Your Needs

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:19

 

It wasn’t what I had planned at all.

I wanted to have a peaceful, wonderful day.

Actually, it turned out to be that way, but I wasn’t feeling well.

Having developed a fever and sore throat the day before, I wasn’t up to doing everything I had hoped to.

Still, the morning was beautiful, so I decided to step out into the yard and take a few photos in the early mist.

A squirrel was playfully moving about on a tree.

He was having a good day.

By watching him, I began to experience a certain happiness.

It’s like that for me.

As I look at my surroundings and notice the beauty of what God has created, I begin to feel a happy calmness.

As the verse above speaks of the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus, it seems to me that God will provide our needs, whatever they are.

Spiritual needs.

Physical needs.

Relational needs.

All our needs.

Even as He was healing my body of a sore throat and fever, He was giving me calm through the morning mist and the company of a scampering little squirrel.

 

your-needs

A Green Olive Tree

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

—Psalm 52:8
I photographed the metal artwork on the foyer wall at church. 

It is the symbol of our congregation. 

A tree can be symbolic of many things, so the artwork can be interpreted in many ways, as well. 

My husband and I were talking about trust this evening. 

It is so very important to put our trust in God. 

If I imagine that I am the tree represented here, my branches and leaves are flourishing in the loving kindness of God. 

What do you think of when you look at the tree?

Rivers

Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

—John 7:38

~

This weekend, I am attending a ladies retreat on the Suwannee River. 

It is peaceful and calm. 

A place where I can ponder my life and who I am. 

As believers, we have rivers of living water flowing from within us. 

May we always share this love of Jesus with others. 

Love the Lord

I read a phrase today that was new for me–

“God’s revealed will.”

If I understood what the writer was referring to, God’s revealed will is what is already been told to us in the Bible.

Questions like, “What is God’s will concerning lying about my income?” should be discernible with passages such as Proverbs 12:22:

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Thinking further about lying, this verse allows us to see more as Jesus was speaking to some who were against Him:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

So, it is very clear that God’s will for our lives does not involve lying.

That has been revealed to us already.

There are many other things listed in the Bible that are revealed to us.

It is God’s will that I love Him? Is it His will that I love my neighbor?

Mark 12:28-29 reads:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

God’s revealed will.

Now, the question is, will we choose to obey?

love

 

Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22-23

If I could look inside your heart, would I find?

Would there be love?

Would there be joy?

Would I find peace there?

Would patience and kindness be evident?

Would I see goodness?

Would there be faithfulness?

Would I find gentleness?

Would self-control be there?

These are the fruits—the things that grow out of—the Spirit within us.

If I looked into my own heart, what would I see?

 

 

 

fruit

All Things

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments,

and His paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?”

“Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?”

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

—Romans 11:33-36

~

God knows everything.

He knows all about us and what is happening in our lives.

That seems too difficult for us to imagine, yet He is holding all the stars in the universe in place, He is keeping all the cells in our bodies alive, and He has formed and created each individual thing on earth.

A magnificent flower, blooming in mathematical perfection draws itself upward to the sun as the earth follows a path around it prescribed by God Himself.

God knows everything.

all-things

Lies

Imagine playing a game with several people. 

The contestant is blindfolded. 

On a ping pong table or other flat surface, there is an object to be moved. 

The point of the game is to see if the blindfolded contestant will listen to the “right” voices as they call out instructions for where to push the object to get it to a certain area on the table. 

The challenge is difficult, because the opposing team is calling out bogus instructions to throw the contestant off, hoping to keep him from winning. 

If you’re like me, you’ve listened to the “wrong” voice more than once. 

If we are not listening for God’s instructions, we won’t know how to succeed at any given moment. 

Instead, we will be listening to the lies of the devil, confused and off course. 

Ephesians 6:11 says, 

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

Stand Firm

Last night, there was a freeze warning for my area. Wind chills were to be in the 20’s. 

Trying to be conscientious, my husband and I covered many of our outdoor plants to protect them. 

This morning, there was frost on our roof. 

