Open Your Mouth

During a Sunday morning prayer service, the leader shared imagery of a river overflowing with life. We are rivers of life, she said. The implication is that we have great opportunity — perhaps responsibility — to offer abundant life from the depths of Christ’s love within us. That love enables us to influence situations and circumstances. To bring light into darkness. Life from death.

As we began to pray and worship, my ears started to tickle and I found myself metaphorically thumbing through scripture on my iPhone.  I was searching for Isaiah 43:19, where God says

“”Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

My focus and ensuing meditation was of God making rivers in the desert, in the dry places. Dry places may refer to the heart, the mind, or the natural and created world. Yet, I kept hearing the words, “open your mouth.” What does that mean? I wondered. My conversation with Father God continued in this fashion: “Open your mouth,” He’d say. I hear you, Father God, but I have know idea how this relates to rivers in the desert! Oh, how God must chuckle with me!

Open your mouth!With a little time, a little patience, a little more worship, and a lot of listening, His Word became clear.

I forget sometimes how God has blessed me to see and experience His presence around the world. Not just in my home, my church, or in my neighborhood, but around the world. In my young 11 years as a disciple of Jesus, I have compiled a chest full of stories and experiences of God’s transforming power. My chest is overflowing and God continues to fill it. I forget sometimes the gift I have in these stories. I didn’t play any significant part in transformation, but I am and have been strategically placed to collect stories. Though I marvel and share my collection with close friends, I forget to open my mouth to wider circles and share the majesty and wonder of God’s transforming work in the world. To share the new things, the new creations; the roadways He makes and the rivers He flows through dry places.

I have met Josephs and Daniels who were persecuted for their faith. Sometimes beaten and imprisoned. By grace, they found themselves in the audience of the king and other high ranking government officials planting seed for Christ.

I have met men and women who broke their bindings to other gods and “religions” after dreaming of Jesus or after a supernatural experience of His love.

I have visited some of the darkest places on earth and found the Light of Jesus present and available. In these places, God is transforming lives. He is breaking the influence of anger, murder, rape, violence (despite what we see in the news). He is raising up outcasts named ‘criminal’ and ‘convict’ as light bearers to influence the darkness. Yes, God still uses the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, the base and despised things so that no one may boast (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).

Open your mouth…and share with the world the new things I am doing. Share the new life I am creating. See and tell of the roadways in the wilderness and the rivers in the desert. I am building a garden of life and light; rivers are flowing. Do you see? Will you share?

What the world needs to know — is desperate to know— is that new things and new life outnumber old things. I believe the word God spoke to me is not for me alone. It is for all who know and taste the goodness of God. We have a voice greater than any government, news outlet, or angry mob. And we have the technology to share it around the world. What if we opened our mouths and saturated social media with praise for our great God instead of hatred for humankind?  What if we shared stories of transformation in Christ instead of our woes? Could we influence the media, the nation, the world? Could we influence our neighbors?

God has “given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to [His] chosen people” ( Isaiah 43:20). Why? So we will declare His praise! (Isaiah 43:21)

Open your mouth. Share of the good news and the new things God is doing.

Garden

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever. (Psalms 52:8 NASB)

Ancient_Olive_Tree_in_Pelion,_Greece

Photo by Dennis Koutou

Olive trees are impressively resilient. Their root systems are vast and robust having the ability to restore or regenerate the above-ground tree if ever destroyed or handicapped. Amazing! They are also long lived. Though I have not yet spent much time near olive trees, the pictures I have seen give me the impression of sturdiness, vitality, and even wisdom.

As I held this verse, this image of a green olive tree in the house of God, during my morning meditation, I heard the voice of God whisper “grow deeper.” Words cannot adequately describe God’s gentle voice. I dare not try knowing how short they will fall. There are those who exclaim, “impossible!” and others who cry, “delusion!” But to those who know the intimate touch of our Father, you know the peace and joy that comes from hearing His voice. From knowing that the Living God speaks directly and personally into our lives. From the infinite space of Heaven, to the finite vessels that we are. What awe comes with the knowledge that He is the treasure living within us and speaking through us to reveal the Kingdom of God to the world!

Grow deeper. With this life-giving word, I see myself as the olive tree in His house. My roots drive deep and wide through the dark and fertile soil that represents His presence or perhaps His Kingdom. He is my source of life providing all of my nutrients, everything I need. Hiding my roots safely within Himself, I grow upward as a monument of His grace for all to see.

Prayer: Rain down, Living Water. Nourish me. Replenish me. Because of You, I will stand when the storms and the wind of destruction come. If, perchance, I fall, my roots will remain. New growth will come.

As I worship and offer thanks to God who is within me and always surrounding me, I cling to this truth: I am not simply an olive tree in God’s garden; I am His garden. Daily He walks within me, pruning when necessary, pulling weeds, watering me with His Love, and celebrating and tasting my fruit. There is joy and pride in His eyes. I am drawn God-ward to His tender touch. There is no limit to the depth, width, or height of His love. Likewise, He places no limit on me. Only beckons me to grow ever deeper, ever wider, ever higher.

An Image of Worship

Standing.
Arms outstretched.
Awaiting Your Presence.
This is my expression of worship.

Head bowed.
Eyes closed.
I’m on my knees.
This is my posture of worship.

You caress all of my senses.
How can I stand?
I dare not move.
Consumed by the flame of Your glory.

Tears streaming.
Heart engaged.
Communion.
This is my offering of worship: all of me.

A Personal Note of Devotion and Awe

God first imparted His breath. It should have been enough, but humanity fell. Not wanting to be apart from His Creation, He gave His only Son. Then, he gave His Spirit. He has given all of Himself to us that He made.

He gave His breath before we knew sin. He gave His Son while we were in sin. He gives His Spirit even as we continue to sin. This is grace. This is the love of God. Unmatchable!

Perspectives, part 4

I truly hope to encourage you with the encouragement I received this morning in my devotional readings with Bro. Lawrence. How can one small chapter seem to  contain a lifetime of wisdom? How does one take it all in?! I wish I could breathe it in in one large breath, but I cannot; my lungs are far too small. Even if I spend the next week or more in the “Fourth Conversation” with Bro. Lawrence, it will not be enough to grasp in its entirety. Truly devotion is a lifetime study!

My spirit is in pursuit of the Divine Love. From the early days of my journey, Psalm 27:4 captured my heart’s endeavor:

One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD
And to meditate/inquire in His temple.

I pray to never lose sight of this great endeavor, that is simply to be in continuous communion with God, a magnificent obsession. Yet, how often during the day do I forget and find myself bogged down by things of the world! This morning I read of Bro. Lawrence’s great endeavor:

“his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of GOD, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine love: and that when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with GOD. . .”

Prayer and devotion are a lifestyle. I know this in my head, but to exercise it in my heart and life is another matter altogether. But, that is the goal—to never leave the presence of God. He is not some far off reward that we receive in the afterlife. Quite the contrary! Jesus preached the Kingdom of God Among Us. He taught the availability and the accessibility of God now. I say let every breath exhale praise and inhale His presence. Let everything we do, no matter how small, be done in worship. “[T]he end we ought to propose to ourselves is to become, in this life, the most perfect worshippers of GOD we can possibly be, as we hope to be through all eternity.”

 

Prayer:

Consume my heart, soul, and mind. Fill every part of me today and teach me to look ever upward. I want to know Your Presence more than ever before. You are my greatest desire.