Thursday, November 15, 2018

Extravagant Gifts of Every Day - Gratitude

Loving God,
    
The night sky is filled with luminaries that
light the darkness. Angels whisper evening
songs to my weary soul. I do not notice.

As sleep gently calls, I forget that I have
breathed the morning air, listened to laughter,
seen the evening sky appear. Another day! 

Something disturbs the rhythm of my sleep, 
summons my soul. In these sleepless moments,
the Holy Spirit is waiting and listens for my
response. I whisper, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! 




Holy Father, when I fail to see the beauty of
Your day, remind me with a glorious morning
to take my breath away, a soul-laugh that only 
a listening heart can find, and a night sky 
crowded with stars like diamonds that demand
a lingering look. 


My heart bursts with unmeasured thankfulness!  
These are Your ordinary gifts! I simply miss them in my
hectic hours, my scheduled chaos, my saturated time.

Give my heart the desire to breathe,
listen, and see the ordinary with extraordinary 
intention. Grant my soul the desire to breathe,
listen, and see Your Extraordinary Gifts of
Love, Grace, and Joy! Let me seek Your
extravagant gifts in every day! 

Let me shout, Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Refresh my spirit! Refine my faith! 
Restore my love! Renew my strength!  
Rebuild my trust! Reclaim my soul! 

To God be the glory! Amen.  ~dho   

Thursday, November 08, 2018

God Moments


Affirmation of faith:
"We believe that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Lord of yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Lord over life and death.
We believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. With His help we can remain faithful when tempted, peaceful when troubled, and loving when opposed. 

We believe that in all things we can be more than conquerors. For neither death nor life, neither the present nor the future, neither suffering nor trials can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

God's love finds us where we are whether we are suffering or shouting hallelujah's! Because God desires a relationship with us, He longs to share in our days, whether they are long and full or hurried and fragile or few and peaceful. God walks with us so closely that sometimes we can miss Him ~ especially when everything seems so easy, so good, so simple. I believe only God can make days like these.

From a familiar hymn, these words remind me to be aware of time:
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.*

In the week to come, whatever comes our way, I believe we can find God in our moments. Remain faithful and be aware of His presence! ~ dho

* hymn Take My Life, and Let It Be

Thursday, November 01, 2018

One Thing!

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: 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 meditate in His templePsalm 27:4 ESV


The world rumbles with distractions and disappointments and gives voice to self-focused agendas. Desire for approval and applause comes from every direction. More replaces need. In the chaos of so many possibilities, our ability to discern God's voice diminishes. Our minds become numb, and our deeds become rote. How do Christians live in the world and in God's presence?


The presence of God must become my dwelling place, the one thingmy heart's greatest desire. To dwell in God's presence brings peace even in troubled times, gives assurance in uncertain times, offers hope in all times. To "meditate" is to be in "constant communion". Without listening in prayer for His voice or being in study and contemplation of His word, we do not see God's beauty and overlook God's faithfulness.

Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13 that while he has not achieved complete success, "one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead." Reaching forward toward God's call through Christ is the goal, to be in constant communion, to dwell in God’s presence. Paul's words give voice to my efforts, my striving toward the goal, even when I fall short.

LORD, my soul needs constant communion with You. Help me nurture our relationship that I may dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life, to behold Your beauty and to meditate in Your Dwelling Place~dho

Thursday, October 25, 2018

King of the World

Live like you believe God is Sovereign! -dho

                                       
                               King Of The World - by Natalie Grant  (link)


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Spiritually Satistifed, Healthy Heart

Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with your heart.  Jeremiah 29:12-13 ESV

Christian theologian J.I. Packer writes this about prayer and 
our heart's intentions, "Many of us have no idea how impoverished we are at this level." The knowledge of God or our talents or commitments at church fall short without prayer. Many people claim Jeremiah 29:11 as their favorite verse, but frequently do not look at the verses immediately following. Malnourished and dehydrated, our spiritual poverty claims us, even as we try to learn and serve. As a Christian, prayer becomes spiritual sustenance for a healthy heart.

So often we neglect to focus on the goodness of God, His love and mercy and faithfulness. In lectio divina, divine meditative and spiritual reading of God's Word, both the heart and the mind embrace the love of God. In this process, prayer becomes an opening of the heart which sings gratitude, humbly confesses sin, weeps over lost opportunities, whispers and shouts needs, both simple and desperate. The holiness of God surrounds your awareness, flows into the emptiest of places, quiets the fears, and strengthens the resolve as you welcome His unconditional love. Wordless songs of joy will break free from the chains of worry and doubt, soar above the chaos, dance over the brokenness. God's goodness will overflow into living and cannot be contained. 

