Thursday, May 24, 2018

Come To The Table

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Just as summer is beginning, let’s take a moment to breathe... in AND out! The hurry of  school year is ending, adventures with less routine are beginning. Summer gives us the permission we sometimes need to slow down, take a longer lunch, listen to the birds, watch a sunset. In these times we can see ourselves more clearly, identify the stressors we can change, recognize our need for God. 

I’m sharing this song, a newer song from Sidewalk Prophets that is a new favorite of mine. Take a few minutes to listen to Jesus calling... calling each of us to His Table, calling each of us to rest, calling each of us to learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I hope you hear Jesus calling... come to the table! -dho

      Come To The Table  (click this link to hear!)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Holy Wind

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a noise like a strong, blowing wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw something like flames of fire that were separated and stood over each person there.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak different languages by the power the Holy Spirit was giving them.” Acts 2:1-4 NCV

Jewish history recounts that the curtains in the Temple that separate the Most Holy Place would sometimes move and describes this phenomenon as Rauch HaKodesh, a Hebrew phrase meaning “Breath of the Holies”. In the Old Testament, the Jewish people understand the Holy Spirit to be God’s influence over humanity and the universe. In Psalm 51:11 David pleads with God, “Do not banish me from Your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” God always desires to dwell in the presence of His people.

After Jesus ascends back to heaven, as promised, the Holy Spirit descends to His followers. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. Now, Jesus sits at the right hand of God, and the Holy Spirit becomes God’s Presence with us. This Sunday May 20, 2018, is Pentecost Sunday, the day of celebration of the Holy Spirit coming to be with those who follow Jesus.  

Holy Spirit, come alongside of me and breathe holy life into my thoughts, my purpose, my service. In You I know the presence of the Lord. Holy Wind, embrace me, encourage me, empower me. Count me alive in Christ. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. - dho 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Living Stones

“Come to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by the people, but He is precious to God who chose Him. And now God is building you, as living stones, into His spiritual temple. What’s more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices that please Him because of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:4-5 NLT

Peter’s words declare Christ as the foundation of the church, and those who follow Christ become the living stones that God uses to build His church. This reference does not suggest literal buildings, rather the building of the church as a community of believers. When the curtain in the Temple is torn in two, every believer gains direct access to God. Rejected but resurrected, Jesus creates a New Way back to God. Christ, the Great High Priest, makes the last and ultimate blood sacrifice for sin. Through Grace we can enter into the Presence of God as His holy priests

God always desires to have a dwelling place with His people, first in the tabernacle, later in the temple, then on earth in Christ, and now within each believer through the Holy Spirit. God’s presence resides in the community of believers, the body of Christ, the church. Holy God, infinite in wisdom, I try to imagine Your mystery but cannot understand such love, cannot comprehend such power, cannot explain such mercy. My sacrifice of praise is endless. Count me alive in Christ. Let this living stone glorify You! – dho 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Spiritual Temple

 “You must make your heart a spiritual temple,
a temple where you can go to adore Him incessantly.”
Brother Lawrence

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”

To effectively spread the Gospel, understanding the cultural language is of great importance. Paul brings the message of Christ to Athens, Greece, a great center of culture and philosophy. Greek intellectuals frequently challenge each other. In an attempt to introduce the Gospel message, Paul reaches into their world of curiosity and idols, uses common language, and draws them into his story. Starting in the marketplace, the Greeks take Paul to their official court, and there he preaches the Good News. While there are some who mock Paul, some walk away unsure, but others believe. The Holy Spirit breathes new life into those whose faith confesses Jesus as Redeemer.

As Christians, we find great comfort in knowing that God chooses us, forgives us, and calls us through Christ. God marks us as His own with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians says, “The Spirit is God’s guarantee the He will give us everything He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people.”Whether we encounter opposing philosophies or cultural apostasy, the Promises of God always remain. El Shaddai, You are the Great I AM, the All Sufficient One who chooses me! Through Your Promises, I discover my identity in Christ. Your Spirit breathes new life into me, creating a spiritual temple within me. Count me alive in Christ. Praises keep rising to You! – dho

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My Heart Rests in His Presence

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with Him… We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that He has already thrown open His door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory.” Romans 5:1-5 MSG

In the chasm between Holy God and human frailty, Jesus stands. In the desolate place between this God of Righteousness and the sinner’s rebellion, Jesus mediates. In the darkness of sin that offends holiness, Jesus lights the path back to God. Only righteousness brings peace that allows one to stand in the wide open spaces with God. The blood of Christ permanently opens the door to God’s grace and glory.

