Monday, January 16, 2017

Engaging the Senses

You may have noticed a theme in the last 5 posts in that they all focused on the senses - seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. Our senses help us to learn about the world we live in; they also help us experience God. Can you imagine your life without any senses?

But in order to fully experience all that God has to offer, you will have to start with a simple act of faith. You will have to recognize your need for a God who can save you due to your shortcomings. This act of faith is believing in God and asking Him to be Lord of your Life. You don't have to work for it, don't have to go to church, you don't even have to read the Bible nor say a special prayer. You simply have to believe. 

Once you've made this decision by making this leap of faith, you can begin to experience life differently.
Your vision can be calibrated by the Master optometrist so that you are walking in your purpose.
As you learn to pray, you will also learn to listen in pray; to really hear and get to know the One you have committed your life to.
In the same way that you reached out and touched Him, He will touch you and minister to you.
Your desire to live in a way pleasing to Him will be a sweet smell to his nostrils.
Cumulatively, you will taste and experience the goodness of the Lord in spite of your circumstances - because you have a resource, a Comforter who is always with you.

In our physical bodies when one sense is missing or not used often enough the others become heightened. So as an example, a blind person can hear really well. The same may happen in our spiritual walk - we may go through things in life - we lose our vision or our sense of purpose but in our prayer time and quiet time, because we are seeking, we are more attuned to what the Lord is saying. The senses are independent yet interdependent in the physical and the spiritual.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 [NLT]

It is my hope that you are able to experience all that life has to offer by first taking a step of faith by believing in Christ and then engaging your senses to experience God in everything you do.

Additional resources:

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Guaranteed Good Taste

Introducing new foods to a baby is quite an adventure. If you're anything like me you initially introduced them to something you thought they would like such as bananas, or pears. You'd put just a little bit on the spoon then put the spoon in the baby's mouth. Then you'd wait for a positive response. If they swallowed you were good to go - you knew the baby liked the fruit. But oftentimes it might not have been that easy. I never thought one of my children would like squash (probably because I didn't like it). So I tentatively let a little fall on her lips just so she could lick and taste it. No protest. She willingly opened her mouth and devoured squash. Squash was her new favorite food.

If you don't taste something, you'll never know if you like it. Your tastes are purely subjective, but to taste and experience God is not.

O taste and see that the Lord is Good. 

Unlike food, once you taste of the goodness of the Lord, you are certain to like it because of the immediate benefits. You will experience His goodness, His grace, His love, His mercy. Most people I know need these things. This tasting is an acknowledgment of an experience that God is good. It's not only that God is good; it's that once you've experienced God you will know that He is good. It's not a sampling that you refuse; it's more an act of faith. Humans are wired to like and experience good things. God is the ultimate good.

Are you being a baby and clamping your lips shut refusing to taste? Perhaps a taste of God's love in the kindness of strangers, or the embracing fellowship of a church maybe the taste you need to allow you to open up and really taste and see that the Lord is good. If you dare to taste, you will see and experience the goodness of God. You will be blessed.

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in Him! Psalms 34:8 [NLT]

Have you tasted of the goodness of God?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Sweet Smell

When I was growing up, my mother always had other women who visited her. They would stop by unannounced (which in our culture was never a problem) to just chat or share some information. What I noticed, even as a child were the identifying attributes of each woman, I noticed who carried themselves with grace, I noticed facial expressions and I always noticed how they smelled. (I know it sounds strange but I've always had a keen sense of smell).
 Because of the pleasantly perfumed smells of certain women, it became an aspiration of mine. I associated a distinct smell with being a mature woman and as a mature woman, I wanted to have a smell associated with me so that once you get a whiff of it, you made that association and thought of me. I've been on the hunt for my signature fragrance, but I have not found it yet.

Much as the smell of perfume makes for an enjoyable physical atmosphere and a pleasant association. there are multiple things that we are told are sweet-smelling to God in the spiritual realm. “Sweet-smelling” denotes the ability of a substance to release an aroma that is attractive to the olfactory sense, making for a pleasant atmosphere.

Sweet smelling in the Bible is often associated with sacrifice.

