The word chisel has danced around on the stage of my brain for several months now! This week was a perfect time for it to duet with another word that has also "tippy-toed" on and off of that same "brain-stage!" The word.....masterpiece!
Embraced together, I find it amazing! The word chisel is harsh. It is defined as a sharp object used to excavate - to clear away unwanted mass, material, stuff in order to create an opening or to carve an image. Dolabra or celtes (Latin) derived from coello, to engrave.
Interesting thought...We are engraved on the palm of the Master's hand.
~ Isaiah 49:16
And yet, it is His very hand that holds the tools that mold and shape us into the likeness of Himself.
Masterpiece is defined as a work done with extraordinary skill; especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement. I love that word "supreme" for I can think of only one supreme being...GOD!
I was struck by a thought triggered this week when Kathy shared about her starting pottery. She said that after a 6 month delay, she was a little ambitious and may have tried something a little too difficult. I instantly imagined her diligently molding the clay and the tools with which she was working to make "her masterpiece." My immediate thought was, "I'm glad that nothing is too big or difficult for God when He began creating the masterpiece of my life!"
A chisel is most often used on a surface that is already hard - not very pliable. I can re-call many times I have hardened my heart toward God and He skillfully chiseled away, shaping me into His image. How easy it is to mold and shape something soft! When chiseling, the chisel leaves what I call "memory marks." This is where each gouge, score, cut...every stroke is evident. Once the hack marks are made - more removal is necessary to gain a smoother, beautiful object. A blanket of small fibers (sand paper) gently glided upon those "memory marks" perfects, and polishing completes the masterwork.
A few years ago, Brian and I submitted an artwork at the Worship Arts Festival at our church. I had it in my mind and heart to sculpt "The Faces of God's Children." I do not claim to be a sculptor, but as I sought out ways to create this art form, I felt this burning desire to share the vision from my heart. I believe God was letting me peek into His heart, desiring others to recognize the wondrous Masterpieces He has designed. The objective of the festival was to use one of the names of God and base the art around the name you chose. Mine was Jehovah-Medoddishkem - The Lord Who Sanctifies You. Jehovah is translated as "The Existing One" or "Lord." It also suggest "to become known" - this denotes a God who reveals Himself unceasingly. Mekoddishkem derives from the Hebrew word qadash meaning "sanctify," "holy" or "dedicate." Sanctification is the separation of an object or person to the dedication of the Holy. The two words combined are translated as "The Lord who sets you apart."
As we worked on this art, we had to chisel away the unwanted plaster left by our mold. Small instruments were used to clarify the character lines, just as God chisels the unholy to make holy and to sanctify. Chisel and Masterpiece dance together.
Ephesians 2:10 has made its grand entrance on the "stage" of my heart this week. Sure, I've studied this passage many times, but this week it is fresh and new!
" For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we
can do the good things he planned for us long ago." ~ Ephesians 2:10
From the word chisel plaguing my mind, to Kathy's pottery, and this quote from our Wednesday Beth Moore Bible study; "Our old body of sin, the nature that must seek its own way, the person who is hopelessly depraved and resigned to failure, hangs limp on the cross. Raised in its place is the Spirit of the Living God poured into a temple of flesh so that God's presence will remain among men." - once again, the imagery and magnificence of these words Chisel and Masterpiece are creating a beautiful dancing duet in my heart, mind and soul. As He continues to chip away areas of my life, God is creating for Himself a grand masterpiece - He planned long ago - to pour the Spirit of the Living God within me - this art form in flesh - so that God's presence will remain among men. "I have been crucified with Christ - I no longer live but Christ lives in me." ~ Galatians 2:20
2 Corinthians 4: 6 -11 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give light of the knowledge of the glory to God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
He is creating a masterpiece within me and within you, if you are one of His very own. Those "memory marks" of trouble on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, along with many others are of His own design and His own purpose.
It is not a new concept for me to wrap my brain around, but a reminder, and going deeper still; that not only am I formed and created in His image, but I am the place where the Spirit of God dwells. An earthen vessel where God Himself fills me up and provides opportunities to spill over - pour and slosh out - His love, His encouragement, His hope...to do the good work that He planned for me long ago!
It never ceases to amaze me how God is intimately involved in the details of my life. If I will simply take the time to look and listen He speaks to me everywhere, weaving His heart of love into every aspect of my life.
