Devotions and Meditation & A Survey – Life Above the Waves

Devotion Time

Devotional time in my backyard. This is this month – January. I am so appreciative of our sunny state!

Read part one of Life Above the Waves.

Devotional and Meditation Time

As a Christian it is my responsibility to pray, read the Bible and grow in my relationship with Christ. As a Bible teacher, writer and speaker it is also my J – O – B. Since I work from home I have more control over my schedule and can be somewhat flexible with my daily routine, however I cannot squander the hours away. Even though I have a lot of freedom in how I order my day, I must be a good steward of my time and endeavors. My job description means I must put time into the study of God’s word – memorizing it, reading it, pondering it, meditating upon it, praying it, writing about it and LIVING IT.

Currently I am doing research and writing another Bible study for an upcoming women’s retreat. I’ve entitled my new Bible study, “The Personal Power of Choice” and I am writing from a biblical perspective on the issues of courage, contentment, comparison, control and connection. But even as I prepare for speaking at the retreat and put a lot of hours into writing a Bible study, I still find I need to devote myself to my personal plan of Bible reading, scripture memorization, prayer and meditation on God’s Word.

Would you mind taking a survey I’ve prepared to assist me with data as I write, “The Personal Power of Choice”? It’s anonymous unless you add your name to a comment box. Thanks, in advance, for your participation. I really appreciate it! 

When I close the survey, I’ll share the feedback here on my website. If you are in a leadership role you may be interested in the results of the survey.

Take the survey.

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The Holy and the Humble

photo ~ Michelle Smith

I clipped three pink roses from the front yard and arranged them in a small crystal vase. These will be nice in Mother’s room…a little bit of the outdoor scenery for her to enjoy.

“Look, Mother. The rose bushes are really blooming.”

Nodding her head toward the chest of drawers, Mother answered, “Your daddy usually puts them up there for me.”

I swiped at some dust with my bare hand and placed the vase of roses next to the small T.V. that sat on the chest.

For the past year my mother has been mostly confined to her bed. Due to a severe problem with her esophagus that has resulted in her inability to even swallow water her only source of nourishment is through a feeding tube. Mother’s mobility is also limited because without notice her knees buckle and she cannot support herself to stand. My dad is her sole caregiver. It takes me twelve hours to drive from my home in Florida to the rural town in Mississippi where my parents retired from the ministry. We have discussed their moving in with my family but so far Mother is holding out to remain in her own home. One day I know this will not be possible. For now I drive out every 3 months to visit and give my dad a break from the daily care.

I help Mother with her basic needs and read from My Utmost for His Highest with her. I talk with her of trivial things and important matters. We watch T.V. together.

I organize, clean and cook for Dad. On one visit I made a big pot of turkey and wild rice soup and filled quart sized bags to go in the freezer. Another time Dad and I had a fish fry. He fried the catfish and potatoes while I mixed up the batter for the hush puppies.

I timed my last visit so that Dad could attend summer camp meeting services in Jackson. Each morning he got mother’s “tube and nutrients” going first thing. Then showered, shaved and dressed in a suit, he drove an hour and a half to Jackson to the campground.  It was good for him to go and visit with the other pastors he’d known and had fellowship with for many years. He shared with me how two or three of them had hugged him and prayed for him and Mother. I could hear in his voice how this act of kindness and compassion had touched him.

Each time I drive out to visit with Mother and Dad I pray that God’s grace would be sufficient—and it always is. I pray that God would be glorified in our time together and our service to one another—and I believe He is. I have come to expect and to bear witness of God’s grace and glory on each visit.

One thing I did not pray for but have experienced and now expect is with each visit I learn a little more about myself. It is as though God shines a white hot light upon the little issues existing here and there in me that need refining. And refine them He will—and He does. It is a process however.

