Carrying Empty Baskets . . .

Don McCullough - Large and Small Baskets. https://www.flickr.com/photos/69214385@N04/8463745344

Don McCullough – Large and Small Baskets. https://www.flickr.com/photos/69214385@N04/8463745344

I was rummaging through a container full of baskets for sale at a craft store recently.  I was looking for a large basket to go with one I already have which I use in my ministry.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have what I was looking for so I went away empty handed.

Somewhere along the way, an old song popped into my head.  “A tisket, a tasket, a green and yellow basket, I wrote a letter to my love, and on my way I dropped it.”

Okay, so I’m a little strange…  That’s all I knew of the song, so I repeated the first line a couple of times until I had to chuckle at my own silliness.

Today, I was reading the Scriptures in the chronological Bible about Jesus feeding the 4000.  When reading that particular publication, you read the same story in all four gospels one after the other.  In this case there were only two gospel accounts.  But, it’s very interesting to see how the different authors saw the incident through slightly different eyes.

After reading Matthew 15 and Mark 8, I happened to notice something jump out at me.  The disciples picked up baskets full of leftovers.  I’ve read that story so many times, but this time, I began to wonder where they got the baskets.

In the accounts of Jesus feeding the 5000, I had previously noticed that the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers and had thought to myself ‘that meant the Lord had supernaturally provided not only for all those people, but had provided a full basket for each of the twelve.’  That’s pretty good pay for simply helping the Master minister to the people.

But I still wondered my question about where the baskets came from in both sets of miracle feeding stories.

As I pondered, I re-read the accounts.  In the second miracle, the crowds had followed Jesus for three days.  He had compassion on them and that prompted the supernatural provision.  These people had come bringing the sick to be healed.

In order to find out where the baskets had come from, I put myself into the scene imagining having left home for three days.  I don’t know about you, but when I do that, I take a decent sized suitcase.  And that’s without any consideration about food because there are ATMs and restaurants everywhere.

In Jesus’ day, people would not have worried about a change of clothes or personal care items like we do.  They would have focused on bringing food and water.  Even the most spontaneous among them would have had some provisions.

So, maybe the people had brought baskets with them, that, after three days, were empty.  Some of them had some left overs; seven loaves and the few fish that Jesus multiplied, but for most of them, by this time, they were carrying empty baskets.

This thought about the people staying with Jesus while He wandered from village to village for three days made me realize a truth I feel the Lord wants us to see today.

There are so many good lessons we could learn here.  Be prepared; stay with Jesus no matter where He goes; willingly share what little you may have with others; have faith for Him to heal those you love, etc.

Any one of those is worth our time to learn.  But what I saw from today’s reading is that the people continued to come to Jesus even after their provision had run out.  This signaled a faith within them that believed He could provide.

This tells me they were hungry.  Jesus not only saw their physical hunger and had compassion on them, but He saw the spiritual hunger.  They longed for something only He could give.  Yes, many did come just to participate in the miracles.  Maybe their focus was off.  But He saw through to the hearts to their true needs.

I believe what the Lord wants us to learn today is that He searches the hearts of those who follow Him to see if they are hungry for what He has.  He alone is the bread of life.  He alone can fill the spiritual hunger within us.

His desire is that we come to Him with our hunger and offer that emptiness to Him so He can satisfy us.  We have to recognize that no one else is capable of meeting our deepest needs.

We had a speaker at our church this weekend who talked about asking ourselves the question “Is God enough?”  I challenge each of you to ask yourself that question.  Do you have the faith to believe that if you had absolutely nothing, He would be enough to satisfy you.

The crowds who followed Jesus were given a supernatural show of God’s mighty power.  They were treated to a fully satisfying physical meal.  But some must not have expected more, because some of them left behind some empty baskets.

The disciples picked up seven baskets full on this last occasion.  Perhaps seven people believed God would again provide for Jesus’ servants and willingly donated their baskets.  We may never know how they got the baskets.  But what we can know is that the Lord never wastes anything.

If we come to Him hungry, He will satisfy us.  If we come to Him empty, He will fill us.  If we leave behind our own means of provision, void of substance, He will take it up and use it to advance the Kingdom.

My prayer for you today is that you will come before your Messiah, your Savior, and ask Him to fill you up with Himself.  If you do, I know He will meet you at your point of need and He will fill you when you come, even if you are only carrying empty baskets.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

Psalm 107:9  “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.”

John 6:32-33  “Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” “

Matthew 5:6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

Trailing Ellipsis logo narrow lower res

I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Graceful Flight . . .

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-0678 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5418725

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-0678 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5418725

Have you ever camped on the beach?  One would think the sand would make a nice soft layer for the sleeping bag.  Well, it doesn’t.  I still need an air bed.  We went camping one time at Pismo Beach for a four wheel drive club outing.  The wind and moisture made it quite difficult to enjoy the experience.  In spite of that, I decided to take advantage of a lull in activities and took my beach chair down to the waterline to watch the waves come in.

