Jeanne East

Renewed to Sparkle

This morning during my devotional time with the Lord the words: washed, renew,  and create, continued to jump off the pages as I read His Word. I seemed to hear David’s heart as he prayed in the Psalms, and my heart  began to once again pray this  prayer as well. 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and a renewed and steadfast spirit with in me. Psalm 51:10

I find myself in constant need of renewal.  I am so very thankful for God’s mercy and His grace which helps me try to stand steadfast on His path toward a pure heart. I asked Jesus  to renew my surrendered heart this morning as I began to reflect on how totally dependent I am on Him for renewal. 

Digging deeper I listened to Paul as the Holy Spirit led me to  2 Corinthians 4:16.

Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are renewed day by day.

  In  2 Corinthians 5:17  the Lord continued to speak directly to my heart, as Paul continued.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come.

This renewal is a process in which we depend on Jesus, day by day, minute by minute, second by second. I am totally dependent on His mercy and strength, given to me through His grace. As I read I was reminded of Paul’s words in Titus 3:5.

He saved us not because of the righteous things we have done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

As I sat and reflected on these verses a picture came to mind of a place that is on my bucket list. There is a beach in Fort Bragg, California called Glass Beach. It is an absolutely fascinating place with a stunning and sparkling beach of glass. In 1949 however it was a public dump; old cars, appliances, and all sorts of glass objects and debris were dumped straight into the ocean. It was a dead sea of waste.  Thankfully government regulations stopped this practice in 1967. The area and its beach underwent many attempts to remove all of the debris that had been thrown into the ocean.  There remained however, very large amounts of glass, and this was  too costly to try and retrieve from the ocean floor. These shards and pieces of glass were left to be churned around in the surf for the last 40 years. This previous dump site and its refuse has been washed and polished over the years to form a new creation. The beach is called Glass Beach and it is now part of MacKerricher State Park in Fort Bragg, California. When I look at pictures of this amazing beach I see a new creation that sparkles in the light of the sun.

O Lord, I ask that You continue to constantly wash, polish and renew my heart, my soul, and my spirit…all of me, that I may stand one day sparkling in the light of your SON.

Written By Guest Blogger: Jeanne East

 

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The Lie of "I"

For many years I taught my kindergarten class the story of Cain and Abel. Considering their young age I navigated this story with simple discussions about jealousy, obedience, and love. In re- reading this account in my Bible today the Lord took me through it with His perspective, keeping it simple for my old age! :)  I could truly hear the Him speaking to my heart.  He told my heart that I CAN and am ABLE to master the “sin crouching at my door” if I will follow His lead. He made me smile when He showed me that Cain’s name has an “I” in the middle of it. I began to recognize at once the lesson He was about to lay gently upon my heart.

May we stop and take time at the beginning of each day, with a repentant heart asking God to bring to mind those things in our lives that do not glorify Him. When I do not give God that first hour of my day (my “first fruit”) I find that my  “I”  steps in with a plan to dominate my day, preventing His blessings to me. The Lord speaks to all of our hearts when He tells Cain with tenderness and compassion, ”If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door: it desires to have you, but you must master it.” The only way to do this is to take our focus away from the “I” in our sinful hearts and focus on Our Shepherd. The account of Cain and Abel should shout to our hearts and minds of our need for repentance and surrender in order to receive true blessings. Cain was so focused on his “I” that he missed the blessing.

Think about our world today. We live in a “ME” culture. It all revolves around what we want, and then, getting it in our desired timing. Satan continues to crouch at our door whispering his lies into our minds and our perspectives. I have often wondered about the mark that God put on Cain. Was it like a t-shirt that I saw someone wearing recently that said, “It All About ME”. I realize that the shirt was meant to be funny…but the irony of it was not lost on my heart. I can easily picture Cain in that shirt…but then… I have to ask the question…If God gave me a shirt today, what would my shirt say?  In my time with the Lord this morning, He showed me how easy it is for me to slip on that “All About ME” shirt. I must admit that the one thing that Satan does well is to convince us to justify the “lie of I”.

Take a moment and contrast what the Lord says about Cain and Abel’s offerings. “In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.” Everything in this sentence speaks to me of Cain’s timing and of his choosing. It does not speak of first fruits… it just says “some fruits”.  Notice the first word in the next verse is the word “But”. This word shouts of contrast to me. “But Abel brought fat portionsfrom some of thefirst born of his flock. Here God tells us that Abel had a flock.  Abel gave God the best part from “some” of the first born. This does not sound like one lamb… it was the best from “some” of the first born. Either this was a huge offering, or the Lord whispers to my heart that this was a continuous offerings. Giving God the first of the best of what we have implies to me that there will be more to come. It is amazing that when I pour over God’s word and pay attention to the meaning and purpose of each and every word…sometimes His truth will simply jump out at me.

