Thanks to all of you who have read my posts, kept me in your prayers and offered words of encouragement and comfort. A couple of the recent comments had reminded me of a word God had given to me some years ago.
A sword when formed the materials chosen are put through the fire, stretched, folded, and hammered. This is done over and over until the blade is formed. The more the blade is folded the stronger it becomes. The part I am focused on today is the fire which inspired by both a recent painting I had posted, ‘Going through the fire’, and a current one that I have been working on for a client, ‘Risen’. Risen is not ye finished and neither are the rest of us. I like to say we are a work in progress and God is not done with us yet. Both paintings represent fire.
First thought of fire you think of destruction. Homes and forests burned to the ground. Getting burned. Yet fire is not just destructive. You cook with fire. Create with it. Fire can be scary but look at Daniel’s friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abed Nego. They refused to bow down to and idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace. They did not burn and they came out not even smelling of smoke. Then think of the Holy Spirit Fire. We grow when we go through the fire. We are refined. We are made stronger. In the painting immediately above I had explained in a previous post. The current painting which is unfinished I will tell it’s story when it is finished. Clay pots are put into kilns and baked. God is referred to as The Potter and we are His clay, to be molded and shaped into vessel He can use. This also means to be made solid we too must go through the fire. I am not sure how long it is going to take for me to finish my current painting but I will post it when it is finished.
Remember His fire will not harm you but make you stronger!
I used to have this nightmare that terrified me years ago, where I was surrounded by fire, covered in blood, and being attacked by something I could not see. Recently God revealed to me that it was not a nightmare, which I would argue until He gave me understanding. He told me that even though I was surrounded by fire I was not being burned. The blood that covered me was not my own, but His Son’s blood which was protecting me. Even though I was being attacked, that I did not die, but stood firm. That the fire kept the enemy from destroying me, and that it was His Spirit that surrounded me. This inspired this painting.
Which I hope inspires hope for those who are going through their own fiery trials, or nightmares.
Since I finally finished my last piece, I have begun work on my next painting. It is going with the color scheme of the last painting title Oujo Senshi(warrior Princess) which will be making her way to her home soon. The friend who asked for me to paint her had asked for three paintings for her new home, only requesting the colors be red, white and grey and be Asian influenced. Due to injuring my shoulder last September she took longer than I had wanted, and even though I my shoulder is still being treated and I am now seeing an orthopedic specialist, I am doing the best I can to use my arm as much as possible. So here is my next painting which I have titled, God is Love. It too is a work in progress. I will post the finished work when it is done. Like how God keep working on molding us into His image, the work continues.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Read these words and see the love of God. It tells us clearly of His sacrifice and His love. It does not speak of of hatred or punishment. It speaks of love and everlasting life to those who believe.
The life of His Son to pay the price for our sins. Loving us before we knew Him or believed in Him. In today’s terms you could say we were prepaid for. A gift waiting for us to recieve. scripture goes on to tell us that ‘God is not slow as we count slowness, but patient not wanting any to perish but that all would come to repentance.'(2Peter 3:9)
Showing His love to be long suffering(1Corinthians 13). He is still waiting for us to turn to Him. He could so easily have started over, especially after that time and again man has chosen to rebel against Him and choose the way of the world. He has given to us more time and mercy than we deserve, and it is His love that covers a multitude of sins.(1Peter 4:8)
“Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” ~
Rom 8:18 NKJV For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
forgive me for complaining about my pain more than I praise you and for any time I blamed you for my suffering. I am sorry. Help me to praise you even when it hurts, to share Your love with others who hurt and are suffering. Use my imperfections to show the world Your perfect love. What the world designed for my destruction use to be glorified in me. For I understand that it is not You that hurt me or caused my infirmities. I live in a fallen world and we have all been given free will to choose do right or wrong. I know when I have been hit and abused physically, sexually, and emotionally You were with me suffering with me. You know my every wound and pain because You bore my pain when You were beaten Jesus. They mocked You, spit on You, beat You, rejected You and crucified You, and still in that moment You did not defend Yourself but submitted Your body to their punishment because You love me. On the cross You said to Your Father, ‘Forgive them, they know not what they do.’ You forgave my sins and paid my debt when I did not deserve this from You. You love me truly and You cry with me when I cry and hurt when I hurt. This pain I feel may feel like I have suffered a lifetime but a time will come when I will know that it was just a small part of my life. Yes I have been hurt and I am weak but Your love fills me and gives me hope that better days are coming. Thank You so much for loving me as I am and for taking all the mess of my life and turning it into just one of Your masterpieces.
Today I am honored to stand by two friends as their Brides maid and witness the form a union before God. It was a privileged to be there when they were baptized and now today she will walk down the isle and join her best friend and they will become husband and wife. As I think upon their wedding I think about how we are the Bride of Christ and that we are to be one with Him. How special that day will be when He returns to collect His bride.
If you are a woman you have more than like seen one of these breast self exam cards. A woman will examine herself to check for cancer but how many of us examine ourselves for the cancer of sin that slowly eats way the life of its’ host. We are quick to point out others flaws and report the wrong doings of others but how often do we confess our own sins? Publicly admit any wrong doings on our parts. Yet we publicly point out the wrongs others may be doing. Thanks to the Internet and social media opinions outweigh facts. People write what they want and though each of us can have our own opinion it is just that an opinion not fact. The best lies have a grain of truth. We can ‘t even believe what we see in the news any more. Yet criticism, and judgments are made and the ones doing this believe they are right and just. The bible tells us that none are without sin.
Romans 3:10 (KJV) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
1 John 1:7-9 (KJV) 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
One of the Bible studies called Self portraits discusses how we see ourselves.
I have gone back to this lesson to dig a little deeper. To examine myself once again.
So here is a self portrait that does not show my best side but it is honest look in the mirror. Each picture in this collage depicts a small part of me. It may be incomplete but as I made this and chose each picture as it reflected what I saw in my mirror. In the top row there is a picture of a woman who has a cap pulled down over her face with boss written on it. When I looked at it I saw how pride had blinded me. That I have been stubborn and let resentment and unforgiveness had bound me up like the straight jacket she is wearing. The pink boxing gloves represents the fighter inside of me. Yet why was I fighting and who was I fighting? The picture of a hunter with his bow drawn represents being constantly under attack. The train was my feeling of hopelessness. The ladder in the middle of the painting represents feeling like I am going nowhere. The shadow represents the darkness inside of me. The wolf howling represents like I am being hunted. The whitewater canoe is me being tossed around by my own emotions. How turbulent they are. The doll with the key in its back is feeling empty and like a puppet. The winding road is me getting off track. The picture of the woman drinking water is the unquenchable thirst. Looking to have my needs met by that which will never satisfy me truly. The man standing in front of the painting represents the mess my life is in. The scarecrow represents the empty fears I have. The woman hanging off the ledge is me barely hanging on. The black pig is the demons I wrestle with. Miss Piggy is that no matter what I do my past will always be my past no matter how I want to dress it up. The piggy banks in the soil being watered is all that I have wasted. A life of turmoil and under attack. Walking on the wrong road blind. Wasting my life, confused and hopeless. Bitter and filled with hateful emotions. Fighting the wrong fights. This is one part of me in a nutshell. Exposing my underbelly. Being honest with myself and the world.
Sketch by Julie Sheppard
I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore. Passing judgments on others while ignoring my own sins. So it is time to take the log out of my own eye.A self examination is not something to be done once, but like the breast self exam card says to do monthly, we need to do a self check on a regular basis. Can you examine yourself honestly and then will you share your results?