As I sat there taking in the beauty of the ocean, I saw something that captivated me.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  A poem began to form in my mind that I want to share today.

Graceful Flight

Bombardiers skim the crests of each wave,
inches from the surface
maintaining tight formation,
an amazing display

“Red leader to Delta Four, we’re going in.”

“Roger, Red leader.”

Ten broad winged forms arc and
curve upward, gliding as one.
They swoop below view
then climb above the foaming deck.

They sail in precision motion,
a graceful flight of unison
keeping sharp watch
on their targets

Suddenly, the leader’s wings waggle,
signaling the others to follow his lead.
As their wings stretch out, I smile
It’s really a pelican squadron

Desiree

This fanciful poem settled into my spirit and years later, still stirs me.  I believe there is a principle we need to embrace from its simple truth.

With the pelicans flying above the ocean surface, my eyes saw their actions in the natural, but quickly, I jumped to imagination and it was as if I was watching actual planes flying instead of birds.  It was as if I was hearing a secret communique of the “pilots.”  This human capacity to see beyond the tangible into the intangible is what I believe connects us with the Spirit’s realm.

Yesterday, I was talking with some close friends who walk in the Spirit and serve the Lord with complete abandon.  We discussed the concept of being ambassadors to this world.  When we were born into Christ, we immediately became citizens of the heavenly Kingdom of God.  Yes, we will live in heaven with Him one day, but right now, we are still in the world we used to be part of.

The fact that I saw pelicans in the natural, but saw fighter jets in my imagination reveals the condition of the saints of God in this earth.  We have eyes to see the spiritual realm at the same time as we see the natural realm.  What that means to me is that I have the intents and purposes of my heavenly Kingdom shining out of me so the natural world around me can see it.  But I also can see what’s going on in the natural at the same time.

Since the Word of God asks us to walk by faith and not by sight, we have to recognize this juxtaposition.  As the designated ambassadors of God’s Kingdom, we are in the unique position of being able to hear the Spirit communicating in our ears, like fighter pilots on the radio, and being able to listen to the voices of the world at the same time.

This principle indicates to me that it’s my job to witness what’s happening in any given situation around me but always to have my ear tuned to the communication going on in the spiritual realm.  That’s the only way I will know how to answer whatever I’m facing in a way that makes me a valuable Kingdom interpreter and advances the Kingdom at the same time.

In the world, sovereign states will set up Embassies in other countries, allowing for a small establishment of their sovereign territory in that other land.  That means any visitors from the home country can go to the embassy for help in time of trouble.  It also gives the Ambassador the opportunity to bring his country’s ideals, laws and customs into play among the government and people of the foreign land.

This ability to be in two places at once on earth is a clear picture of how we, as Christians, can literally live in the world, but not be of it.  We can establish those ideals, laws and customs of our Kingdom in the midst of a foreign place and hopefully spread the truth of our way of life among those people around us.

If we can imagine this concept, then everywhere we go, we will look for how to influence our surroundings and circumstances with the principles of God’s Kingdom.  If you can walk through this life with that mindset, you will be an effective ambassador for heaven.  I pray today, that you will see yourself as set apart to be an interpreter in this foreign land of the fallen world.  I pray God will allow you to hear His private communications in the midst of whatever is around you so you can convey His mindset and will in any situation.

I believe you can become part of this heavenly army of ambassadors, touching this world with the presence of heaven and truly flying in the Spirit just like the pelican patrol and its graceful flight.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Ephesians 6:18-20 “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

Trailing Ellipsis logo narrow lower res

I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Perfectly Seasoned . . .

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

Cooking isn’t one of my strong suits.  I enjoy it occasionally, but not routinely.  When I do cook, I want to make sure there is a lot of flavor in the dish.  My husband has a more simple palate, however.  This makes me more cautious when using seasonings.  Compromise is often the order of the day.

My attempts at creativity are usually met with skepticism and trepidation, so over the years, I’ve kind of given up.  That, coupled with differing schedules and the fact that there are only two of us eating, makes for a challenge I’m not often willing to tackle.

I pondered this over the weekend when we had out of town company and Dave decided to cook breakfast.  He isn’t at home in the kitchen so I try to appreciate the rare treat when he makes an effort to cook.  He kept it simple with scrambled eggs and sausage burritos.  While he was working, I noticed he was grinding pepper into the pan of nicely fluffy eggs.  I asked him if he had salted them.

The answer was slow in coming. “Is that enough pepper?” he asked.

“It’s up to you. I know you like pepper.” I responded gently.  Still no answer about the salt.  I stood quietly by the stove out of his way, just watching.

“No, I didn’t salt them,” he managed to acknowledge.

“They probably need some,” I said, trying not to interfere too much.  He picked up the shaker and sprinkled the tiniest amount into his hand then added it to the eggs.

