Living Water

One of my favorite things of living here on the Northcoast is being able to enjoy the beautiful Smith River.  Like so many other “Coasties,” my family loves spending time at the river.  Over the years we’ve enjoyed so many good times swimming, rafting and hanging out with friends there.  In the summertime, it’s one of our favorite pastimes, especially when the fog is hanging here on the coast, there’s nothing like driving inland a bit and enjoying some sunshine and swimming.

I remember one the first times I ever visited California and was taken to see (as it’s called) the Majestic Smith River.  I could not believe how clean and clear the water was!  Due to the rock lined bottom the water is breathtakingly pure and transparent.  This was so amazing to me!  Growing up in the Midwest the rivers have a sandy/muddy bottom which makes the water anything BUT clear.  There could be something dead floating right next to you and you wouldn’t even know it (and believe me as a kid I would sometimes wonder, teehee).

The purity and clarity of the water in the Smith is really quite spectacular!  To this day I can say that every time I go there I am still awestruck by its clarity and beauty.  Through the reflection of the water you can get a clear perspective of what lies below the surface, even in the deeper depths there is still clarity!

Looking at the river somehow reminds me of God’s purity and of how God wants us live as his followers, transparent.  We often times try to hide from God.  We think that God does not  understand what we’re going through or we question His motives for why our lives are like they are, and thus the muddy water.  But when we truly begin to understand who God is and see ourselves through the light of His word, he begins to bring proper perspective and clarity to our lives and thus He is the clean and living water to us.  His work on the cross acted as a purifier by once and for all removing the gunk and impurities and we were made clean and pure through him.

God did not design us to continually live in the muddy waters of life.  He want’s us to be pure even as he is pure.  And He has a purpose and a plan for each of us.  And until we look to him for clarity, we will never fully understand what that is.  He is the one who shines the light into the darkness and makes all things visible.  And he wants us to live in transparency before him and the world.  And through the power of the Holy Spirit, He wants to be the clean and living water flowing through us (John 7:38).

Yesterday on our way home from a trip over the hill, we stopped to adjust some tie-downs on a trailer we were pulling.  As my husband did so, I got out of the car and snapped this picture of the Smith.

I love this picture because in it you can see the transparency of the water and the rocks that lye below in the depths of the water.  I also loved the bridge in this photo because  it represents what Jesus did for us to achieve the way to him.  Because of our sin we were separated from him, like two separate banks of the river.  But through his death on the cross he bridged the gap between us (our sinful selves and his perfect sinless self).  And now we can have access to God through the cross (which acts as the bridge).  Christ  is the cleansing water that flows between us, bringing new life and continually renewing and refreshing us.

Father God thank you for your finished work on the cross.  Help us to have a clear perspective and live as who we are “In You” so that we may be a clear reflection of your love to the world.  Thank you for who you are and all you have done! All praise to you King Jesus!

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Hebrews 4:13

Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. Psalm 139:4

For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. Proverbs 15:3

My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me . . . Jeremiah 16:17

Can anyone hide in the secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. . . Jeremiah 23:24

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.  Daniel 2:22

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there you hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139:7-12

Are you dressed yet?

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:12-1.

As I posted this scripture this morning for my daily facebook verse, I began to meditate further about this verse and what the implications of clothing ourselves in this passage was referring to. The word clothe appears 52 times in the scriptures. In verse 14 of the above passage, we are told to put on love which binds all of these others in perfect unity.  1 John 4:8 tell us . . . God is love.  So in essence we are to “put on Christ,” we are to clothe ourselves “In Him.”

It’s Just like getting up in the morning and dressing ourselves.  This has to be an intentional choice on our part.  We don’t grow in our relationship with Christ unless we are active participants in the process.  Just like building a solid human relationship with a friend, so it is with building a relationship with God.

We are to actively choose to pursue that relationship.  We do so by reading his word and through prayer.  James 4:8 tell us . . . Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  We must intentionally clothe ourselves “In Him.”

God does not just want to be an accessory to our wardrobe.  He wants to be our entire wardrobe.  He does not want to be added in to our lives in bits and pieces as we see fitting but he wants to be our complete wardrobe, our “full attire” from our undergarments right on through to our accessories.

