Welcome to my "Open Window"...a place of hope, encouragement, and adventure as we journey down the road from "Closed Doors" to the new opportunities God places in our pathway. I hope you will take the time to go back and follow the trail of mixed blessings and fears, failures and triumphs from the past and side-trips in the present. Perhaps it will conjure up some of your own special memories, and be an invitation for you to share with others. I look forward to spending this time with you!
What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!
I seem to be having difficulty sitting myself down to write these days. The last couple of days I have been on the verge of allowing myself to dip into a kind of depression...mostly because of the news on the TV this week...so many horrific things happening in our world...so difficult to comprehend how or why people do the things they do. Depression, mental illness, anger, vengeance, jealousy, unforgiveness...all these attitudes and illnesses, left unchecked, can lead to such horror and terror.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 says:
"The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
even to give every man
according to his ways,
according the fruit of his doings."
(Photos taken in April, 2012, on the banks of the Ocklawaha River)
I want to be like this man (woman) in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord...and whose hope is the Lord."
I want to be "like that tree planted by the waters,
which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit."
Jeremiah goes on to say in verse 12-13:
"A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.
O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You shall be ashamed."
God Says in response to Jeremiah in verse 13:
"Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth,
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the fountain of living waters."
"Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
for YOU ARE my praise."
I love these little exercises in working through feelings of grief, depression, and/or fear. When we begin to succumb to such feelings, it is always expedient to get into God's Word and find the pathway to praise and thanksgiving. I know I can't stay down for long when I look UP to heaven. How about you? Need some encouraging words tonight? There is no better place to look than right here in God's Word.
"May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;
May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;
May He send you help from the sanctuary,
and strengthen you out of Zion;
May He remember all your offerings,
and accept your burnt sacrifice.
May He grant you according to your heart's desire,
and fulfill all your purpose.
We will rejoice in your salvation,
and in the Name of our God
we will set up our banners!
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.
Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
with the saving strength of His right hand.
Some trust in chariots,
and some in horses;
But we will remember the name of the Lord our God."
Interesting...Just as I was starting to write this post, I was attempting to come up with a good title, while in the background I could hear my 91 year old mother in law talking with my husband about our church service today. He asked her what she got out of the service, and she said, "We need to keep looking up!" I almost choked, because she had NO idea what I was in the process of writing at that exact moment!
Please note the picture at the top of this page. Most likely you will notice the Osprey perched on the top of the dead tree branches immediately, and then if you look down you will see the dogwood flowers a little blurry in the forefront. Let me tell you about this picture, and then see if you get the connection!
With the onset of daylight savings time last weekend and warmer spring days, I have determined to get out and walk more often, taking pictures of anything that "moves" me at the moment. Yesterday morning I headed out early, camera in hand, looking for signs of spring. The dogwood, azaleas, wildflowers, and berries are starting to bloom, the birds are actively building their nests and busily feeding their young. As I was focusing on the dogwood trees in and around the edge of the woods, I glanced up at the perfect blue sky, and there, looking down at me, was this magnificent huge osprey!
Of course, I immediately shifted my focus (there's that "One Word" again!) to view the osprey for as long as he would allow... which was, as you can see by the pictures, obviously quite a while...and would have been longer but it was time for me to get going.
And as I stood there snapping these photos I couldn't help but think, "I almost missed this marvelous experience because I wasn't looking up!"
I wonder...how often in life have we missed out on some marvelous experience because we weren't "looking up"? It appears to be in our human nature to focus on the here and now, the stuff of life that is surrounding us, oftentimes pulling us downward and blinding us to the bigger picture...the grandeur of the greater plan...the great panorama of the magnificent tapestry of God's design He intended for our lives.
We tend to get "tunnel vision"...only seeing a very narrow view of life from our limited earth-bound perspective...and missing the higher viewpoint of God's perfect plan.
God said to Jeremiah the prophet in Jeremiah 29:11 ~
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
We need to be more like the Psalmist who wrote:
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. " Psalm 121:1-3
What's funny is, when my husband asked his mother what she got out of the church service this morning, and her quick response was "Keep Looking Up"...that actually had nothing to do with the service today at all...at least not in word or song or theme...and yet, that is what she heard and felt. My thought is, yes, that IS the message of God's Word to us always, everyday!
KEEP LOOKING UP!
Keep looking up to Jesus...Fix your eyes on Him! Why? Well, because...
"The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in
Here we are again...Random Journal Day - (click HERE for more info)...a day when we brave souls grab an old journal off the shelf (or out of the drawer), dust it off, and randomly select an entry that is worthy of sharing with the rest of the world. We've been doing this for about three years now, and I am always amazed at how God reminds us of His love and care over and over again. The words written in our past often come back to help us in our future/present time. That's just how God works.
So I dug out this beautiful old journal again...and God directed me to the following entry, written about fourteen years ago as I was preparing for some major surgery as well as going through some difficult times personally. Thankfully, I had been reading from God's Word every day and writing down verses as He opened them to my heart and spirit. Here's what I wrote on that March morning so long ago:
"It looks like rain today. I hope it will rain all day and all night~then my flowers and trees will grow and be happy! Today's devotional comes from Exodus 32...verse 9 says:
"I see how stiff-necked this people is..."
