Sunday Scripture: the Holiness of God

In spite of my best intentions to do a #SundayScripture Periscope broadcast this afternoon, it just was not meant to be. Our schedule is so busy on Sundays that I am usually pretty tired as it is, but this past week I also started a short-term babysitting job to fill in for a friend who is on maternity leave. So, I have been getting up earlier than usual and running around after an extra toddler during the day, meaning that I am even more worn out today than I would normally be! Thankfully, my little charge is quite an easy toddler and is fitting in nicely with Little J and Miss A. Even so, when the baby went down for her nap this afternoon, I knew the best thing for me to do would be to sit down and rest, rather than get all wound up doing a scope. Instead, I decided to share my Sunday Scripture here on the blog. 

This morning’s worship service at our church centered around the theme of the holiness of God. Our pastor is currently doing a series on the attributes of God, and that was the characteristic that stood out to me from today’s sermon. As a musician, the music of the worship service often speaks to me as much as the Bible teaching, especially since the music my husband chooses often comes straight from the Word of God. Today’s song selections were certainly no exception. From “Come Thou Fount” to “Holy, Holy, Holy” and newer songs like “Revelation Song” and “We Fall Down,” it was easy to get caught up in praise and adoration of God Most High. So today’s Scripture passage is fitting because it describes an incredible worship experience the prophet Isaiah had himself:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  —Isaiah 6:1-8 (ESV)

I could say so much about this passage, but I know I would not do it justice. These verses are so rich, so full of imagery. I challenge you to meditate on each verse, each description of the Lord’s glory, as well as Isaiah’s response to God. Let His Word wash over you and sink deep into your heart and mind. See the glory of the Most High God; then, like Isaiah, be humbled and moved to repentance. 

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…”  (Colossians 3:16a)

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Words to Live By in 2016

Here we are at the the tail end of 2015, and what a year it has been down on Lemon Lane! This past year we had a new baby, joined a new church, embarked on a new journey in homeschooling, and had many other experiences and events that made 2015 a full, busy and blessed time for our family. It was not a year without its stresses and struggles, of course, but I feel like the difficulties we have had are serving to shape and sharpen me and my husband into more of who God wants us to be.

Normally I do not do a whole lots of planning around the changing of the calendar in January. I find autumn, the start of the harvest and new school year to be more invigorating for change and fresh starts than the dark, bleak midwinter when I am just trying to recover from the busyness of the holiday season. This year, however, due to a lot of thinking and reading and listening I have been doing lately, I have felt led to take a small step or two toward creating a fresh outlook at the turn of the year.

Not being the sort of person to make New Year’s Resolutions, I instead decided to imitate the example of several popular bloggers I follow and choose some words to be a sort of focus or theme for me in 2016. Along with each word I chose a theme verse that embodies that word to guide me in the coming year.

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My Words to Live By in 2016 are Seek, Thrive, and Rest. I could probably write a whole separate post for each of these words, but I will try to briefly explain what I hope to focus on as I contemplate these words in the coming year. Seek is my BIG one and the first priority in terms of application. This word focusses my attention on seeking God, knowing Him more through His word and asking for His guidance through prayer. I will seek to become more Christ-like in my attitudes and actions and likewise be an example to my children of how to live for Him. The theme verse I chose for Seek is a pretty obvious choice:

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  -Matthew 6:33

As I am seeking God more, I believe I will begin to Thrive more in all areas of my life. I do not want to just survive each day, barely making it through and crawling into bed at night only to wake up and begrudgingly do it all over again. I want to find ways to celebrate life, to choose joy and to make small moments matter. I want to model a life of praise and gratitude and joy for my children and to bless my husband by being a woman who thrives.

He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not whither, and in whatever he does he prospers. -Psalm 1:3

Finally, I need to Rest in the coming year. This word not only points to actual physical rest, which is both a necessity and luxury as a mother of small children, but also spiritual rest. My hope in focussing on the word Rest is that I will continue growing in faith and trust in the Lord. Trusting in His power, His timing, His provision and His protection will allow me to fully rest in Him. This is not laziness or a lack of action on my part, but it is active surrender, daily giving every care over to the Lord, believing that He is working all things out for good.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act. He will bring forth your righteousnessas the light and your justice as the noonday. -Psalm 37:5-6

In coming blog posts, I hope to expand on these ideas a little bit and to share what I am doing practically to apply the concepts of seeking, thriving and resting to my life.

How about you? Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Have any goals for 2016? What words would you choose to contemplate and put into practice in the coming year? I would love to hear from you!

Our First Jesse Tree: Advent 2015

At 7.5 months old, Little Miss is quite the mover and shaker. She is always, always on the go, unless she is sleeping, and naps taken anywhere not on Mommy are a luxury these days. Having a crawling, pulling up, getting into everything, putting everything into her mouth baby means that I do not have time for a whole lot of extra activities beyond what it really necessary on a daily basis. (You know, things like keeping everyone fed, in clean clothes and diapers, and just generally making sure everyone is healthy and relatively happy.) Homeschooling Little J has also taken some extra time, of course. Even though we usually spend less than 2 hours total actually sitting down to his lessons each day, it is still time that I might otherwise be doing something else.