Lord, I ask this day that my focus rest on You.  Keep Satan’s “lie of I” from crouching at my doorstep. In Your strength let me master it. Help me to have a repentant heart and a steadfast focus on You. I want to surrender to You my “first fruits,” my “fat portions,” the very best of what You have given to me in my “flock” today, tomorrow and always. Let my heart not be “downcast”, but be filled with the joy and the awe of Your endless abundance of love.  I thank You Father for your precious words each and every one of them!                                 Written by: guest blogger Jeanne East

Christian Educator

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All Wisdom & Knowledge

As I read Proverbs 8 today, verses 22-31 clearly spoke to my heart of God’s infinite Wisdom. Wisdom and knowledge are attributes of our perfect God. Have you ever stopped to think that these existed within His very being before one thing was ever created? I stand in awe of my God’s abounding knowledge that I cannot begin to fathom. Throughout my life I have had flashes of something inexplicable that I could not hold in my brain, and fleeting glimpses of things so powerfully simple they would stir my heart. Are these quick flashes a mere glimpse of the wisdom and knowledge of Him or of His Presence? They go beyond anything I could ever attempt to describe. Before our minds can put a name to it, He is there. Before we can define the quickening in our hearts, He is there. He is present in the split seconds of awe and wonder and the invisible sense of enormous peace. His Spirit shouts in silence for my ears and heart alone to hear. His wisdom is more than abounding with a full knowledge that my soul cannot contain or comprehend. This infinite treasure remained a magnificent mystery to me, until it became unlocked at the very utterance of my “Yes!” to my Savior.

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 At the very moment of our surrender He lovingly gives us new eyes to see, a new heart to feel, and a new mouth to testify to His wisdom and knowledge. We are given the ability to recognize His Presence. Through His Word, true and complete wisdom is defined for us for all eternity. It is a letter from God’s heart abounding in infinite knowledge and eternal love that has always been there … simply waiting for us! Each day as I sit in quiet time with my Father, I have come to understand the indescribable blessing of His Word. 

O Lord, May the daily outpouring of that blessing be what my soul continues to thirst for. May it be a longing that will remain in my heart until the day I stand before You, my King!          

Written by: guest blogger Jeanne East

Christian Educator

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Where is Your Comfort?

This morning as I read my favorite devotional entitled Streams in the Desert it spoke of the trials of Job. It reminded me of how the Lord uses the hard things in our lives to help us grow stronger in our faith and in our total dependence on Him. There is a song that comes to mind as I reflect on the current trials in my life. The song is by recording artist Laura Story and is entitled Blessings. It speaks to the truth that the trials and the unanswered prayers in our lives just may be “His mercies in disguise.” We can’t always know or see these mercies for what they are as we walk the path of trials, but He tells us that He will shepherd us through them. His Word tells us that He will work everything for His good.  We are to trust our Faithful Savior. This morning as I opened this devotional, neatly tucked in between the pages for today and tomorrow was this prayer that I wrote years ago.

     A Prayer for Comfort 12-18-09

     Oh Precious Savior, what is it that I dread?

    I look at the road before me on which I continue to tread.

    What is it in my heart, Dear Lord that pulls your joy from me?

    Why have I lost my focus on the plans you’d have me see? 

    Plans to prosper, plans for good, plans filled with your constant care,

    Why Oh Father, do my eyes wander far from there?

    I see around me burdens, stacked so high and deep.

    These are Satan’s visions that only make me weep.

    Please Dear Father and my God, help my eyes to see

    I can carry all these things, as hard as they may be. 

    I will draw my strength from You, enough for each new day.

    Keep my eyes upon you Lord as we go our way.

    You have the strength for me to stand and grow steadfast in heart.

    I place today in Your strong hands as I take my start.

    Let me fix my eyes on You, and know that it’s all good.

    And step by step I’ll walk in faith as I know I should.

    Let Satan not distract my gaze. Please keep me hedged in tight.

    I am in your loving arms Dear Lord, hold me with Thy might. 

    Thank you Father for this road that reminds me You are there,

    Standing here beside me, my Rock of Power, Strength and Care.

 I remember the trial, and Yes… He did answer this prayer. He walked me along a path that I would not have chosen and at the end, placed my feet back on solid ground. In looking back on that path there were so many blessing that I would have missed if He had let me bypass that particular road. What are you facing this day, this week, this month, or this year? Are you comforted as I am that Our Shepherd is walking right beside you? He knows the way…He has already walked it…Trust Him!                

