Unhewn Altars and Revealed Treasures

UNHEWN
I am but unhewn stone 
resting within the flow of your river.
Noticed, Seen, Chosen, Collected
Lain gently at your feet.
Building blocks of my life
shaped by you-For you
Revealed
Stacked one by one before your throne
A table, a place of rest
I take up my cross to follow you
I am not lost here in this place
For in you I have been found.
I have decided.  I cannot be swayed.
I set my face like flint.
I lay my heart upon these rocks
For I can do no less
It all belongs to you, you see
These stones:
An altar set before you
This heart:
A living beating sacrifice
So, 
I slaughter who I say I am 
And as I die, you bring new life
You breathe your breath into who You 
say I am

Unhewn, unwrought, uncut
Formed FOR You, BY You
Beautiful
Both Altar of remembrance and sacrificial offering 
Smoke rising, sweet incense
Accepted, Forgiven, Free



The year I began working on “Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust”, my writing coach encouraged me to set aside the time to ask what God wanted to say-both to me and through me. So, I did. Let me tell you, God is not shy! So, He spoke to the heart of the purpose for “Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust” and gave me an outline and an intro. God knows I’m an outline person, (He created me. He knows me; so, He spoke to me in a way I understand.

God Knows you, and speaks to you in ways you will understand!

As I continued to pray and listen, the Holy Spirit again spoke to my heart. These spoken words were not for the book I was writing, but were meant to cut to the very core of who I had become-the ways I thought, things I believed, and how I acted in response to those thoughts and beliefs. He told me He was going to turn over some stones in my life, one at a time. He planned to kick up some dust, reveal some things that were hidden to me-within me. In time, I discovered He is a supernatural investigator, leaving no stone unturned! He’d get to the truth, the heart of the matter, if I let Him. Well, He already knew the truth! He knew exactly what lay beneath these stones. He just wanted me to know it too.

God knows the truth about you! He just wants you to know the truth too!

This made me more than a little bit nervous! If I remembered correctly, and I knew I did indeed remember correctly, there are quite a few creepy, crawly things which live under rocks. I pictured all the stones in the creeks and rivers, water rushing over them, while the insects, reptiles, and crustaceans hovered in the darkness beneath the stones. Yet a dear sweet friend-and my husband-reminded me gold is also often found under rocks. I recalled watching more than a few westerns with my dad, and some treasure hunting shows with my husband. My friend and my husband were right! Every treasure hunter looks under rocks to find the good stuff! Yeah, there might be some creepy, crawly things they have to shoo away, but the goal is finding the treasure. Revealing the gold is the focus and the purpose!

God wants to reveal the Gold He hid in you!

So, I accepted the gauntlet tossed before me. H.S. was going treasure hunting! God had staked his claim upon my soul and set to the business of panning for gold. Sure, He had to pick up some stones, take a look underneath, and reveal what was there. As He went He collected those stones, one by one, and gave them to me. The very stones he had turned over in my life, he was returning to me. After some time I had seven stones, then nine. “I am not done,” He told me. “Hang onto these stones for a bit. Look at them. Grow to understand the work I have begun and will complete in you.”

“Build an Altar. An altar of stone. And Remember!”

So, like Moses, like Joshua, and like the Israelites, I gathered the stones; stones shaped only by it’s time in the river of God-time spent in His presence and in the fountain of living water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

In Exodus 20:22-26 God had told the Israelites not to reshape or cut the stones in any way. He told them the same thing in in Deuteronomy 27 and in Joshua 8. It wasn’t and isn’t my job to change the stones or make them fit the way or where I think they should. I didn’t create these stones. My Heavenly Father formed them. He knew every ridge, every turn, and every curve. God wanted me to remember HIS work, not mine.

Yeah, it’s a bit harder to stack unhewn stones. Sometimes we can’t figure out how to join them together or how to balance them. Each stone is different, unique. Yet each one is important to what our Father is building-a dwelling place for the Most High God, a temple for His Spirit- with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone, the foundation. Remember, in HIM the whole building (that’s us) is fitted together! (Ephesians 2:20-22 TBSB) You and I are the temple of the Most High God!

God wants you to Remember!

REMEMBER: Now, there’s a word! God instructed me to remember. He instructed the Israelites to remember. Paul, in Ephesians, exhorted the Gentiles to remember. God wants YOU to remember! So, let’s take a closer look at the word.

The word remember in the Old Testament often means to return to wholeheartedly. It also means to repent by changing your mind about something and coming back to what you know to be true and right.

