Darkness Light

There are so many great quotes in the various books I read, and today I’m sharing some of the best ones with you.  I hope these words encourage you today.

Of all the providential dealings of God toward me throughout the year, I must take my stand and testify that God’s way is right.  When things seem to go wrong with me, instead of believing they are going wrong, I stand upon the authority of God’s Word.  I decided long ago that instead of trusting my way, I will gladly trust blindly in the wisdom of God.  If I trust blindly in God’s wisdom, He will lead me by a way I know not.  He will guide in paths where I have not been before.  He will make darkness light before me and make crooked things straight, and will lead me through into His marvelous light.  God will lead me into a rich place and make me rich with treasures that can never die.  [spiritual treasures]  If I want my own way, God will let me go my way.  Many Christians do just that.  They insist on their plans and their ambitions and imperil everything because they lack the wisdom to know how to do it.  God’s way is the best way, because it is backed up by the infinite wisdom of God.  Gladly will I blindly trust God’s way instead of my own.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 378

A man who is destitute knows how to pray.  He needs not an instructor.  His miseries indoctrinate him wonderfully in the art of prayer.  Let us know ourselves destitute that we might know how to pray.  –Stephen Marshall

It’s not our job to fix people; it’s our job to love them even while they are broken.  –Dave Willis

Winding this year down makes me pause to think and in my thinking I thank God that in His wisdom He has my best in mind for the longest period of time.  What God is doing in my life right now cannot be defined by the word now!  I have lived long enough to realize that God has all my tomorrows in mind when He is opening or closing a door now, today…O God, I stand between time and eternity.  The only thing linking these two in my life is Thee.  Thou hast my best interests in mind for the longest period of time.  I rejoice in this truth.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 377

Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My victory and honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  O my people, trust in Him at all times.  Pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.  –Psalm 62:5-8 [NLT]

 

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My Word

Today I’m sharing quotes from my “Word of the Year” journal; my word this year is “Joy!”

Sing a new song of praise to Him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.  For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything He does.  –Psalm 33:3-4 [NLT]

Sometime in our future there’s a party to end all parties.  The Lamb of God will invite us to a bash that rings out the old life forever and rings in a new unity with Him.  Hatred, fear, and pride will go suddenly stale, as we feast on love, joy, and praise.  What a day that will be!  Hallelujah!  —One Year Book of Psalms, 12/31

I’m not on top of the peak calling you to climb up where I am.  Rather I’m standing with you as we both look to the summit of this great mountain called the fear of God.  It’s a challenging climb upward, but also a joyous climb.  My prayer is that this book will help us both on our journey.  –Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, pg. ix

In contrast to servile fear, filial fear is the loving fear of a child toward his father.  Ferguson describes it as “that indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us.”  –Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God, pg. 27

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life as we overcome.  The strain is the strength.  If there is no strain there is no strength.  Are you asking God to give you life and liberty and joy?  He cannot, unless you will accept the strain.  Immediately you face the strain, you will get the strength. –Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, 8/2

Sobering Words

I’m taking a short break from the photos of our trip to Amsterdam.  There are many outstanding quotes from my journals that I’d like to share this week.  First, insightful words from Compassion’s Vice President of the Latin America and Caribbean Region.  I met Edouard Lassegue and his wife years ago when I was in Haiti for the first time; at the time he was the President of Compassion Haiti.

Now he very capably administers, counsels and directs a much larger region.  This man is kind, warm, humble, caring, energetic and especially passionate about helping children in need.  This is his recent update:

I want to thank you for your faithfulness in praying for and supporting Compassion’s work in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Your unwavering commitment in uplifting this region to God’s care is an affirmation of the power and solidarity of the global Church, which I believe is the main reason for the gains the region continues to experience.

Over the past decade, the Latin America and Caribbean Region has seen ongoing progress in many socioeconomic areas.  In fact, today, many economists attest that the majority of the countries in this region have been experiencing modest, but steady annual growth rates.  What’s more, these countries are also seeing declining extreme poverty rates with citizens generally becoming healthier and better educated.

These are encouraging highlights, but regrettably, they represent only half of the present situation.  Today, this region remains the most violent in the world, with one of the highest homicide rates ever.  Most of the clashes involve drug and gang activities, resulting in ruthless and barbaric murders.

