Monday, August 31, 2015

THE JOY OF THE LORD

by Marcie Bridges, @Marcie_Bridges
 
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; 
for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, 
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10


Bridgescreations, 2015
Do you know this little children’s chorus? 

The joy of the Lord is my strength...
the joy of the Lord is my strength...
The joy of the Lord is my strength...
The joy of the Lord is my strength!

He gives me living water and I thirst no more...
He gives me living water and I thirst no more...
He gives me living water and I thirst no more...
The joy of the Lord is my strength! 

There’s several more verses to this song and I hope that if you know it, it's not only running through your head but stuck inside your heart now. I have been singing it for days!

So what does it mean for the joy of the Lord to be our strength?
 
THE JOY OF THE LORD
Bridgescreations, 2015

(is my strength)

I’ve never sunk so low
that You could not find me
You have been my help and song
from everlasting to everlasting.
In sorrow I mourned and wept
unable to lift my grieving head
darkness cloaked and choked
any spark of Your perfect light.
Your words touched not a drop
of blood, vein or restless soul
staring into nothingness’s abyss
understanding
a widow’s kiss.
There must be something within
some attainable, endurable gem
perhaps if I plead my cause
You will bring me out of this fog.
Here Lord, I ask in humble tears,
for wisdom beyond my years
shower me with even a taste
of simple, merciful grace.

My Child, He said unto me
come sit upon My knee
give attention to my Words
listen, for this will set you free.
“Today is a day set a part
to receive the fruit of My heart
it is time to cease all mourning
it is time to come out of hiding.
Now eat, drink and be merry
so shall you rise up and not faint
it is now time for dancing and praise
for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

~Marcell Warner Bridges
©2015, All Rights Reserved

It is time to cease mourning, it is time to come out of hiding, it is now time for dancing and praise


Bridgescreations, 2015
It means that no matter what our circumstances are, that they are never so dire that we cannot have some kind of hope and joy in the Lord. Matthew Henry says it this way, "...And even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it...Even sorrow for sin must not grow so excessive as to hinder our joy in God and our cheerfulness in his service.”¹

Did you catch that? Even if the reason we are sorrowing is because we have sinned grievously, we still must not let that sorrow hinder us from being joyful in the Lord and being obedient to Him.

Sometimes I get so caught up in my past, in the wrongs I’ve done or maybe that I haven’t been the person I know God has wanted me to be that I become discouraged and easily, uncontrollably depressed thinking God cannot use me. How can He? But God says here, when we have understood His Scriptures to us, when we understand His teachings, and we understand His heart for where He wants us to be and what He wants us to do, then we must shake off this discouragement, take off our robes of mourning and turn our hearts to the Lord so we can be joyful in Him and walk in His strength.

“The better we understand the word of God the more comfort we shall find in it; for the darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance and mistake. When the words were first declared to them they wept; but, when they understood them, they rejoiced, finding at length precious promises made to those who repented and reformed and that therefore there was hope in Israel.”¹

Are you feeling discouraged? Are you going through a period of "why me’s" and "what if’s"? Are you finding it hard to be joyful and to be obedient to God? Today, go to Jesus. Find comfort in His Word and words, then rejoice and be thankful. Because the joy of the Lord is your strength! 

From My Heart to Yours,
Marcie
 

For Further Meditation: 
Nehemiah 8:9-12; Psalm 30 (especially verses 11-12); Isaiah 51:11

¹Matthew Henry Commentary 

 Tweet: What does it mean the joy of the Lord is our strength? http://ctt.ec/VFTdg+ @Marcie_Bridges #joy #Jesus #trust What does it mean the joy of the Lord is our strength?

Monday, August 24, 2015

I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD

by Marcie Bridges, @Marcie_Bridges

The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. Genesis 9:16

Tee-Tee Barnes, 2015

One of the key themes in the book of Isaiah is God declaring to us that HE is GOD and there is no other. Over and over we read these words:

 “I am the LORD your God”
 
“I am the LORD your God and there is none other” Tweet: I Am The LORD Your God http://ctt.ec/f8ASp+ @Marcie_Bridges #GodsPromises #JesusTweeters #Faithful

I kept trying to comprehend what exactly God wanted me to know about these chapters. Each time I read them these words stood out in stark contrast to every other word on the page. Every. Single. Time. 

I finally asked God why He keeps showing this to me. What is it that He wants me to know?

His answer?  “You don’t know Me.”

I sat back absolutely shocked, stunned and frankly, more than a little hurt that God would tell me after all of these years of walking with Him that I don’t know Him.

After a few minutes in tears I asked Him what that was suppose to mean. I asked Him what I was missing because I was sure He must be wrong.

