Joy in the rain

A cold April rain wakes me. Sitting in the quiet dark, I hear the birds begin. Same as every sunny, bright morning, the birds wail and sing their morning songs regardless of the rain. Do I sing even in the cold, disappointments and discouragements of life?
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High,
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:1-4
I can imagine the birds' lyrics, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it," (Psalm 118:24). Everywhere we turn, God is and God made, so we should constantly be singing.
This week, some friends found out they are having a baby girl. Excited for them, I recalled the birth of our first golden head. And though every parent has dreams and aspirations for their children, God created that child and knows their personality, likes and dislikes. Not long after the compassionate one was born, the engineer bought her a Minnesota Twins onesie. (I'm not going to lie, our bald headed baby girl looked like a boy wearing red, white and blue.) His hope was sharing a love of sports with his daughter, including baseball. Ten years later, there are no Twins jerseys but practice for the Spring Show's Daddy Daughter Dance. The engineer could be upset, refusing to engage in her world, disappointed and stone-hearted. But he smiles, and says, "We nailed it tonight!" exchanging high-fives with his firstborn. He's "singing" for joy at the work of God's hand.

  • When it's snowing in April (or May) again; sing for joy! He's showing off His power, anything is possible.
  • When the golden head lies again; sing for joy! He trusts me to bring her up in the way she should go.
  • When I disobey again; sing for joy! He's forgiven all my sins; past, present and future. 
  • When I watch my children struggle with the same respectable sin with which I wrestle; sing for joy! He's giving me opportunity to replace consequence of generational sin (Exodus 34:7) with righteousness to my children's children (Psalm 103:17). 

What disappointment, struggle or discouragement will you choose to respond to with thankfulness and joy? Determine how your personality sings for joy: journaling, talking out loud with the Lord, walking, dancing, singing, playing an instrument, writing, photography.... God created you. He knows when your heart is singing.
Rejoice in the Lord always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


Marked down, on clearance at Goodwill of all places, I found calla-lily bulbs in the frozen months of winter. Eight weeks ago, I planted these 8" deep in a large pot, unsure of the results. "How long should it take a bulb to emerge?" I quizzed the engineer (who loves to be a farmer). Still week after week..nothing.
Faithfully, I watered, waited and unexpectantly watched.
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, (the women) went to the tomb, taking spices they had prepared. And they found the sone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men sand be crucified and on the third day rise." Luke 24:1-7
This morning, settling in with God's Word and a cup of joe, I spy it pushing through the dirt; it's alive! The gardener in me is thrilled and though it's six in the morning, I want to go wake somebody and share the good news. How much more thrilled Jesus' followers must have been and should be. He's alive! This changed everything. Praise the Lord, He's alive!

Full of sap and green

 The righteous flourish like the palm treeand grow like a cedar in Lebanon.They are planted in the house of the Lord;they flourish in the courts of our God.They still bear fruit in old age; they are full of sap and green,to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Psalm 92:12-15
Why does the writer, King David, choose the palm tree to describe the righteous? Does it foreshadow Jesus' triumphal entry in John 12:13? I'm blessed when God tells me to dig deeper.
Though today we associate the palm tree with vacation, in biblical times, it was a symbol of victory, peace and fertility. It's image was etched in the temple (1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35). Used thirty times in the Bible, yet the palm is only recorded twice in the New Testament. It grows in warm, temperate climates and is an evergreen. Over 2600 species of the palm tree vary diversely in physical characteristics. Don't Jesus' children vary as well? God doesn't have favorites; He adopts all who believe.
But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God John 1:12
Ceroxylon quindiuenseColombia's national tree, is the tallest monocot in the world, reaching up to 60 meters tall. The coco de mer (Lodoicea maldivica) has the largest seeds of any plant, 40–50 cm in diameter and weighing 15–30 kg each. Raffia palms (Raphia spp.) have the largest leaves of any plant, up to 25 m long and 3 m wide (
The tallest palm in the world is over 190 feet tall! (A tad short of the giant redwoods of California that grow up just over 300 feet.) We are called to be tall, to stand out from the crowd. Many items are harvested from the palm tree: coconut, oils, dates, raffia, palm syrup, ivory nuts, carnauba wax, rattan cane, raffia and palm woodThe believer's fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; Galatians 5:22-23) is to be abundant and diverse. The seed of one fruit among the palms is the largest seed in the world. The seed is fruit's origin…Jesus is our start, where our fruit gets it's nourishment to grow.
Last, the palm tree doesn't have age rings. It shows no age! "They still bear fruit in old age; they are full of sap and green," Psalm 92:14. Believers are never finished working for God.
I can't ignore the cedar in Lebanon. How do these two trees compare? The Lebanon Cedar grows only in one specific mediteranean climate. It too is an evergreen and grows up to 120 feet tall. Its wood was used to build both David and Solomon's palaces and also was used to build ships, houses, and temples because its wood is without knots and not likely to decay. The trunk is uncommonly tall and branches are very wide spreading, making it distinct. We are called to be distinct and without blemish (knots) if we are in Christ!
He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— Colossians 1:22
And we are offered life that never ends (not to decay).
God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13
Lastly, the hebrew root for Lebanon means whiteness. When Christ stands before God on our behalf, God sees us as righteous, not guilty, white. Those who have believed in Christ are not perfect, but the One who covers us is.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;my soul shall exult in my God,for He hs clothes me with the garments of salvation;He has covered me with the robe of righteousness Isaiah 60:10a
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9
Because we are not perfect, this will be a continual confessing on our part. However, He has already forgiven because Jesus was a perfect, willing payment for all our sin; past, present and future sins, that satisfied a just God. 
When we back up to verse 7 in this psalm, we see the picture David ascribes the wicked;
"though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever."
So we see the evil and righteous contrasted. 
  • Grass: relatively short, here today and tomorrow frozen, dead, lifeless. 
  • Palm and cedar: tall, distinct, evergreen and full of sap, relatively long living.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a humble donkey, the people laid down their coats and palm branches for Him to ride (John 12:13). The palm; victory, peace, fruitful, tall, not showing age, diverse. The crowds could have used grass. On our trip to Ethiopia, one little girl and her mother insisted on welcoming a teammate back to their house for coffee. They must have spent hours preparing for her arrival to have covered the dirt floor of their home with grass. Grass; common, not evergreen, here today, gone tomorrow. The crowd choose palm tree branches to honor Jesus; He chose a humble donkey. Someday we too will wave palm branches and He will sit on the throne.
And behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" Revelation 7:9
Will you be there on that day? This salvation is for all; every nation, tribe, people and language. Does Jesus' righteousness cover your wrong doing? If you're not sure, decide today to accept Jesus' covering. Click here or contact me. If you are in Christ, flourish like the palm, grow like a cedar, by daily planting yourself in the presence of God. Declare that Christ covers you, that He alone is righteous, He is your rock, and you will be fruitful forever, full of the Spirit and evergreen.

