The Sharpest Sword

I had seen what it could do. Now it was my turn.

We were at a festival that celebrates the Renaissance period of history, with food and events that match the theme. While chewing on a huge turkey leg and watching a jousting match, we’d gotten a fresh surge of energy, and now we were exploring the shops.

My husband had admired the range of swords, and a worker at the shop invited him to try out his favorite. Behind the shop were bundles of reeds standing up in water barrels. They’d been soaked overnight, and the thick bundles were now dense and heavy.

First, the shop worker took aim. And swung, slicing in one steady, fluid movement. He showed us the swiftly dissected bundle, and reviewed what made the sword so effective and efficient. After giving us a lesson on careful use, he then handed it off to my husband, who readily did the same.

Sword

Now I had the sword in my hand.

I’d been fed. I’d been taught. The sword was sharper than we could have imagined. All I had to do was understand what it could do, and then choose to use it.

There’s a sword that is so sharp it can divide bone and marrow, soul and spirit. You have this sword. And it’s been placed in your hand.

You’ll want to be fed first. The good news is that God’s Word is a sword, and at the same time, God’s Word is a daily bread. You’ll want to be fed with that daily bread. Meaning that you’ll want to taste and see that the Lord is good, first sampling what God has to say to you, and then coming to savor it. And then, when you’re ready to read more than a verse or two, and begin to choose larger portions, you’ll want to sit down to make a meal of it, and then another. You’ll become filled with His love and His wisdom for your life. And you’ll realize with each meal that the joy of the Lord is your strength.

You’ll want to be taught. You can get a lesson on careful use of the word of God, if you seek a conversation with God.

Your prayers may begin with seeking God’s intervention in the circumstances of your life.

As you pray, you will want to remember how God has already intervened in your life, and take time to be thankful. Not only will gratitude honor God as He is due, but thankfulness will renew your mind as to what God can and will do.

As you recall what God can do, God can reveal to you that what He has done reflects who He really is. As you seek to give God a role in your life, God can help you recognize that His role reaches beyond intervention, to sovereignty; that God was meant to be Lord of your life.

And as you realize, in greater and greater detail, who He really is, you realize that all of what He is, is what you need and want most. Realizing that God himself is what your heart is missing, your prayers can then become about seeking His presence – God himself.

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 KJV

Understand that God’s Word can divide soul and spirit – defining your spirit as your truest self, which is restored fully by your saving faith in Him; and defining your soul as your mind and emotions. Just as marrow gives life and function to the body’s joints, your thoughts and feelings were never meant to reign over your life, but to be given life and function by your spirit. Your soul, which needs daily healing and restoration, needs to be led by your spirit, which is the essential innermost substance of your existence. And your spirit by faith has a perfect connection to the perfect leadership of God’s Holy Spirit.

In Ezekiel 37, a prophet in ancient Israel shares his vision of what God will do with His people regardless of what state they are in. He gave an eyewitness account of divine restoration far beyond human capacity when God restored dry bones, in a valley of death. In Psalm 23, another prophet named David shares the relationship with God that preserved him and his life, regardless of the valleys he walked through. Here I share my witness to what God can do. I relay to you that hope is never lost, when you place your hope in God.

What happened when it was my turn with the sword? I said I was ready. And I focused – more on what I had learned, than on what was before me.

I took aim, and sliced steady. The bundle fell to the sharp sword.

Take your turn.

O Come Let Us Adore Him

Let us rejoice in God who delights in us.

The candles wait to be lit.

An Advent wreath sits on display in our living room all year long. I bought the candles 25 years ago this Christmas, and they’re still in use.

More often than not, it’s the middle of this season when I remember that it’s time. Time to make time, together, to read a few verses, sometimes sing a song. To light a candle and see it shine.

