The Glory of the Lord

The dawn had not yet arrived though it was getting lighter, signaling that dawn wasn’t far away. Suddenly, a shining, beautiful, golden glow filled the sky to the east. It was as if a fire had exploded on the horizon and its flames lit up the sky. It was spectacular to say the least. I stood in amazement of the beauty that was before me. What a way to begin a new day. Now the children of Israel knew this heavenly glow too. It says in Exodus 24:17 “The sight of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel.” They were face to face with the glory of the Lord, not just a sunrise. He included His children in the awesome display of His presence/ His glory.
As I stood and admired the beauty of the coming dawn, I thought about the glory of God. Israel was treated to a firsthand view of Gods fiery glory as He began to teach them who He is. God is spectacular! His glory/His presence, is mighty, powerful, strong, captivating and beautiful. Some lowly shepherds were blessed to see the glory of the Lord as they tended their sheep near Bethlehem. In Luke 2, we find the story of shepherds being told about the birth of the Savior. Verse 9 is: “And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.” In the dark of night, against a backdrop of stars, the shepherds saw the glory of God light up the world. Well, it would have looked like the world was lit up to the shepherds. God had something important to tell and what better way to get our attention than for His presence, His glory, to fill the earth?
The glory of God is overwhelming. The Israelites thought so. They didn’t want to go into God’s presence at all. They sent Moses instead. But God wants to share Himself with His ‘kids’. So, He gives us a taste of His magnificence, His glory, in the sunrise or sunset or in a waterfall or a field of flowers. It’s His way of preparing us to know His ‘awe’ so we don’t turn away when we encounter Him. And if we desire Him, we will certainly encounter His presence!
God is making His presence known to man more and more. Our world is full of stories where the Lord’s presence plays a starring role. Some day He will be the only light we’ll need. In Revelation 21:23 we’re told: “The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.” Today, my morning was ‘lit up’ by the glory of the sun in the eastern sky. But, I’m looking forward to the real thing. The time when the Lord’s glory is so bright that I’m blinded to anything else on earth. How about you?

Deni Fortuna

 

Are Your Shoes Too Tight?

I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t left the house ready to take on a new day, that hasn’t at some point, realized that their shoes seem to be squeezing their feet. Your shoes just feel too tight! The shoes didn’t feel tight when you put them on, but somewhere through the day something changed and now your toes feel like they are being pinched off. Walking has become painful and running or dancing would be impossible. All you can think about is getting home to take off your shoes and letting your feet go free.
Well, in our spiritual walk we can find ourselves with “shoes that are too tight”. Now, you might ask how this can happen, so I would like to explain. Jesus, through His death, burial and resurrection set in place the New Covenant between God and His people. This new covenant is totally based on His sacrifice. Because He offered Himself in our place, we are forgiven of our sin and through His righteousness we are reunited with the Father. Our part is to recognize the value of this gift and repent from our former lives to begin a walk with Jesus. Sounds easy enough to do, and it is, but we have to watch out for traps that spring up in our walk. We can get pulled off track if we listen to old religious mindsets and allow ‘works’ to creep into our thinking. This old way of thinking causes us to try to work our way into a relationship with our Father. The Old Covenant, under the Law, was based on works; always trying to do the right thing to please God. But we never could. Our sin nature always got in the way. Jesus became our ‘Way’, our Truth and our Life when He did for us what we could never do.
The Old Covenant cannot coexist with the New. And, when we try to put the Law and works together with Jesus, our shoes get too tight because the Law and Jesus were never meant to be worn together. Jesus fulfilled the Law and He alone gets the credit for our redemption.
Life with Jesus is an ongoing dance. One you don’t want to miss, but you will if your feet hurt because your shoes are too tight. Be sure that every day you only put on Jesus, no works. Your feet will be happy and your dance with Him will be one of pure joy.
Deni

God’s Waterfall

How is your day going?  How is your week going?  Are you worried about your finances, your kids, your job?  Or are you weary?  Maybe life has become too much.  I know I sometimes get worried about the things that are swirling around me too.  Sometimes I come to the point of being so overwhelmed by the things that are happening around me, I just have to…STOP!!!

So, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and see myself standing in a river with a beautiful waterfall.  As I walk over to the waterfall I can feel the spray of the waterfall on my face.  As I walk into the waterfall and let it pour over me, I look up through the waterfall and see my Father pouring His love over me and saying: “I have you, it’s going to be ok.” I begin to dance, sing and jump up and down letting the waterfall pour over me.  My cares, worries and weariness fade away.  I have been refreshed in the waterfall of God.

God knows our worries.  He knows what keeps us up at night.  He knows our every need because we are His children! The Word says in Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.”

