Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hear God’s Voice - Summer Series

2019 Summer Series: Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God by Mark Batterson takes us on a spiritual journey, a journey of how to listen for God and what God can reveal to us. I read this book about a year ago and am re-reading it this summer. As I share some excerpts from his writing, I hope you will be encouraged to read along. - Donna


Samuel said, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 

In his book, Whisper, Mark Batterson suggests this Scripture from the book of Samuel captures the essence of seeking God’s voice and calls it “the seven-word prayer that can change your life”. He describes God’s voice this way: 

His voice is love. 
His voice is power. 
His voice is healing. 
His voice is wisdom. 
His voice is joy.  - Mark Batterson/Whisper, p2

As we spend time this summer learning how to better listen for God’s voice, we must first ask ourselves a question Batterson asks: “Is God’s voice the loudest voice in your life?” I hope you will journey with me and explore listening for God’s direction, revelation, encouragement, comfort, and mercy. -dho





Sunday, June 09, 2019

Holy Wind... Pentecost Sunday!


“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

On April 21st this year, we celebrated Easter. After this, we often just go about our days participating in the end of school events and recitals, with preparations for summer trips and Vacation Bible School. Today, Sunday June 9, 2019, is Pentecost Sunday, the day most liturgical Christian churches celebrate of the Holy Spirit coming to be with those who follow Jesus. 

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. 

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, June 06, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Resurrection and the LIfe


Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in Me and will never perish. John 11:25-26 NLT

We find everlasting joy in the seventh “I AM” statement of Jesus, reflected annually with Easter celebrations around the world. Easter Sunday is full of joy, praise and hallelujahs that proclaim once again Extravagant Love! His love not only precedes us, it exceeds us. Resurrection marks the transition between life and overcoming death. His resurrection bears the marks of His Passion for mankind. This Everlasting Grace conquers the spiritual death. With certainty we find our Blessed Assurance even in the darkest times. The resurrection of Jesus restores life, offers new life to all, and gives enduring peace. Holy, Holy, Holy; Holy is the LORD. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. 

  • Celebrate the resurrection; consider Extravagant Love
  • Share the resurrection; offer Christ to another.

Holy One, such love wraps my life with assurance of life, and Grace weaves my life into Your community of believers. Mark me as Yours; restore my soul. Hallelujah to the Love Most High! - dho

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life




Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6 NASB

This is the sixth of seven "I AM" statements that Jesus gives us about His deity. Jesus clearly states that there is one way to the Father and that way is through Him. Jesus is the way to God, and Jesus is the truth of God. Jesus is the true and everlasting life. Scripture tells us the way is "narrow" and the "broad" way leads to destruction. There will be those who only pretend to follow Jesus, but the Truth knows the heart. Jesus is the only way to salvation; He is the bridge back to God. 

I AM the righteous road, the truth-fulfilled Savior, the life-giving Spirit that leads to eternal life. Jesus said, "Follow Me!" We are to walk the righteous, narrow road of integrity, humility, and compassion. We are to share the truth of Jesus, the Son of God, with love, with gentleness, with encouragement. We are to live in the presence of the Spirit, finding His peace and joy and rest. 
  • Do you know the way, the truth and the life that only Jesus offers? 
  • Have you shared this Jesus with anyone? Will you?


Savior, lead me to the quiet waters of Your refreshment; open my mind to Your will. Fill my soul with Your Spirit; empower me to share Jesus. - dho

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Bread of Life




Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in Me will never thirst. . . I am the living bread that came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; this bread is my flesh, offered so the world may live.” John 6:35,58 NLT




Jesus uses bread to explain the difference between meeting the physical needs of hunger and the spiritual needs of redemption. Our physical life requires ongoing nutrition to survive, while our spiritual growth requires an ongoing relationship with Jesus. The greatest difference between bread and living bread is that in Christ our souls know permanent nourishment, everlasting sustenance. 