Because of Jesus, we are able to stand before God full of hope. The power of Christ’s resurrection creates a dwelling place for God in each believer. Now, we can experience God’s love, embrace God’s goodness, expect God’s peace. When we consider the generosity of God that flows into us through the Holy Spirit, we overflow with praises. 

Spirit of Love, take my wordless joy to the Father. I stand in a place reconciled through grace, lavished with love, and overwhelmed by glory! Count me alive in Christ. My heart rests in His Presence. - dho 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Christ Reveals the Dwelling Place of God

 “The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple
with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays 
the human body the highest compliment by making His dwelling place, 
the place where He meets with us.”
Ravi Zacharias

“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50-51 NASB 

Until this day, God’s Presence dwells on the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place in the Temple, but when Jesus breathes His last breath, the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place rips from top to bottom. Before this moment, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and only one time a year on the Day of Atonement. Now, the barrier between humanity and God is torn apart. The crucified Jesus reveals the door to reconciliation. 

This long day has been full of betrayals and beatings, accusations and abandonment, interrogations and inscriptions, mockery and miracles. The crucifixion of Jesus reveals His willingness to die once for all, to be the last blood sacrifice needed for redemption. Standing at the foot of the cross, the Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that happened. They said, ‘Truly, this was the Son of God!” [Matthew 27:54] Christ reveals the dwelling place of God. 

Lamb of God, You reveal my imperfections! Some days I choose the world, use words that hurt, simply pretend to care. But because the veil is torn, I can enter the Holy of Holies. Count me alive in Christ. Every day You reveal the unforced rhythms of Grace. – dho

Thursday, April 12, 2018

God Dwells Among Us

 “There is no chance thing through which God cannot speak—even the walk from
the house to the garage that you have walked ten thousand times before, even the moments when you cannot believe that there is a God who speaks at all anywhere. 
He speaks, I believe, and the words He speaks are incarnate in the flesh and blood of ourselves and of our own footsore and sacred journeys.”
Fredrick Buechner 

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

In the first chapter of John, Scripture describes the incarnation of the Word. Jesus, the Word, becomes human and dwells among us. Both fully God and fully human, Jesus enters the world as the visible manifestation of God, His perfect love in human form. This unique Father-Son relationship offers a glimpse of possibility for the Christian. Full of grace and truth, Jesus pitches His tent and takes up residence among the people. 

Throughout all time, God has chosen to dwell in the midst His people, but when Jesus enters the world, both visible and tangible, God literally lives beside His people. Jesus is the Truth that brings Grace because He is the Perfect Sacrifice for all sins. 

Image of the Invisible God, this mystery of You coming to live among the people transcends intellectual thought. Perfect Love, You reveal the Light that darkness cannot cover and become the Grace that sin cannot destroy. Count me alive in Christ.  Be born in me! - dho

Thursday, April 05, 2018

God’s Presence Dwells with His People

All His glory and beauty come from within, and there He delights to dwell. 
His visits are frequent, His conversations sweet, His comforts refreshing: 
His peace passing all understanding.
Thomas Kempis

“The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Exodus 33:14

From the beginning in the garden, God desires an intimate relationship and divine fellowship with His people. At 75 years of age, Abraham leaves Haran in obedience to God’s call to a Promised Land. His response in faith to God would be blessed many times over; witnesses testify, “God is with you in all that you do.” Joseph, sold into slavery by his own brothers, is imprisoned in Egypt, but Scripture recounts, “the Lord is with him in prison,” protecting and providing. Joseph becomes a ruler in Egypt, saves the people from famine, including his own brothers. Moses leads the Israelites from captivity in Egypt across the Red Sea, a miracle of God. Throughout the next 40 years, God repeatedly demonstrates His promise to Moses and to His people, “My presence will go with you.” Despite the separation of God and mankind by sin, He still longs to be in relationship with us.

Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can boldly enter the Most Holy Place. Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. [Hebrews 10:22] Through Christ’s sacrifice, the intimate relationship between God and us is restored. How do we know our dwelling place is truly in God’s Presence? A genuine response to God must exceed our personal desires. Stepping out with faithful obedience to Christ’s example to love and encourage others will reveal our heart’s true resting place. 