There is no hurried work that is God’s. We may wish to rush Him but He will not have it as He conforms us to the image of His Son.   (click to tweet)

 

I see now with clarity what I only saw dimly a year ago. Our service for one another comes in many forms but always at its seedbed is the image of Christ washing His disciples’ feet and the holy preparation of His body by the women who served and worshiped Him. It is in the image of our risen Lord grilling fish on the fire for unsuspecting guests.

And when we give someone a glass of water or pour the nutrients into the bag of a feeding tube, when we empty the container of bodily waste, when we sponge a back with a soapy cloth, when we prepare a meal for the freezer, our service is an aspect of our worship.

Do our big dreams of ministry to the body often overshadow the reality of small acts of service to one body?

Hours after I had placed three roses in a crystal vase, I glanced from where I sat in the living room to Mother’s bedroom. There I saw the pink roses in the crystal vase and just behind them a bottle of Gold Bond Powder and a tube of Avon cracked heel cream.  My first inclination was to remove the medicated powder and foot cream from sharing space with the lovely roses in the crystal vase. But that urge was quickly replaced with a stronger one from the Holy Spirit to leave them together. After all, I have witnessed on many occasions that the beautiful and the base are often interwoven.

The unlovely and ignoble things are not of the physical body nor of the practical matters, but exist in the cravings of the flesh.

So I cry out, “God, do Your holy work in me. Shine Your light upon my little issues here and there. Refine me as gold. Conform me to Christ. Perfect Your work in me…unhurried, not rushed but at Your leisure. Merge the holy and the humble within me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

(This post is linked to Finding Heaven and the Soli Deo Gloria Party.)

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It is Finished!

Robert Broughton Photography

I have officially finished writing, “Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory.”

  • Bible Study
  • Study Guide
  • Bonus Reflection Section

 

To celebrate the completion of, “Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory,” I wrote a poem that sums up how I feel. Whew! It’s been a journey. I am thinking about offering the study online hosted from this site. The teaching segments  would be video taped and the Study Guide and Reflection Section would be available as an ebook.

“Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory”

I think of what God’s done for me

Redeemed my life and set me free.

How could I not express my praise

To the One who saved my soul by grace.

My voice, my hands, my heart I give

With everlasting joy I live.

In nights so dark I scarce could breathe

Bowed low in pain I found relief.

To Sovereign God all glory be

He’s more than Lord, He’s friend to me.

Lean in. Listen. Do you hear it?

It’s the Song of Freedom, the Song of the Spirit.

Only the Father knows my life’s story.

In the Key of G, by His Grace for His Glory

©2012 Melanie Dorsey

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Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory

Melanie knows what it’s like to burn out spiritually and emotionally all while doing and saying the “right things.” It wasn’t until her late thirties that she began to understand God’s “grace for living.” A pastor’s daughter, busy worker in the church and all around “good girl,” Melanie describes herself as having lived for many years a kind of “white knuckled life.” She says, “I was straining to live righteously under my own power and in my own strength. Until one day the combination of my history, my personality and my own lack of boundary setting in a controlling situation proved to be the ‘perfect storm’ for an emotional and spiritual implosion.”

Through a series of life events, Melanie came to know the grace of God not just for salvation but grace for living!

In the bible study, “Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory,” Melanie shares some of her grace stories along with those of other brave friends.

You’ll hear the “grace stories” of Murray, Laurie, Pam & Ted, Pauline, Heather and more. Each one has shared a story with Melanie of God’s grace in trial as well as the everydayness of life and how His grace has been their source, their sufficiency and their strength.

“Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory” will inspire and strengthen you in your Spirit led walk as you embrace God’s own words regarding His grace in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Five sessions include the following simple but powerful truths of God’s grace:

  • GRACE – How Sweet the Sound
  • The SOURCE of GRACE
  • The SUFFICIENCY of GRACE
  • The STRENGTH of GRACE
  • GLORY – It’s All About Him

 ”Grace is but glory begun and glory is but grace perfected.” ~ Jonathan Edwards

This Bible study is ideal for a retreat or can be condensed for a breakout session. “Life in the Key of G ~ Grace & Glory” includes a study guide and a reflection section as a take away bonus. If you are interested in booking me to teach this study or speak on a topic within the study, contact me here.