Ephesians 2 uses the Greek word mnēmoneúō. It where we get our modern day learning technique-Mnemonic Device! The Greeks and Romans thought of it first. It hints at ways to recall something without implying anything had even been forgotten. This method works by using cues to keep whatever it is we want to recall in the forefront of our minds by speaking of it, using visual clues and images (like an altar) or even by writing it down. (Biblehub.com; Helps Word-Studies)

Write it Down

In Deuteronomy and in Exodus, God had the Israelites write the law upon the stones they had collected. There’s plenty of data confirming that writing something down helps us to remember. So, like Moses, I wrote down what had been revealed as God picked up the stones of my life. Of course I didn’t have any literal stones to write on, so I wrote in my notebook.

In Romans 15:4 Paul tells us the things which have been written or for both our instruction and for our hope. I believe when God started kicking up the stones in my life He was revealing some things for which He was calling me to repentance. He was providing instruction so I might grow in knowledge and in wisdom. But, He was also showing me the gold beneath the rock-the good things He has placed there for me. Things hidden IN me and FOR me! Yet, not for me alone-for my children and their children, and for others as well. For when we place ourselves in HIM and learn from HIM we become fruit bearers. And the tree doesn’t eat its own fruit.

Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that “The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of the law. ”

For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. Romans 15:4 TBSB

So today, I want to share with you some things which may offer you some encouragement and some hope. You, too, may have some stones in your life which need to be turned over. You may only see the creepy crawly things, but God sees the Gold. Or you may need some help seeing the things under the rock for which God is calling you to change you mind about and return to Him in repentance. Either way, let’s pick up the stones together. Let’s lie them before the throne of God in worship, an altar, a table; presenting ourselves, “because of God’s mercy and grace, as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, which is only a reasonable act of worship. In this way we are not conformed to the world, but we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. When we do this, we will then be able to recognize what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 various translations paraphrased)

“So keep coming to him who is the Living Stone—though he was rejected and discarded by men but chosen by God and is priceless in God’s sight. Come and be his “living stones” who are continually being assembled into a sanctuary for God. For now you serve as holy priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices that he readily accepts through Jesus Christ. ” I Peter 2:4-5 TPT

Striking Gold!

Sometimes God simply revealed the Gold to me when He tossed over a stone. Other times there were some issues He wanted me to deal with; so, He showed those things to me to give me the opportunity to repent. Repentance is not some big scary thing. We may not be hiding some deep , dark sin, just wrong thinking. Repentance basically means to change the way you think. H.S. wanted to challenge my thinking, teach me, and help me shift my thought patterns (That is H. S.’s job, after-all-comforter, teacher, helper!). He took me through this process, not to be mean, or to shake me up just for the heck of it. He did it so I could become more like my Father, Daddy God.

You see, He wants us to be free, truly free! He has called us to freedom within His Spirit. When we spend time in His presence we grow in knowledge and wisdom. We come to reflect the glory of the Lord as we are “being transformed into HIS image” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This was His intent when He created and formed mankind in the Garden. He breathed His breath upon us-Spirit to spirit! His hopes and dreams became real as Adam and Eve walked with Him in the cool of the day. Those dreams of relationship were never crushed, even when man rebelled. Hope always existed in the form of Jesus Christ-the very Word of God, a “Living expression” of who God is. (John 1:1 The Passion Translation)

Possibility dwells within the realm of probability because with God “Nothing shall be impossible”. (Luke 1:37)

God created us for relationship with Him. He is a pure and holy God. He wants us to be more like Him. So, He is a miner, a treasure hunter seeking and finding the gold He already knows is there. He knows it, because He put it there. He’s not one of those reclusive hunters who doesn’t want anyone to know what He found. On the contrary, He wants everyone to know about the treasure living in you! He wants you to shine bright to reveal the glory of God.

Revealed

Below I have named the stones. One word or phrase. I have given them names of the gold-and have not named them the thing God wanted to change in me. When God changed names He did not call them by the old name again.

Here I will share what I heard the Spirit speak to me in my Spirit in a conversational style-just as if I were talking to a friend or a teacher. Hey, isn’t that what He is to us-a friend and a teacher?