A few days ago Sherry and I were talking about the Biblical meaning of the word “lavender” as we worked on the RESTORE website. I had forgotten the significance of "spikenard" or "lavender" in God’s eyes. When the word “spikenard” is used in the Bible it is believed that it refers to what we know as lavender.
"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment." John 12:3
The Lord has often used this story to teach me about the beauty of costly, extravagant, lavish worship and love. I’m so glad that lavender flowers were used in the Bible as an expression of love for the Savior. I have always loved the scent. The flower has been woven into the fabric of RESTORE ministry since the beginning. We chose lavender for our website. We even chose it as bath salts for the women at our first RESTORE retreat!
God is in the details.
Later that night when I got into bed I pulled out my devotional One Thousand Gifts. I have loved rereading it in the new year. The reading was on the story of the sinful woman in Luke 7 who broke open a costly alabaster jar of perfume and poured it on Jesus feet. It’s a similar story to the one in John and Mark about Mary of Bethany, but takes place earlier in the ministry of Jesus.
In this beautiful story the woman weeps as she wipes Jesus’ feet with her hair. She pours out her love on Jesus. In the Greek the word used is “brecho” which means rains. This woman, out of gratitude and love for Jesus literally rains tears on the Savior. Her love for Him is lavish, costly, extravagant. Like Mary, she is scorned for her display of love. Yet she seems to understand her need for a Savior and disregards the scorn.
Jesus’ love for her is lavish, costly, extravagant. He offers her forgiveness. He offers her His life and her faith saves her (Luke 7:50). Jesus’ love for me, a sinner, is the same. It rains down, breaks open over me.
I put the devotional book down and pray as I go to sleep and tears rain down.
Does my life display that kind of lavish love and gratitude for my Savior?
I wake and as I pray and write it is raining outside.
God is in the details.
We are not done with yesterday’s lesson on lavish love...Jesus and me. We will never be done and I’m so grateful.
All day, all week, I ponder this love. The love of these women in Scripture with their extravagant displays poured out on their Savior. Their love for the Savior was bold, intimate, costly. Such different women, in my imagination at least - Mary of Bethany who chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, and the sinful woman who dared to enter the Pharisees’ house and break open the alabaster jar. Jesus loved them both lavishly.
I see myself in both of these women. Surely I have been the sinful woman, needing His forgiveness, raining down my love for Him in grateful tears of repentance. Yet, there have been days when I have chosen to welcome Him into my home and life, to sit at His feet and pour out my love. The account of Jesus anointed at Bethany in John 12:3 says, “...the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” Mary’s outpouring happened just days before His death. In the same account in Mark 14:6-11 we learn that Jesus rebuked those who scorned her, saying, “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” You see Mary had chosen to sit at his feet. Jesus was often a welcome guest in her home. She had listened to His words of life and seemed to know his death was imminent. She did “a beautiful thing” in the eyes of Jesus. No doubt the fragrance of Mary’s extravagant love lingered with Jesus in his final days before his crucifixion all the way to the cross.
What is the fragrance that lingers in my home today? In yours? Is it the fragrance of Christ? Is it the outpouring of love for Him? Extravagant, lavish love is sometimes costly.
As I ponder the love of these two women for the Lord, I am reminded of the lyrics of the song I sang several weeks ago at church entitled Pour My Love on You by Phillips, Craig and Dean.
I don't know how to say exactly how I feel
I can't begin to tell you what your love has meant
I'm lost for words
Is there a way to show the passion in my heart
Can I express how truly great I think you are
My dearest friend
Lord, this is my desire
To pour my love on You
Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Like water from my heart
I pour my love on you
If praise is like perfume
I'll lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I'll pour my love on you
So this Valentine’s week I have been looking for the “pouring out of love” on the Savior in my life and through the lives of others....like heart water rained down......like oil poured out......broken and spilled out.
