Different Gifts

In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. 

–from Romans 12:6

The field had several white birds in it, looking for food no doubt.

Stopping on the side of the road to take pictures of them was quite a delight for me.

Without really realizing it at the time, I had captured one bird flying away, one simply standing in the grass and another flying close to the ground.

Three of the same kind of bird, but each in a separate place.

God has given us different gifts.

I may be called to go and given the gifts I need.

You may be called to stay and given the gifts you need.

I may be called to hover over the field, being given the ability to hover.

You may be called to stand, being given the ability to stand.

What gifts has God given you?

Knock

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me.

Before church started this morning, I decided to take a photo of a stained glass window not far from where I was sitting. As I got closer to the window, I realized the artwork was depicting Jesus standing at the door of our hearts, knocking.

I don’t want the noise of the day—work, family issues, illness—to keep me from hearing His knock.

Instead, I want to listen.

Lord, help me to hear You as You knock, every moment of every day. Thank You for Your faithfulness and Your great love.

Amen

Instruct

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

–from Psalm 32:8

At my workplace, we recently began a initiative for greater security. In this day and age, it has become a necessity.

Part of that initiative is reminding ourselves of direction—-north, south, east and west. If an emergency is announced to be in the south side of the complex, my coworkers and I would need to ascertain which area is indeed toward the south and quickly move in another direction.

While camping and hiking it is sometimes necessary to carry a compass. This helps us to discover the course we are traveling on in order to avoid getting lost. Being oriented in the correct direction can make all the difference.

How many people do you know who aren’t aware of the spiritual direction they are going? Time after time, you see them wandering into dangerous areas because they are not orienting their focus on Jesus.

If we think about, we’ve been wanderers, too, at some point. We have disregarded the direction leading to peace and forgiveness and gone the other way.

Today, let’s focus on what direction will lead us to Jesus, listening for His guidance in every situation we encounter.

It will make all the difference…

What is Good

Indeed, the LORD will give what is good, And our land will yield its produce.

—Psalm 67:6

The seeds are planted in the ground.

Rain waters the soil and God causes the plants to grow.

The LORD gives what is good.

Everything good in our lives comes from God.

What are you thankful for today?

Still Sinners

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

—Romans 5:8

A statue of Christ stands tall in a cemetery not far from our house.

With arms open, the statue suggests that Jesus is ready and willing to forgive us and draw us close.

Everyone who died and was buried there needed Jesus.

They needed salvation.

Forgiveness.

They needed to be redeemed.

Jesus did that for them, and they only had to make the decision to receive Him as their Savior.

Jesus did that for them.

He did it for us, too.

New

For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.

–Isaiah 65:17

As soon as I noticed the sunset, I called to my husband to come outside.

How could I keep such beauty to myself?

I wanted him to view the vibrant colors and sculpted clouds above the horizon.

If God allows us to experience such beautiful and radiant scenes here on Earth, just imagine what Heaven will be like!

Sing for Joy

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

—Psalm 95:1

Recently, some friends came to my home for dinner.

After the meal, we played instruments and sang praise songs to God.

It was a beautiful time as we shared our common love for our Creator.

The psalmist issued an invitation long ago in ages past: “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;”

Why not sing a song of praise right now?

Work

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.

—Psalm 90:17

We drove past the field dotted with bales of hay.

There is so much to be said for what that scene represented.

The grass grew because God provided the water and sunlight.

People looked after the land, and when it was time, the grass was harvested and formed into bales.

Livestock will likely eat the hay because those people worked very hard to cut the hay and have it preserved for the months ahead.

As we work each day, there is often so much more to what we are doing than what we readily consider.

The work of our hands can bless others now, and sometimes, in the future.

What work has God given you to do?

Light Shine

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

—Matthew 5:16

The sunlight behind my house was steaming across the road, creating a vibrant green color on the grass and trees.

There was such a contrast between the lighted area and the shadows nearby.

Our lives should be in contrast to those who are not following Jesus.

We should love, even if they don’t.

We should serve, even if they don’t.

We should forgive, even if they don’t.

Our light needs to shine.

Every day….

In the Path

In the path of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death.

—Proverbs 12:28

Walking along in the wooded area, I chose to follow the pathways through the trees and thick brush. Although I had seen snakes, large birds, and alligators in the area before, I felt comfortable as long as I was staying on the way marked before me.

