Monday, October 29, 2012

Tree of Grace

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 
Monday, October 29th the day the hurricane blew by. It was windy; we could hear it inside the house. The usual noises of a weekend at home could be heard. TV in the background, video games sounds coming from my son’s room and music from the other end of the house. But this was not a weekend, it was Monday afternoon. School classes were cancelled and offices were closed; everyone waiting for the effects of Hurricane Sandy. 

The winds are getting stronger and the newscast is urging everyone to stay inside. 5PM…electricity cut off. Something outside fell, a possible tree and disruption to the power has occurred. We’ve been through this before; we’ll ride out the storm and in a couple of hours lights will come back on right? 12 Midnight….lights still out. Candles are lit and flashlights are ready. Just a few hours earlier, I had taken a peek out the window and saw that our 50 ft. plus high pine tree seemed to be moving. I mentioned it to my husband and then the “treewatch” gazing began.

Well it’s getting pretty scary now. My husband said “get ready to leave the house, this tree is going to fall”. I remembered that the Lord had impressed on me to “pack a bag”, but where are we going to go? Will we risk more danger and challenge “Sandy the Hurricane”? Well, I got dressed but I mentioned to my husband “we can’t leave the house; this is the safest place right now”. We continued to pray; for me the prayer is intensifying. I’m pacing and praying; back and forth throughout the candle lit house. Even my kitty cats, Mercy & Grace can tell this is not your normal, everyday event.

1AM….the tree is leaning…45 degree angle…then its 60 degrees....I’m calling out to the Lord….”Lord don’t let the tree hit our home…don’t let the tree hit our cars….don’t let the tree hit the power lines…don’t let the tree hit the neighbors home….don’t…don’t…don’t…..Lord lay the tree down…command it to lay down….Lord….Lord….Lord…..75 degrees...its leaning….its falling…the wind is howling…the wind is blowing……then like a “h u s h”…..almost as if the tree was commanded to lay down in between two other trees, commanded not to touch our fence, never even dared to fall in the direction of our home……cars seemed miles away and this tree quietly…did not even make a sound worthy of its weight….the tree laid down and died. I’ve shared this moment by moment story to testify of God’s grace; his favor toward us, his love for me. He is always worthy of my praise!
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
I did not know that death could leave a good fragrance…..
Tuesday morning and the dead pine tree is laying outside on my front door. How could something so dead release such a good fragrance? Life’s events always cause me to think of the Word of God. The Bible says that we are a fragrance of life to those that are being saved (2 Corinthians 2:15). But before the fragrance, was there a stench; an odor of “death” that I was enveloped in? When I thought I was alive, you know, living my own life apart from God, I smelled…but I did not know it. It was a repulsive odor. I could not even stand before God….I was dead!
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness  to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—Ephesians 2:1-8

Dead in my sins and I did not even know it. But then Christ arrived; it’s not as if I was totally oblivious to the “wind of the Spirit”. For a while, I could hear his gentle whispers (even if I did not totally understand it). He was ordering my steps (Proverbs 16:9). I visited a church in my neighborhood; no great connection…nice church…45 degree tilt. I traveled to Florida on vacation and contacted my cousins whom I had not seen in years….60 degrees and falling. I was invited to dinner and the subject of church arose (my cousins were believers--I was not) 70 degree angle and I’m feeling a tilt but I figured, “ I can handle this”. Walked through the doors of the church….small quaint little congregation…..remember I am on vacation….it’s all good! Then the Pastor calls my husband and I to the front along with my 5 year old son……and then….. a ”H U S H”. Angels waiting for a transformation to occur….will they take the invite…will they lay their lives down…will they remain on the fence (as if that’s even a real option)….will they “die” to self..…will they……will they……..will they. And then….. Drop ….it’s over….death swallowed up….….the stench gone….it’s the sound of victory in heaven, angels rejoicing over one sheep found, over one sinner saved (Luke 15:7). The one who thought was alive (me) was really dead….and now she is about to really live…it’s like a re-birth…born again if you will!

Then I smelled it….it’s a fragrance that I had never smelled before, an aroma and it’s coming from me….from you…from those whose lives are transformed. How did it get there? Someone poured it over me even as his own blood poured out from him.
The pine tree currently sits in my front yard all cut up into pieces. It’s dead, yet a beautiful perfume emits from every piece laying on the grass. I don’t believe in all the years I have lived in my home, that I ever really noticed the sweet aroma, it never really had invaded my sense of smell.
Our lives, they too emit a sweet perfume now. What I find incredible it that every time another “piece of me” dies…the fragrance intensifies! Glory to God! I died and continue to die daily...…yet I Iive!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
I’ve traded the stench for a sweet perfume. I smell pine….I smell victory!
God bless you!~Liz

The Spokesman Has Spoken

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven,  with a loud command,  with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet  call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another  with these words.

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you  a special  bulletin..........

If you  live  in the  Northeast you  are probably doing  the  same  thing I am doing....PREPARING. A storm is coming and the  effects of the  wind  & water can change  the  landscape we live  in, even  to the  point of financial destruction and more  devastating than  that, lives  can be snatched away  from us, lost  and taken before our  eyes.

I heard  the  spokesman, he said be ready. The worst of it will  probably hit in the  evening or night time. Be ready! It's the  warning before the  storm. It's the  alarm that can echo, get  up and leave; run  to safety; go to the  place  of refuge; the  place  where  its safe.