I literally had to press my lips together to keep from saying anything.  I figured it was easier to salt my own than destroy the delicate balance of gratefulness at his willingness to cook with my concern for the guests.  My silence must have unnerved him because he resorted to his go-to humor.  “I’m just trying to prevent heart attacks,” he quipped.

These words, coming from a man who often thinks candy qualifies as dinner, were ironically both humorous and disarming at the same time.  I chuckled and walked out of the kitchen.  The entire scenario made me think of how personal our tastes are regarding seasonings.  That led to an observation I want to share today.

I had been musing about age and wisdom earlier in the week.  Then, Friday, I had opportunity to keep up with a group of younger friends in a little physical activity.  I am old enough to be a mother to any one of them.  I playfully chided them all about it.

Later during conversation, one of them commented when I again made reference to my age.  She said, “You’re not old, you’re just perfectly seasoned.”

We laughed, but I kept thinking about that the rest of the weekend.  I realized that the Lord had been hinting a truth to me through both experiences.

My cooking skills, though limited, are full of practical wisdom from being a mom and housewife for many years.  In comparison to my husband’s skills, I’m, shall we say, ‘well seasoned!’

Because he has very limited time invested in cooking, I have wisdom and insight he doesn’t possess.  He is a very intelligent man and could easily gather information necessary to produce great results in the kitchen.  However, my years of experience far outweigh his abilities, only because I’ve gone through all the trials and errors in the kitchen through every ‘season’ of life. (Honestly, me and my puns!)

What I believe the Lord is revealing is a simple principle we need to keep in mind.  While there are a great deal of things all of us can decide for ourselves, based on individual preferences, like salt in the eggs, there are many things we would do well to seek advice on.

Sometimes, God puts people in our lives who have learned their way around things we are facing. They have already made many errors, whether in judgement or from uninformed or careless decisions.  Jesus can use the wisdom of these seasoned saints to help us learn and grow, hopefully without as many failures or painful consequences.

Their viewpoint may just be a little broader than ours and the Lord will use that to help us see the cliff edge that may be hidden from our vantage point in life.

God built into this world the benefit of seasonings to flavor our food and provide enjoyment.  He also engineered the principle of gaining wisdom from experience.  Both things give us heightened flavor.  One is flavor to the taste buds, the other is the rich flavor of lessons learned over time, like the incredible taste of aged wine or cheese.

Both of those gifts are meant to be treasured, enjoyed and appreciated.  We all have opinions about things, and we are entitled to those opinions.  But living a Spirit filled life means we have to set aside our opinions about weightier matters in favor of what God says.

Sometimes His voice comes through the voice of age and experience.  If you are blessed to have holy saints around you with many years of trial and error under their belts, you would do well to receive from their resources.  Of course, anything you hear from others is subject to the scrutiny of the Holy Spirit.

The truth is, we can all have our opinions, like mine and my husband’s about the salt.  But when it comes to spiritual things, we can be greatly enhanced by the aging wisdom of those who, through vast experiences, have become perfectly seasoned.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Colossians 4:6  “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

Job 12:12  “”Wisdom is with aged men, with long life is understanding.

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

Trailing Ellipsis logo narrow lower res

I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Jesus, Make It Warm . . .

By Amandajm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Amandajm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There was a cute little video on Facebook yesterday of a little boy shoveling snow off a walkway.  He wasn’t doing very well and struggled with even moving one tiny shovel full of snow.  He said, “Jesus, make it warm”.  It seemed so innocent and so genuine.  It made me think of Winter and the effects of it.

Since I live in sunny California, Winter isn’t harsh.  I’ve only had to endure that once when I was a child about that little boy’s age.  We lived in Denver when I was 5 years old.  The memories have faded about the snow and the cold, since then.

When my son was little, we lived in the High Desert of California.  Winter there was cold and sometimes we had a little dusting of snow, but nothing like what other people have to endure.  So, my frame of reference comes, instead, from a spiritual application about Winter.

What does the season of Winter mean in our lives, and why does God permit such things?  Those are valid questions, especially if you have been called to endure some very difficult circumstances.  I think there are some principles we can glean from Winter’s stark and cold characteristics.

First of all, the truth is, God works in every season in nature in different ways.  Winter is the season when everything seems to be dead.  It’s cold, harsh climate creates the need to be indoors and warm, even if we enjoy outdoor sports or activities.  If we get too cold, like that little boy in the video, we cry out for warmth.  He had the right idea.

I believe Jesus built into Winter the revelation that human beings need a slower pace and a warm cozy place to be.  The days are shorter and less light is available.  During a “Winter” season in your life, spiritually speaking, that means you may have to slow down your pace as you pursue the goals and plans God has for you.  Many people go through a time of reflection and goal setting for the year ahead during the Winter months.  This relates spiritually as well.