So, these are the stones He overturned and handed to me. These are the stones I’ve lived with for a while so I could give them back to him as an altar. These have become the places I lay my life down, a living sacrifice-sweet incense to my Father. It has not all been easy, but like King David, “I will not offer to my Lord a sacrifice that cost me nothing!” (II Samuel 24:24)

  1. Set Apart and Chosen
    • God: Jamie, the lie from the spirit of comparison will destroy you. Comparison is grounded in jealousy and the belief your difference is your weakness. The reality is I created you to be different than the others, for you are one body but many parts (I Corinthians 12:18-30) When you weigh yourself against another you cannot see what I see, for you cannot sit as a judge while you stand upon the scales as well. You will find yourself wanting. You cannot see what I see, what I created. Trust me to do the work which needs doing in you. I am the potter, after all, am I not? You’ve been earmarked for a purpose, as have they. Trust that I have chose you.
  2. Freedom
    • Me: “God, that’s a little weird.”
    • God: “Sometimes I’m a little weird.”
    • Me: “Oh, yeah, I guess you did spit in that guy’s eye and John the Baptist was pretty weird and you really liked him.”
    • God: While we are talking about freedom-let’s talk about worship. I want you to recognize the heart of worship. And while I have called my people to do things with excellence I am more concerned about matters of the heart. I study it and know its depths and motives. What is excellence? Is it perfectionism which is more concerned about man’s response or is it a submitted and obedient heart? Prepare and do the work, but submit and obey.
  3. Peace and Rest
    • Here is what I heard the Spirit speak to me: “Jamie, you have a calming presence and use your voice to speak peace. You are a carrier of peace.”
    • There is a principle of rest. Over the last several months the Lord has begun to speak to me about the Sabbath. He did not create the sabbath as a punishment or a restriction, but as a blessing. Take advantage of that blessing. REST! I don’t understand all there is to this yet. But, I do know this: I am rooted firmly in HIM. He is where I find contentment and rest. I must guard against becoming a prisoner of time.
  4. Forgiveness
    • God: I love you. I call to you. Be like me! Forgive. Recognize and acknowledge the fruit of repentance and then treat that person as though they are truly justified and sanctified-because I tell you, they are. You say you know you are to be like Jesus to the world. So act like it and walk as He walked.
  5. Mercy and Justice
    • God: Jamie, in the past you have walked away from others who have fallen-ambivalent, uncaring, embarrassed. This is the creepy, crawly thing under this stone. Yet here is the gold: You love justice and truth. And where there is justice, there must be mercy. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ (Matthew 9: 13)
    • Lesson: If I fix my eyes upon Jesus, and follow Him as my shepherd, then I am surrounded by mercy, goodness, and kindness. It is before me and behind me. Mercy and justice work hand in hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne, but Mercy and Grace are before His face. Because of mercy and grace we are called to lift others out of the dust, leading them to the sure foundation! Let us never leave a fallen brother/sister behind.
  6. Praise
    • Me: Lord, I am not comfortable doling out praise.
    • God: No, nor are you comfortable receiving praise. Yet I say to you, ‘Be effusive in your praise’. I will make you a woman who is effusive with her praise. I’ve been teaching you to be proactive in this matter with the devotions I have you doing right now as you search out the goodness of God in my Word. Likewise, actively look for goodness in others and in events. Then, when you receive praise remember to appreciate the compliments. Believe them and say thank you.
  7. Working Faith
    • God: “You are one who is after my presence. It is your favorite place. You seek my heart and long to dwell there. You desire to get alone with me and are unafraid of that time. Watch: When I call you to a work do not feel guilty for DOING the work. I said to present your body as a LIVING sacrifice. Move, Do, Be about the work. Commit your works and your thoughts will be established. Do the work as worship. It is all mine if surrendered to my hand. “
  8. Relationship and Communion The Table of God
    • God: Are you wearing the label of introversion as an excuse or using it as an apology?
    • Me: Well, I am an introvert, so…
    • God: I didn’t say you weren’t. I asked a question. Are you apologizing for how I made you or are you using this part of your personality to avoid some of the things I’ve called you to? Are you displaying the introversion label to avoid connection?
    • Me: ?????
    • God: I want you to recognize the label you wear is MY NAME. My word is written upon your heart. You are mine. You are powerful in your quiet strength. You listen and hear. The sound of silence does not frighten you and you consider your words for they have power to bring death or life. You are a creator, as I am a creator. So, discern, consider your actions and focus on HIM. Consider your actions and your words. The label of introversion often hints at mistrust of others. Yet, I’ve called my people as a bride, one from many. I’ve asked you to come together to remember me. As you meet at the table I’ve prepared for you, you commune with me and with one another. Remember, the goal is connection-Not disconnection.
  9. Trust Independence vs. Reliance
    • Jesus: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” Lk 13:34
    • Dear ones, we cannot be righteous in our own eyes. Our independence contradicts our need to lean on HIM. He says, “Come to me, Abide in me.” He desires that his cry toward us become ours toward Him. Trust HIM. Lean on Him. Yes, there may be things we can do all on our own, but God has called us to partner together, walk TOGETHER. Things are just better when we work together.
    • The same is true of our relationships with others. When you are in covenant partnership with another, trust them. Lean on them and allow them to help. God never called us to be Lone Ranger’s.
    • It’s not enough to “believe in” God. You gotta “Believe” Him!
  10. Steadfastness Endurance and Perseverance
    • HIM: Although many have called you stubborn, I have said you are tenacious; like the vines clinging to the rocks, you persevere and endure with me. Although you can be obstinate and headstrong, I call you one with resolve and fortitude. You have grit and determination, persistence in the face of adversity.
    • I hear the Lord saying, “I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn (like the horse or the mule which must be led by bit and bridle) when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!” Psalm 32:8-9 TPT and KJV
    • Me: “Lord, you are my secret hiding place, protecting me from these troubles, surrounding me with songs of gladness! Your joyous shouts of rescue release my breakthrough.” Psalm 32:7
    • Oh Father, King David over and over again, proclaimed his heart to be steadfast toward you. I, too, declare to you, “My heart is steadfast, Oh, my God!”
  11. Standard Bearer
    • Me: Father, I really need some accountability in this area of my life.
    • HIM: Do you though? You know what to do. You’ve been educated on this matter, learned, and walked it out with others. You can do it. It is a matter of you choosing the better thing. I have called you to be a standard bearer. So pick up the standard I’ve prepared for you and walk in the authority I’ve given you over this matter.
    •  Standard-“something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example” Mirriam-Webster Dictionary
  12. Thanksgiving
    • I had many reasons in 2020 to be ungrateful, as I’m sure did many of you. It was a hard year. As I entered 2021 those ‘reasons’ didn’t magically disappear because it was a new year. But I chose to do the following on New Year’s Day while I was stuck in isolation-alone in my bedroom-recovering from COVID: I wrote a 3 page paper to remind myself of the many reasons I had to be thankful. I entitled it, “Why 2020 Didn’t Completely Suck”. A few of the things I recognized is-I have been blessed to have a bedroom in which to isolate so as to protect my loved ones. I have a comfy bed, a television, Wi-fi, large panoramic windows to see the birds, the grass, and the trees. I have a loving husband who took care of me, parents who left my requested Oat Milk on my door step, a backyard to walk around in so I could stretch my muscles and exercise my lungs. And most of all I have a God who is good no matter what the circumstance.
    • I am reminded of the following words: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalm 100:4 NLT I long to be in HIS presence. To get there I have been given a simple roadmap-thankfulness and praise.
    • And here is the crux of it all:
      • “Since we are receiving our rights to an unshakable kingdom let us be filled with grateful hearts, extremely thankful, and offer God the purest worship that delights his heart as we lay down our lives in absolute surrender, filled with awe.” Hebrews 12:28 TPT and KJV