The thought of clothing ourselves brought me be back to the story of Adam and Eve in the garden.  There they were in the garden of Eden,  a perfect paradise.  I don’t know if you’ve ever been to somewhere like Hawaii or somewhere that is tropical and absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, but I’m sure the garden of Eden even surpassed that because it was perfect, not already flawed because of human intervention.

Adam and Eve sin started with discontentment.  The serpent deceived them by enticing them with false information and they believed him and they wanted to be like God, knowing  good and evil.  In disobedience they choose to walk away from the protective covering of God and the perfect life in the garden.  They chose the enticement of sin verses obedience to the truth of God.  Therefore because of their sin, at once they realized their nakedness and tried to clothe themselves with sewn together leaves.

But to their own disgrace, their coverings were just as no coverings at all, God still recognized their nakedness.  Therefore God had to kill a perfect lamb and use it’s skin to make a covering for them.

And just like Adam and Eve, God covers us with blood sacrifice on behalf of our sin.  He covers our nakedness and our shame with himself.  He clothes us so that we can be free to serve him once again removing our nakedness and barrenness and he covers us with himself and fills us with his life infused with his spirit living inside us.

Christ himself provided the perfect clothing for us.  Will we choose to clothe ourselves “In Him” today?

Father God thank you for the clothing you have provided for our nakedness.  Thank you for Jesus dying for our sin so that we can be clothed in garments of salvation.  You paid the ultimate price to clothe us in garments of splendor.  Help us to daily put on “You” so that we may stand unashamed before you at your coming.  Thank you for what an amazing God you are.  Draw us close to yourself through the work of your spirit within us.  To you be the glory both now and forever! AMEN

Genesis 3:21 Yahweh God made coats of skins for Adam and for his wife, and clothed them.

Romans 13:12 The night is far advanced, and day is about to dawn. We must therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness, and clothe ourselves with the armour of Light.

Romans 13:14 On the contrary, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for gratifying your earthly cravings.

1 Corinthians 15:53 For so it must be: this perishable nature must clothe itself with what is imperishable, and this mortality must clothe itself with immortality.

Revelation 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich; and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

And the adventure continues . . .

When I write, it’s not because I’m an expert in anything, I quite literally feel quite the opposite.  I really am an expert at nothing.  I like everyone else, am a work in progress.  I’m learning as I go, and often times from my mistakes.  One thing I know for certain is that we have a God who loves us beyond all measure.  He went through great lengths to bring us close to himself  and he desires a close intimate relationship with each and every one of us.  Father God as I write this now it is my desire that you reveal yourself to us in new and exciting ways.  May we draw close to you so that you may empower us through your spirit to do your will.  Thank you for being an amazing God. All Glory and Honor to you sweet Jesus.  In your name we pray. AMEN

It’s been over a year now since I’ve started my adventures in running (as I so often like to call it).  I therefore thought it was fitting to write a post on the many parallels between physical running and running the race that God has set before us as spoken of  in scripture (Hebrews 12:1).

I’m a very visual/hands on type learner.  I do much better when you show me how to do something versus just telling me how it’s done.  Running to me has become an outward exercise of the inward walk of faith we all experience as believers.

Running is an ACTION.  It requires effort and then must be put in momentum by action.  Likewise our faith requires action.  God says without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  Action then becomes a natural bi-product of our faith which results in good works.

Running takes DISCIPLINE.  This is one of the main reasons I began running in the first place. In order to grow in our walk with Christ we must all implore spiritual disciplines to help us, which include daily reading of our bibles and praying. These essential disciplines helps us to grow in our knowledge of Christ and his character and this is how we stay connected to God and know his will for our lives.

Just as STRETCHING before a run helps my muscles to increase their flexibility and to help prevent injuries, we must allow our faith to be stretched.  We do this by stepping out of our comfort zones and relying on faith to do the things God wants us to do.  This is how we grow in our faith and knowledge of Him.