Faithful Father, God of Power and Promise, find me willing to embrace Your goodness. In divine fellowship with You and other believers, let my words demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When I stand surrounded by those who are cold and lonely, hungry and thirsty, open my heart to live by the Spirit. Count me alive in Christ, my dwelling place His Presence. ~dho

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter Sunday - Our Dwelling Place, His Presence - Lent 2018

[Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting  Psalm 90:1-2  
During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore God’s Presence, our dwelling place.  Are you dwelling in the presence of God? ~ Donna Howell Oswalt]

“The hope we have in Christ is an absolute certainty. We can be sure that
the place Christ is preparing for us will be ready when we arrive, because with Him
nothing is left to chance. Everything He promised He will deliver.”
Billy Graham

“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 temple.” Psalm 27:4 ESV

Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, He instructs the disciples to tell the story of Good News to all people. His final words of encouragement: And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. In Scripture, the last days refers to the time between Christ’s return to heaven after the resurrection and His second return to earth. The last days are now! The promise remains true; Jehovah Shammah, the LORD is there, dwells with us. God’s presence with His people is certain.

Scripture tells us that in the last days the story of Jesus is mocked and questioned. Arrogance diminishes the power of God, discredits His role in creation, and dismisses His promise of judgment. People choose other gods to worship. With humility, His faithful followers must earnestly continue to be about the work God calls us to do. LORD, Creator and Promise Keeper, Your grace falls gently in the midst of these harsh last days. Forgive those who deny You and give them a reason to hope. I long to dwell in Your Presence all the days of my life. Here I see the beauty of Extravagant Love and know the unexplainable joy of Eternal Hope. As I eagerly anticipate what You will do next, help me tell Your story of Grace! Count me alive in Christ. Moment by moment, Jehovah Shammah, You are here! - dho 

Thank you for the opportunity to share the Extravagant Love of God with you during this Easter Season. For more devotionals throughout the year, see my blog:  Donna Oswalt

All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2014 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author
Breathing Room For My Soul (blog) Follow on Twitter @soulchat

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday - Place of Everlasting Glory - Lent 2018

[Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting  Psalm 90:1-2  
During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore God’s Presence, our dwelling place.  Are you dwelling in the presence of God? ~ Donna Howell Oswalt]

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’” Revelation 21:1-3 NASB

On the day of crucifixion, prophecy of the Messiah surrounds Jesus, but most watch unaware. A lack of understanding is consumed by fallacy and fear, power and providence, greed and grief, barter and betrayal. God’s plan of salvation unfolds before their very eyes. Perfect Love is nailed to a wooden cross, broken for humanity. The Lamb of God becomes the only necessary blood sacrifice, a complete sin offering for atonement and everlasting life. Immanuel, God with us, breathes His last breath on earth.

Messiah reigns in heaven, for now, but prophecy waits to be fulfilled. In the day of His return, there will be a new earth, a New Jerusalem. Then God will dwell among His people, and together, all the faithful will live in this place of Everlasting Glory forever. LORD of Lords, hold my broken places and forgive my foolish plans, change my stubborn heart and break my selfish will, reveal my complacent attitude and renew my weary soul. I eat the bread broken for me, and drink the wine poured out for me. Count me alive in Christ. Perfect Love, Amazing Grace for me! – dho 

All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2014 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author
Breathing Room For My Soul (blog) Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maundy Thursday - Place of Completeness - Lent 2018

[Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations…from everlasting to everlasting  Psalm 90:1-2  
During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore God’s Presence, our dwelling place.  Are you dwelling in the presence of God? ~ Donna Howell Oswalt]

“How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him.” Ephesians 1:3 MSG

God chooses us, Jesus redeems us, and the Spirit marks us. These are not temporary blessings but spiritual blessings. God’s goodness and grace continually flows from an endless well and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him. One of the greatest spiritual blessings is the peace that comes with knowing Jesus, the Prince of Peace. In Hebrew, Jesus, Prince of Peace is Yeshua, Sar Shalom.

Shalom offers more than peace, reflecting a deeper, more complex idea that conveys a completeness evidenced by the blessings of spiritual security and rest, wholeness and well-being. How does one find this kind of peace? Only grace through Jesus reconciles the soul to perfect rest with God. Yeshua, Sar Shalom, take me to the high places of blessing! When life empties my heart and blurs my thoughts, steals my joy and fatigues my soul, take me to the high places of blessing! Count me alive in Christ. Perfect Love gives Perfect Peace. - dho 

All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author
Copyright 2014 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author
Breathing Room For My Soul (blog) Follow on Twitter @soulchat

For more information about this ministry visit ~