“You don’t know me like you used to Marcie. If you are going to commit your life, your days, to Me, you need to know that I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. There is NO other! Quit focusing on what you’re not, where you are going and what you are doing and focus your full attention on Me. I AM GOD you are not. Trust that I know the way for you. Remember, I have brought you this far to this place. Focus on Me. Focus on MY face.”

This evening God reminded me of His love for me as He displayed His glory through a beautiful rainbow. As I drove, I kept trying to find it, to locate it, seeking it out so I could take a picture of it. I focused all of my attention on this one task. And in doing so, God also reminded me just as I searched the skies for His rainbow, I need to focus my eyes on Him and remember that I need not fear because He is with me. HE ALONE IS GOD! 


The breath of Your love
shimmers through the clouds
mesmerizing, captivating,
invoking each sense with
an invitation to pursue and
find You where You are.

The depth of Your love
captures us in the glowing
brilliant arc of Your promise
reminding creation in ultimate
displays of fascinating wonder
that says,

“I AM GOD AND THERE IS NO OTHER.”

~Marcell Warner Bridges
©2015, All Rights Reserved
Tweet: The breath of Your love glows in brilliant arcs of Your promise http://ctt.ec/AeRp9+ @Marcie_Bridges #GodsLove #poetry #encouragement 
Today will you get alone with God and focus your full attention on Him? Will you take time to get to know who God really is? I promise you, it will be totally, completely worth every minute. 

From My Heart To Yours,
Marcie 

For Further Meditation:  Isaiah 43 and 44

 

Monday, August 17, 2015

OASIS ~ IN THE HOLLOW

by Marcie Bridges, @Marcie_Bridges 

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”
Psalm 91:1-2

Bridgescreations, 2015
Standing at the window of the hotel room I stared out into the inky darkness only illuminated by the street lamps below. An occasional car made its way along the road. Silence reigned inside the room. TV off, computer off, it was just me and Jesus.


Jesus spoke to me in vivid clarity. I wrote every word down so as not to miss a single thing He had for me to hear. 

Two days later I headed home but I had a side trip to make. I headed to our family’s favorite picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Bass Lake is a beautiful place to walk with trails for horses and places to just rest and relax. 
 
I took my camera and as I walked I snapped picture after picture. At one point though I realized, I wasn’t there to just capture His beauty, I was there to continue to listen to His voice.

So there in the garden we walked and we talked.

I asked Him for a poem and as I snapped another photo, I saw it. The hollow. The place of rest. An oasis from life. 

Bridgescreations, 2015
OASIS

Quietness ~
placid, crystal lake
rippling with peace
under skies of fluffy white.

Solitude ~
pictures worth a thousand words
silent whispers on a breeze
from everlasting to everlasting
Your paintings praises sing.

Hallowed ~
when thunder clouds hover
blue skies turn dim
I will not be afraid
because I know I am
in the hollow of His hand.

~Marcell Warner Bridges
©2015, All Rights Reserved



Bridgescreations, 2015

Thunder began to rumble overhead and clouds began to darken. But I felt safe. I felt secure as these words rolled through my heart over and over again:

  I am in the hollow of 
Your hand. 


I’ve never felt so peaceful and so loved as I have since spending time just with Him.

Last week we talked about taking time away to from the world just  between us and Jesus. How about you? Have you taken time just between you and Jesus?

God gave me a perfect opportunity to spend time with Him this last week with no distractions. I hope you find that time with Him too.

From My Heart to Yours,
Marcie 

For Further Meditation: 
Psalm 91; Isaiah 32; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Peter 5:7




Monday, August 10, 2015

JUST JESUS AND I

by Marcie Bridges, @Marcie_Bridges


The news about Jesus spread even more. 
Large crowds gathered to hear him 
and have their diseases cured.   
But he would go away to places 
where he could be alone for prayer. 
Luke 5:15, 16 

I want to flee to the hills
where breezes don't stand still
where mountain peaks draw the eye
as we lay in the meadow just You and I.

Birds songs fill the air with a melody
bees buzz does not intimidate
a brook sings its own little tune
as I sit by a tree making my heart free.

Lead me beside Your still waters
where I can seek Your solace
and if the moon should appear
let it penetrate this darkness I fear.

I want to make this peace my home
where others do not trouble my soul
where it's just me and You alone
in the stillness Your praises calm.

Here is my hiding place
a benediction to Your grace
in this moment my heart stays
as Your light fills my empty space.


~Marcell Warner Bridges 
82015, All Rights Reserved


“I think I’ll just run away by myself and not tell anyone where I am or when I’m returning,” I commented to the girls.

“At least let us know that you are going. I don’t want to have to call the police and tell them my beautiful mother with pretty blue eyes and brown hair is missing and we can’t live without her,” replied my oldest daughter. 