Venite, venite. That’s Latin for “O come ye.” No, I never studied Latin, but I sang choir in middle school, and our teacher – my mom – taught us things like that. We’d sing “venite adoremus”  and then interpret it, singing “O come let us adore Him.” The translation would be veni, veni for the song our family sometimes sings for Advent: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Translated from Hebrew, Emmanuel is “God with us.”

Veni, veni Emmanuel.

If you’ve invited God into your life … do you trust Him to actually show up?

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20

Once He does, will He be welcome to move in? Each time a family friend or relative has come to stay at our house, there’s been only so much room that we found for their things, as we edged around our own clutter. Our interests furnish and yet disorder our lives, and our concerns add to the disarray.

Even if you deem the items and affairs of your life as attractively organized – when Jesus comes knocking, ready to redeem your life, you might still have to consider whether you’ve really made any room for him to even get inn.

His taste might not match your signature style. He might want to redecorate.

What if there were parts of your life that He was ready to tear down, to renovate and build something stronger, and more beautiful? What if – instead of remaining a creature of habit — you were to be rebuilt to His code and to his taste?

Yeah, that’s a lot. But then again, at some point you’d have to ask … whose house is it?

Venite, venite. O come, let us adore Him.

God will show up. And He will edify you. He builds on a grand scale in the life of each believer, replacing a spirit of fear with a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind. The one whom God loves is set free from condemnation by a true Judge, and defended by the Almighty. Is cared for faithfully and prospered by the presence of the God who delights in His people. Is guided by God’s omnipresent wisdom.

As we come to know God, we come to know Him as the God who is with us. Exult in knowing Him.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.   Psalm 34:2

And exalt time spent with Him.

Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.  1 Chronicles 16:10  (See also Jeremiah 9:24, 1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalm 105:3; 1 Corinthians 1:31; and 2 Corinthians 10:17.)

Rejoice at His advent in your circumstances, and the epiphany of His place in your life and the lives of those you love.

Light the candles.

Advent 2014a

A 23rd Psalm Attitude

pupy sweater

My dog Al came looking for me. I was the only one upstairs, and he’s like a sheep herder’s dog, checking up on the flock.

Nah. He’s more like a sheep himself. After gazing into my face, he leaped into my lap and curled up there.

He’s a good sheep – for a miniature schnauzer.

I wanna be like Al.

My dog leaps into my lap because he knows he has a place there. He leans his head back all the way, just to gaze with adoration at my face. I want a 23rd Psalm attitude like my dog Al.

Whatever we’re eating, he wants some. He’s there, as close to the stove, table or dish that we’ll allow. Yes, his dog dish is full, but he’s still eager, for the crumbs we’ll surely drop. After we’re done, he’s allowed to leap up again, where he’s eager to even to sniff the fragrance of what we had.

He knows that staying close means sharing even more in what we’re enjoying.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

Freedom from fear — the fear of going without — is the idea that opens this psalm. The rest details tender tending for a sheep. Al, who’s carried, petted, entertained at length by the members of his household, would relate.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

In this psalm and elsewhere in the Word, we get the heads-up that we will face tribulations, and we are glad to get the Word that we will know victory. But that victory is more than the relief we experience when our tribulations are over. It’s so much more, because God also provides us the rest, comfort and peace we need before, during and after those tribulations. He tends us tenderly with healing for our souls – our minds and emotions – and strengthens and soothes our bodies.

In the midst of all this providence we find in the next verse the reason for great trust: our undivided awe for God, who is omnipotent within us and around us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

God acknowledges and addresses what we face. Enemies stand against us; and we are given time to receive and be strengthened by whatever we need in that day – our daily bread. Disease and injury threaten; and we are fortified, soothed and healed.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Because God is everpresent and eternally faithful, our faith endures. And we always have a place to turn to, a place with Him.

Surely Al knows he has a place to go – a place of goodness, lovingkindness. He has a place to abide, and an abiding trust.

He’s so eager to draw closer. He’s leaping at the opportunity.

Let’s take a leap of faith today.