How does one eat living bread? Believing that Christ’s death and resurrection brings each one new life and trusting the Holy Spirit for guidance is the beginning. Continuing to grow in our knowledge and faith sustains us. Sharing the Good News of Jesus, sharing the living bread with others gives an even deeper satisfaction. Christ came down out of heaven, and Perfect Love offered Himself so the world may live.
  • Hungry? How much time do you spend feeding your soul with Gods word? 
  • Will you commit to spending time with God - daily?
Living Bread ~ I am fed by an offering I cannot explain. Bread of Heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more. My God-story is full! – dho

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Vine




I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. . . By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:5, 8 NKJV



From these words, we understand Jesus to express the necessity of abiding with Him. Another way to say this is ‘to remain in fellowship with Me’. This kind of fellowship is personal and daily and suggests to stay in close contact with Jesus. How is this demonstrated? Characteristics of trust and prayer, obedience and joy are the marks of abiding with Jesus. 

Another outcome which is included in the same sentence as ‘abide’ is ‘bears much fruit’. Fruit refers to the good works and servant lifestyle that honors God and furthers His work in the world. The key to being able to produce fruit is completely linked to abiding in Christ; He is the Vine and we are the branches. Don’t miss the last part: without Me you can do nothing. Living a fruitful life comes from abiding in Christ. These inward and outward characteristics together mark us for His service and our service for His Glory!
  • Read John 15:1-9: Who is the vinedresser? Who is the true vine? Who are the branches?
  • In John 15:9, what kind of love is described? 
Lord, I believe that without You, I can do nothing; yet I fail to seek You, ask You or listen to You time after time. Forgive my inconsistent abiding. Help me improve my daily, personal relationship with You that my life might give honor to God. - dho

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Good Shepherd


I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. . .I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. . . they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father. John 10:11-18 NRSV

Reading this passage in John, we learn about the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep, about thieves and flocks in need. Jesus says I AM the good shepherd. He knows His sheep; His sheep know Him, know His voice. Jesus is the good shepherd who protects and provides for His flock. Unlike the thieves who are unreliable, Jesus even lays down His life for His sheep. He will never abandon them.

The metaphors of sheep and shepherd help us understand our relationship with Jesus. As His sheep we are totally dependent upon His care, His guidance. He is our security. Jesus voluntarily chooses us as His sheep then gives His life for us. Jesus says I AM the good shepherd. This Divine Love exceeds our capacity to understand. As we journey through Lent, it is the sacrifice of such Divine Love that overwhelms the soul. For me, for this sheep, I know Jesus lay down His life and took it up again. New Life comes to me because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. 
  • Is Jesus your good shepherd
  • How do you express your total dependence on the good shepherd?

Good Shepherd, I need you in every way. Your leading is the path I choose. My praise for such Divine Love shouts wordless Hallelujahs! - dho

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Door

Then Jesus said to them again, Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. . . I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. John10:7-10 NKJV

As Jesus uses the example of shepherd and sheep, the people try to understand the analogy. At that time, in the evening, shepherds would frequently guide their sheep into enclosures usually made of stone walls with no door. A shepherd would lie down across the opening to prevent any predators from harming the sheep. Jesus tells them I am the door of the sheep. He is trying to convey that no one can get into the fold unless they first go through Him. What does this mean to you and me? Jesus came to give everlasting life and only through Jesus can we find grace and communion and peace. To be able to walk in His Presence we must come through the door! Jesus is the way in

As the door, Jesus protects those who choose to follow Him. This security is found in His wisdom and power and goodness. We enter the door by faith, and find Jesus to be our Mediator, our Savior. Through the door our prayers rise to God and His blessings fall around us. As a world of darkness threatens to consume us, it is the door that offers refuge. Can you see the door? Jesus is the door that welcomes all who choose to come inside. 
  • Have you found the way in
  • Will you share the abundant, everlasting life of Jesus with someone? Show them the Door!

Jesus, You mark the way into the Kingdom of God. How blessed I am to know the sweetness of Your Presence. Help me share You with the world and lead the ones in darkness to The Door. – dho

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Mark of Jesus - I AM the Light of the World

When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV


In my previous church, the acolytes are children who light the altar candles at the beginning of the  worship service. This tradition symbolically carries the presence of Jesus into the community of worshipers. At the end of worship, the acolytes relight their candle lighters, extinguish the altar candles, and proceed out of the sanctuary. This symbolizes that Jesus came for all, and as believers, we are to carry His Light into the world. One time, one of the acolytes catches my attention. At the end of the service, he carefully relights his candle lighter and then extinguishes the candle, his eyes intently watching the flame. As he slowly turns and reverently walks out of the sanctuary, his eyes never leave the light of his candle lighter. He focuses on the light and attends to his task; he is the bearer of the Light.