Our region also faces natural disasters of all kinds, including flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes.  Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic continue their recovery efforts from hurricanes and tropical storms, while Mexico focuses on reconstruction from earthquake devastation.  Heavy rainfall in Colombia and Peru have brought about flooding and higher incidents of mosquito-borne illnesses.

But, in the midst of it all, I am so inspired by the dedication and courage of our church partners.  They do not complain; they do not back down.  That is why we count it a distinct privilege to walk alongside them in this vital ministry of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

So please don’t stoop praying for the Latin America and Caribbean Region.  Pray that the Church stays firm in the midst of the violence that surrounds them, serving as an example of Christ’s truth and love.  Pray for the safety of families and children–many of whom face the threat of violence every day in their normal day-to-day activities.  Pray for governments and local branches of authority, that they will “step up” and care for the people they profess to serve.

The troubles of the Latin America and Caribbean Region will not fade by just good intentions.  Real progress and peace will only come through a change of heart and mindset, and as followers of Christ, we know that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, again, for your prayerful support.  And may you be encouraged that all things are possible through God — and that includes a transformation in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the spirit of the triune God, Edouard Lassegue, Vice President of the Latin America and Caribbean Region, Compassion International

Here is the link for my second visit with Josue, and with his younger brother that I also sponsored later.  If you would like to sponsor a child, click here and you can search a child from Latin America or the Caribbean!

Broken Glass

As a start to my new Word of the Year, I’d like to share this devotion from Beth Moore.  It speaks about joy in a very interesting way:

Seven blessings are pronounced during a Jewish wedding ceremony, each of which comes from the dignitaries at the wedding, my friend Arie tells me.  Usually the rabbi begins it.  Then maybe a father-in-law, maybe an uncle, maybe an older brother.  But there are seven blessings spoken.  And the seventh blessing is always the blessing over Jerusalem.  I find this to be very intriguing.  The blessing goes something like this:  “Bless You, Lord, the Builder of Jerusalem, who will rebuild the temple one day.”

Then what do you suppose they do?  What is the part you and I probably now the best?  Right–they break the glass.

Arie said, “There are some who think that the broken glass just begins the great ceremony, but that is not what it’s about.  The breaking of the glass is to bring them to a very sober time of thinking that in the midst of great celebration, we must remember” — and I’m quoting his exact words — “that our joy is incomplete.”

I said, “Okay, Arie.  What makes our joy incomplete?” (Remember all the times that Christ said, “Make My joy complete?”)  “What makes our joy incomplete, Arie?”

“Two things,” he said.  “The first thing is that some of our loved ones are missing from the wedding, those who have already died.  The second one is because there is no temple for now in Jerusalem.”

But for us as New Testament believers, both of those longings have been satisfied.  Regarding our loved ones:  those in Christ will be present at the wedding supper of the Lamb.  And regarding the temple:  well, no, there’s not a temple in this new Jerusalem.  But that’s okay, “because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev. 21:22).  Who needs a place of worship when the object of our worship is right here before us, not seen through representation and symbolism, but here for the enjoying?

Isn’t that enormous?  No more sadness, reflection, regret, or mourning.  No more holes in our happiness–having someone who’s not there to share it with, a shoe waiting to drop.  No more taking worship to a level that only makes our heart ache for more.  Do you understand that our joy gets to be complete, just as John had reported, just as Jesus had said?  –Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 511

 

Joy!

My Word of the Year is JOY!  I’ve been looking at this word several times in the past and now it is here.  Not that life is suddenly filled with great joy, as though everything has finally come together for me.  It hasn’t, and I don’t think it ever does in this life.  Sometimes I get discouraged, though, thinking that joy is unattainable and hopeless.  But that’s only when I’m confusing “joy” with “happiness.”  I heard long ago that “happiness depends on happenings,” and that’s why it comes and goes.  Frederick Buechner said:

Happiness comes when things are going our way, which makes it only a forerunner to the unhappiness that inevitably follows when things stop going our way…Joy, on the other hand, does not come because something is happening or not happening, but every once in a while rises up out of simply being alive, or being a part of the…fathomless richness of the world that God has made.  —Secrets in the Dark, pg. 241

For example, your team wins the championship one year and you’re ecstatic, but the next year you’re vowing never to watch them play again.  Some people base their happiness/depression on political parties or on the stock market.  Joy, on the other hand, is based on God’s presence and promises and doesn’t have to come and go; it’s always available, even beneath the momentary (or even long-lasting) sadness or disappointment.