God gave me the vision of the waterfall during a time of tribulation in my life when I needed Him very much.  Now, my vision is a balm anytime I need it.  Do you need God’s waterfall of love poured over you today?  Go to the river and stand in the waterfall, twirl and dance in it and let the love of God pour over you even when storms are raging around you.  Let God give you the peace that surpasses all understanding.

After I finished my blog, God told me there was more to be added to the story. The following is what He gave me to add to what I already had.

He told me that at the base of the waterfall are a lot of lily pads and on each of them is a multicolor flower.  He told me to search out about the flowers, so the next morning in my prayer time, I started thinking about the lily pads and the flowers.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, I wasn’t until I found it in my research; you can’t kill a lily pad.  You can cut off the top, but you can’t kill the plant because its roots go deep into the foundation at the bottom of the lake.

As I thought and prayed on this, God showed me this is like our faith.  When we are rooted in Christ, our foundation is strong.  Storms can come, and they may even knock us down, but we get up and stand again because our roots of faith go deep.

Ephesians 6: 13-18 Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—”

As I searched regarding the meaning of the many colors in my multicolor flowers, this is what the Lord gave me:

White – symbol of purity, righteousness, holiness Blue – symbol of heaven and authority Red – symbol of suffering, sacrifice or sin Yellow/Gold – symbol of kingship, kingdom glory Green – symbol of prosperity, growth, life Purple – symbol of royalty, wealth, prosperity

These colors of heaven wrap around us as gifts and blessings that allow us to withstand the storms and help us to grow our faith roots deeper and deeper in the Lord.

Psalms 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations I will be exalted in the earth”.

Ruth Cagle

 

Journey of the Heart

Journey of the Heart

Recently I had someone say to me that Christmas time is nothing but madness and would be better removed from the calendar.  My first reaction was to take offense at this.  You see, I have loved Christmas my whole life and have so many great memories of this time with my mom when I was young, with my kids as they came along in life, and then in the last 12 years since Jesus became my Lord, not just my Savior.  As I gave the comment some thought, I found I could agree that the world can make Christmas a crazy time.  And, in the past I have succumbed to the whirlwind that surrounds this sacred time, and found myself with no joy by the time Christmas actually arrived. So, I realized that while not right, I could see how someone could become hardened by watching the world “celebrate” the wonderful Christmas holiday.

Not long after hearing the negative comment I was given a Christmas card.  The caption on the front says:” Christmas is a Journey of the Heart.”  It seemed as I read the caption, that this short message was a neon sign. “Yes” I thought, this is the answer to all the negativity that arises because of how our culture sees Christmas.  They have never taken the journey!

Jesus came to the world the same way all humans do; as a helpless baby.  He would be loved and cared for by loving parents, and through all the world’s promises and grief, He would grow to be the Man God sent to rescue our world.  When He became a man, Jesus went on a “journey of the heart”. In 3 short years He taught us about the Father, taught about the Kingdom and its principles, showed what love and healing looks like from Heaven’s prospective, and He prepared Himself for the journey’s climax that would accomplish for the Father a renewed relationship with His lost children.  Jesus could not have done this without living through the love in His heart; the heart of the Father.

This journey of our heart is how we, as Believers, can transcend the world’s idea of Christmas and see what really matters.  That God had a plan which He had held on to from the beginning of time. The plan was a humble one designed to draw the humble, the hurting, the lost and the watchers.  So, the plan began in humble surroundings with the birth of a baby in a manger, in a stable, in a city that was all but ignored by the nation in which it sat.  There was nothing remotely majestic about this plan yet two people agreed to go on this journey of the heart, and they made a life for the Son of God, so He would grow up to complete the mission He had agreed to. They loved Him, protected Him and allowed Him to develop into the Servant, Savior He was born to be. 

We can’t allow ourselves to lose our focus on Christ because the holiday has been distorted.  While not easy, we can allow the frenzy of the world to pass by without effecting the journey we are on with our Lord.  By taking the journey of the heart each year at this time, we can enjoy with our families the same love God gives us and not get caught up in the world’s imitation of love, peace and joy.  Hold out for the real love, real peace and real joy that a baby brought to the world and offered to all who would believe in His sacrifice, in His journey. 

Merry Christmas to all who are on their “journey of the heart”.  Be sure to wave as we pass by on the great adventure we are on with the greatest Guide ever.

No One Knew His Name

No One Knew His Name

In the dark of a lonely night a new baby came into the world, just like so many babies had done before Him.  Mary and Joseph had come to a city they were unfamiliar with but that represented Joseph’s   lineage. But there must not have been any family members left in town since no spare room was offered to the couple, so Mary’s baby could be born in a house instead of a barn.  So, the baby was born in a humble stable, heated by the household animals and lit by the stars above.  And two young people began a journey of epic proportions, raising the Son of God.