Written by: guest blogger Jeanne East

Christian School Educator

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose words I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4

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The Raft

When I remember my childhood many memories come to mind. Some tug at my heart with a longing for those days of simpler times. One memory that all of my brothers and sister will remember is that of my fear of putting my face under water when I was 5 years old. I had not learned to swim yet, and the idea of submerging my body let alone my face under the water of a pool, lake or ocean was something that I planned to avoid at all cost. There are family movies that will always be there as a humorous testimony to this fact. 

 I can easily picture myself on a beach in Florida with my family when I was 5. I was happily running along the shore letting the waves wash over my feet. I remember bravely running into the ocean to the depth of my knees, and running back to the safety of the shore. We had rented a raft and my siblings were riding it on the waves. I remember my father coaxing me to ride that raft in the shallow water. This idea was very scary to me… if I fell off, I would surely go under the water! My father persuaded me to give this dangerous feat a try. He told me that I would be alright, and that he would be there right beside me the whole time. I trusted my dad and I climbed on the raft. He pulled me out to a very treacherous depth of about 2 feet. He then turned the raft to face the beach, and when the next small wave came… he let go! The raft picked up speed as my father ran right beside me.  In my panic the raft flipped over and the water splashed my face. My dad was right there to hug me…but I was mad! I felt betrayed, I had trusted him and I fell off!

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 Recently one of my siblings included this home movie clip on a DVD of old home movies. This clip shows me clinging to that raft and my father running right there beside me. I can watch myself fall, and Dad swoop me up. I was unharmed but mad, and dad was comforting…but surely amused by my response to him. It is funny to watch this memory from my past. I remember the promises of my father. He told me that I would be alright, and that he would be right there beside me. He had kept those promises! I am reminded of my Heavenly Father’s promises to me in my life. He has told me to “be strong and courageous”, “fear not” …and He says “I will never leave you or forsake you!” How many times does God repeat these promises in His Word? Time and time again He reminds us of His love, and His presence in our lives. We splash along through life and go through situations which look so deep and dark to us, yet to our heavenly Father they are not even 2 feet deep. We cling to our rafts and ride through the salty waters of this life and He is always there running right beside us.   

My dad did not prevent the fall, but he knew that I would be fine…and truly that is exactly what he had promised, ”You will be alright, I will be right here!” Sometimes it seems like the trials of our lives are like the waves of the sea. We go through calm times, but rest assured in this life there will some bigger waves… some bigger than we would ever choose to navigate. It is a comfort to know that we have a loving Father who runs beside us through them all. He never promises that we won’t fall off our raft and get a face full of water. He does promise us that we can trust Him to be there, to help us through rough times with His loving comfort and strength. The things that look so huge in our perspective must look like those 2 foot waves from His. There is nothing bigger than my Father. However if we run away in our disappointment, we will miss out on His comfort and strength, and we will not be ready for the next wave. I am so thankful for my earthly father who so faithfully modeled my Heavenly Father’s love for me!        

Written by: Guest Blogger Jeanne East

“…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

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Faith is a Heart Surrender

As I read one of my favorite devotionals this morning, ’Streams in the Desert’, authored by Mrs. Charles Cowman, the cited verse she used as the basis of her devotional was Romans 3:3:

                  “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

 Mrs. Cowman also used two quotes in her writing, both of them truly pierced my heart:

“Is it any wonder that when we stagger at any promise of God through unbelief, we do not receive it? Not that faith merits an answer, or in any way earns it, or works it out; but God has made believing a condition of receiving, and the Giver has a sovereign right to choose His own terms of gift.”Rev. Samuel Hart

“Unbelief says, “How can such and such things be?” It is full of “hows”; but faith has one great answer to the ten thousand “hows,” and that answer is – God!” CHM

 Jesus speaks about faith constantly in His Word. As I read God’s Word the expression “great faith” seems directly opposed to Jesus’ analogy of the mustard seed. Faith seems to be something that cannot be measured by its size.  It seems rather to be an intangible perspective that exists within our hearts that cannot be comprehended by our minds. God gives us this perspective through His promises that He has written down for us in His Word. God’s promises never change, but we have the choice to believe Him or not.

The “hows” of our tangible world are penetrated by faith.  God and His Word remain supreme. To my thinking, the “hows” seem to be things of “self”, fueled by the power and strength of our minds. This is where the battle of faith plays out. True faith, however, is of the heart. Faith makes sense out of the senseless. It is not tangible, and will not fit in the realm of human reasoning. It transcends reasoning because it does not come from our mind. Faith comes as a promise to our hearts directly from its Creator. When the promises of God are absorbed into our surrendered hearts…only then is faith possible.