I pray today, Lord, that I would not be stiff-necked like the Israelites were in the day of Moses. Forgive me, Lord, if I am being stubborn and inflexible in any area of my life. I pray You will help me to be pliable and usable for Your kingdom. I want to be Your humble servant-ready to do Your will. Lord, I do not understand this trial that I am currently undergoing. The battle seems to be closing in on me from all sides. Yesterday, my friend ____ called and encouraged me from Your Word, O Lord. II Chronicles 20:12-22 is a wonderful testimony of how I ought to face these battles I am enduring.
"O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against
this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know
what to do, but our eyes are upon You."
and he said, "Listen, all you of Judah and your inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you:
'Do NOT be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude,
for the battle is not yours, but God's!"
"You will not need to fight in this battle.
Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord,
Who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!
(and me too, Lord?) (my note)
DO NOT FEAR OR BE DISMAYED;
Tomorrow go out against them,
for the Lord is with you."
"And when he had consulted with the people,
he appointed those who should sing to the Lord,
and who should PRAISE the beauty of holiness,
as they went out before the army and were saying,
'Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.'"
"Now when they began to sing and to praise,
the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir,
who had come against Judah,
AND THEY WERE DEFEATED!"
And then I wrote:
"PRAISE GOD! THAT IS THE ANSWER...PRAISE GOD!"
THE BATTLE BELONGS TO GOD! I DO NOT NEED TO FIGHT IN THIS BATTLE. I JUST NEED TO STAND STILL AND SEE THE SALVATION OF THE LORD---WHO IS WITH ME!
I JUST NEED TO PRAISE THE LORD, FOR HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER! I DO NOT NEED TO FEAR OR BE DISMAYED...FOR THE LORD IS WITH ME!! PRAISE YOU, JESUS!
On the very next page in this journal was written the lyrics to the worship song, "Shout to The Lord", which became my theme song of praise and victory:
"My Jesus, My Savior,
Lord, there is none like You.
All of my days,
I want to praise
the wonder of Your mighty love.
My Comfort, My Shelter,
Tower of Refuge and Strength,
Let every breath, all that I am,
never cease to worship You.
Shout to the Lord,
all the earth, let us sing,
Power and majesty, praise to the King..
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
at the sound of Your Name.
I sing for joy at the work of Your Hand,
Forever I'll love You,
Forever I'll stand;
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You!"
Back to the present: Wow! These words echo throughout my mind..."DO NOT BE AFRAID NOR DISMAYED BECAUSE OF THIS GREAT MULTITUDE, FOR THE BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD'S!"
This can be applied to so many aspects of our lives right now on a personal as well as national and world level. Something to remember on those days when we feel overwhelmed and alone.
"Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, Who IS WITH YOU!" "DO NOT FEAR OR BE DISMAYED...THE LORD IS WITH YOU!"
Recently we were blessed to have our fifteen year old grandson here for a visit..Click HERE for THIS story... and it was indeed a breath of fresh air for us...a time of healing for our family that we all welcomed with open arms. It was as if God sent him to us as a gift...special delivery...straight from the heart of our son in heaven...to comfort us and fill the empty places in our hearts.
This morning I was reading in our devotions the story of Abraham and Isaac, in Genesis 22:1-24. I'm sure you are familiar with this passage...you know the one...where God asks Abraham to "take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah and offer him there as a burnt offering..." (verse 2). I always found this story to be rather difficult to comprehend...how God could ask a man to sacrifice his ONLY son...and Abraham obeyed God without question. Thankfully, once God saw that Abraham was obedient to the very point of lifting the knife to slay his son (verse 10), He stopped the whole proceedings and told Abraham not to lay his hand on the lad (verse 11)...and then God provided a substitute sacrifice...a ram caught in the thicket. (verse 13). Read on to verse 14, where Abraham "called the name of the place "Jehovah Jireh"..meaning 'The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, 'In the mount of the Lord it shall be provided."
God goes on to tell Abraham in the subsequent verses that "because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son...blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies." Then the next few verses list the names of the descendants of Abraham's family...and we know the rest of history.
This touched my heart today because in a very small way I can relate to Abraham in this story. No, I was not ordered to sacrifice my own son in the way that Abraham was commanded. However, we did experience some severe testings of our faith where this child was concerned. Click HERE for more about that. And yes, there were many times that I wondered in my heart exactly what God was doing...but He never failed us. He always proved Himself to be "Jehovah Jireh", The Lord Will Provide.
And now? Our life is going on. We have truly suffered a tremendous loss with the death of our son...but God has not left us without hope or comfort. Through the gift of our grandson, I can almost hear God saying to us as He said to Abraham..."blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven..." No, I don't expect our grandson to be the father of a great nation...but he is a gift to us from the Lord...and we are most thankful.
Why am I sharing this with you today? Perhaps you have also suffered a great loss...and possibly you are feeling bereft of hope and comfort. Your situation may be different than mine...but I do know one thing..."Jehovah Jireh"...The Lord will provide. He knows your need. The void in your heart may be even deeper and harder to fathom...but don't give up. God WILL provide.
Psalm 116 is an expression of gratitude from one who was redeemed...
Verse 1: "I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live."