A New Creation

You[will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
    for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
    that you might comfort me.

“Behold, God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
   and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-2 ESV

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
    whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
    and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
   my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

I acknowledged my sin to you,
    and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to theLord,”
   and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Psalm 32: 1-5 ESV


17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[ the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” II Corinthians 5:17-21 ESV

As beautiful as these orchids are, they pale in comparison to the beauty of our status before our Almighty God, the Creator of the world–we are forgiven through faith in God’s Son Jesus Christ. Isaiah spoke of this forgiveness. The Psalm writer wrote about this forgiveness. St. Paul wrote about our status as a “new creation.” No sin is dark enough. No circumstance is hopeless enough that God’s mercy cannot reach you. During this season of Lent our Lord calls us back to Himself. He calls us to turn away from our idols and to look at Him alone–even as He looked upon us as He hung from the Cross with love to reconcile us to our Heavenly Father. May the beauty of God’s Word strengthen you and give you hope this day.

Art

pink-grasses-copy

“This is uncanny, Lord:

a rutted sandy road

running through grass

to a railroad crossing,

a semaphore

against a blue sky

and a white cloud,

a little water color

on a piece of rough paper.

I’ve seen this all a thousand times,

but here it is,

trapped and alive and held:

the golden hue of every glorious summer day,

the everlasting simple grass and sand and sky,

a bit of the first morning,

when the morning stars sang together

and the sons of God shouted for joy.

Adam could walk across this railroad track

and eve, still nude and unashamed.

Uncanny is hardly the word for it;

call it a miracle.

I thank you Lord

for the miracle

of this artist’s eye of innocence,

this deep adoration of Your handiwork

that lets me look upon Your world again

as once Your Son could look

on lilies of the field

growing in Galilee.”

Prayer by Martin H. Franzmann, Pray for Joy

 

 

May 16 Saturday Smile

Photo by Judith Soltys

Photo by Judith Soltys

1 Samuel 18:5-19:24;  John 8:31-59;  Psalm 112:1-10; Proverbs 15:12-14

“Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,

who finds great delight in his commands.”

Psalm 112:1

* * * * *

“A happy heart makes the face cheerful.”

Proverbs 15:13

Photo by Judith Soltys

Photo by Judith Soltys

* * * * *

Waking up with a smile

and lightness in my heart

are gifts from God in Heaven.

Lord God, thank you for the refreshing sleep, for giving me a light heart and a smile upon my lips!   O give thanks for You are good and Your mercy and love and compassion are forever!  In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Photo by Judith Soltys

Photo by Judith Soltys

May 6 Under The Wrappings

Tapestry by Martha Christian

Tapestry by Martha Christian

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman   (This has always been a favorite of mine–especially the verse that is included.)

“The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him.”

Psalm 25:14

There are secrets of providence which God’s dear children may learn.  His dealings with them often seem, to the outward eye, dark and terrible.  Faith looks deeper and says, “This is God’s secret.  You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning.”

Sometimes diamonds are done up in rough packages, so that their value cannot be seen.  When the tabernacle was built in the wilderness there was nothing rich in its outside appearance.  The costly things were all within, and its outward covering of rough badger skin gave no hint of the valuable things which it contained.

God may send you, dear friends, some costly packages.  Do not worry if they are done up in rough wrappings.  You may be sure there are treasures of love, and kindness, and wisdom hidden within.  If we take what He sends, and trust Him for the goodness in it, even in the dark, we shall learn the meaning of the secrets of providence. ~ A.B. Simpson

Not until each loom is silent,

And the shuttles cease to fly,

Will God unroll the pattern

And explain the reason why

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

For the pattern which He planned.

He that is mastered by Christ is the master of every circumstance.  Does the circumstances press hard against you?  Do not push it away.  It is the Potter’s hand.  Your mastery will come, not by arresting its progress, but by enduring its discipline, for it is not only shaping you into a vessel of beauty and honor, but it is making your resources available.

Lord God, we trust You today to mold and shape us into a vessel of beauty and honor.  May we bear witness to the truth that is in us–that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world–that His love and forgiveness that has so changed our lives is meant for all people.  Help us to be faithful to You no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in and to give You glory and praise.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

May 4 God’s Wonderful Creatures

Judges 19:1-20:48;  John 3:22-4:3;  Psalm 104:24-35;  Proverbs 14:22-24

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

“How many are your works, O Lord!

In wisdom you made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

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These all look to you

to give them food at the proper time.

When you give it to them,

they gather it up;

when you open your hand,

they are satisfied with good things.”

Psalm 104: 24-25, 27-28

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Lord God, I give you thanks and praise for the many wonderful creatures you care for and provide for our enjoyment and benefit.  Tame ones, wild ones.  They are all so special.  And they remind me that just as you care for them who do not worry or fret you also provide us with our daily bread–day after day after day.  Thank you, Lord for your great love and providence!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

September 2 Not Just Another Monday

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22;  2 Corinthians 6:1-13;  Psalm 46:1-11;  Proverbs 22:15

“Meaningless!  Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.”

What does man gain from all the labor

at which he toils under the sun?

Generations come and generations go,

but the earth remains forever.

The eye never has enough seeing,

nor the ear its fill of hearing.

What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4, 8-9

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

 “What does a worker gain from his toil?

I have seen the burden God has laid on men.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;

yet they cannot fathom what God has done

from beginning to end.

I know that everything God does will endure forever;

nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.

God does it so that men will revere him.”