Faith was in the heart of Abraham, which led him to obey God in the ultimate test of surrender. Faith propelled the stone in David’s hand when his heart communicated the power of God against the futile efforts of an enormous obstacle.  Faith says, “I am God.” It says, “My ways are not your ways.”  It says, “Tell the mountain to move and it will move.” Faith continues on infinite in power beyond anything our minds can begin to process…because Faith is not of the mind. Faith is a thing of the heart, which our finite brain cannot comprehend.

When Jesus used the analogy of the mustard seed, He was telling us that faith has nothing to do with size, or reason, or tangibility. Faith is an asset within a surrendered heart. It is the comprehension that Jesus is God, but this is not a comprehension of the mind…it is a heart comprehension, brought about only through Christ’s Spirit within our surrendered hearts. Paul says:

 “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

I believe that when we truly surrender our hearts to Christ Jesus, we long for our will to become God’s will for us. And if we surrender our hearts to God’s will, then truly what can stand against God? (Romans 8:31-39) When we finally come to this heart place of total surrender to God’s will, we will find faith there.

Thank you Jesus for the infinite gift of Your Word, Your Truth, and the faithfulness of Your love for us. Help us to daily surrender our hearts to You and to Your will for us, thus ever strengthening our faith in You. Amen.

Written by guest blogger Jeanne East

Christian Elementary Education Teacher

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Surrendered to Simplicity

A little over a week ago we pulled up the stakes of our life in Atlanta as my husband accepted a job offer in Knoxville, Tennessee. We had spent months before this move looking at houses in Knoxville. Our plan was to “downsize”, however every time we looked at a smaller house, I found myself wondering how we would fit most of our “STUFF” in it. Some possessions seemed to be negotiable… but most had sentimental value in my perspective, preventing them from being simply given away.  Our “stuff” presented a problem that was making it difficult to find a smaller house that would comfortably contain it all. After a period of unsuccessful house hunting we decided that we would build the perfect house, smaller than our old house, but bigger than what we truly needed…to house all of our earthly treasures!

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When we arrived in Knoxville, we moved into a small (compared to our former house), 3 bedroom apartment. We selected a few of our possessions and simply decorated the apartment that would be our home for the next nine months or so, until we could build our new home. The rest of our “stuff” was unloaded into two huge storage units. As I watched the movers pack most of our possessions into storage, I was struck by the quantity of items that we had accumulated over the years. The movers packed those storage units like a puzzle, not one square inch was left unfilled… and then we closed the doors. It was strange to me that as soon as the doors were closed that I had this feeling of freedom, reminding me of the expression, “out of sight, out of mind.” Within a couple of days living in the apartment I found that I truly did not miss any of that “stuff”…except maybe a few of my books. I marveled at the way God uses our life experiences to touch our hearts, and to constantly teach us His truth.

As I sat quietly with the Lord during my morning devotional time, I reflected on my perspective before the move as compared to my perspective now. I love that the Lord continues to teach me about what is truly important in my life. I find myself loving the simplicity of our life right now. It reminds me of moves we made when our children were young. For a time when they hadn’t made new friends yet, they clung very close to me as they slowly ventured into their new lives. The closeness during those times is something I still remember and that I loved.  I find myself as God’s child drawing even closer to my Father as I begin this new chapter in my life. This realization– combined with the purging of so many material “distractions” –has brought me to a place of surrender.  And I’ve discovered that with that surrender, there is an deeper connection with my Heavenly Father.

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I realize that my life will begin to fill up again as time presses forward, but for now the simplicity of this time is a welcome retreat for me. It is a time of quiet surrender, a time to get very still and listen to the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is constantly whispering priceless truths to me about my life. He opens my eyes, my heart, and my mind to recognize the lessons He wants me to learn. He is sweetly reminding me that there is a time for everything. I am thankful for the years of my life; for the busy times, and all the stuff that comes with those times, because without those I do not think that I would fully appreciate the simplicity of NOW…the surrender of NOW. There is a surrender in the NOW…trading the noise, the busy life, and ‘the stuff’ for the simplicity of a quiet communion with the Spirit. I truly love this place and I don’t want to go back to the “stuff” of my old life.  I want to go forward being very selective about what and how I choose to fill my life. I want to cling to my Heavenly Parent, as my young children clung to me in those new transitions. I loved those times…and I know that God also loves that time with me.

Special thanks to guest blogger Jeanne East, Christian Elementary Education Teacher       

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