When we go through a spiritually dark, cold, unfruitful time, it means we need to settle in to the warmth and coziness of God’s loving embrace.  We have to rest assured that Spring is coming.  He may be silent during these times, but the fire within Him keeps us warm, even if everything else around us is cold and dark.

In Winter, the beauty of the leaves has been stripped from all the trees.  Fruitfulness appears to be lost.  Fall created the change, but Winter drives the transformation.  Trees gain strength in Winter because they don’t have to work so hard to produce leaves and fruit or flowers.  They may go dormant, but the deep work takes place on the inside, hidden from view.  The same happens to us when we go through a time of spiritual Winter.

Since seeds are sown in Fall and trees scatter their seed by the winds of change during that season, Winter buries them, often under snow.  What happens when the seeds are buried is that they die.  It seems as if growth and fruitfulness die with it.  But Scripture tells us in John 12:24:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

So, in reference to Winter and the spiritual application, the things God has asked us to do may have to go through a time of seeming to be dead before they can come back to life.  The deep work in our souls needed for the next season has to take place to prepare us for what God has ahead.

Sometimes, it’s really hard to go through this waiting period.  The Winter months can seem to stretch so long that we wonder if Spring will ever come.  But it does come, eventually.  Before you know it, the first buds shoot forth, the first flowers appear and the sun comes out brighter and brighter.  The early rains come again and life begins to sprout forth in a glorious display.

In our Christian lives, we need the Winter times in the Spirit.  God knows some things have to die to reproduce.  He wants us to settle in with Him during these dark days when nothing seems to be happening.  It builds patience and character.  It prepares us for the time ahead where fruitfulness again comes to life.

I wrote a poem, several years ago, when I was going through a very difficult season.  I share it with you today, hoping it will help these spiritual truths to take root.

Weeping Willow

Winter’s chill has stripped the willow
of all her green and glorious hair.
But she still weeps as cold winds blow
and hangs her head, so fair.

Why does she droop, her frail vines sweeping
from skeletal arms perilously bare?
Abandoned they stoop, so empty, sleeping,
all façade removed, exposed, aware.

What anguished dread or sadness reaping;
What quiet ache or deepest care
Has caused her head to hang so weeping,
has stolen strength and left despair?

I see her lonely form and wonder,
and whisper my questions into the air.
What life is only left from cruel plunder?
What gives her strength to bear?

The answers revealed through the season’s change
and I know with the willow I share.
My own loss concealed, will by time rearrange,
what Winter stripped, bright Spring will repair.

Desiree

My prayer for you today is that you will recognize the Spiritual climate you are currently in.  Maybe you’re not in the hard season right now.  But, be prepared, because the seasons change.  Plant your roots deeply during the good times.  Spend time with Jesus, so when He is silent, you can still be warmed by the fire of His presence.

If your season is Winter right now, I hope you’ll grasp these concepts taught to us so beautifully in God’s natural seasons.  I pray that your dark, cold Winter passes quickly; that the death needed will be effective and that God will prepare you for the beautiful Spring that’s coming.  If you’re in that now, I pray you’ll be able to utter the cry like that little boy and say, “Jesus, make it warm.”

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Genesis 8:22  “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

Trailing Ellipsis logo narrow lower res

I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

But It’s Still Raining . . .

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jon Sullivan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The drought in California is easing somewhat as the winter rains have begun.  El Niño may wreak havoc in many places, but it sure helps with our water problems.

The other day very dark clouds hung low in the sky and a beautiful rainbow appeared.  I’m such a sucker for colorful displays in nature like that.  It gave me lots of joy to see and I whispered a prayer of thanks to the Lord for it and for the rain.

Recently, the rainbow symbol has been used in ways I’d rather not discuss, but I always go back to the original meaning of the sign of the bow whenever I see it altered.

As most of us know, God gave human beings the rainbow as a sign of His promise that He would never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.

Scientists discovered why a rainbow occurs and how it physically happens.  But that doesn’t nullify the original intent.  They’re given for us to remember God’s promise.

When I delved a little further into this thought, something occured to me I hadn’t thought about before.  In ancient times, after the flood of Noah, as the population grew again, people had heard the passed down stories of the devastation.

Genesis 11:4 gives us a glimpse at the minset of the people in Babel.

“Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

I wondered if this brief reference reveals their desire to try building something so high that a flood wouldn’t be able to wipe them out if it happened again.

I believe by that time, corruption in the hearts of men had become serious again.  It made me think that those people didn’t really believe the promise God made.  Even though there was a bow in the sky nearly every time it rained.

Think about it.  Imagine you’d heard stories about utter destruction by water and every time the clouds got black and storms came, if you hadn’t truly received the promise you’d say, “But, it’s still raining!”

Your mind would apply human logic and you’d assume that if it was raining, it could keep doing that, and if it didn’t stop, you could be overcome like the ones who died in the great flood.