As I was leaving a friend’s house this afternoon, I stopped to photograph a common weed growing in their yard. 

They had not covered it in the night, yet it survived and even thrived through the cold. 

1 Corinthians 16:13 reads:
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

That bright yellow bloom was standing proudly in the grass, strong and healthy. 

God is our strength and our help no matter what conditions surround us. 

Great is Your Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassion’s, they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
The words of the old hymn are comforting.
God is not going to change.
His compassion is not going to fail.
We can trust Him.
*
*
The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
         For His compassions never fail.They are new every morning;
         Great is Your faithfulness.

—Lamentations 3:22-23
great

For God So Loved

After leaving a friend’s house tonight, I was driving home. 

Listening to the radio as I went down the highway, a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a while. 

I had been praying for someone who feels that God doesn’t love them. 

Suddenly, part of the lyrics just struck me:

This is what I’m sure of, I can only show love

When I really know how loved I am

(Steven Curtis Chapman)
The person I’d been praying for needs to know deep within their heart that God loves them. 

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16


The Nearness of God

With a matter of extreme concern on my heart tonight, I went to the kitchen to eat a very late dinner. Right before opening a cupboard door, I prayed about the situation. Within seconds, I realized that there was a song playing in my mind. I paused to consider what it was. The lyrics began to reach my focus. The song was an old hymn–“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”

As I sat down on the couch, I looked up the lyrics online. Here are a few of the words:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,Leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I believe that God led me to read the words of the song to comfort me and encourage me not to be afraid.

I am not to be afraid because I have Jesus.

My Lord is near.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, That I may tell of all Your works.

—Psalm 73:28



Not in Vain

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

—1 Corinthians 15:58

Do you know the feeling?

You plant some vegetable seeds in a new little garden spot in the yard.

Most of the seeds produce a little plant, but before the summer is over, they all die.

All of that work!

Digging out the weeds.

Preparing the soil for planting.

Watering every day.

Now, it seems that all that work was in vain.

Nothing came of it.

The work of the Lord is not like that.

Nothing that we do in the work of the Lord is wasted.

He can use all of the offerings of our time, our talents and our words for His purpose.

*

*

labor

It Determines the Course

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

—Proverbs 4:23

Fences.

They keep things in.

They keep things out.

They protect.

They guard.

At the very existence of a fence, it is reasonable to recognize that something or someone needed protection.

No one can really see a fence around our hearts.

It could be a harmful fence, keeping God out.

It could be a helpful fence, keeping sin and temptation at bay.

It could be a harmful fence, keeping sin and temptations close inside.

It could be a helpful fence, keeping God close inside.

As followers of Jesus, we need to guard our hearts from the lure and the harm of evil.

Our hearts will determine the course of our lives.

guard

Admirable

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

–Philippians 4:8

 

What happens if you focus your thinking on good things?

Honorable things?

Things that are good?

When that is the case, how do you feel?

If you are really thinking about good things, positive things, things that God is pleased with—–do you usually find yourself to be angry? Bitter? Jealous? Depressed?

Most likely not.

What happens if you focus on negative things?

Dishonorable things?

Things that are bad?

When that is the case, how do you feel?

If you are really thinking about bad things, negative things, things that God isn’t pleased with—-do you usually find yourself to be cheerful? Loving? Giving? Joyful?

Most likely not.

I get to select what I willfully put into my mind.

Books.

Television.

Computer.

Movies.

Even the people I purpose to spend time with.

You get to select those things, too.

What I put into my mind, I often focus on.

What is my mind focusing on today?

What about yours?

 

admirable.jpg

 

Wisdom

“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south?”

—Job 39:26

 

My wisdom.

What is that?

A pastor friend once made this statement in our home:

“There is no wisdom apart from that of Christ.”

I have always remembered that statement, because it rings true in my heart.

The hawk I photographed yesterday at the lake was beautiful.

Stately, in fact.

Although he was perched, I knew at any moment he could fly away, far from my view.

Who taught him that?

Who gave him wings that function so perfectly as to lift him high in the air and carry him swiftly on the wind?