  • The Levitical burnt offering is said to be a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the Lord. These offerings were a dedication of the priests and they served as a reminder from generation to generation that the Lord was a deliverer and indeed God.  Exodus 29:18, 25 [KJV]
  • In the New Testament Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us and was considered a sweet smelling savor. Ephesians 5:2 [KJV] He was considered an offering and a sacrifice. An offering denotes no blood and a sacrifice indicates there was blood. Christ was both for us - an atoning sacrifice that was pleasing to God.
May our lives be a sweet smell to God; may we love like He loved; pray and be generous.This may not come easy - but the greater the sacrifice the greater the sweet smell. I hope my life is like a signature fragrance, sweet-smelling to God.

Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Ephesians 5:2 [NLT]
Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15 [NLT]

Does your smell associate you with Christ?

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Touch of Hope

I had this print in my house for many years. Every time I looked at this picture, I wondered what propelled her forward.

She had been struggling for a while with a "female issue." You see she bled so much that it caused much pain and embarrassment. She may have been emaciated from the amount of blood she was losing on a regular basis. In those days, she was more than likely ostracized because of her condition. This had been going on for a long time - 12 years. Every month she dealt with the pain, the staining of her garments, the cleaning up that never seemed to end. This lady, some say her name was Veronica, hemorrhaged blood. We don't know if it was intermittent or constant, but it affected her quality of life. She had gone to many doctors, with no success.

12 years, many doctors, constant bleeding - what would you do?

She heard that Jesus was passing by. She knew that he had done miracles of healing. She knew she needed healing and thought it was worth a shot to see Jesus. But the crowds, they were so thick she didn't stand a chance of having an audience with him. Perhaps, she thought, if I just touch Him, it would make a difference. I've tried everything else, I have nothing left to lose.

In the midst of the crowd, with her persistence, she was able to touch the hem of his robe and immediately she felt a difference in her body. But Jesus noticed also. He said, "Who touched me?" His disciples couldn't understand the question as so many were around Him. In a crowd, you will be touched. How do you not get touched in a crowd?

She came forward - embarrassed no more yet a little nervous. "I touched you." Jesus said, "Daughter, go in peace. Your faith has made you whole." In acknowledging her, Jesus recognized who she was; he called her daughter. To be called daughter by the great physician is endearing, it's personal, it recognizes your humanity and your frailty. Just one word from the great physician could elevate her spirit. But he also confirmed that she was healed; that this burden was lifted.

Can you imagine her after that encounter? No more pain, no more shame, and telling everyone she met. 12 years and a simple touch of the Master restored her. This story conveys the epitome of hope - having tried all she could, yet never giving up. Reaching out to Jesus, because his reputation proceeded Him. And then eventually having a personal audience with Him that solidified that hope.

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately.

And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. Luke 8:47-48 [KJV]

What have you held onto for 12 years? Don't lose hope; seek out Jesus. Touch Him.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Learning to Listen (Again)

The conversations with my dad these days are different simply because I'm listening more. I feel like I spend more time listening to him instead of talking. To the observer, it looks like there are very long breaks or that I might not even be on the phone. Sometimes, to me, it feels like an eternity, because this is not my natural inclination, but I'm learning that these pauses are part of the conversation and he's still there. When he speaks again, it's usually some rich thought that I was not expecting. So I've learned in conversation with him, that these lengthy breaks are good and are to be expected. These lengthy breaks are called listening.

I am applying this concept to my prayer time. Somehow we've been taught that when we pray, we should be as verbal as possible - request, praise, acknowledge, worship. We're so busy bombarding God with our words that we don't hear what He's saying to us. So I've added listening to my prayer time. Just being still. Just reading a scripture and waiting. Just pausing. Listening requires concentration so for me, I cannot pray when I'm in bed, or tired else I will fall asleep. I have to find a space where I can be intentional, focused and yet patient.

In listening, it's not like the heavens will open up and God will speak directly to you, but you will receive promptings in your Spirit; another scripture or thought may be placed on your mind; you may be prompted to reach out to someone; to forgive someone. Be patient; be willing. Just listen.

Just as I've learned to listen again to my earthly father, I'm doing the same to my Heavenly Father. Unlike my earthly father, He does not change. I should have been listening all along.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak,......James 1:19 [KJV]

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 
And a stranger will they not follow but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep

In your quiet time, how do you cultivate the art of listening?