All that is to say that planning and decorating for Christmas has been put sort of on the back burner this year. To be honest, Thanksgiving and the end of November rather took me by surprise! Suddenly, on November 30th, I realized that it was time for Advent, and I had nothing planned. I also failed to order the next set of Bible lessons that J needs to continue in our ABeka Bible curriculum, so I needed something to supplement with in the meantime, ASAP!

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Enter, the Jesse Tree! If you have never heard of this Advent tradition before, it is basically a way of following the story of the Bible from Creation to Jesus’ birth. The name comes from Isaiah 11:1 which refers to a branch coming from the “root of Jesse” (father of King David) as a prophetic announcement of the coming Messiah, Jesus! During each day of advent, you read a new Scripture passage and hang a new ornament on the tree, each one symbolizing the reading for that day. There are many ways to make ornaments for a Jesse Tree, some very simple and some quite elaborate! You can even purchase ornaments if you are not inclined to makeyour own.

I, of course, chose one of the simpler variations for us this year! Little J loves coloring right now, so I used a free printable from Life Your Way for the ornaments and printed them out on card stock for him to color. I need to get some red and green card stock to mount them, and then we will hang them on our miniature tree with ribbon. I found a lovely set of short Jesse Tree devotionals at My Favorite Kind of Crazy, so I read these while Little J colors. He is excited to see what the new picture will be for each day, and I like that it is something easy enough that we can do it while I feed the baby!

I have to say thanks to Kristi at Raising Clovers for inspiring me with her post about their own Jesse Tree party. Maybe some other year we will get all fancy and make some neat ornaments like they did with their friends!

How are you celebrating Advent this year? Have you used a Jesse Tree in your Christmas celebrations before? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

The Cross

This being Passion Week, the week before Easter Sunday, I have been thinking and reading a lot about the events leading up the Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is overwhelming when I really stop and think about the sacrifice the Christ made on the cross, taking on not only the pain of the beatings and crucifixion and death, but also every sin ever committed before or since. He allowed Himself to be made sin, although He had never done anything wrong Himself, to take my place (and yours) on that cross and to be separated from His Father God so that we would have the opportunity to live with God forever. It is so amazing that I often cannot put my praise and thanks into my own words. But in those times, worship songs come to mind to express my gratitude. This is one that was on my heart this morning, and I wanted to share it with you here…

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“Worthy is the Lamb” by Darlene Zschech of Hillsong

Be Still, My Soul

I went to a funeral today. I didn’t know the man who died very well, but one of his daughters goes to my church. She is close to my age, and her dad was close to my parents’ age. I know from hearing about him from others that he was a very sweet and wonderful Christian man, and I know he is happy in the arms of Jesus right now. Yet as I sat there at the funeral, tears were streaming down my face. I could not stop thinking of my friend and how she must miss her daddy already…how much I would miss my own dad if he were suddenly gone from this earth… My thoughts were filled with the faces of people I love who have gone already, as well as those who are still here but may meet Jesus any day. And then I thought of those in my family who I am uncertain about in regards to their relationship with Christ….more tears came then.

I cannot take one day forgranted. I cannot let my loved ones pass from this life to the next without telling them of my love, and even more importantly, of Christ’s love for them. I CAN rest in the comfort of God’s Spirit within me, whispering hope and peace to my aching heart. I CAN know that Jesus sympathizes with the pain of everyone who has lost someone dear to them, because he, too, wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. And I CAN be assured of great joy in the life to come, because my Jesus conquered death and is alive. I serve a risen Savior, and all who trust in Him will one day be with Him in heaven. So, even in the midst of tears and pain, I can say, “Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side.”

“Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.

Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing, to Thy Lord on high;
Acknowledge Him in all thy words and ways,
So shall He view thee with a well pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Sun of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.”

Ka­tha­ri­na A. von Schle­gel, in Neue Samm­lung Geist­lich­er Lied­er, 1752 (Stille, meine Wille, dein Je­sus hilft sie­gen); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Jane L. Borth­wick in Hymns from the Land of Lu­ther, 1855.

Bless The Lord

Our choir at church is singing several new songs this spring, and I am so glad my husband (our music minister) chose a certain one of my new favorites, “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman. It reminds me of God’s immeasurable grace and goodness every time we sing it, no matter what kind of day I have had, and gets stuck in my head for days so that I keep being reminded again and again!

10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)
By Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

Bless the Lord, oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship your holy name.

The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning.
It’s time to sing Your song again.
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me,
Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger.
Your name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing,
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.

Bless the Lord oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end draws near and my time has come,
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending,
10,000 years and then forever more.

Bless The Lord oh my soul,
Oh my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before,
Oh my soul.
I worship Your holy name.

If you have never heard it, here’s a link to a YouTube video of the song.

I also found an article from Worship Leader magazine with an interview of Matt Redman about the writing of 10,000 Reasons that I found interesting. He sites Psalm 103 as the scripture background for this text, and that is also one of my go-to passages when I am down. It contains wonderful promises of God’s healing, protection and provision. If you need encouraged, read Psalm 103 today!