God watched over the birth of His Son knowing His plan to rescue His children was unfolding.  For hundreds of years He had heard the cries of Israel for a Savior; one to release them from bondage to their captors.  But God knew their heaviest chains were around their hearts, not their feet.  So, while He was ready to begin the rescue, it seemed Israel was not.  They couldn’t see past themselves and have faith in the God of their fathers.  Only a handful of people were watching and praying for the promised Messiah to appear.  That is why, in the town of Bethlehem, the cry of a newborn babe wasn’t thought of as anything more than the birth of another ‘slave’ for Rome.  No one knew He had arrived, the Lamb that would be sacrificed to save the world.

No One Knew His Name
Dientje Fortuna
The babe was born for all mankind
But no one knew His name,
He left his Father where He was King
and as a babe to earth He came.

Mary and Joseph had traveled so far
knowing Jesus was soon to be born.
With no room at the inn their choices were few
but the stable left Mary’s heart torn.

As Mary labored to birth God’s babe
the angels, a concert they gave,
to the shepherds, the lowly, the announcement came
as Jesus, in a manger, was laid.

Though shepherds came to pay respect
to the baby the angels proclaimed,
Bethlehem lay fast asleep
so no one knew His Name.

The Star shone announcing the birth,
the One foretold through the ages.
But the people were caught in the myth they believed
the one told by priests and sages.

A great and mighty king would come
to vanquish their foes all around.
So they looked for a crown, a warrior, a king,
for the trumpets to give mighty sounds.

No one looked for the babe God had planned,
His Son who would one day become,
the sacrifice needed so sins are forgiven
and back to our Father we’d come.

The babe was born for all mankind,
but no one knew His Name.
His road was set from birth to death
It was the reason that He came.

To restore God’s children back to Him,
out of Love, for it brought no fame,
cause the world didn’t get why He was here,
and so they didn’t know His name.

But the tiny King came to give us the greatest gift of all…a relationship with the Father.  So, let’s celebrate the greatest gift man ever received, Jesus. 

Merry Christmas from New Wine Ministries.

Deni Fortuna

 

The Journey

The Journey 

What kind of journey are you on?
Are you enjoying the journey or are you complaining about where you are?
Is your glass half full or half empty?

God has an appointed time for everything  In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 it says: To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die;  A time to plant,  And a time to pluck what is planted;  A time to kill, And a time to heal;  A time to break down,  And a time to build up;  A time to weep, And a time to laugh;  A time to mourn,  And a time to dance;  A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones;  A time to embrace,  And a time to refrain from embracing;   A time to gain, And a time to lose;  A time to keep,  And a time to throw away;   A time to tear, And a time to sew;  A time to keep silence,  And a time to speak;   A time to love, And a time to hate;  A time of war,  And a time of peace.

God can change your situation in the blink of an eye, but, He won’t if you aren’t learning what you need to. God is a Good Father. He doesn’t want you to go around the mountain a hundred times but, He will let you go around and around if you’re not trying to learn what He needs you to learn

So, where are you at right now?  There could be someone or some ones that you can help but, if you are complaining or discontented with where you are then you will miss the opportunities that God provides.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God I will be exalted among the nations,  I will be exalted in the earth!

We can’t bypass the lesson to get to the goal/blessings. We must be content where we are and enjoy the journey.

Are you enjoying the whole journey? Then let’s start today!!!

 

Ruth Cagle

Mirrors of God

Still, calm water is a great mirror. Onto it’s surface is reflected the clouds above, the birds flying over its glassy surface and the trees or homes that surround the water which can be clearly seen in its reflective surface.
Like the water’s surface, we are mirrors of God’s glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us why this is possible. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We are being transformed, and it’s not some haphazard transition. Through the Holy Spirit we are becoming more like Jesus. His glory is being revealed in us. Not for us to boast about, but or others to see and desire it too.

Until we have a relationship with Christ, our hearts have a veil over them.
But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:14
The veil makes it impossible for us to see the glory of God. Our lives are dull, our minds unable to see or comprehend the glory that awaits us in Christ. It is like the lake on a cloudy day where there is no sun to light up the reflections that are right there, but can’t be seen.
The Light of the Lord, His glory is the ‘sun’ for our reflection. It illuminates us, testifying to the glory within us. Others are able to see their reflection in us, like the clouds in the lake, and clearly see their need for the Light that is in our lives, to be in theirs. This is a gift of God for the lost world He is calling unto Himself.
So, as I gaze at the reflections in the lake out back, I am thankful once again, that the veil to my heart has been removed by Jesus and that my light shines into the dark, showing the way home to the searching lost. So, be a mirror of God’s glory to the world that sits watching for it without knowing what they are watching for. To the glory of God, our Light, our Savior.

