Tag Archives: Promises

My Heart, Your Home – A Poem

My heart is a mansion

where Christ dwells

The parlor filled with

His mercy

The kitchen overflows with

His love

 

But in a back room

locked up tight

dwell fear, doubt,

and guilt

Sometimes late at night

they make their escape

Squatters wreaking havoc

throughout the house

 

My Savior has promised

to evict these intruders

by His Spirit—

not a spirit of timidity

but of power and of grace

 

“Be strong and courageous”

“Do not fear for I will not leave you

or forsake you”

“There is no condemnation in Me”

These are the promises

that restore harmony and hope

to the mansion that is my heart

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Tears – A Poem

Tears of sorrow, anger
drench my soul
course without end
eroding pain, anguish

Where once only aching
occupied my heart
now is a deep empty ravine
carved by a river of tears

Tears of forgiveness
water my soul’s riverbed
allowing flowers of love
to flourish and grow

Peace arises in my heart
held aloft by God’s promises
the fragrance of sweet alyssum
blossoms of my soul

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
Psalm 56:8 (NIV).

Shared today at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night. Head on over for some more great poetry and join the celebration of the 2-year anniversary of dVerse.

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A Crazy Dream of Love Triumphant

I am thankful for the day off today for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. I am also thankful for his dream that love would triumph over hatred and evil. That is my dream, too. And like King, I believe God when He promises that one day this dream will be reality.

In honor of this day and this dream, I decided to post a great song by MercyMe called Crazy Enough. Call me crazy, but I believe in the dream of love triumphant.

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Have Faith – A Triolet

At dVerse Poets Pub today, Samuel Peralta shared an awesome lesson on triolets for the Form for All post. It looked like a very interesting poetry form so I decided to give it a try. I actually coupled it with the idea of a “found poem” using Bible verses about faith that I was trying to work on last night, but didn’t get very far.

Have Faith

Have faith in God, be sure of His promise
We live by faith, and not by sight, we live
By grace we have been saved, a gift from God
Have faith in God, be sure of His promise

Since what we see through faith we remain awed
Drawing near to Jesus with sincere hearts
Have faith in God, be sure of His promise
We live by faith, and not by sight, we live

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The Promise of Spring

Today is Thankful Thursday, and I think this is the first time I didn’t have my Thankful Thursday poem scheduled to post ahead of time. I’ve been having a hard time coming up with a poem for today or really feeling thankful at all this week. I know I have things to be thankful for, but the feeling is just not there. So I decided for my “poem” today I would just list some things I am thankful for, things that remind me of the promise of spring.

The Promise of Spring

The sun is shining in the clear blue sky
Reminds me of the promise of spring

The air is cold but it’s warm inside
Reminds me of the promise of spring

Flowers blooming on my office plant
Reminds me of the promise of spring

Church planning for the season of Lent
Reminds me of the promise of spring

My dog sniffs around the back yard
Reminds me of the promise of spring

A new semester for my son in school
Reminds me of the promise of spring

The calendar flips to a new month
Reminds me of the promise of spring

The truth of God’s Word and His faithfulness
Reminds me of the promise of spring

3/20/12 update: It is now truly the first day of spring, and yet here in the Pacific Northwest winter seems to be hanging on. Spring seems to have taken up residence in the eastern and central parts of the United States with no intention of heading out this way any time soon. But still I cling to the promise of spring (and summer after it), knowing they always come eventually. And so I decided to share this poem on dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night this first day of spring.

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Focus on the Known

Some things in life are unknown. Right now I’m facing the unknown of health concerns. After multiple tests, doctors still don’t know what is causing recent symptoms. I do have a list of what it is not. Whenever a test reveals that it is not something else I’m told it is good news. And I know that for the most part it is. But the difficult news remains that we don’t know what it is.

I thought of this post this morning, but decided not to write it because, frankly, I get tired of complaining about my health. I know there are a lot of people worse off than me, and I’m sure it gets old for others to hear about my various maladies.

Then I went to my list of blog subscriptions to see what others had posted for today. I clicked on a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Karla over at Out of Eden Ministries. The post was called “at the beginning going low.” She starts with a discussion of how Rahab the prostitute appears in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:5, and goes on to talk about how God makes the insignificant into a significant part of His plan. Karla writes:

 Phone calls and prayers and prostitutes and a scarlet cord and you, yes you. Your life, your love, your pain, your prayer, and your hunger for more. All significant in the plans and the hands of God.

I immediately knew I had to write this post after all, because although it starts with my insignificant struggle with pain and its unknown cause, it doesn’t end there. It ends with a focus on the known. What I thought of to write for today was how, even though I don’t know what is wrong with me, God does. And even more importantly, I know the truth of what God has revealed in His Holy Word. Here are some truths that I cling to, that I choose to focus on, as I face my insignificant struggles.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV).

