A Look of Faith

I love when the Lord is shouting a truth at me from His word, from several sources at the same time, by His Divine ordaining of reading the same description, the same use of scripture reference, from two different authors from different times, and different focus. But the truth is the same.

In the mornings, when I can steal longer than an hour for reflecting, praying, personal growth, and Bible study, I love to start with reading from ‘The Life and Work of Our Lord’ by Spurgeon. And right now, for personal growth, I’m also reading ‘Pursuit of God’ by AW Tozer. There is zero consistency to how many pages I read of each. And I’d begun reading the first about 3 years ago, and am halfway through, and I picked up the second a few months ago. But this morning, I am in two chapters that highlight the same Old Testament tale: the fiery serpents in the camp of the Israelites, found in Numbers 21:4-9.

What had happened? The Israelites were complaining…again. Hm, I think the Lord is speaking to me some more, because just yesterday evening the complaining of the Israelites about no food, just stinking manna, was part of the examples at a Bible study using a book called “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow. I have not read that book yet, but I will be picking it up to be a part of that monthly study.

So the lessons here for me are twofold. But the one I want to focus on actually happens second: the bronze serpent, the looking, the being healed. Spurgeon and Tozer both recognize the profound truth that Jesus expounded on when He said in John 3:13-16: “No one has ascended to heaven, but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Salvation comes through faith. And faith is simply looking.

“There is life in a look at Jesus; is not this simple enough?” Spurgeon writes. The mystery of knowing salvation, of being free from the price of sin and death, is bound up in a simple believing look. Tozer details the connection further: “Our plain man in reading this would make an important discovery. He would notice that ‘look’ and ‘believe’ were synonymous terms. ‘Looking’ on the Old Testament serpent is identical with ‘believing’ on the New Testament Christ. That is, the looking and the believing are the same thing. And he would understand that while Israel looked with their external eyes, believing is done with the heart. I think he would conclude that faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.”

The gaze of the soul – what do I spend my time gazing upon? What fills my eyes, my looking, and then sinks into my heart, my believing? Am I ‘looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith’ or are my eyes turned downward on my stinking same old manna? Which brings me to my second point.

If I am truly turning my eyes to behold the Son lifted up, then I should be living a life healed and cured from discontent and complaining. God does not change: He still hates the ungrateful, complaining attitude just as much now as He did then. He might not send real serpents into our homes to bite us and remind us that we need His miraculous healing, but He does allow things in our lives that cause us to look up. I have to ask myself, what am I complaining about? Or am I so consumed with looking at my Savior that no irritations of this life can get me down? Lord, search me and know me. Show me where I’ve taken my eyes of faith off of You and turned them to my fiery snakes, my troubles, my problems.

But back to my main point, I just want to close with another quote from Spurgeon: “We are told in the text that ‘if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived;’ that is to say, he was healed at once. He had not to wait five minutes, nor five seconds…If you have lived in the blackest sin that is possible up to this very moment, yet if you will now believe in Jesus Christ you shall be saved before the clock ticks another time. Sanctification needs a lifetime, but justification needs no more than a moment. Thou believes, thou livest. Thou dost trust to Christ, thy sins are gone, thou art a saved man the instant thou believes. ‘Oh,’ saith one, ‘that is a wonder.’ It is a wonder, and will remain a wonder to all eternity.”

Do you get it yet? Just look to Jesus. Keep looking. And if you ever waiver in your faith, look at Him again. I have to say just one more thing through Spurgeon’s words: “Very possibly after a man had been healed he might go back to his work, and be attacked by a second serpent, for there were broods of them about. What had he to do? Why, to look again, and if he was wounded a thousand times he must look a thousand times. You, dear child of God, if you have sin on your conscience, look to Jesus.”

Look to Jesus, turn to Him,

Let Him heal you of your sin,

Look again, and just believe

On Christ’s gift at Calvary –

Keep on looking all your life

Don’t ever try to pay the price

The Son of Man has set you free

There is nothing you can bring

To add to salvation given

So set your eyes on the Lamb who is risen

And never ever look away

From His unending, amazing Grace.

(poem by Melissa Roland)

Mark Chapter 3 Complete!

Wow, it’s taken me quite a bit longer than I thought it would to share my Personal study through Mark. But I have finally worked through chapter 3. So if you didn’t notice at the top of my home page, there is a link: My Personal Study Thru the Book of Mark. If you go to the home page, you can easily see the sub-pages that will take you to Mark 3 (here’s a photo of what you’ll see):

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 8.40.29 AMThere are six of my personal studies through this chapter. I would love to have your feedback, thoughts, and questions. I hope most of all that this encourages you to study God’s Word for yourself.

Just Right

I know my coffee cup – yes, it’s my one and only pretty much. I’ll drink from a different one, but I tend to have just this cup ready and clean for myself every morning. And I know this cup perfectly well. This is how I tend to make my morning coffee:

DSCN0400I use a filter, some good grade stuff, and hot water – minutes later, awesome cup of joe. I don’t even measure anymore that is how long I’ve been drinking coffee….but:

If I use a different cup, I’m totally lost.

Yes, there have been days that my cup is not there. And I make the mistake of using a different cup, one I don’t know so well. The result is usually coffee all over the counter because I’ve poured in too much water. Then I tell myself, ‘hm. this is not the cup I know.’

God knows each of us better than I know my coffee cup.