So this  morning I am home  along  with my  family. Last night the  Lord ministered to me to be ready. I am currently packing an "emergency" bag.  I have  never really done  this  before to the extent that I am packing today. Even as I am packing the  Lord  is speaking. The Bible says a day is coming, the  Day of the  Lord.  It's a time that will  probably make  "Sandy", this hurricane look  like  a little sneeze.

The spokesmen have  spoken. We hear  about immanent events coming in the days  of "old", warned and foretold by Isaiah, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos,  Obadiah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi and even  reference throughout the  New Testament. I would like  to say I fully understand it all, but I don't; no more  than I fully understand how  this  massive "cloud" can bring such predicted destruction.

All I know  is the  spokesman said, Be ready!

Is it possible to get  caught off guard?  With  so many warnings, is it possible that some  will encounter danger; danger to the point that lives  will  be "lost"?
God speaks, the  Prophets speak, John the  Baptist speaks, Christ speaks, Peter, Paul and
even  creation itself. There  is One that is bigger than us; He has spoken creation into existence and after disobedience changed the  "setting", if we listen carefully, the  warning, the  alarm is sounding; Be Ready!
Will we get  caught off guard? Paul says,  But you,  brothers and sisters, are not  in darkness  so that this  day should  surprise you  like  a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day.  We do not belong to the  night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like  others, who  are asleep,  but let  us be awake and sober.  Thessalonians 5:4-6.

It's our Merciful God giving the  warning to be ready. It's a warning clothed in love; his Name is Jesus. Can you  hear  him  as he prays  to the  Father; “Father, if you  are willing, take this  cup  from me; yet  not  my  will, but yours be done. (Luke  22:42) You see, he not  only  sounds  the  alarm but  has himself paid  in advance for any "damage" our  lives  would have  and will  experience.

It's a safety net  for  those  who  hear  and obey.  It's a warning and a promise to the  disciples; a
promise to us: “I have  told  you  these  things, so that in me you  may  have peace. In this  world you  will  have  trouble. But  take  heart! I have overcome the  world.” (John  16:33) He died,  He rose,  He left?  They were looking intently up into  the  sky as he was going, when  suddenly two  men dressed  in white stood  beside  them. “Men  of Galilee, they  said, “why do you  stand  here  looking into  the  sky? This same  Jesus, who  has been  taken from you  into  heaven, will come back  in the  same  way  you  have  seen him  go into  heaven.” (Acts  1:10-11)

Yes, He is coming back...what a promise. Be Ready,  what a warning...what an expression of love.

So, I'm packing. Medicine, got  it.....for this  body  is breaking down  and it needs  help. A sweater or jacket, something to cloth  us against the  elements of the  storm, check.  A little nourishment; something to eat so that the  body  is strengthened. Water....oh how  I need  this to live.  Lastly, our  passports.

The Bible  says when  Christ returns he is taking me back  to where  I belong. I am an ambassador here  on earth (2 Corinthians 5:20), therefore no passport needed, check! I'm here  representing a different place,  a place  where  the  Sovereign Lord  reigns. I am an authorized messenger. I'm visiting and ready  to return when  he calls.

Medicine for  pain, no need.  ‘He will  wipe  every tear  from their eyes. There  will
be no more  death’ or mourning or crying or pain,  for the  old order  of things has passed  away.” (Rev.  21:4)

Clothing, He has me covered! I delight greatly in the LORD; my  soul rejoices in my  God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe  of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like  a priest, and as a bride  adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

Food & water; he has been feeding me from the moment I took my  first birth on this earth. In his mercy he called  me,  forgave me and changed me forever. He has nourished me in the Word  and has sent his Spirit to refresh and teach me all things; and at the end he invites me to dine  with him  at a table. Before  his departure he spoke  of his body  and the  blood  that would be shed for  me; for  my  sin.  The blood that would "cover" me in the midst of the storm.

“Truly I tell  you,  I will  not drink again  from the  fruit of the  vine  until that day when  I drink it new in the  kingdom of God.”  (Mark 14:25) He is waiting for me.  The table  is ready.

He has warned us. Though I may  have  riches, they are of no use.  I see, yet  I was blind. It's a
loving shout to wake  up!

You say,  ‘I am rich; I have  acquired wealth and do not  need  a thing. But  you  do not realize that you  are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind  and naked. I counsel you  to buy  from me gold  refined in the  fire, so you  can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you  can cover  your shameful nakedness; and salve  to put  on your  eyes,  so you  can see. Those whom I love  I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am!  I stand at the  door and knock. If anyone hears  my  voice  and opens  the  door, will  come  in and eat with that person, and they  with me.  (Revelation 3:17-20)

The Spokesperson has spoken: “Look, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will  give  to each person according to what they  have  done. I am the  Alpha  and the Omega,  the  First  and the  Last, the  Beginning and the  End. “Blessed are those  who  wash  their robes, that they  may  have  the  right to the  tree  of
life and may  go through the  gates into  the  city. (Revelation 22:12-14)

"Sandy" is coming! The Great Day of the  Lord  is coming! Both  lead to destruction if we don't heed  the  warning of the  Spokesman.

God bless you!~Liz


 Acts 9:32-34 As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the Lord’s people who lived in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas,...