Have you ever felt that way? Like you just need to get away from everything and everyone or you’ll just go crazy? 

Guess what? You’re not alone!

“But he (Jesus) would go away to places where he could be alone
for prayer.” (parenthesis mine)
Yes, even Jesus had to get away to be with His father. Sometimes even Jesus got overwhelmed and needed quiet times to Himself.



The good news is this. We don’t have to run away to the desert or to the top of a mountain to have this time with Jesus. Maybe for those of us who don’t have a place in the house where we can have a prayer closet or even our own office, we need to get creative with how we find time for just ourselves and Jesus.

Perhaps if you are a night owl like me, you can stay up a little later after everyone has gone to bed and take that quiet time with Him? Or, if you are more of a morning person, get up a little earlier before everyone else and use that time to be with Him? Maybe you are able to snatch some time in the afternoon to shut the bedroom door where you can flee from the pressures of life to pray and meet with God?

Dear friend, if you are suffocating from the noise of life and feeling like the walls are closing in I urge you to go away to a quiet place with God. Talk with a close friend or your spouse so they can help you think of ways that you can “go away and be alone in prayer”.

Lately I’ve been waking up at 4:00 in the morning unable to get back to sleep for a couple of hours. I had already told a close friend about my desire to go away somewhere and spend time alone with God. When I told her about my inability to stay asleep, you know what she said? “Perhaps this is your alone time with Jesus.”

I think she might be right.


From My Heart to Yours,
Marcie 

For Further Meditation: 
Psalm 23; 46:10, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12; 22:41 

  Luke 5:15,16 from the Good News (GW) Translation

Sometimes we need to be creative to get alone with Jesus 

Even Jesus needed to get alone with God 

Monday, August 3, 2015

EYE SURGERY

by Marcie Bridges, @Marcie_Bridges


For You are my lamp, O LORD
And the LORD illumines my darkness.
 2 Samuel 22:29

“Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong,
they are weak but He is strong.”*



I sat in the doorway of the hospital room watching doctors, nurses, patients, and families go by. My brown, stuffed, wind-up doggie securely in my arms. Over and over I would turn the key and as the melody played I sang along loud and clear for everyone to hear.




“Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!”*




People smiled at me and later told my parents how cute I was. But at eight years young I had no comprehension of what the next few days, weeks, months and even years would hold for me; all I knew was that I needed eye surgery so I wouldn’t freak everyone out when my left eye would wander off .



I wasn’t scared until they began wheeling me to the OR, but they put a little green hat on my doggie just like the one they put on my head then wound him up so I could hear one last time, Jesus Loves Me.



And just like Saul was blind for three days after His encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, so was I. Stitches in the muscles behind my eyes prevented me from opening them. 


The darkness I endured during those three long days frightened me. I didn’t know why I was throwing up every half hour (the anesthesia made me horribly sick!) and most of the time it felt like no one was there with me (though I am sure my parents were there much of the time). It’s been 35 years since then and I cannot remember a lot of the details, but what I do remember most is the darkness. Perhaps that is why to this very day I am afraid of the dark?



But God promises to be our light in the darkness. Jesus came to pierce the darkness. He came to save, to heal, and to give us peace. 

Tee-Tee Barnes, 2015
Even in the darkness
where light cannot pierce
I know You are with me
there is nothing to fear.
As storm clouds invade
my eye sight is gone
I feel Your peace surrounding
in faith to carry on.
Shadows wink and play
 they do not stand still
I hear You whisper gently
and at Your feet I kneel.
Blinded eyes can see
with a heart of faith
I have no need to be afraid
Your love will lead my way.
Even in the darkness
there is perfect peace
when I fix my eyes on Jesus
every fear through Him is eased.

~Marcell Warner Bridges
© 2015

Tee-Tee Barnes, 2015
Lately I’ve been overcome by fear. Fear of failure. Fear of things not working out. Fear of the future. A good friend reminded me that God does not give us this fear nor does He give us a spirit of confusion. These things come from the prince of darkness not from the God of Lights. 

We are not given a spirit of fear. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us we are given a spirit of love, power and of sound mind. 


So even in the darkest dark where light does not seem to pierce, remember God is with you there is not a thing to fear.



When you are tempted to give into that fear, put your trust in God. Let Him shine His light into your darkness today. 

From My Heart to Yours,
Marcie 



For Further Meditation: John 1:1-5; 1 John 1:1-10; Psalm 119:105; Psalm 56:3; 1 Corinthians 14:33



 All Nature Photos by Tee-Tee Barnes, ©2015
*Hymn: Jesus Loves Me Written by Anna Bartlett Warner (1820-1915), Music by William Batchelder Bradbury (1816-1868)