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:11-12
This is love: a quiet morning filled with prayer and study in the Word
This is love: my husband at the piano in our living room leading a group in worship in “10,000 Reasons”
praise like perfume....lavished on You
This is love: a circle of prayer
This is love: a homeless woman given something to help sustain her
This is love: a listening ear as a grieving friend pours out her heart of pain...tears
This is love: roses on my dining room table and a beautiful card from my beloved
This is love: a friend’s mother dies......a call of comfort is made
This is love: words of encouragement, Valentine cards
This is love: searching for the perfect gift to bless the one you love
This is love: a mission trip to Brazil
This is love: speaking the hard truth in love to a friend
This is love: a meal cooked for one you love after a long day
This is love: slowing down, taking in the wonder of His Creation,
This is love: hearts overflowing with gratitude
This is love: a sister’s offer to help with a need
This is love: a visit to an aging parent...laundry...listening....medicine.....patience....love
This is love: a word of thanks spoken, written
This is love: making homemade journals for the next RESTORE retreat
This is love: families gathered around in support as babies are dedicated to the Lord
This is love: sacrifices of praise poured out at church as hundreds gather to sing songs of faith to The Great I Am
and hear the Word preached
This is love: a hospital visit to one diagnosed with cancer
This is love: a hug, a phone call, a meal shared, a garden tended, a father reaching out to his daughter,
an offer to help.........whatever the need........................
You add to the list. It is the extravagant and the simple things that bring us into a life of pouring out our love on Jesus. How have you seen love poured out on the Savior this week?
"God completes His love in us when we love one another. The only way we can get to the place where we rely on the love God has for us---where we rest in it---is by loving. He calls us, you and me, to be His kiss, His touch, His Word, His embrace, and by doing so to also be assured of His kiss, touch,Word, embrace."
Mark Buchanan, The Holy Wild
As I finish writing there is a fragrance filling my prayer loft. It is the smell of, you guessed it, lavender....a candle is burning that was given to me by my dear friend Sherry at our first RESTORE retreat.
God is in the details.
The scent will always be a reminder to me of extravagant, lavish love.
Lord, thank you that you are drawing me to yourself in every detail of my life. Show me how to lavish my love on you, how to love others ... like expensive, pure “nard” poured out with abandon. May the fragrance of it fill my life and all who know me.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. “1 John 3:1
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
Covered in His lavish love,
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Those who know me well, know that my porch is a sacred place for me. It’s not specifically the porch it’s self. It’s the environment. I’ve been know to move “my porch” into the middle of the front yard and sit in the open during the day or at best, by night, because I love the spacious skies and to watch the hurl of galaxies spinning above as the moon shines its face to me below. It is there that I sit, ponder, pray, create, read and visit with friends. Not all at the same time of course, but each moment I spend there the Lord blesses me with something new. Today was a special time on the porch, sitting with a cool breeze, blanket and a hot cup of coffee; simply taking the morning slowly, reflecting on the night before as we hosted a reunion for the first group of RESTORE Retreat ladies. God showed up last night, faithful yet again! My challenge to them, and myself: If scripture says that Jeremiah was known as a man to whom the Lord came, what am I known for? I think the answer for me is still being formulated as I continue to seek areas of service for my Lord.
I went for a walk after my “porch time” wondering what the day would hold for me. I pass by the old man with a permanent frown attached to his face. He never speaks, waves, or acknowledges my presence. I walk on. I see a young mother walking with her baby in the stroller. I smile and speak, she responds. Later we pass again. I speak, she doesn’t. Then we meet a third time, and I’m inclined to invite her to my house for coffee or a glass of water. She accepts, and I am surprised! Not sure if I’m surprised that I asked her out of the deep blue sky (knowing that my house was not ready for company) or that she responded with a yes and then asked me where I lived! When I told her, she asked, “Is that the house with the awesome porch? It’s been my inspiration!” I laughed and told her we would sit there and visit! We had a sweet time together, this stranger and me. I think God was smiling! When visiting with others in my neighborhood, they always ask, “Is yours the house with the beautiful porch?” You see, my porch is really nothing special. But in God’s own way, He has sanctified it. It is inviting and set apart for His purpose. I made a new friend on the porch today as we were both in exercise attire and no make up! Unbrushed hair. Natural. Simple conversation. Laughter. Water. It kinda brought about a new meaning of the scripture...a cup of water in my name....
I’m thankful for my little porch and that others take notice and are drawn to it. I am known in my neighborhood as the lady with the porch! I ask God to bless all that sit there and for Him to reveal Himself to them. One of my desires is to be known as the “Porch Lady” who speaks wisdom and shares Jesus’ love.
“Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.” Ephesians 5:10 ~ The Message
As you go through this week, ask God to help you notice windows of opportunity; those little subtle moments when you could speak a kind word, do an act of kindness, engage in conversation about our Savior. Listen closely to the Holy Spirit. He is speaking softly and you must be walking closely to hear that voice. Scripture tells us to be ready to give an answer to anyone who inquires about the hope that lives within you.