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NIV).

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV).

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV).

My own struggles are light and momentary in the grand scheme of the universe and God’s plan. Though I will suffer a little while, Jesus will restore me and make me strong. He will use my sufferings for good in the big picture of His purpose. He has plans to prosper me spiritually, and He will faithfully fulfill this promise.

(You might be wondering why certain words are bolded in the above verses. These are the words I remember and that I used to find these verses on Biblegateway.com, since I seldom remember the actual chapter and verse of the scripture that I have stored up in my heart.)

Karla’s post made me realize that I needed to listen to the prompt in my spirit to post about my struggles and the known promises of God that I choose to focus on, because there just might be someone out there who is struggling too and needs to know that God is with them. If that happens to be you, then hold onto the promises of God and He will see you through.

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A God of Surprises

Christmas Day is more than half over. The presents are all opened and some have been tried out already. We’ve eaten our Christmas “dinner” of glazed spiral ham, garlic mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and rosemary cauliflower and carrots. There’s still pecan pie for dessert, but I’m still too full.

Last night we attended a wonderful Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. It is my favorite service of the year. We always close by singing Silent Night as each person lights their candle from the candle of the person beside or in front of them. All the other lights are dimmed and by the end of the song the place is lit mostly by candlelight. It always amazes me how all of those small flames can add up to such a bright light. It is a wonderful reminder of how we each carry the light of Christ in our hearts and together we can light the world with His love.

We had a guest speaker, Steve Halliday, who shared a message of the surprise of Christmas. Even though God foretold the coming of the Messiah, with at least 100 Old Testament prophecies regarding His birth alone, when it actually happened Jesus’ birth was full of surprises. Instead of the King coming to earth into a rich and well-connected family, He was born to a young peasant girl and a carpenter. Instead of being born in a posh hospital, He was born in a lowly stable. Instead of announcing His birth to royalty and aristocrats, the angels brought news of the Messiah’s birth to lowly shepherds. Nothing was what you would expect; it was all full of surprises.

Steve shared a story of how when he was a child his older sister always tried to guess what her Christmas presents were. She would shake, squeeze, and hold presents up to the light trying to figure what was in the box. She didn’t like to wait and wanted to know what the surprise was. His story reminded me of the time, when I was 9 or 10, that I really wanted to know what was in my presents. One day before Christmas, when no one was home, I carefully peeled the tape and opened every one of my presents, discovering what each one was. Christmas was not the same that year. There was no surprise on Christmas morning (though I had to feign surprise so as not to be found out!).

The rest of the Christmas Eve message was that God still has surprises for us today. We might have some idea what He is going to do because He has told us in His Word. He will give us wisdom if we ask. James 1:5. He will answer our prayers if we pray in His name. John 14:13-14. He will take care of all our needs. Matthew 6:31-33. The real question is how will He fulfill these promises. Therein lies the surprise. And if the incarnation is any indication, all of God’s surprises will be wonderful, indeed.

I often complain that I wish God would let me in on His plan. Seems my tendency to want to know what my presents are ahead of time is still there. But I think I’ve learned my lesson. As I thought about the promise of God’s surprises and the disappointment I felt that Christmas morning when I knew what all my presents were going to be, I realized that it is best not to know ahead of time what God has planned. It is better to have faith that the fulfillment of His promises will be better than I can ever imagine. Then when His surprises come I’ll be delighted by the wonder of His glorious gifts.

On this Christmas Day, I wish you all the wonder and joy of the surprises God has in store for you!

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In Christ We Overcome

Although it is not on my Bible-in-a-year reading schedule until December, the book of Revelation has come to my attention in two ways recently. First, a blog that I came across through the WordPress Blog Surfer included a link to this chart about the 7 churches of Revelation. Second,a fellow blogger has recently started working his way through Revelation and posting his thoughts on this sometimes controversial book.

In looking at the chart and the website it is posted on, I learned about the historicist view of Revelation, which holds that “from John`s day, there has been a chronological fulfilment in history of the prophecies of the Book of the Revelation.” The chart I linked to above shows this historical view and indicates the period of time in which this group believes the 7 churches of Revelation have existed, culminating with the present time being the time of the 7th church, the church in Laodicea. I had never heard of this view of Revelation before. I have read much about what this site calls the futurist view, which holds that much of the prophecy of Revelation has yet to happen, but that at some point in the future the rapture of all believers will occur followed by the rise of the antichrist and the second coming of Christ, referred to as Armageddon. This futurist view is consistent with the popular Left Behind series that is a fictional account of the end times.