As we learn God's "unforced rhythms of grace", the heart finds rest in His goodness, life becomes well-nourished, and Living Water quenches the thirst for more. More than a promise of hope for the future, Scripture reveals a God of splendor and majesty, grace and holiness, love and compassion. God satisfies the "now". Open your heart to  God's infinite, unchanging and sustaining goodness. Listen! He is calling, come and pray to Me...seek Me with your heart. ~dho


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Finding Meaning In Life

"Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commands, for this is the duty of every person."     Ecclesiastes 12:13 NLT 


The writer of Ecclesiastes is searching for the answer that most all of us desire ~ the meaning of life. For each person, there are particular paths or callings that influence his or her choices of career, family, and community, but I believe this question reaches deeper and, if honesty prevails, becomes a common desire for all people ~ what gives my life meaning? After an exhaustive survey, the researcher in Ecclesiastes reaches a final conclusion, a universal answer to finding meaning in life: Fear God and obey His commands.

In his book, Living the Resurrection, Eugene Peterson gives insight into what demonstrates our truest Christian identity. How does one live the resurrection? He writes, "We embrace and cherish a firsthand, personal life with God and one another." Peterson explains, "We engage in a life that is permeated by the presence and companionship of the resurrected Jesus in the company of friends." The meaning of true life always comes from the Giver of Life. At the core of our being, this personal relationship refines the soul.

What gives my life meaning? It is having a personal, intimate relationship with God and growing that relationship through obedience to His Way. Living the Resurrection gives God glory and allows God's faithful to fully embrace His promise of Everlasting Life. While life will always be full of mystery and unanswered questions, God remains full of majesty and blessings. Remember, worship God, and let your obedience to Him define how living the resurrection is the greatest secret to the meaning of life! ~ dho

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Let the Light Shine Out

Every word You give me is a miracle-word -
how could I help but obey?
Break open Your words, let the light shine out,
let ordinary people see the meaning.
Psalm 119:129-130 The Message

Between the skeptics and unbelievers, questions swirl around Christians. The world constantly queries the Bible and seeks to discredit it on many fronts. Sometimes, even Christians have difficulty explaining God's Living Word. Words from Ray Stedman's The Power of His Presence give a good description of the Old and New Testaments and why both are still relevant.
"The Old Testament is designed to be a picture book, illustrating with fascinating stories the spiritual truths presented in the New Testament... One of the most convincing proofs of the inspiration of the Bible is the facility with which the Spirit of God took simple history - facts as they were lived out day by day - and recorded them in such a way as to weave together a totally accurate pattern of the development of spiritual life. In other words, what took place physically in the Old Testament is a picture for believers today of what takes place spiritually in their own growth in grace." 
The NASB uses these words in Psalm 119:130 ~ The unfolding of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. When we spend time reading the Living Word, God's promises and spiritual truths are unfolded by the Spirit. Through studying the Scriptures, we begin to understand more about the character of God and His purposes for us. 

Gracious LORD, I come to the altar shouting
praise for all the blessings in my life. You are
the Light that writes the words of my soul-song.
It is You that gives my heart its desires.
Faithful Father, I am God-strong; my blessings
abundantly exceed my needs. Creator, gather
the details of my life, take Your holy threads and
weave a tapestry of Your design. You transcend
all circumstances, expose all evil, reveal all love
but never measure Grace. I am God-strengthened!
 ~dho

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Blessed Assurance

“Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as He opened up the Scriptures for us?” Luke 24:32 MSG



Scripture tells us about two friends, followers of Jesus, who are leaving Jerusalem on the morning of the Resurrection. Jesus begins to walk along side them, talking and teaching them. They do not recognize Jesus until after He blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them. His presence kindles a fire within their hearts.

Life happens in the hurried and the slow, the random and the sure, the desperate and the joyful moments that fill our days. A pattern begins to form as we gather our experiences and passions, our talents and knowledge in trying to see the big picture. Sometimes we want a solution or need direction; sometimes we just need to rest.

Timothy Keller writes, “Build an identity that gets its significance from God.” Too often we try to connect our life-dots through accomplishments or talent or relationships. We attempt to build our own identities through culture or philosophy. We even claim the behaviors of religion, like confession, forgiveness, baptism, communion, worship, giving, prayer, but do we recognize Jesus as God-within-us? Does the presence of Jesus ignite a spiritual flame within my heart? 

