4

God’s Appointed Seasons

fall-leaves-on-deck

There was not the usual gentle, graceful swaying of tree branches on the lake today. Gusty autumn winds prevailed as if driven by a higher power with a divine purpose. I watched as leaves fluttered to the ground fated for a season of change.

Repeated attempts to clear the avalanche of leaves from the deck proved futile and I gave up. This was a God appointed season change; my continual raking wasn’t going to change anything.

 “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—“
Ecclesiastics 3:1

We have two choices when God assigns a seasonal change to our life–take pause or face down. In past years, I would have assumed a face down attitude… “You want to get confrontational with me, God? Well, you got it!” That demeanor didn’t set well with the Master of the universe.

And so, He gifted me with life experiences that fused rebellion with knowledge. It forever changed my view of God’s seasonal changes within my personal life. I now see autumn’s fallen, withered leaves as heavenly compost that conditions the soil of my soul to sprout new growth.

God’s ebb tide for the seasons of our life continually changes.  From the time of our conception, a spiritual blueprint was designed for each of us. It is divinely drafted to meet not only our eternal needs, but to point us in the seasonal direction of our earthly needs.  That’s the beauty of our Lord.

Are you are being tossed and swayed by current life circumstances?

My past life reads like a best-selling novel and certainly not something you would expect from a preacher’s daughter. But God’s grace changed the seasons of my life into something miraculous. I encourage you to trust in the Lord and let Him orchestrate the season of your imperfect life.

 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:30-31

1

Living Within the Lines

Live Within the LinesWhen I was a kid, a box of crayons and coloring book could occupy me for hours on a rainy day. It was a free for all with crayons erratically scribbling outside any designated boundary. To stay inside the lines wasn’t a consideration; I was a budding artist.

When finished, the colored page was given to mom who praised me for a job well done and displayed it on the refrigerator door until she found a polite excuse to remove it.

In adulthood the only time I color is with my kids or grandkids and when I do, it’s rare to find a clean page to color. The kids have scrawled over every page in the book with total disregard for the printed lines or direction they move their crayons. When I do find a blank page, I am quick to exercise my proprietary rights and ban squatter privileges to anyone under the age of ten.

For me, a blank color page exemplifies a new start in life; a new beginning in my walk with Christ. It’s like a form of therapy in times of stress and uncertainty.  Every circular motion of the crayon is a reminder to stay within God’s boundary lines for the best outcome. I grow and flourish in my strengths, find comfort, serenity and healing when I choose to be obedient to God’s will.

There is a spiritual awakening that occurs when we discover God’s lines don’t confine or hinder us, but rather provide healing to do the impossible within us. His boundary lines are defined by grace, balance and love. To give Him control of our crayon box is to give Him control of our life.

Are you frustrated and confused about your circumstances and question God’s purpose for your life? Is your life going in every direction and cluttered with scribbles that extend outside the lines of grace?

I encourage you to ask God to help you color inside the lines of HIS will. Our Heavenly Father can color inside the lines of our life better than anyone else.

“Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you. Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.” Jude 21

1

ADONAI Ori (The LORD is My Light)

psalm27_1

I awoke earlier than usual this morning. In the quiet twilight of dawn the Holy Spirit, as only He can do, prompted me to pray for those who carry grief and sorrow in the secret places of their heart. One friend in particular came to mind but I felt impressed to pray for others. I didn’t know the secret heartache of many, but God did.

In the stillness of the hour I meditated on the goodness of God and watched as daylight slowly edged its way through the dark morning skies.

        “You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.”
         II Samuel 22:29

Isn’t that just the way God works with the sorrow and grief we conceal in the darkened corridors of our heart? When the blackness of night casts shadows of hopelessness upon us, along comes daybreak to penetrate our heart with random words of encouragement or acts of kindness. Our hope and strength is renewed for a season as our darkness turns to dawn.

Today, I pray you find His light in the presence of your darkness and that your sorrow is turned into joy. From the rising of the sun to its setting, give praise to God. For praise is the clearest and most direct means of showing our total dependence on God in the midst of darkness.

Even King David endured periods of darkness in his life. He responded with praise and God brought deliverance. Psalms 27, written by David and sung in Biblical Hebrew, gives insight into how this song may have been heard by the listener when first written.

Listen to Psalm 27

1

The Beauty Within Us

Spider Web
My eyes caught a glimpse of something glistening on the back deck. As I opened the glass siding door to get a better view, I saw the beautiful silver strands against the backdrop of the morning sun. It was as if God stopped me in my tracks for a single moment of reflection before I was overcome by the busyness of my day.

Only the Master Creator would impart to a detested and loathed insect the ability to spin a web of such beauty. If God gives grace to a spider how much more consideration has He given to us. Others see us from the outside, but God sees the potential for spinning a web of beauty within us.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

The next time you see a spider web, remember this, God has graced each of us with inner beauty. It’s up to us to spin the web and let is glisten against the backdrop of His Son.

0

WHY TODAY?

Why Today?The recent killing of four marines in Chattanooga raises the question, at least for me, of why today? It’s a question I ponder about death. In the case of my dad, it was death by cancer. He clung to life until the appointed day of his death.

As the marines drove to work that day, they had no foreknowledge of the fate that awaited them. That day they were in the right place at the wrong time.