The thing is, unless we actually grasp and believe the truth of God’s promises, we still live in the place of fear.  We think, maybe the story wasn’t all true.  Maybe God didn’t really say… Maybe…  This is what the human brain does.  It relies on experience and assumed reality based on those experiences and perceptions.

Unless your brain is renewed by the truth of God’s word, you will question His promises every time, because of human reasoning.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Think about a time when the dark clouds of a difficult situation surrounded you.  You may have mentally embraced a promise God made, but what were your eyes seeing in the midst of the rainbow?  Well, what you probably saw was, ‘it’s still raining!’

In order for us to express our trust in God and believe His promises, we have to set aside what our eyes see and what our human mind believes.  This is a tremendous challenge.  But it is possible.

We often tell of the Apostle Peter’s experience late one night amid a storm on the sea.  This man was a professional, seasoned, commercial fisherman.  He couldn’t afford to be afraid to be out on the water.  In fact, some of the narrative in Scripture reveals he would often fish all night.

"Backhuysen, Ludolf - Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee - 1695" by Ludolf Bakhuizen - [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Backhuysen,_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_1695.jpg#/media/File:Backhuysen,_Ludolf_-_Christ_in_the_Storm_on_the_Sea_of_Galilee_-_1695.jpg

“Backhuysen, Ludolf – Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee – 1695” by Ludolf Bakhuizen – [1]. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

One night when Jesus came walking on the water, Peter, for a moment, was able to get out of his human reasoning and push past the physical circumstances around him just long enough to believe the words of his teacher.  “Come.”

We are so familiar with the story, I think we sometimes lose the enormity of what really happened.  Peter, since he was intimately acquainted with that body of water called the Sea of Galilee, more than likely had a very healthy respect for it and for what could happen if you ended up overboard.

For him to see Jesus superseding the physics of the water’s surface tension as well as gravity, it took a great faith for him to put his leg over the side of the boat and stick his foot out on the water.  The Word says in Matthew 14:24-25,

“But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.”

This paints the picture of a storm which Peter had to temporarily take his eyes off of in order to join in the experience of the supernatural miracle Jesus demonstrated right in front of him.

I love the story so much, because I’m always challenged to keep my eyes focused on the Lord in the middle of stormy circumstances.  I don’t even like to emphasize the fact that Peter began to sink.  Instead, I like to think about what happened first – for a brief moment, he walked on water!  That means I could!  That means you could!

I believe your miracle is really close to happening when you see what Jesus can do and desire to do it with Him.  His promises, in the middle of the dark clouds of life, shine just like the rainbow.  Bright, supernatural light shines through the darkness and calls you to believe even when it doesn’t look like the promise is true!

Today, my hope and prayer for you is that you will allow the truth of God’s promises to override the natural circumstances of life and your own human reasoning and that Jesus will give you the courage to step out in faith no matter how impossible it seems.  Whatever it is He’s calling you to do, you can do!

As we face the growing darkness of this era of time we’re in, will you focus on the dark clouds?  Will you see the rainbow of God’s promises, but not really believe them?  Will you focus on what’s happening around you where the wind and waves are contrary?  Or, will you be like Peter and believe for your miracle, even though everything in your natural thinking says, “But, it’s still raining?”Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Hebrews 10:22-23,  “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Just Be . . .

Today’s entry is a little different than usual.  I experienced something yesterday which made me think deeply about what it means to be intimate with Jesus.  I sat in my prayer room as usual and had a list of things that needed to be prayed about.  I had thoughts about my ministry I was going to bring to the Lord and felt a weight for many things.  Sometimes I have two set aside sessions with God, one just lifting up needs and the other just waiting on Him for His instructions for the day.

But yesterday was different.  I was very tired and felt great pressure on me.  It’s part and parcel of doing ministry, but I still didn’t feel up to dealing with everything, even though I knew Jesus, my CEO, would give me insight, strength and wisdom to face it all.  I sat with soft piano music playing, which often helps corral my thoughts so I’m not scattered when it’s time to hear from Him.

I spent a few minutes just thanking God for all He’s given me and expressed my gratitude for my husband, my family, my church and my pastor.  Then, at a certain point, I felt the music wash over me and the presence of the Holy Spirit descended in my room.  I started to cry and asked Him an unusual question.  I’ll explain that a little later.

Most of us who have been in church or in a relationship with Jesus for any length of time have been trained and instructed on how to maintain our faith.  We are taught to read the Bible daily (yes, do that!)  We are taught to pray and seek God’s direction (again, that’s a given).  We are told we need to tithe and give offerings (a necessity for God to be able to move in every area.)  We are taught to make sure we stay in church and connected to the Body of Christ (critical especially in the days we are in.)  We’re given concrete steps we can take to stay “faithful.”