He doesn’t just know one ‘cup’ – He knows us all, inside and out, and He knows exactly how much we can handle. He never gives us too much. I was reminded of this as I poured my coffee this morning, and I thought about a verse that kept coming back to me all week:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

Silence

20131109_123812

 Ludwisburg palace garden, fall 2013

 

 

Silence. Not to be confused with Emptiness. Although when you search the world wide web, the differences in opinion on this subject are so varied; and unfortunately, so much of what I read when I did such a search mixed these two ideas in a mentality that seemed to say: The most benefit you get from silence is when you allow your mind and soul to be empty, without thought, and just let the silence wash over you. Well, I have to tell you, the more I thought about it and read and contemplated these two, I actually find them to not mix so well. And I’ll tell you why.

Lately, I’ve been really seeking out some silence and solitude. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. A lot is going on, and I find myself just searching for places to be quiet and alone, no background noise, no people talking, not even music to add to the stillness I am looking for. And I am very much about the meaning of words – so when I found myself needing silence, I wanted to know what it means.

Silence is: the absence of sound. Stillness (which is free from sound, free from disturbance, or free from commotion). A period of time without speech or noise.

So as a wife, mom of 2, homeschool mother/teacher, volunteer, and all the other smaller hats I tend to wear, I understood now why my mind and soul were needing this time of still, undisturbed down-time. You can probably relate – and possibly are more busy and it need of it than I am! The old adage, “Silence is golden” can really ring true for many people. And this ‘gold’ can be hard to come by 🙂 As I’m typing this, I happen to be at the Romantischer Winkel Hotel with a beautiful relaxing time of stillness as I look out on the lake below and my children are off playing at their amazing kids play room. But I have found that there are people who avoid silence without even realizing it sometimes. The tv is always on in the background, or music is constantly playing from the computer or radio, or their smart phone never leaves their side with it’s constant interruptions of emails, facebook notices, and twitter nudges (kind of like a kid who pulls at your sleeve every 2 minutes to tell you something). Why do people do this? Maybe because the silence brings to their attention a different kind of quiet, which is more like emptiness.

Emptiness is: a void, nothing, vacant. Lacking purpose or substance. Meaningless.

I don’t know about you, but I see a large opposition here between these often associated words. Silence instead can have a purpose. Now, silence can be good or bad. If we turn to silence when we are supposed to speak out – either on behalf of ourselves or injustice done to others. But equally wrong are times we speak when we should keep silent. But when we find and use silence properly, we gain rest and sometimes direction. A biblical example of this is when Elijah was running for his life, and God shows him the power of silence. Read for yourself the entire story in 1 Kings 19. When I read about God revealing Himself through a still small voice, it makes me realize the value of silence in my life. How can I hear Divine direction if I am always busy with noise and activity? It’s hard to hear when there is so much commotion going on around me. I need silence for this.

I mentioned that often silence is connected with emptiness. I must say, most of what I read connected these two in an eastern religion type of way – and recommend to people to ’empty your mind’ in the silence. But I have a different suggestion. What if we were to ‘fill the silence’ with quiet waiting and meditation? Purpose and reason, and not mindless emptying that is so hard to achieve?

Here are some practical things you can do to get comfortable with silence, seek it out, and make it meaningful:

1) turn off the…everything. Go to a park. the woods. somewhere alone.

2) don’t talk; reflect and wait. What can you reflect on?

God – Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Reflect on what He has said: Psalm 119:15-16 says “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

Also, repose when you are angry and upset (Psalm 4:4): “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

Lastly, in silence, fill it with these thoughts (Philippians 4:8): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy – meditate on these things.”

And no matter what kind of time you are having, whether it’s with others and loud and fun, or getting alone and soaking in the silence, make Psalm 19:14 your prayer:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

More Spurgeon Inspiration

As I continue to read Charles Spurgeon‘s sermons on “The Life and Works of our Lord Jesus Christ” God continues to give me poems, like the first one I shared (“God gave God“) based on the powerful ways he states biblical truths. Here is the paragraph from the book that inspired this poem:

“Blessed be God, we can be thus saved. Our entrance to heaven can be as justly secured as our banishment to hell was rightly deserved. How justice and peace have kissed each other is now made known. That secret is told us in the Word of God. Is it not written on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?”

“I know that I speak to many who long to be saved; but will you give up your sin? For Christ has come to save Him people from their sins. If you do not wish to be saved from sinning [turn], then you will never be saved from damning [burn].”

And so, with that quote, here is Turn or Burn, a poem I wrote on June 5th 2014:

Turn or Burn

March 6, 2014

DSCN0024 (the trees behind my house one sunrise)

Lord, as I was driving home today, listening to Phil Kaeggy and seeing all the beauty around, I said in my heart to you, “Lord, I love you.”

Immediately after a thought crossed my mind: Do you love Me or just what I make, what I do, what you have from Me?”

I have to stop and contemplate this.

I absolutely love the beauty that God creates: especially the natural wonders, the forests, mountains, sky and sunsets, the simple art that He makes in the way the sun shines through a tree over the meadow dotted with simple farmland.

These are the things God makes.

I also love where He has me in life right now: simple, raising my children, blessed, writing songs and living in Europe. Not too many cares, really, except being attentive and active about being a godly mom and wife. And slowly trying to pursue what God wants me to do with the music He gives me. But honestly, this is one of the ‘easier’ times in my life. And it’s lovely.

These are the things God is doing in my life right now.

And I am truly blessed beyond necessity. We have plenty of food. The bills are paid. we live in a beautiful home in a lovely town with very sweet neighbors. I have two healthy fun children. I have gifts from the Lord on top of these things that are just that – gifts, not everyday necessities but it’s the icing on the cake.

These are the things I have from God.

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