When running it helps to have the proper CLOTHING and running shoes.  In Romans 13:14 it says . . . we are to clothe ourselves with Christ.  We do this by following Christ’s example.  Meaning being imitators of Christ in his actions and clothing ourselves in His righteousness.

When I run it is important that I am properly HYDRATED.  Meaning I have drunk enough fluids so that I don’t become weak or tired.  Being properly hydrated helps me to have an optimal run.  Likewise in our walk with God, it is important that we stay hydrated with God’s word.  Daily filling ourselves with the living water and drinking it in so that we can release an outflow of Christ’s love in our lives.

To be a runner requires COMMITMENT.  Some days I feel like running and some days I don’t.  But because I am committed and have disciplined myself in doing so, I run regardless of how I feel.  Psalm 37:5 says . . . Commit thy ways unto the Lord, trust in Him and he will bring it to pass.  Meaning we should be committed to God by seeking His direction in everything we do.

When running it helps to have a goal or a FOCUS in mind.  For some that may mean striving to run in a race or marathon or for others it may be trying shed a few extra pounds.  In our walk with God we are to set our focus on things above.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. We need to focus not on temporal things (earthly treasures), but on things that matter for eternity by loving God whole heartily and loving others and pointing them to Him.

When I run, I like to run at an even PACE.  This means I don’t start out with a sprint and burn myself out so that I don’t want to finish, but rather I go slow and steady.  I try to run at a pace that keeps my heart rate in an optimal zone of effectiveness.  Likewise in my walk with God I desire to seek his heart in all matters.  I do this by obedience to the word and through prayer.  This helps keep my heart in alignment with Gods to fulfill his purposes and plans for my life.

We must run with PERSEVERANCE.  Meaning that no matter what obstacles my come up, we must continue to run, pressing on to the finish.  Running the race of faith that God has set before us is not always easy, there are many twists and turns, we are hard pressed on every side and many adversaries may come against us.  But we must persevere with all diligence, pressing onward, because he has already paid the price on our behalf and “In Him” the VICTORY is won!

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. . .

Joy on the Journey

As I proceeded to jog down the road this morning, I was trying hard to outrun the fog that was looming in my brain.  Suddenly there was a great movement to the left of me in the overgrown grassy field.  I looked to the left and froze in suspense and to my delight, it was a small buck with beautifully velvety horns staring straight at me.  He was approximately thirty feet from me and was as cute as can be (if you can call a deer cute).  We had suddenly begun a stare off that lasted for approximately five minutes before I decided I had better proceed with my run because it seemed as if the stare down could have lasted all day.

As I continued to run, dozens of little yellow bellied finches were flitting from post to post alongside of the road.  The field on both sides of me were covered in beautiful white daisies that were springing up in the overgrown dried out grasses.  A single white dove was sitting atop a telephone wire and seemed to be peering down at me.  Suddenly I was flooded with a sense of thankfulness.

Minutes earlier I was wallowing in my dreariness of my mood and allowing a cloud of self pity to follow me around, kinda like an Eyeore moment.  Funny how sometimes we wake up feeling that way.  I believe for me, it was due in part to coming down from the “elation of vacation” and having to jump back into the full swing of things. I didn’t know if I was quite ready for that yet.

Even though the sun was not shining this morning, God was pointing me to his son-shine that was all around me and telling me to “be thankful.”   1 Thessalonians 5:18 says . . . be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  God was reminding me that he is always with me, and that he gives me peace and joy on the journey as I “abide” in him and continually seek his presence in “all” circumstances.  Abiding in God requires us to be continually looking to him to fill those voids in our heart that only he can fill and trusting that he is always working on our behalf, doing what is best for us in all circumstances.

As I finished my run with a spring in my step and a smile on my face I looked down at a planter sitting there beside the entryway to my house.  It had this little scripture plaque in it that read, “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with Joy” Psalm 126:3.  Then, a tiny little green fog popped his head alongside the scripture plaque and it made me grin from ear to ear. Our creator God is so good.  He is always giving loving and gentle reminders that when we are truly looking, he is always there and that he continually gives us joy on the journey as we look to him.