Jesus says I am the light of the world! As Christians, we are no longer to live in darkness; rather we are called to walk in the light of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Through the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn (Luke 23:44-46). Now, we have direct access to the presence of God; each of us is part of the royal priesthood. With this comes the responsibility of carrying the message of Jesus to others; we are bearers of the Light.

Romans 13:12 calls us to put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Like the acolyte so intentional in his attention to the light, I find my soul convicted of the many times I look away from His Light, forget to focus on His Light, am remiss in not sharing His Light. In times when darkness tries to capture my thoughts, do I put on the armor of Light? When life unfolds unexpectantly, do I put on the armor of Light? When I encounter those in need, do I tell them how to put on the armor of Light? Does my life carry this mark of Jesus ~ am I a bearer of the Light?

  •  Am I willing to carry The Light beyond the walls of my sanctuary?
  •   Do others know I have put on the armor of Light?
Holy One, let my life reflect Your Goodness. Help me to put on the armor of Light, step out into this world of darkness, and share You ~ the Light of the World! I desire to be a bearer of the Light in a fallen world. What wordless joy I find in Your presence. ~ dho 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Sunday - I AM the Resurrection and the Life!


[God...made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus. Hebrews 13:20 MSG During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore the visible evidence, the Marks of Life Everlasting - that identifies us as faithful followers of Jesus. Can others see Jesus in our lives? ~ Donna Oswalt]

Thank you for the opportunity to share the Extravagant Love of God with you during this Easter Season. For more devotionals throughout the year, follow BreathingRoomForMySoul.com  Donna Oswalt, Mangrove Ministries ]




Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in Me and will never perish. John 11:25-26 NLT

Easter Sunday is full of joy, praise and hallelujahs that celebrate once again Extravagant Love! His love not only precedes us, it exceeds us. Resurrection marks the transition between life and overcoming death. His resurrection bears the marks of His Passion for mankind. This Everlasting Grace conquers the spiritual death. With certainty we find our Blessed Assurance even in the darkest times. The resurrection of Jesus restores life, offers new life to all, and gives enduring peace. Holy, Holy, Holy; Holy is the LORD. Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. 
  • Celebrate the resurrection; consider Extravagant Love
  • Share the resurrection; offer Christ to another.
Holy One, such love wraps my life with assurance of life, and Grace weaves my life into Your community of believers. Mark me as Yours; restore my soul. Hallelujah to the Love Most High! - dho

All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author Copyright 2013 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author Breathing Room For My Soul (blog) Follow on Twitter @soulchat

Friday, April 19, 2019

Good Friday - Mark of Transition

[God...made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus. Hebrews 13:20 MSG During this season of reflection and renewal, join me, and let's explore the visible evidence, the Marks of Life Everlasting - that identifies us as faithful followers of Jesus. Can others see Jesus in our lives? ~ Donna Oswalt]



And they all continued in amazement and great complexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" Acts 2:1-13 NASB

These first verses of Acts 2 describe the beginning of Pentecost. This is the day God sends the Holy Spirit. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin to speak in other languages. Symbolically, the languages confirmed that God's children would come from all nations. This marked the transition from Jesus' earthly ministry to the beginning of the church. All people can come into the Kingdom of God.

Weeks earlier, we find Christ arrested, beaten, and crucified. His death confuses those who had followed Him. Most all of them desert Jesus; fear rules. Believing that Jesus would become an earthly king, confusion and chaos take control. The cross, too, is a time of transition, a time of uncertainty. Who is this Jesus anyway?

Today, we often let fear rule; confusion and chaos disrupt. We live in uncertain times. Our mark of transition is when we choose to live for Jesus. This spiritual transition is just the beginning of the everlasting life that comes only through Jesus. Choose Life!
  • Can you mark your transition from lost to redeemed through Christ? 
  • If you Choose Life, will you share this Everlasting Life with someone else?

Jesus, the cross gives me the opportunity to change, to make a commitment to serving You. In silence I consider the cost of my soul. The cross always wears the mark of transition from death to life. I choose Life! – dho

All rights reserved ~ used with permission of the author Copyright 2013 by Donna Oswalt/Co-Founder of Mangrove Ministries/Christian blogger and author Breathing Room For My Soul (blog) Follow on Twitter @soulchat