.  Foods and toiletries that we previously shipped to Japan are no longer able to be shipped due to changing custom regulations.  Some responsibilities are no longer mine, while new ones are being added.  In some regards, it is like starting over.

I don’t like change very much.  I often wish things could just stay the way they are, but in the world that we live in, it will never be.  I’ve shared here before, but maybe you need to be reminded too. What a great comfort to know that there is ONE who never changes!

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”
~Hebrews 13:8

“For I am the LORD, I change not;”
~Malachi 3:6

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
~James 1:17

Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.”
~Psalm 102:25-27

God’s Faithfulness

Several years ago, my husband and I were at a discouraging point in our ministry.  As we were talking through some of the things we were dealing with, my husband made this statement.  “I just want to be faithful to what God has called me to do.”  I remember thinking, “OK.  We will be faithful and keep plugging along.”  But as the days turned into weeks which turned into months with very little change, I asked the Lord, “How do we keep remaining faithful?”

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one word for 2018

abide

“to continue in a place”

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing…If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you…As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.  If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” 

~from John 15

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue [abide] in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 

~John 8:31-32

“The Greek word for abide used in John 8: 31-32 and John 15: 4-5 is the same word that’s used for living in a house. The idea is that we don’t just visit the Word for 10 minutes a day. We live in the Word. Meditate on it. Chew on it as we walk through the day.”

~Taste for Truth, pg. 10