Don’t Quench the Spirit

Someone recently paid me a wonderful compliment about my writing. Since words of affirmation are my love language, I was deeply encouraged. I also realized something:

I can’t not write. Words are the rhythm of my heart. Images form into words, and those words form into sentences–almost of their own accord. This is the way God has woven me together, and to not write, would be to quench his Spirit within me.

“Rejoice always;

pray without ceasing;

in everything give thanks;

for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Do not quench the Spirit.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:16-19)

There are many ways to rejoice. Many ways to pray. Many ways to give thanks. But only one way to be in God’s will. That Way? Jesus Christ. The rejoicing, the praying, the giving thanks, it has in its end this Way. Jesus, in my sights. Rejoicing, praying, giving thanks, somehow these happen when I write, as if my spirit operates on a level of reality I can’t fully understand.

What’s burning within you? What can you not do? Don’t quench the Spirit, but let him direct you in your rejoicing, praying, and thanking–to the end of Jesus Christ.

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Path of Life

path of life

The LORD’s path is always a path of life–for your good, for your blessing, for your joy

for your growth

“He cuts off every branch in me that does not bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

(John 15:2)

His path is always filled with joy, because He is there, and His presence is joy.

Walk His path. Run His path. And when you’re tired, let him carry you on His path, a place of security, redemption, love, and singing.

“No lion will be there, nor will any ferocious beast get up on it…But only the redeemed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

(Isaiah 35:9-10)

Great joy to you today, friends, on His path–no matter what circumstances line the sides.

Hidden and Found

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

(Luke 19:10)

Meet Zacchaeus, a short man who climbed a sycamore fig tree in the city of Jericho just to get a glimpse of this man Jesus. You see, he’d heard the stories about the miracles. He wanted to know who this Jesus was. But, hey, his shortness wasn’t the only obstacle. He was the despicable tax collector and to see Jesus he’d be knocking elbows with those men he’d cheated. Do you think they’d let this shrimp of a man—in character and stature—to the edge of the street to see Jesus? Think again.

fig tree

And wasn’t that all for the good anyway? Up in the tree he’d be safe. Not only from the sneers of men, but from the perceptiveness of this Prophet. He wanted to see Jesus, check him out, but he didn’t want Jesus to see him.

But Jesus seeks and finds.

Lord, seek me.

Jesus walked that dusty road of Jericho and stopped under the sycamore, looked up at Zacchaeus, and said, “You come down, for I’m going to your house today.”

Yes, Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus’s house to share a meal. He invited himself into the hidden places of the tax collector’s heart. Because sin may cause us to hide, but Jesus searches us out.

Lord, invite yourself into me.

Years before, another sinner sought God in Jericho. A prostitute named Rahab. She’d heard stories of this great Yahweh, Israel’s God, and she feared him, cried out to him, and was rescued. The walls of the city crashed down, but Rahab was saved.

Lord, crash down my walls.

We have the same pull in us as Zacchaeus. We want to be close to Jesus, but not too close. We want the adventure of seeing him, but not the vulnerability of knowing him. Sin tugs us toward secrecy. Hide yourself, it whispers. And we sew together the fig leaves. fig leaves

Another pull contradicts this: our need to be found, and by that I mean loved, affirmed, seen for who we are and accepted nonetheless. This was the pull within Rahab that caused her to risk her life to save servants of the Lord–all for the chance to know this awesome God who trampled the enemies of his people, who swept back the waters of a sea.

Lord, find me.

Are you hiding in a sycamore tree today, ashamed of your sin, fearful of the Savior’s eyes falling upon you? He sees you, anyway, and he loves you. He seeks you out for fellowshpi. Don’t hesitate to come down and be found.

Be encouraged by God’s words to the church of Laodicea: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:19-21)

Abounding Grace

011The grace journey: Grace with us now, and more grace waiting around the corner.

I can hardly read the paper anymore. Headlines flash violence, corruption, accidents. Fear needles through me. What if? I hear the stories. I watch friends suffer. And something dark whispers, “You’re next.”

It’s bear hunting season. We see the trucks parked all over McDowell county. So when my husband takes my three-year-old hiking, and they’re away longer than I expect, anxiety surges strong: “what if’s” followed by the doubts of God’s goodness.  What if my husband was accidentally shot? What if he’s fallen and my son is confused and doesn’t know how to go for help. He’s wandering the woods scared. Or maybe it’s him who’s had the accident, slipped into the river . . . .

Grace for the moment.

There’s saving grace, then there’s abounding grace. The grace that springs into motion when we fall into need. How is it that we need not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:6) but we have freedom to give thanks in all circumstances?

Because we know grace is waiting. It’s crouched around the corner of our struggles. Waiting to pounce when we feel overwhelmed by the world.

We can trust the Grace Giver to pour out abundantly to meet our needs. I don’t need the grace to handle the death of a spouse–not now. And if I need that grace later, I can trust it to be there. Though I can’t imagine being able to handle some situations I’ve watched church family navigate through, their strength testifies to God’s abundant grace.

And I’m encouraged. Encouraged by the struggling saints who are able to withstand more than they thought they could.

Are you wondering today if you’ll have enough grace to make it through?

May God’s abounding grace find you and lavish on you all His goodness. He is faithful, and He will do it.