This is my story, my stones, my altar. These are the stones I lay my life upon. There may yet be more revealed and overturned, but these are the principles to which God has called me. This is the gold HE desires to reveal within me. As I lay my life upon the altar, His consuming fire will burn away the impurities as He is faithful to make me more like Him, more like the vision He has for me before He laid the foundations of the world. Now, God is a BIG God, so as He makes me more like Him He can make you more like Him. This doesn’t mean we are carbon copy robots. We are different, with different personalities, different dreams, different giftings and abilities. What is the same is the WHO and the WHAT, not necessarily the why or the how.

So, what is your story? Are there some stones in the river for you? Ask God to reveal the secret things for you. Name them! And be willing to lay your life down before him. He asks for your life-nothing more and nothing less. It’s not unreasonable! It is a grand adventure to be set apart and chosen, to be truly free in His peace and rest, to walk in forgiveness, and in grace and mercy as we stand upon the foundations of HIS righteousness and justice. It is glorious to praise His name and to walk in a faith which works. It is a great mystery to forge a true relationship born through communion with our God and with others. To do so, there must be trust and a heart that does not waver in it’s steadfast belief of HIM and in what HE says. Believe HIS WORD, for as we march forward we become a standard bearer as we walk in the authority-given, learned, and earned in His kingdom. And through it all let us remain thankful, grateful for His redemption and faithfulness.

He loves you. He calls to you. He has laid His life down for you. He asks only for yours in return.

Write the Treasure of the Word Upon Your Heart

…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phillippians 1:5 TBSB

The secret things belong to the Lord, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of the law. Deuteronomy 29:29

We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that this immeasurable power will be seen as God’s, not ours. II Corinthians 4:7 The Passion Translation

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