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Well Watered

(Edited: You can listen to my radio interview “Surviving Cancer” on Encouragement Cafe by clicking HERE. You’ll hear how the Living Word of God has sustained my life.)

Isn’t that hydrangea lovely? You should have seen it yesterday. Too bad I didn’t take that picture. The heads of the blooms were hanging down and the “pink” was fading away. My husband bought this for me four days ago. It sat on the front porch in the plastic container and neither of us thought to water “her.” For two days she sat outside the front door taking in the heat from a Florida sun. Even still she was pretty in pink. For a while.

On the third day I stepped out to walk the dog and I saw her. I actually gasped!

Wilted. Forlorn. Dry.

The dog would  have to wait. I grabbed a plastic  tumbler, filled it and watered her. Later in the day I checked and saw no change.

I was afraid we had lost her.

Five thirty and my husband came home from work. I met him at the door and pointed out the obvious. He frowned.

“I know. I forgot to water. It doesn’t take long to dry out in this heat.”

Quickly I replied, “I added a large tumbler full of water this morning.”

“Oh, it  needs a lot more water than that.” He filled an empty gallon sized container and started pouring.

“When it’s full, it’ll drain out,” he added, just as a small puddle  of water escaped from the bottom of the plastic container.

This morning I stepped out the door, leash in hand, dog at foot. I had forgotten about our little casualty on the porch

“Good morning!” she seemed to greet me as the brilliance of her blooms caught my attention.

“Wow!” I exclaimed. And again, “Wow!” Truly, I was stunned at the change in her appearance.

After returning from the curb, I grabbed the camera and Hydrangea posed prettily in her pink frock highlighted by her dark green accessories.

As I snapped a few pictures, I reflected on the first few months after Andrew passed. I had no appetite, I lost weight and I was drowning in my clothes. My face was gaunt and I walked stooped over from the weight of grief. Physically I was undernourished and my physical condition mirrored my spiritual one. I found it hard to read my bible and pray. One afternoon I cried out to God and experienced a spiritual intervention. As a result, I made some physical and spiritual changes. Two of which were to run again and start a scripture memorization plan. Soon I regained my appetite for food and for His word.

Though not an overnight transformation like that of my pretty pink hydrangea, transformation has occurred nonetheless. Somehow…some SUPERnatural HOW, God’s word transforms us. But WE must take it in.

  • We must be people of the Word but we must also be people IN the Word.
  • When we neglect the watering of the Word, over time we become malnourished.
  • Our spiritual lives droop and lose color when our “soil” is dry.
  • We were made BY the Word, made FOR the Word and we are maintained IN the Word.

I’ll be sharing more on the “water of the Word” – perhaps in a short video.

Christ gave Himself for us that He might sanctify and cleanse us with the washing of water by the word.

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James & Me

 My recent personal Bible study has been in the book of James. As I read through this short book (5 chapters), I made note of what spoke to me in this season. The theme of the book of James is “faith that works.” Below are my mini lessons from James.

  • Combine your faith with works and faith will be perfected.
  • There are two kinds of wisdom – earthly and heavenly. Earthly wisdom is envious and self-seeking. Heavenly wisdom is holy and without hypocrisy.
  • There is blessing that comes when you endure. By your perseverance in the faith you come to know the compassion of God on a deeper level. Though you may presently be suffering and going through unfathomable pain, you will one day know the intended end. In your darkest days, reach out for the hand of the Lord. He will walk with you to the end.
  • As you humble yourself in God’s sight, He will lift you up. To “humble yourself” is to empty yourself of all forms of arrogance and self-exaltation. But don’t worry that you will have to accomplish this discipline on your own. God also promises His grace to the humble. He never asks us to do anything that His Grace is not present to assist us.