By Deni Fortuna

God’s rain is always falling

In recent weeks our lake out back has become quite thirsty. First there is the drought that has descended upon southeastern lower Michigan and which has yet to be broken. Then there is the blockage in the river coming into our lake. Several trees have fallen in and are restricting the flow of water to the lake. The result is a muddy, weedy lake that is neither pretty to look at or a joy for the water animals, fish and birds who reside on or in the lake. So, the lake waits for something to happen to restore its beauty and joy.

Isn’t this what happens to our soul?

We never meant for the drought to happen, let alone get so severe. When some days got busy and we skipped reading God’s word, we told ourselves it was just a couple of days, we’d be back to reading daily in no time. But, a few more days passed without relief in sight from the busyness of the world and Bibles remained in the same spot we left it.

In order to meet our deadlines, our prayer time with God got shorter. Then a little less frequently, and then some guilt began to creep in. We justified our actions, well our in-action really, by telling ourselves God understands. Little by little our spirit got thirsty until we are in a severe drought.

We had left the rain of God’s Word that waters and feeds our souls, and some ‘trees’ fell into our stream of prayer with the Father. We are now parched, dried-up, not able to sustain others let alone ourselves.

Well, unlike the lake, we don’t have to wait for rain or for someone to clear out the trees. God’s rain is always falling, we just have to put ourselves back into it; open His Word and open our mouths. Reading God’s word and taking time to talk with Him gets the water flowing and our thirst quenched. We can ask God for help in managing the trees so we don’t get cut off again from His life-giving water.

When your water level drops, don’t ignore it. Get out your sword (the Word of God), hack the trees away, put time into your relationship with the Lord and feel God’s reviving water restore you and get you flowing again in His Kingdom.

 ~ Deni Fortuna

Chalk Board of Life: The storms ahead

Picture this image for a minute. Standing in the middle of the sea, and you see so many white caps, one after another heading toward shore. As you try your hardest to stand up straight, along comes a bigger wave. Going through your mind is “how am I going to withstand it”? Will you fall, or will you remain standing?


That was me, standing in the sea of Port Aransas, Texas. These waves were small, but as I got closer, they would get bigger than I thought. They actually knocked me down a couple of times, but as I kept my eyes forward, I started to prepare myself again and again for the waves coming at me. Eventually, I didn’t fall down when they hit.

During that time in the sea, the Lord revealed something to me. As I stood still, listening with my eyes closed, the Lord said to me: “Danielle, see these waves? These are storms that will be ahead of you. I’m preparing you for them before they come. Don’t worry because I won’t let them knock you down. I will be there beside you, protecting and guiding you. Don’t fear, for I’m with you. Cast your fears on Me, for I am your strength.”

I felt at peace as He spoke to me that day. He doesn’t stop working in us, but continues and continues. In my past, I never knew how to fight through the waves, I just kept letting them drown me. But, today, as I give more of my heart to Him, He gives me grace and victory before the storms.

So, to end with this, think about the waves in the storms pushing you down and you struggling and fighting so hard against them that you don’t know what to do! Look to what the scripture says:

2 Chronicles 20:17 “You will not need to fight in this position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow, go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

I encourage you to allow the Lord into the midst of your waves. He will give you strength and miracles to overcome the storms ahead!

Danielle Ybarra

GOD’S GRACE

One of my favorite movies is War Room. If you haven’t seen it – put it on your ‘to do’ list. The story is life changing, one you don’t want to miss.
Yes, the movie is about prayer. But, it’s also about Grace, the kind that allows us to forgive.

Forgiving people that have hurt you or wronged you or offended you is hard! But, if you start with prayer – which is your part – and then let God do His part – the process is a whole lot easier.
Grace means that you have to forgive those who aren’t sorry and may never be sorry for something they did to harm you. And, you may have to accept that an apology may never be coming from someone who really should offer one. When you overcome these things, you break their power over you and it frees you. No longer are you burdened by the pain of these past offenses.

And you let God fight for you. It doesn’t mean that things will change in your life, but you are able to move on, free of the hold that was upon you. Free to move into the plans God has for your life. Free to become the person you’re destined to be.

Are there people to whom you need to extend the hand of grace? Some may no longer be in your life, but you find you’re still holding on to the wrong, hurts or the offenses they committed. You are still being hurt by it…they are not. So, you have to give it to God and let it go.

God is wanting a relationship with you, He wants to take you to the next level but you won’t be able to move if you’re holding on to the weight of past hurts. Give them grace – give them what God has given you; Grace. He gave us grace when we didn’t deserve it. God gave His Son to die on the cross for us; the ultimate example of God’s Grace.
When it seems too hard to give to God the past hurts people have done to you, to offer them forgiveness and grace, think about God’s Grace you have experienced; what He gives to you and me every day.

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

Proverbs 3:34
Surely, He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.
Grace is the ultimate pain reliever. Why continue to live with the past hurts when you can be relieved of them right now. Just go to God who will help you extend the grace needed for your healing.

~ Ruth

~ Ruth