I understand God has given mankind freewill and the choices we make will impact our life as well as the life of others. The gunman of the marines choose the day he would purposely fire an AK-47 rifle at innocent people. In the process, he was empowered to determine the day he and four others would die.

Certainly the families of the slain, like me, have asked why today. As I try to wrap my thoughts around death, I am reminded that scriptures only provide a glimpse into the mystery of death.

“It is in the plan that all men die once. After that, they will stand before God and be judged.” Hebrews 9:27 NLV “Man’s days are determined; you (God) have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” Job 14:5

In this age of electronic devices death is broadcasted in real-time and reminds us that life is but a breath; it can end with little or no warning. Even as I write this piece another senseless massacre has taken place in a Louisiana movie theater; three people are dead and others seriously injured.

What I do know about death is we will all die. Some will experience a prolonged death; others may die instantaneously, accidentally or by choice. The knowledge that death is inevitable poses a greater question. Are we prepared to meet our maker when that why today moment happens?

The Psalmist said, “My whole life is in your hands.” Psalm 31:15 NIRV

When we trust that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the victory of the cross overcomes the fear of death. When our life is in God’s hands the why today question is answered with why not today.

1

JUST PASSING THROUGH

100917080512+copyI slid my passport under the glass panel to the agent tending the a line at the customs checkpoint.

“What is your citizenship?” he questioned.
“United States,” I replied.
“What is the purpose of your travels?
“I’m here for vacation.”

The gentleman carefully surveyed my picture I.D before motioning me through the international gate. I breathed a sigh of relief as I tucked my passport back into my travel pouch.

The armed soldiers who walked the corridors of the Paris airport made me uneasy. My steps quicken as I firmly clutched my carry-on bag and headed to the baggage claim area.

Paris was my first overseas trip with my husband. He was a seasoned traveler and undaunted by the military personnel that circulated the airport with loaded weapons. This wasn’t a typical scenario at my local Michigan airport; otherwise, I would have never left the comfort-zone of my home to board a plane to the other side of the world.

I wasn’t prepared for the great number of Muslims that populated Paris. Subways and sidewalks were filled with chants, music and attire foreign to me. At one point, a Muslin woman cranked up a DVD player on the subway to broadcast her religious antics. Commuters appeared apathetic to their surroundings. But for me, a cloud of opposition and unrest seemed to hang over the city of Paris.

My feelings would prove true. On the morning of our departure, a group of Muslims protested in front of the US Embassy over a film produced in the U.S. denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

I was overcome with relief when our plane safely landed on US soil.

It was a false sense of security. The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staffers had been killed in an attack on the American consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi earlier that day. Most disturbing was information that US government officials may have had foreknowledge of the attack and engaged in a cover-up.

Since my September 2012 to Paris the world has witnessed an onslaught of hideous massacres, attacks and devastation against humanity. Christians have become the primary target of Muslin extremists at home and abroad.

We’ve grown accustomed to the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’; it no longer has an impact on us. But that is about to change. God’s prophetic scripture is unfolding before our eyes and the world is rapidly approaching a time of reckoning for our immorality and blasphemous rants against the sovereignty of our Creator.

My faith remains unshaken in the belief God is firmly in control over all events and people of the world. I rest in the assurance that Jehovah-Shammah will bring a perfect end to everything He has started.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

Continue to trust the heart of God and His plan for the future.
We can’t control the future events of our life, but God can. Jehovah-Shammah walks with us into whatever tomorrow holds because of His great love. GOD IS THERE in your tomorrow and in my tomorrow.

Though the world is in crisis and turmoil among nations is epidemic, do not fear. Our citizenship is in Heaven and our spiritual passport is stamped with the blood of Christ. It confirms this world is not home; we’re just passing through.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. “
Luke 21: 20-22
“When these things begin to happen, stand up tall and don’t be afraid. Know that it is almost time for God to free you!” Luke 21:28

Postscript:
When writing, I keep track of my word count as publications have limitations on the number of words that can be submitted for a given article/story. I was taken aback when I noted that the word count for the above article was 666. Hmmm….????

WordCount_666

2

CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF HOPE

9625878147_837aba6b41_zI surveyed the sporadic patches of dense clouds from my window seat as the jet engines hummed in the background. The captain announced the plane had reached an altitude of 30,000 feet and it was now safe to move about the cabin. My gaze remained fixated on the endless billow of clouds that obstructed my view. Life’s journey guides us in many different directions and sometimes to locations where clouds obscure our extended vision. According to a NASA web page 70% of the earth is covered by clouds. I can relate to that because my personal life seems to have the same percentage of cloud cover. It is only when the sun breaks through to reveal clear skies that hope is revealed. Having been married to a commercial pilot, I was aware of our captain’s navigational skills would bring us to a safe landing even though my view was impeded by cloud cover.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

Like our pilot, God is able to navigate in any weather, even when we don’t have a clear view of where we are headed. When He signals it is safe to freely move about our daily life, do not fear; unlatch the safety belt and enjoy the trip. Let God, your pilot, control the course to your final destination. As the plane began its descent to San Francisco, the clouds began to dissipate and gave way to clear skies. Once landed, the captain announced, “Welcome to San Francisco, folks. It’s 72 degrees with clear skies. I hope everyone has a great day.” When life is overshadowed by cloudy skies, know your only chance of hope is to trust God’s navigational skills for a smooth landing.

#devotional #cloudywithachanceofhope #denisemarksblog