This is all very interesting and one could spend hours studying whether the historicist view or the futurist view of Revelation is a true and accurate interpretation of a highly symbolic book based on a vision of the apostle John. However, as I have been reading the posts by my friend and fellow blogger Vineet, it occurred to me that as a practical matter the focus he has taken is much more appropriate for the average Christian. He has focused on Christ throughout his reading of Revelation and what God is speaking to him in his daily walk with the Lord.

I’m not sure it matters whether the 7 churches represent the church at 7 distinct periods of history or 7 actual churches that existed at the time of John’s vision or 7 examples of the church as it exists today. Perhaps it is all 3 to some extent. And maybe the 7 churches of Revelation represent the 7 possible states of the individual believer at any one time in their walk with Jesus. Christ found fault with 5 of the 7 churches, and He had praise for some characteristic of 6 of the 7 churches. But for each, even the church in Laodicea for which He had no praise, there was a promise to those who overcame. Here are the 7 promises:

  1. To the church in Ephesus: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelation 2:7b.
  2. To the Church in Smyrna: “He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelation 2:11b.
  3. To the Church in Pergamum: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17b.
  4. To the Church in Thyatira: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations — ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’ — just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.” Revelation 2:26-28.
  5. To the Church in Sardis: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” Revelation 3:5.
  6. To the Church in Philadelphia: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.” Revelation 3:12.
  7. To the Church in Laodicea: “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 3:21.

Throughout these messages to the churches, Jesus repeats, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 2:11a, 17a, 29, 3:6, 13, 22. He makes it clear that we cannot ignore what He has to say to all 7 of the churches. If we are to have our names written in the book of life, we must overcome the stumbling blocks that might trip up members of each church. But how do we overcome?

During His earthly ministry, Jesus made it quite clear how we overcome, and it is by putting all our hope, faith, and trust in Him. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. We cannot trust in ourselves because then we become idolators, setting ourselves up as god. This is the failing of the church in Pergamum.

We overcome by not continuing in habitual sin because of grace or claim that which is sin is not in fact sin. Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, ” Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11. This does not mean that any failing on the part of the Christian leads to loss of salvation, but only habitual sin, especially sexual immorality and idolatry. This is the failing of the church in Thyatira.

We overcome by not being lukewarm about our faith in Christ, proclaiming Him only when it is convenient for us. Jesus said, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Luke 9:26. Lukewarm faith doesn’t change the believer or cause him or her to desire to change for the better. This is the failing of the church in Laodicea, and so Christ wanted to spit them out.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be an overcomer! I want all of those promises that Jesus makes to those who overcome. And so I will listen to what He has to say to the churches, whether they be historical stages of the church throughout history or representations of the churches that exist today. Because ultimately whether I overcome will depend not on whether the historicist or futurist view of Revelation is correct, but on whether I put all my hope, trust, and faith in Christ alone to give me the wisdom and power to overcome.

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Remembering the Promises

God promises many things to His people, to those who love Him. He promises salvation, comfort, peace, and wisdom. He promises that He will meet our physical and spiritual needs, and will give to us in greater measure than we give to others. He promises strength and protection, that He will be with us through our darkest valleys.

When we have recently experienced the fulfillment of one of God’s promises, we believe Him and sing His praises. Psalm 106 recounts a similar response from the Israelites to God’s promises:

Psalm 106

 9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
       he led them through the depths as through a desert.

 10 He saved them from the hand of the foe;
       from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.

 11 The waters covered their adversaries;
       not one of them survived.

 12 Then they believed his promises
       and sang his praise.

In the same way, when our Red Seas are parted and God sees us through our troubles, we sing His praises and believe all His promises. But how quickly we forget. When we again drop down into the valley of the shadow of death, we grumble and complain. We ask: “Where is God now?” and “Why must I endure this trial?” We forget to trust the promises of God that are the only sure thing to get us through.

The Israelites did the same.

Psalm 106

13 But they soon forgot what he had done
       and did not wait for his counsel.

 14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
       in the wasteland they put God to the test.

 24 Then they despised the pleasant land;
       they did not believe his promise.

 25 They grumbled in their tents
       and did not obey the LORD.

At this point, things did not go well for the Israelites for quite some time. Eventually things got so bad that they called out to God again to save them. Somehow, deep down, they remembered His promises. And God was faithful to His promises once again.

Psalm 106

 44 But he took note of their distress
       when he heard their cry;

 45 for their sake he remembered his covenant
       and out of his great love he relented.

I think the lesson to learn from the Israelites is to never lose sight of or quit believing in God’s promises, even when we are beset by trials and tribulations. When the going gets tough, that is when we need to lean on God’s promises the most. For if we forget God’s promises when we are in the valley, we will find ourselves on the path into the deepest darkest part of that valley instead of on the path back up to the mountaintop where we want to be. It is when life is difficult and the troubles of the world seem to press in on all sides that we most need to sing God’s praises and cry out to Him to remember His promises.

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