Head and heart collide

Scurry. Anytime you get ready to leave on vacation, it's chaotic. Now, throw four cases of head lice in the mix and imagine what you get. "I wanted to paint my toenails this week, not scour heads for lice," I cry.  Right before takeoff, God in his graciousness gave me time for toenails. And as I finish, I can't find the top coat. Surely it's somewhere in the golden head's "Nail House Salon" and I search through their stash and my bathroom repeatedly unsuccessful. Anger boils within me. Why do I get so worked up over something so stupid? I know I shouldn't be angry. I want to feel calm. It's toe nails for golly sake!
I've been wrestling with knowing something, praying about it and then believing the truth God speaks. In 2 Samuel 5:17-25, David finds out the Philistines are advancing upon him. He takes cover, prays, knowing God can deliver, and then believes that God will direct and rescue him.
I know that I am a child of the King, that I am worth more than rubies and precious gems, that He delights and sings over me. Why can't I feel it?
Satan. His tactics are clever. But God's are greater. The Philistines advance again after their previous defeat by David. Again, David inquires of the Lord and obeys His command. David's's given the smartest war tactics yet.
And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And when David inquired of the LORD, He said, "You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam tress. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam tress, then rouse yourself, for then the Lord has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philstines." And David did as the Lord commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer. 2 Samuel 5:22-25
God ambushes the Philistines. Much more clever than David likely originally thought of attacking.
Satan will repeatedly attack us at our point of weakness because He knows our weakness. Whether it's self-confidence, self image, a fear, physical limitation or idol. He will use this weakness and speak lies to us through our circumstances and daily encounters.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome (Satan's spirits that do not confess that Jesus is from God), for He who is in you is greater than he (Satan) who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
This is why Saul, can be filled with the Holy Spirit and rebuke the evil spirit in the magician, bringing believers to God.
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, "You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?" … Then the proconsul believed… Acts 13:9,10,12
This is where Saul (the murderer of Christians converted, Acts 9) was first called Paul and his legacy for Christ really begins. Is this rebuking of Satan's lies where our legacy of faith and trust in Christ can begin?
In her study, Believing God, Beth Moore challenges student to commit to memory a Five Statement Pledge of Faith:
  1. God is who He says He is.
  2. God can do what He says He can do.
  3. I am who God says I am.
  4. I can do all things through Christ.
  5. God's Word is alive & active in me.  I'M BELIEVING GOD!
You can't believe both lie and truth. I love her idea of trading the devil's lies for God's truth.
Vacation came and yet and my toenail polish hasn't even chipped. I knew I shouldn't have been upset. God reminds me that I have should have trusted His provision because "love is not irritable or resentful," (1 Corinthians 13:5) and I should have felt calm and gracious. Last week following Paul's example in Acts 13, I point blank rebuked Satan's lies regarding my self-image and felt free. Sometimes we can know something in our head, but we can't feel it. Rebuke of Satan's lies is where your head and heart collide; you start feeling what you know is true. Satan will lie, but if we recognize the lie, rebuke it and replace the lie with God's truth, we will be set free.
What lie are you believing today? What scripture verse will you use to rebuke Satan's lie and experience freedom because of Christ. He's near.
Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more the that, who was raised--who is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor heights nor depth, or anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:33-35, 37-39