Had I decided to go foraging through the mass of trees and bushes, away from the path, I would have been faced with any number of possible dangers.

God has given us a path to follow in life. If we choose to stay on the way He has provided, we will experience life. Now, and for eternity.

Streams

On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” He was speaking about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

—John 7:37-39

Love is Kind

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

–1 Corinthians 13:4

I went to a wedding this afternoon.

The couple had been together for five years.

The pastor spoke of love.

Of making a commitment not just to one another, but to Jesus.

Jesus’ love for us is patient and kind.

We need to show that love to others.

Everyone needs to know that love, don’t you think?

If

Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the keeper of the vineyard, ‘Look, for the past three years I have come to search for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Therefore cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone again this year, until I dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine. But if not, you can cut it down.’”

—Luke 13:6-9

Has it been two years?

Maybe just one?

I don’t really remember how long it’s been, but I will probably remember the lesson that came from it for a long time.

I had purchased a multi-colored plant and placed it in a pot.

It wasn’t doing well, and after a while, it was just a stalk protruding up from the dirt, as I recall.

Still, I didn’t dig it up out of the pot.

One day, quite a long time afterwards, I saw a leaf or two budding.

It wasn’t dead!

Now–this autumn–it has grown out to be a beautiful and healthy plant!

God gives us second chances, many times.

If we find ourselves in such a condition that we feel we are nothing but a withered stalk in the dirt, we can cry out to God to restore us.

He can make something beautiful of us, even then.

Praised

From the coming up of the sun to its going down, the Lord’s name is to be praised.

—Psalm 113:3

This morning, the sun was coming up beyond the overcast sky.

The moisture obscured the light, but the sun could still be seen.

It is dark now, but until the sun rises tomorrow, the Lord is to be praised.

And from every sunrise and sunset that will ever be, He is to be praised!

This Is The Way

Isaiah 30:21

And whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear this command behind you: “This is the way. Walk in it.”

Do I hear God’s voice telling me which way to go?

Am I listening for His voice, or I am I too focused on the concerns at hand to notice Him speaking?

Grow In

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

—2 Peter 3:18

Grow.

Grow in grace.

The grace of our Lord.

The grace of our Savior.

The grace of Jesus Christ.

Grow in knowledge.

The knowledge of our Lord.

The knowledge of our Savior.

The knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Redeem

For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with Him is great power to redeem.

—from Psalm 130

This morning, as I read this passage, the words resounded within me as though they were meant for me to hear.

The power to redeem.

The great power.

The greatest power.

It’s with God.

My heart longs for the redemption of those I

love.

God knows this longing.

With Him, and with Him only, is the great power to redeem.

Acknowledge Him

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.

–Proverbs 3:5-6

As I was driving to church early this morning, the sun was just coming up.

I hadn’t actually seen it yet, but I saw beautiful hues of pink on some high clouds as I left my neighborhood.

After traveling about fifteen minutes or so, I was on a road headed south. I wasn’t paying much attention to anything but what was in front of me.

Suddenly, I looked to my left and saw a blazing sunrise in the east.

Such dazzling, blazing light coming through the palm trees and past buildings….I had been driving along without even noticing it.

The Bible tells us to acknowledge God in all our ways and He will make our paths straight.

I think there are times when God is right there with us, wanting us to acknowledge Him, but we aren’t looking.

What do you think?

Cliffs

While visiting my cousin in another country, I was privileged to do some sightseeing.

One of most beautiful scenes to behold is very close to her home. Huge cliffs overlooking the ocean draw many tourists each year. I can certainly understand why.

As I looked toward the cliffs one morning, it was quite foggy. Later, when walking along the “approved” pathway, I became nervous as other visitors went closer to the edge.

Didn’t they understand the risk? Who could survive so great a fall?

There would be no one to save them.

Psalm 118:13-14 in The Message reads, “I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall, when God grabbed and held me.  God’s my strength, He’s also my song, and now He’s my salvation.

I’ve seen a cliff’s edge first hand. Just imagine a “spiritual” cliff that high! Then, imagine God saving us from falling off the edge of that cliff.

That’s exactly what He has done.

He’s my strength, my song and my salvation.