None of those things are wrong and all of them, if observed, will help us.  But when I sat there, having done all those things, I realized there was something more I was missing.  We have several examples of Jesus in the Scripture which go along with the list of things noted above.  It reveals His habit, which, of course, is our example to follow and which give us plans to adhere to.

Luke 5:16 indicates, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.

Mark 1:35 adds, “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.”

Matthew 6:6 explains, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Mark 6:31 reads, “And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.””

Luke 6:12 says, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.”

Now, before you let yourself get all guilt ridden because you don’t do all these things everyday, let me make my point.  Yes, these are examples and we do need to heed them.  But each one of those points goes to pattern.  It reveals how God wants our prayer relationship to be with Him.  But I thought about this and began to see something I’d never seen before.

Although these verses seem to give us a plan to follow, what it really gives us is a diversity we usually miss.  If we have never prayed all night, and we read that verse about Jesus doing it, we feel we have to pray all night.  When we read about getting up early in the morning, we feel like we have to haul ourselves out of bed before Dawn so we can meet God.  These are wonderful suggestions, but what I believe the Lord would have us see today is that we won’t be doing anything exactly the same every time we come to prayer.

Prayer isn’t sitting there giving God a list of jobs He needs to do.  It isn’t just waiting for a list of instructions.  It isn’t just making a statement of how holy you are by getting up before Dawn.  No. I challenge you to see prayer as a beautiful varied dance of communication and communion with the Father, which is as different as each day.

I spend a lot of time contemplating nature and looking for metaphor or analogy because that is one of the ways God speaks to me.  Some people get into deep worship and commune with Him on a deep spiritual plane.  Some give Him their list faithfully.  All these things are good.  None of them is any better or any worse than the other.  What God is showing us today is that you are completely free to come to Him in any way you feel you can connect with Him.

When I sat in my prayer room yesterday, crying and feeling overwhelmed with His presence, I asked Him a strange question.  I said, “Jesus, can I just be?”

I sometimes sit in the living room with my husband while he watches TV with headphones on (bless his heart!) and I work on the computer or read.  We are together, but there’s no compulsion to do anything.  We are just being together.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I believe the same thing can apply to our communion and intimacy with Jesus.  I believe there are times we just need to be.  Be what?  Be nothing but what we are.  Just be – joyfully and reverently in His presence.  That time I spent yesterday with Him was so precious.  There were no time demands (I’m totally rejoicing that I can do that in this season.)  There was no agenda.  There was no list of “do’s.”  I didn’t do anything but enjoy sensing His presence.  It was as if that time was set apart just for us to be.

The freedom and regeneration I felt after that time is hard to explain.  The Lord managed to work out all the details of the day, and I hadn’t even prayed about them.  There were a few occasions during the day when I shot up a prayer or two about something, but the answers came quickly and without a lot of energy being expended in the process.

Please don’t let my experience make you feel like I’m anyone special or that I’m different because I have some perceived relationship you don’t have.  I truly believe this intimate communion of oneness with Jesus is what our entire life is about.  We can accomplish many things for good, and it’s right to do those things.  But when it all comes down to it, there is only one question I believe we will have to answer.

Did you know My Son?  When I stand before my Father in heaven, whatever question He asks, I want my Jesus standing there by my side, my Holy Advocate, saying, “Yes, Father, I knew her and she knew Me!”

My prayer for you today is that you will abandon whatever religious dogma you may have been taught that keeps you from focusing on a one-on-one intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ.  It may be hard to stop doing some things you’ve done for so long.  But I challenge you to try to discover the freedom Jesus purchased for you by His death; freedom to come to the throne boldly; without so many expectations of what it should look like.

I pray you will set aside whatever preconceived notions of what your quiet time with the Lord should be.  Let Him fill you with His Spirit until you are overcome by Him.  If there is something critical that needs to be taken care of, I believe you can trust Him to bring it up.  If you position yourself this way, you can enjoy His presence and in freedom, allow yourself time to – Just Be!

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 John 17:22-23, 25-26 “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”

“O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Epiphany Everywhere . . .

Henry Siddons Mowbray [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Siddons Mowbray [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today is a special day for many people who celebrate Epiphany as a holiday.  It’s the day following the end of the 12 days of Christmas in Orthodox observations.  The holiday itself is a celebration of the discovery by the Magi of the Christ Child.  I’m not into arguing over traditions or if and when the discovery actually occurred.  To me, that’s not as important as the fact that we recognize Jesus Christ, the true King, who did come to this earth to change history and bring freedom and salvation to the world.

But today is something more than just Epiphany to me.  Fourteen years ago today, my earthly father passed into eternity and went to be with Jesus.  Although it’s hard to believe it’s been so long, I know that God gave me and my siblings an epiphany after my dad died.  I’ll explain that later.

I looked up the dictionary definition of epiphany, not just as a holiday, but as a noun.

The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).

The festival commemorating the Epiphany on January 6.

An appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being

1) : a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, b : a revealing scene or moment

This definition helps me to see a convergence of things I believe the Lord wants us to understand today.  First of all, when my father died, something amazing happened near the end of our time together as a family.  What we discovered was that my dad’s death brought our family together in a way his life had not been able to do for years.  Remembering that simple truth brings an epiphany to me today.  God brought His family together when Jesus Christ died, in a way that could not have been done any other way.  His death brought us life and reconciliation to the Father.

The perception of this essential meaning of Christ is where we grasp the reality of His sacrifice.  It illuminates our understanding and is revealing to the nature of life.  This is true epiphany.

In considering this idea, I realized that my father left his children with a legacy of gifts and abilities.  We are each very different, but in some way reflect who he was.  Ah-ha, another epiphany!  Jesus left us with His Spirit and His empowerment to become like Him.  In fact, He told us that if He didn’t go away, the Helper wouldn’t come.

John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

Christ’s coming obviously brought the beginning of what would ultimately be His sacrificial death for us.  He, in essence, has left us His legacy through His death.

As I continued to ponder the meaning of epiphany, I saw a lovely revelation of what God is doing through the Trailing Ellipsis blog and devotional.  He is so very kind to give me eyes to see the things around me every day which, when illuminated by epiphany, gives us a sudden perception of the essential nature of something.  He uses the natural realm to bring a simple but striking example for us to grasp.  This is a beautiful description of how God works in our lives.

He brings us to epiphany in order to see the spiritual truths He has hidden in plain sight everywhere we look.  He brings realization of the meaning of memories and historical events in our lives.  He opens our hearts to discover true revelation of Christ as He has made Himself known on the earth.  The possibilities are endless.

Today, I pray that you will position yourself to receive the epiphany God is bringing all the time.  If you set your mind to look for Him and search for Him, like the Magi did when Jesus Christ was here bodily, I believe God will give you access to continuous true epiphany everywhere.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Jeremiah 23:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Proverbs 8:15-17 “By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly. I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Road Map . . .

Honoring The Inventor - 1" Scale Vignette handmade by Desiree Figg

Honoring The Inventor –
1″ Scale Vignette handmade by Desiree Figg

When I was a child, my family made many road trips all over this amazing country.  My dad would often take out the road map and designate one of us kids as the navigator.  He would take off his watch, hand it to the navigator and tell us how far it was to the nearest town then ask us to figure out how long it would take us to get there at a given speed.

So, I learned how to use a map at a young age.  As long as I had a map, I was usually able to find any place.  My mom sometimes had a little trouble with directions and people would often say, “You can’t miss it!” when telling her how to get there.  She would always respond, often under her breath with a witty, “Famous last words.”

When she and my dad were younger, they would go on road rallies and she was his co-pilot.  He had a little Austin-Healey Sprite they used for the trips.  I don’t think she cared for it too much, but she always had a road map to get them to the next checkpoint.  I’m pretty sure she did just fine even if she wasn’t comfortable doing it.  She always manages to get the job done, no matter what it is.

I once made a miniature vignette as a tribute for my dad.  It included a folded road map, a watch and some other fond memories of him.  I hand made and hand rolled an entire cigar box full of 1″ scale cigars made out of real cigar leaves.  He was an inventor in addition to being a computer sales manager when computers were the size of rooms.  Needless to say, I come by my precision, creativity, attention to detail and administrative skills honestly.  Both my parents passed down some good genes.

My reason for taking a trip down memory lane (sorry – I do tend to use too many puns) is that I came to realize something I think the Lord wants us to see today.  My natural tendencies are to have most of my life neatly packaged up and prepared.  It makes me very good at some of the jobs I do.  But it also hinders me in ways I was discussing with my youngest sister today.

I realized when I decided to jump in with both feet to serve the Lord – “No matter what” that He was going to have to deal with the negative aspects of the desire to have all my ducks in a row.  He began teaching me how important it is to walk by faith.  I know, it’s nothing new or extraordinary.  But you’ve probably had to learn this lesson somewhere along your road of life too.  It’s just not as easy as taking out a road map to figure out how to get there.

To bring this to a more contemporary setting, I was explaining to my sister how I felt this path of faith is like God having the road map and me being on a cell phone with Him (Bluetooth on, of course) and I have to drive, not knowing at all where I’m going.  I have to wait for Him to tell me the next turn, or the next hazard in the road ahead.

There are no fancy GPS devices on this highway.  There aren’t too many clear road signs or lots of guideposts along the way.  I don’t get to hold the road map anymore.  I just have to keep driving, exercising my faith that God knows exactly where I’m going, how far away it is, and how long it’s going to take me to get there.  My heavenly Father is asking me to trust Him even though I can’t see what’s ahead.  I can’t plan this trip out before hand and have everything neatly organized.