I read something interesting last week:

The very word parable comes from two Greek words.  Para- is a prefix that refers to something alongside something else.  For instance, paralegals work alongside lawyers as helpers.  And ballo means “to throw or to hurt.”  So parable means something that is thrown alongside of something else.  In order to illustrate a truth He is teaching, Jesus throws a parable alongside of it.  — R. C. Sproul, What Do Jesus’ Parables Mean?, pg. 7

Last year’s Word, “Cast“, is being beautifully explained here (ballo:  to throw, hurl or cast).  Perhaps we should think of Joy has something the Lord casts alongside us in every situation–a reminder that He’s still on the throne, that no matter the pain or sadness, eternal truths and promises prevail.  You face death but He casts alongside you a reminder of eternal life.  You feel lonelier than ever before and He casts alongside the surety of His constant presence.  Your team loses and He casts alongside the evidence of what is really lasting, and matters more.  Joy!  This year I’m watching for the JOY that God casts alongside my path in all situations.  By the way, when He casts that Joy, it spills out ahead of us, revealing a sure and solid hope for the future.

…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  –Hebrews 12:2

Word Review

This year will be the tenth year I’ve chosen a “Word of the Year.”  This has meant so much to me; it’s been hugely impactful in my life every year.  I thought before announcing my new word I would give a review of all the previous ones.  It’s almost like God gave them to me in a sequential order, with each one building upon the previous one.  Often, I would see several of my words in a single passage (as you’ll see below).

2009 — Hold

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  –Hebrews 10:23

He is before all things; in Him all things hold together.  –Col. 1:17

2010 — Way

For the ways of the Lord are right.  –Hosea 14:9

You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of Your presence.  –Acts 2:28

2011 — Trust

Don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God, and trust also in me.  –John 14:1

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  –Hebrews 10:23-24

2012 – Refuge

In Thee O LORD, do I seek refuge; let me never be put to shame; in thy righteousness deliver me!  Incline thy ear to me, rescue me speedily!  Be thou a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!  –Psalm 31:1-2

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.  It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.  –Psalm 118:8-9

2013 – Journey

When our days there were ended, we departed and went on a journey.  –Acts Acts 21:4

The angel of the Lord came a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.  –1 Kings 19:7

2014 – Presence

But now, by giving Himself completely at the cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence.  –Colossians 1:22

Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your hand will lay hold of me. –Psalm 119:7-9

2015 – Pain

I know all about their pain.  And now I have come down to help them.  –Exodus 3:7-8

He took our suffering on Him and felt our pain for us.  –Isaiah 53:4

2016 – Worship

I was caught up at once in deep worship.  –Revelation 4:2

The best preparation for worship is not rehearsal, but surrender.  –A. W. Tozer

2017 – Cast

Cast all your anxieties on Him, for He cares about you.  –1 Peter 5:7

The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him, who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne saying, “Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.  –Rev. 4:10-11

Truly these words have been a huge help to me in my life.  God speaks personally through words, images, messages, situations, difficulties.  It’s been really powerful to see each of these words work in my life.  The lessons from them have been progressive. I had to hold onto Him more deeply before I could understand His ways; then I was in a position to start trusting Him more once I understood Him better.  I found myself in a safe refuge of protection but the next thing you know, I was on a journey of more discovery.  I sought to be more aware of His presence, especially in times of emotional and physical pain.  The result was that I began to worship Him in all situations as I learned to cast all anxieties and concerns upon Him.  The next post will reveal my new word for 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Cast

This is my final collection of quotes from my Word of the Year — “Cast.”  It’s been very interesting to think about this word and its many meanings this year.  I’m truly grateful for these final words of wisdom, along with some of my favorites:

Happy the child who in thunder-claps detects the Father’s voice.  There is no fear in love because perfect love casteth out the fear that hath torment.  — F. B. Meyer

Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the LORD at the entrance of the Tabernacle.  He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the LORD and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel.  Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the LORD.  The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the LORD.  When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the LORD.  –Leviticus 16:7-11

They cast their crowns before the throne saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”  –Rev. 4:10-11

Holy, holy holy!  All the saints adore Thee; Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea!  Cherubim and seraphim falling dow before Thee, Which wert and art and evermore shall be.  –Reginald Heber