Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Quill Pen and Purple Ink

"You yourselves are our letter,
written on our hearts,
known and read by everybody. 
You show that you are a letter from Christ,
the result of our ministry,
written not with ink
but with the Spirit of the living God,
not on tablets of stone
but on tablets of human hearts."
2 Corinthians 3:2-3

One of my most dearest friends in the entire world gave me a most beautiful gift for my birthday this month.  A gift that reflects her love for me, her heart for me and her consistent encouragement to me to continue to write to glorify God.  Her gift was life-giving refreshment for my soul. 

My sweet girlfriend gave me a calligraphy quill pen and purple ink.  The pen is to encourage me to continue purple ink because purple is my signature color. 

What beautiful gifts from a friend.  Gifts that reflect love, faith, hope, hard work and endurance.  Gifts of encouragement.

So, whether I write a love note to my husband, encouraging backpack notes to my children, mirror messages in dry-erase marker for my family, chalk messages on the driveway to welcome guests, a scripture card to encourage a friend, a blog post flowing from what He is doing in my heart or a devotional that touches lives beyond my mailbox, I will continue to write as He leads.  As unto Him.  With purple ink and with the love, prayers and enthusiastic cheers from a friend.  "Go ahead...I am with you heart and soul."  (1 Samuel 14:7)

Right this moment, I am going to write in purple ink a note to a friend encouraging her to use her God-given gifts for Him!! 

 "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit...the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where His Mercy Is

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of His inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but You delight to show mercy.
Micah 7:18

As soon as I saw the red and blue flashing lights, I knew what I had done...or rather what I had not done.  I had not come to a complete stop at the end of my street before making a right turn onto the busy road that greets our quiet neighborhood.  Intent on listening carefully to a voicemail from a girlfriend who was in the midst of a heartache, I had just slowed down and eased through the intersection after seeing that no traffic was coming.  I did not obey the stop sign and come to a complete stop.

Pulling over onto the shoulder of the road, I reached for my driver's license and vehicle registration.  The police officer slowly and suspiciously approached my I was a hardened criminal.  He noted my license plate registration tags and looked at my current inspection sticker before saying a word to this escaped convict...I mean this reputable driver.

Turning up the volume on my Christian radio station before the officer came to my window, I prayed God would miraculously change Pastor Raul Reis' sermon subject to MERCY from whatever he was teaching on that day over the airwaves.  Maybe the police officer would hear Raul's message and show me some mercy.  Didn't happen.  Raul kept teaching on another topic.  Where was the mercy message?

Police Officer:  "Do you know why I pulled you over, ma'am?"

Ma'am (smiling pleasantly):  "I am not taking any guesses, officer."

Police Officer:  "You didn't come to a complete stop at the end of the street.  You kind of glided through it."

Ma'am:  "I am sorry, officer."

Police Officer:  "Have you ever received a ticket before?"

Ma'am:  "Not that I can remember."

Police Officer:  "Well, you will be receiving one today."

Ma'am:  "OK.  Thank you, officer."

Thank you?  Desiring to be respectable and appropriately humble, I thanked the officer for giving me a ticket.  I really wanted to cry and beg for mercy.  Mercy! 

Police Officer: "Where are you headed, ma'am?"

Ma'am: "To my children's school to serve Asian food for 75 6th graders for their Asian Day lunch."

Police Officer: "Well you may just be a little late, ma'am."

Tears bubbled over.  My kids...I never want my disobedience to touch their lives. 

Lord, where is Your mercy?  Can you please have this officer show me some mercy today so I don't have to pay this fine.  It's a terrible waste of money.  I'd like to get going, Lord,  Can you please move on this officer's heart to show me mercy. He's writing me up a ticket, Lord. Where is the mercy?

God's answer blew me away.  Literally left breathless and humbled by His whispers, I hung my head in repentance as tears trickled down my face.

Sharon, My mercy was there the several times you have slowly rolled through that stop sign without coming to a complete stop before this.  My mercy was there with you each and every time.  And My mercy is with you right now with this officer ticketing you.  My mercy is unearthing your disobedience so you can repent.  My mercy is saving you.  That's where My mercy is.

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."
Proverbs 28:13

Mercy in unearthing my disobedience so I can confess and repent.  Gulp.  That was my mercy message. Thank you, Jesus!

He lovingly allowed me to feel the godly sorrow that leads to confession and repentance.

"Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter [or a traffic ticket!], I do not regret I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way...Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done."
2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Oh the mercy in godly sorrow, in confession, in repentance.

"Though we don't hear a lot about this gracious provision in most of our churches, confession -- humbly, honestly acknowledging our sins to God and to others -- is an essential ingredient for anyone who wants to live a holy life.  We cannot sin and just move on as if nothing has happened, without our spiritual growth being stymied.  Scripture makes this clear." ~ Nancy Leigh Demoss ("Holiness" Bible study)

Mercy in the unearthing, the confessing, the repenting.

Mercy and red and blue flashing lights.

Mercy through a police officer. 

Mercy in a traffic ticket. 

Mercy in still getting to school in time to serve lunch.

Mercy in a consequence of disobedience. 

Mercy to share in His holiness.

Mercy to produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.

That's where His mercy is.

"...God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Hebrews 12:10-11

God delights to show us mercy.  His mercy may be displayed in ways and places we would not want or expect.  But when His mercy unearths our sin, His grace brings us to confession and repentance, and His love allows us to share in His holiness and produce a beautiful harvest.

That's where His mercy is.  That's where I want to be.

"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy
and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

Friday, March 2, 2012

Girlfriends Who Point Me To Jesus

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,
because you...have refreshed the hearts of the saints."
Philemon 1:7 (NIV)

Sweet refreshment.  Cool water poured into an ever-thirsty soul.  Filled with His Word and His love.  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."  Matthew 5:6

Like a cup of cold water are girlfriends who point me to Jesus. 

I love girlfriends who point me to Jesus.

Girlfriends who share a passage of scripture with me...or even just one very satisfying verse.  

Girlfriends who pray quietly and fervently.

Girlfriends who love me purely and without judgment, but who are willing to challenge me in His truth.

Girlfriends who graciously give me room to grow, knowing that I desire to honor Him.

Girlfriends who are in touch because God put me on their heart.

God has been dousing me with refreshment through girlfriends in a special way.  My heart is overflowing with thanks.

How can you refresh a girlfriend today and point them to Jesus?  A note...a phone call...a email...a text.  Lord, let me be a source of Your refreshment today.

May I, by His grace, be a woman who points others to Jesus.

"...a sweet friendship refreshes the soul."
Proverbs 27:9 (MSG)