Nearly every morning I start my day with Oswald Chambers and a cup of coffee. My Utmost for His Highest has been one of the single greatest works that I have read over and again. The passage below speaks to me right where I am. And where I am is in a state of transition in my mind and my heart. I’m assessing whether one particular season of my life is over and if I should simply accept that and move on to something else. Or not move on. Just wait. No matter what – “my faith endures.”

“The test of the life of a saint is not success, but faithfulness in human life as it actually is.” ~ Oswald Chambers

 

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God With Us

Since I was just a little girl I’ve loved God. It was at a tender age I accepted Christ as my Savior, and still there are many things I do not know about God. A few years ago I had arrived at a place where I thought I had some real answers about God and His ways.

But when our son was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer and did not receive the miraculous intervention we had prayed for and expected, I realized I no longer had all the answers. I only had one answer ~ Jesus Christ.

I suspect that you, too, have questions about God.

  • Why do the innocent suffer?
  • Why do bad things happen to godly people?
  • Why am I alone?
  • Why does God intervene in some situations and not others?

What if you got the answer to what I call the big question? Would it be enough to satisfy you? I’m not sure the answer to why my beautiful son, Andrew, was not healed would change anything for me or my husband or Andrew’s big brother and big sister.

In preparing to speak one week before the 2nd anniversary of our son’s passing on December 15, 2009, the Holy Spirit inspired me with a passage from Matthew 1:23.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated God with us.”

God with us. Just three little words but what great and eternal impact in three little words. God with us. You see, “God with us” assures us that God enters into life with us. He does life with us.

Despite the answers to the hard questions that we do not have, all we really need to know about God exists in the name Immanuel ~ God with us. The only question we really need answered is, “God, are You with us? God are You with me?”

I hope this short excerpt from my Christmas message will be a help to you.

 

Click the button to read more posts on Jen’s blog from the Soli Deo Gloria community.

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The Path of Least Resistance or Life in Christ

We offer our lives to God for His service and secretly hope that we are not tested nor tried too severely. We say, “God is faithful and God is good,” when life turns out well. “God is sovereign” is the response when life ends. But isn’t God good and sovereign all the time?

The Path

Whether your path this day is smooth and straight or marked by sharp rocks and steep ledges, consider not so much the condition of the path. Consider instead the goal of your pursuit. Is it to have a nice life or is it life in Christ? In our flesh we would choose the path of least resistance – the easier way. Perhaps that is why we face circumstances in which we are not afforded the choice.

The Pursuit

Knowing Him. Loving Him. Living Him.

We go from glory to glory in relationship with Christ ascending unto the heights of the mountain of God. His Grace invites us…who calls [us] to his own kingdom and to his glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

Life in Christ is death to the flesh. It is an anti-flesh paradigm: To live is Christ; to die is gain. If we may know Him more deeply on the rock face or in the grassy field, it makes no difference to the one who seeks lockstep with Christ. 

This is the life of the bondservant.

Grace is the empowerment.
Flesh weakened from trial and suffering, Grace is strength to continue.

Grace is the forward movement.
The upward call requires an upward climb; Grace is the acceleration.

Grace is the call.
Pronounced by God, voiced in Christ, Grace is the dulcet tone of the Holy Spirit.

Grace is the sustainment.
Heard in the clarion call from the peak and in the steady confidence of the rear guard, Grace’s truths rally courage.

The Press

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 3:14

Apart from the Grace of God, the bondservant of Christ is not equipped to traverse the narrow, rocky ascent nor skip on smooth and verdant path. For it is Grace alone that empowers, moves, calls and sustains us.

In Grace, we are pursued by and in pursuit of Christ. Regardless of the condition of the path, we press on.


(photo by Dan Dorsey)

© Melanie Dorsey 2011

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