Is He yours?

Washed

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.

The idea of washing feet has come to me in two different ways during the past year.

I attended a wedding where the bride and groom washed each other’s feet as part of the marriage ceremony.

In an extremely impoverished area that I have visited, an elderly believer in Christ came to some of the residents and washed their feet as a act of faith and love.

Am I willing to serve others by washing their feet?

Usually, that’s not the need that presents itself. Instead, am I willing to take a few moments to listen to someone who is hurting? Am I happy to take the time to call a friend to check on them? Am I available to tell another person about the faith I have in Jesus when the opportunity arises?

All of these needs can be met as an act of faith and love.

Is there someone you could serve today?

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

—John 13:2-5

Victory

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

—1 Corinthians 15:57

Lately, I have become more aware of the power of God to work in our lives.

He is victorious in all things.

All things….

All things in your life and all things in mine.

There is a song that speaks of this.

“Your Name, Your Name, is Victory. All praise will rise to Christ our King.

By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare Your victory
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me.”

(Resurrecting–Elevation Worship)

I decided to buy a necklace with the letter V to remind me of victory.

For those that ask why I’m wearing it, I will have the opportunity to explain why the Name of Jesus is Victory.

He has given me new life, He will never leave me and His Name is to be praised forever!

One Another

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

—Romans 12:10

As I was walking past the brick wall, I noticed hand prints someone had made.

I didn’t know who had made them and I didn’t know why they had made them.

As I continued walking, I was compelled to go back and photograph the wall.

How many people had walked past that wall since it had been constructed years ago?

How many of those people were hurting?

Lonely?

Dealing with insurmountable challenges?

How many of them had faith in God?

How many did not?

As they passed the wall, they left a portion of their lives there—a few seconds or moments in time as they traveled on to the next one.

What if each person I’ve known could’ve left an impression of themselves on the wall of my heart?

Would they have found love there?

Acceptance?

Empathy?

Encouragement?

What would Jesus have wanted them to find?

Cast

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

—1 Peter 5:7

It was peaceful.

The sun was fading as evening shadows approached.

I sat alone on the bench beside the lake.

Birds paddled across in the water in front of me.

A chilly March wind blew through my long sweater.

The trees, now barren looking, would soon answer God’s call to burst into new green leaves with the arrival of spring.

Worries.

Uncertainties.

I am not strong enough to bear them.

I was not meant to.

Only Jesus can rescue me from all that threatens

peace

in my heart.

Everything

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

–Philippians 4:13

The bird was perched on a branch high in the air.

I wonder if he had ever thought it was too high to fly to?

There, near the highest point of the tree’s reach to the heavens, he could surely see for miles.

There are times that God plans for us to perch on top when we are convinced we can only make it to the lower branches.

It is God who gives us the strength to reach the heights.

Bubbling Spring

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.

—John 4:14

Searching.

Discontent.

Hiding desperation.

Friendly on the outside, insecure on the inside.

Wanting to trust.

Afraid.

Lonely…..

That was me before I gave my life to Jesus.

At times, I can still have feelings of loneliness or insecurity.

But it’s different.

I now have hope.

I know I’m not alone.

I know I can trust God.

I know I have eternal life.

Peace

You, Lord, give perfect peace

to those who keep their purpose firm

and put their trust in You.

—-Isaiah 26:3

Walking along the country road, all was peaceful and calm.

Deer tracks in the sand, an occasional spider scurrying along and the gentle, but unyielding wind in the tops of the towering pine trees.

I wanted to be there.

I wanted to be surprised by every moment of beauty that presented itself as I took step after step.

A flowering tree had heard the call of spring, answering with a burst of creamy white blossoms.

Fences quietly separated farm land from the dusty road.

Although my surroundings were peaceful and serene, the peace I truly experienced was inside me.

A peace that only God could provide—a settled sense of who I am.

A quiet trust….

Morning

As I was on my way to work, the fog was thick.

Stopped in traffic on a rural highway, I looked at my surroundings.

To my left, an open field was blanketed in the mist.

The rising sun appeared more like a glowing moon as its shape could clearly be seen through the filter of vapor.

There are no days when I am alone.

God is always with me.

His guidance, comfort and love are my constant companions.

He will never leave me.

My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.

—Psalm 130:6