Blessed Assurance
Even before time began, Your beauty danced across the heavens. From the highest peaks to the deepest canyons, from the widest deserts to the strongest rivers. Your glory shines. From forever to forever, Your are Jehovah-Elohim, the Eternal Creator. 

Even before I took my first breath, Your plans for me were known. From the sweetest celebrations to the gravest sorrows, from the abundant blessings to the fiercest challenges, Your love abides. From before to after, forever be my dwelling place. Amen. - dho

Thursday, September 20, 2018

I Am Blessed!

Blessed are the....   Matthew 5:1-12

“Blessed are the...” begins the most familiar verses in the Beatitudes. “Blessed” comes from the Greek word MAKARIOS, a “poetic word” meaning happy or good fortune. Blackaby describes this concept as a “result of divine favor” but goes much further by defining that this kind of good favor comes from a relationship with “God who satisfies our soul and promises future reward.” Such divine favor comes through a relationship with Christ, and is not found elsewhere.

Sometimes reading different versions of the Scripture can give new insights into the meaning.  As I am reading in The Message “You’re blessed” over and over, I begin to contemplate how I am blessed. Certainly the tangible things in life immediately come to mind, like security and shelter, then health comes next, followed by loving relationships. Soon I realize the things that come to mind are all about me! In these verses, Jesus is teaching a “new awareness” or a “new consciousness” about what really brings us happiness.

Blackaby writes that to find happiness requires we “experience the Kingdom’s inner riches, in the midst of external poverty and distress.” WHAT? Reading again in The Message I begin to see phrases that reveal the truths for a disciple of Jesus such as - “less of you - more of God” and “embraced by the One most dear” and “content with who you are”. My favorite is verse 7: "You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being care-full, you find yourselves cared for.” Happiness is being in a relationship with Christ while life happens!

In the article, “An Inside Job...What Really Brings Contentment?” Martin Thielen, pastor in TN, writes, “Extensive studies have proven that external circumstances...account for only 10 percent of a person’s happiness.” He goes on to say, “contentment is an inside job.” This Jesus prescription for happiness is a “divine paradox”. The world will always be in conflict with God’s promises, and Christians must trust God to be both power and presence, even in the darkness of uncertainty. We are “blessed” especially when we find ourselves struggling and grieving, when we lay down self and disappointment, when we experience evil in the world or persecution for our beliefs. In all these times, Christ remains with us, always the comforter, always the encourager, always faithful and true. “To be happy in Jesus” brings more divine favor than I could ever need. -dho


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Every Blessing!


As summer ends, reflect back over our discoveries in Scripture that reassures us with the unlimited possbilities of God. So often, in the quiet joys and little victories we forget that God celebrates with us, creates the joys, and even makes a way for the victories. In the chaos of crisis and the hurriedness of hectic, God walks beside us. We are never alone when we put our faith in God. Take a few minutes to listen to this song "Counting Every Blessing"! - dho



click to listen


Thursday, September 06, 2018

In the Garden - God Can Do All Things Summer Series

Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will. Mark 14:36





Despite dwelling in complete paradise and daily walking with the Creator, Adam and Eve not only encounter temptation but act on this. Disobedience breaks their relationship with God. They are banned from paradise to toil the land. The consequences of sin are born in the garden of Eden.


     I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses;  
     And the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses...

On the night Jesus is arrested, He takes His disciples to pray. The deep loneliness reaches through the darkness as Jesus comes before His Father. Jesus recognizes the rebellion of humanity and the gravity of God’s judgement. God’s plan is for Jesus to follow a path of suffering, to take this “cup” of wrath, to endure alienation from God as the ransom for all sin. Perfect Love will submit to God’s will and usher in a renewed relationship with God - “sins forgiven, heaven secured, joy restored, peace.” Knowing the cost of humanity’s sin, Jesus’ willing, unselfish response to an incomparable choice fills the night. Grace is born in the garden of Gethsemane.

     And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own,
     And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.

We fall on our knees before our Father desperate for His healing intervention, His mending touch. With tears and sorrow and loneliness we cry out in our suffering demanding answers. Other times, with joy and hope we shout praises to God for miracles we could only imagine, resolutions greater than our requests, sighs of wonder rise with prayers of celebration. In all these moments we can feel the embrace of God, a God who chooses love and forgiveness and peace. We find Jesus in the garden of a God who can do all things! -dho

We do not trust him because of what we can prove from our circumstances, but from what is revealed about his character at the cross. There we learn that even when circumstances are awful and inexplicable, God will ultimately bring about the good he intends. - Gospel Transformation Notes