1 Peter 3:15 New International Version
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
Be blessed this week! Know I'm praying for each of you who read this blog and that the presence of the Holy Spirit would minister to each of you.
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
I decided to choose one word that the Lord might have for me to focus on for the year 2013. After praying and reflecting on the events in my life over the last year, I chose the word “delight.” Last year was a year of intense suffering and blessing for my family. When you are told that there is a 5 percent chance that your husband does not have pancreatic cancer and God chooses instead to grace the man you love with the miracle of healing, you learn to value life in a new way. You cherish the moments and treasure each day that Father gives. Through it all you learn lessons of what it means to wait and trust and place your hope in Jesus. Then you realize that He has turned your fear into faith and you learn deep lessons of what it means to delight yourself in the Lord.
When the Lord gives you the great privilege of celebrating the marriage of your daughter in God’s cathedral of the spectacular mountains of North Carolina, you rejoice in answered prayers as her father walks her down the aisle. You celebrate the treasure of gathered friends and family who have supported you for a lifetime. You delight in the hope of the life she will have with her new spouse.
When you watch your mother’s memory slowly ebb away from Alzheimer’s disease you want to take delight in the moments you have left together and ask Father to help you let go of the frustrations the disease brings to your relationship.
When you face significant changes in your ministry after 29 years, you cling to God’s grace to help you navigate the new waters and pray that He will help you face each challenge with delight because you want to be faithful where He leads you.
When you send your youngest daughter off to college 11 hours away you pray that Father will protect her because you cannot be there and you pray that as she seeks to fulfill her dreams, her greatest delight will be in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Psalm 37:4 was the verse I chose for her as she launched into her college years and now the Lord wants to weave it deeply into my own soul.
That which we take our greatest delight in, what we worship, what we spend our energy and time on is ultimately what molds us, defines us. I looked up the word for “delight” in the Hebrew and was surprised to find that the word “anag” used in this verse is found only 10 times in the Hebrew Bible. It literally means to be soft, delicate, pampered, pliable, exquisite delight, to make merry over. So it seems that David is exhorting us in this command to treat the Lord as if He is the very best. In that process of giving Him my all and seeking Him above all things the Lord conforms my heart, my mind, and my will to desire His best for my life.
Yesterday I was reading Isaiah 55:1, 2 and there was that word again!
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. (ESV)
It’s amazing how the word delight pops up everywhere now. It turns out it is the same Hebrew word in this verse.
When the focus of my delight is the Lord - His person, His works, His Word - It is like a banqueting table to be savored, lingered over, enjoyed.
During the last week we have had two “feasts” at our home. One was last Sunday with the Restore Retreat Reunion. I loved listening to the women laugh and enjoy the Lord’s bounty at the tables. They lingered in conversation. They savored the moment. We even had a dish called “Triple Delight” for dessert! After the meal we went in to the living room for the real feast - to worship and pray and listen to His Word and what Father was doing in our lives. There was great delight in His presence with us that night.
Yesterday, my husband Ken had the men’s conference planning team for breakfast. I loved hearing them laugh and plan at the table as they ate. Then after a while all was quiet and I realized they were praying - delighting and feasting in the Lord’s presence, pouring out their hearts for the men who would come.
By the power of His Spirit, I want my life to be a reflection to the world of Jesus. To be that I must delve into the wonder and mystery of who He is and then respond to Him as my chief delight with all that I am. Why do I continue to chase after lesser things?
I must learn to rest in His character and cling to His life-giving grace. May I always hunger and thirst for more of Jesus. He is the only One who can satisfy the deepest longings and desires of my heart. Why do I so often settle for less than the banquet He has planned for me? Why do I labor for what does not satisfy?
It is my prayer that as we begin this blog of “Monday Musings” you will always find a glimpse of the Savior there and leave hungering and thirsting for more of Him. The dictionary defines musing as a product of contemplation; a thought; "an elegant tapestry of quotations.” I pray that they will be redemptive words that might lead you to the Savior and help you as we make this faith journey together.
"O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God
Father, help us to seek Your face, listen to Your Words of Life, and find exquisite delight in Your presence. Help us to remain pliable in Your loving hands as You shape and mold us into the men and women You have created us to be. In the days ahead may we choose to linger at the banqueting table that You have laid out for us to enjoy and there find our soul’s delight in the richest of fare, Jesus.
Resting in His love and grace,
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