I’m sure I don’t need to go into great depth to explain this truth.  You’re probably having to live it just like I am.  I know we can trust our Lord Jesus to get us where we’re supposed to go.  I pray today that you will take stock of where you’re going, recognize you can’t plan everything, and simply give up having to have it all mapped out.  I pray you will come to the place where you can trust God and enjoy the trip.

I pray that you will let go of the need to be the navigator and instead, just hold onto the steering wheel while you’re on this joy ride.  I’m finally learning how to follow His directions and I hope you’ll see it’s not impossible for you to do it too.  I believe He wants you to exercise your faith today and just hand Him your road map.

Trailing Ellipsis marks

 Proverbs 4:10-12, 18, 25-27  “Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.  I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble.”

“But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.”

“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.  Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established.  Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.”

Psalm 23:3  “He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow This Blog button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS. – Thanks to those of you who participated in our survey.  The results were nearly half and half with posting every day or posting once a week.  So, to meet about half way, I’m going to be posting entries 3-5 days a week.  Please leave a comment below to let me know if these devotionals are helping you and please share this post with your friends.  Bless you, dear readers.

Notice The Windsocks . . .

Several years ago when I worked in the office of a local winery, everyone was required to attend safety training due to some potential chemical hazards.  A few windsocks were hung around the facility and we were take specific note of them.  In case of some type of chemical emergency, we were instructed to notice the windsocks.  The direction of the wind indicated by the brightly colored socks was meant to tell us which direction to head away from.  Thankfully, we never had occasion to use the safety measures.

Today, a ministry friend put something on Facebook that reminded me of the importance of those wind indicators.  He posted a video which revealed how suddenly and unexpectedly a terrorist attack had happened in Tel Aviv today.

That sparked the thought that in the times ahead of us, as terrorism spreads, we will need to be very aware of our circumstances and surroundings.  I’m certainly not advocating any sort of fear or changing our lifestyles any more than has already taken place.  That would mean the terrorists win.

Having followed my friend’s ministry for years, I recall vividly how he would encourage Christians to be “windward.”  I grasped the concept and took that seriously.  I began developing a habit (which sadly fluctuates and wanes) of asking the Holy Spirit about when and where to go.  I’ll even ask Him sometimes what color clothing to wear.

That may seem a little obsessive to some, but I know the Lord might use me in ways I could never anticipate, so being windward means I want to be hyper sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Leading a life where we walk by faith and not by sight means our dependence on the Spirit for guidance and direction must be keen and consistent.  This is a great challenge to us.

Like that windsock, we have to stay anchored to the center – Jesus.  We have to remain flexible and able to respond quickly to the slightest shift in His holy wind.  We need to stay open so He can fill us and move us in the direction that will keep us safely sheltered in any emergency.

These simple principles illustrated by an equally simple device are not as easy to put into practice.  The truth is, we get so involved in our daily activities that “breathing” in the Spirit isn’t our natural response.

The only way I’ve discovered to be conscious of the Lord’s daily promptings is to spend the time necessary with Him to make me used to the sound of His voice.  Cultivating this habit is not easy.  It requires a change of mindset.

The Lord gave us clear instruction in 2 Corinthians 10:5

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”

This word shows us that part of our spiritual warfare involves not only destroying wrong mindsets, but actively taking our thoughts captive.  So, not only spiritually, but even physically, our safety could be linked to this process.

As it applies to being a “windward” Christian, it means we see the need to set our minds on Christ even as we go through our routines.  If we practice taking thoughts captive, we will be very frequently aware of Christ.

John 5:19 shows us how Jesus obeyed the Father at all times.

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”

His obedience is our example.  He made Himself very aware of whatever His Father was doing and only acted accordingly.  I believe this is what it means to subject our thoughts to the obedience of Christ.  It actually means following His obedience.

To stay constantly in communion with our Lord is a tall order.  I fail miserably at it all the time.  But if Jesus did it, then He can empower me to do it too – by His Spirit wind.  I just have to make sure I’m willing to be directed at every point.  I need to set my mind on Him so His breath can move me which ever way He desires at any moment.

I pray today that you will position yourself with your face to the Holy Spirit wind and allow Him to fill you and direct you.  Maybe then, others around you will be able to notice the windsocks and follow the direction of your life as you follow Christ.
Trailing Ellipsis marks

John 3:8. ” The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Always in Jesus,

Desireé Figg

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I hope you like my blog of Daily Devotions.  I would be honored if you would subscribe to receive the posts as they are created.  Please sign up with your email address and click the Follow button below or on the sidebar to receive emails when a new post is made.  Thanks again for visiting Trailing Ellipsis.  I’ll see you on the trail.

PS.  Some of you reading this blog may wish to continue now that the 30 Day Content Challenge is over.  I’m committed to writing the devotional and would love to have you join me.  Here is a quick survey for you to let me know just how you’d like it to come as I go forward.