Ecclesiastes 3:9-14

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

The Monday difference is Jesus.

Waking up knowing that He will be with me

throughout the day

gives meaning to the

everyday tasks at hand.

 

Meaningful, meaningful!

“He makes all things beautiful

in its time.”

Beauty from ashes,

joy from sorrow,

hope from despair.

 

Serve the Lord with gladness!

 

Thank you Jesus for being the meaning of my life.  You are the reason for my work’s purpose as the wife, mother, daughter, neighbor, volunteer, friend, writer, photographer, encourager, thinker and pray-er that I am.  May my words and actions and thoughts this day bring you honor and glory and praise.  In your name I pray, Amen.

March 29 The Good–no–Excellent Wife

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Photo by Aaron Burden

Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32;  Luke 8:22-39;  Psalm 70:1-5;  Proverbs 12:4

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 12:4

 

King Lemuel describes the excellent wife:  “She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:10-12

 

She works hard,

is resourceful,

takes care of those in her household,

takes care of those in need.

She speaks wisely

and is kind.

The excellent wife is one who fears the Lord above all else.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

A godly wife who know her Lord and Savior will seek to please Him and in doing so will live a life pleasing and beneficial to her hubby.

God, grant that we wives bring honor and glory to you above all, and in doing so, to our husbands as well.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

December 18 Yet Rejoice!

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Photo by Nathan Ward

Habakkuk 1:1-3:19;  Revelation 9:1-21;  Psalm 137:1-9;  Proverbs 30:10

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines;

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pens and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in in the Lord,

I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; 

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer,

he enables me to go on the heights.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19

 

In the absence of all this world holds dear–

beauty, fame, power, wealth–

yet will I rejoice and be joyful in God my Savior!

 

In the face of disaster, disappointment, and decay

yet will I rejoice and be joyful in God my Savior!

 

Confronted with ridicule, rejection and scorn,

yet will I rejoice and be joyful in God my Savior!

 

Why?

I have His promises!

He will never leave me nor forsake me.  Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5

He is going to prepare a place for me.  John 14:3

He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.  1 John 4:4

He has overcome the world.  John 16:33

He has given me everlasting life through faith in His Son.  John 3:16

Just dwelling on those words propels me above the fray

and frazzle of this world.

God leads me to higher heights and enables me to stand firm!

Lord, I thank you for Habakkuk’s comforting and encouraging words–to rejoice in You even when there is no cause to rejoice,  when troubles and trials abound.  Thank you for granting us strength through faith.  Even though we may not “have it all” in this lifetime, we rejoice that because of Jesus’ work of salvation on the Cross, we will experience everlasting joy and peace in Heaven with You.  Praise You for You are our all in all!  In Your Name we pray, Amen.

October 17 Mercy Not Macy’s

 

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Jeremiah 30:1-31:26;  1 Timothy 2:1-15;  Psalm 87:1-7;  Proverbs 25:18-19

“I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”  1 Timothy 2:9-10

What to wear?  What to wear?

The invitation to the “Big Event” arrives and raises the question, what to wear?

I must confess that I get thrown into a panic at such times.

Why?

I don’t want to look out of place?  Inferior?  Outdated?  Inappropriate?

Is it because I feel a need to make an impression?  To have all eyes on me?  To accomplish the “to turn heads” goal?

At times like those when I’m asking –what to wear?–I do well to take note of St. Paul’s recommendations that he wrote to Timothy to pass on to the women in his congregation.

As a woman of faith, be more concerned with my inner “looks”.  As a woman redeemed by the Lord, let my inner light light shine.  As a woman whose sins are no longer counted against her, let  peace and joy grace my face.  As a woman who knows how precious she is in God’s sight, let me enter a room seeking to serve rather than to be served.

Let my actions reflect the goodness of the Lord in my life.

When the invite meets my eyes let my first thought be “mercy” rather than Macy’s!

Lord God Heavenly Father, you dress me in your Son’s righteousness which shines brighter than all the gold and pearls on the planet.  May I live my life that I reflect my faith in you.  May  acts of love and service to others dress me suitably to the faith I profess.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

September 30 Boutique

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Image by Pierce Brantley

Isaiah 60:1-62:5;  Philippians 1:27-2:18;  Psalm 72:1-20;  Proverbs 24:11-12

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness,  the prisoners…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  Isaiah 61:1

Ragged, tattered, torn

my spirit hovered

barely off the ground.

A robe of guilt weighed

heavy on shoulders

sagging.

Head bowed, hands bound,

feet shackled

going nowhere fast.

 

Then the Way appeared.

I heard Him say,

“Come.

See my hands, my feet,

my side.

It is for your sin and shame that

on the Cross I died.”

 

Truth spoke again and asked,

“Do you believe Me?

I loved you then,

I love you now.”

His gentle touch

raised my chin

till I saw Him face

to face.

“I do, Lord, please

help my unbelief.”

 

Light and Life brought to me

all joy beyond comparing!

He dressed me with

His white robe

and crowned me

with His grace.

He unlocked my chains

and set me free.

He bids,

“Follow me

all your days.

Lord God Heavenly Father,  thank you for your Son Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  Thank you that He has called me to faith, to wear His robe of righteousness and to follow Him.  For His sake, grant that I may be found faithful to my calling as Your child.  Grant me the Holy Spirit to love you with all that I am and to love and serve others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

” I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;  My soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;  he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom clothes himself like a priest, with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.”   Isaiah 61:10