I didn’t.

It’s not from any wisdom I have.

It is by God’s wisdom that the hawk exists.

It is by God’s wisdom that he can fly.

Every day I must seek to trust God’s wisdom and not my own.

.

.

.

wisdom

 

 

Gratitude

It’s actually cold outside, with an expected low of 39 degrees. 

For a long time tonight, I have been sitting in a recliner, reading the Bible and some devotional material and also talking with my sister on the phone. 

My cat has been with me, lying on the top of the back of my chair, above my head. At times, he climbs down to be petted or held. 

We have had this cat as a member of our family for four and a half years. 

He came to our yard in 2012, starving and in sad condition. 

His body was long and lank. 

Adopting him as our own, we took him to the veterinarian and saw to his medical needs.

We fed him and loved him. 

Within a short amount of time, he was in much better condition.  

He is a most loving cat, greeting us every day as we come home from work. 

It is common for him to want to lie near us as he has done tonight. 

In his own way, he is telling us that he is grateful to have been rescued from his life of poverty and ill health. 

With every purr I feel in my chest when I am holding him, I sense that he is happy to be loved and to belong to us. 

Before I became a Christian, I was like our cat when he came to the yard. 

I had been living on my own, trying to survive by making my own decisions. 

Sometimes they were good decisions—many times they were not. 

I came to a point where I felt like I was emotionally starving. 

More accurately, I was spiritually starving. 

I finally decided to ask God for forgiveness of my sins. God forgave me and adopted me into His family. Jesus died on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin, allowing this gift of forgiveness to be offered to me. 

I am no longer starving spiritually. 

Our cat wants to be close to us. 

He is grateful for all we’ve done for him. 

I want to be close to God out of gratitude for all He has done for me…
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

—Colossians 3:16

Appearance

Do you remember the first time you ever saw a balloon before it was inflated?

I can honestly say that I don’t.

If I think about what that would have been like for me, though, I can imagine that I might not have thought that a colorful and small piece of stretchy plastic could ever have changed into an air filled toy that would bounce and float in the air.

Of course, I would have been wrong.

More than likely, my little child’s mind wouldn’t have considered any possibilities past what I could’ve actually seen.

As recorded in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel, the Lord sent Samuel to anoint a new king.

Samuel was sent to a man named Jesse, who had several sons.

When Samuel saw Eliab, he thought that he would be the one that the Lord had chosen–but he wasn’t:

When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:6-7)

When Samuel had seen seven of Jesse’s sons, the Lord had not chosen any of them.

Samuel asked Jesse if he had any more sons.

There was one other, who was tending to the sheep.

That son was David.

It was David that the Lord had chosen.

The Lord could see in David what others may not have seen.

He saw David’s heart.

He knew what David could be.

When we look at other people, it’s easy to just take them at “face value”—their apparent worth— isn’t it?

What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street?

An old man on a park bench?

A child running in the park?

A clerk in the grocery store?

We see them as they appear, but the Lord sees their hearts.

He sees the talents He has given them.

He sees their great worth.

He sees what they can become.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could try to see past appearances and look at others’ hearts?

appearance

Look to the Lord

Look to the Lord and His strength;
    seek His face always.

—1 Chronicles 16:11

 

 

What should we do when we pray and then we don’t understand what happens next?

What if situations in our lives seem confusing, even though we have prayed about them?

God’s thoughts are not ours and His timing is not our timing.

His understanding of every human heart is beyond our comprehension.

No matter what happens to us, we are to look to God and His strength.

We need to always be seeking Him.

He knows what is best.

 

 

 

look-to

 

The Old Things

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

—2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Yesterday was Christmas.

After family had visited and presents had been opened, I took some time to just walk around outside and take in a few moments of quiet and beauty.

I walked in the yard.

Making my way down the street a bit, I looked over the land near a farm.

The sky was filled with powdery hues of creamy peach as the sun was beginning to set in the late afternoon.

Where I live, it’s warm most of the year, sometimes even on Christmas.

So was the case yesterday.

The air conditioner had been on to help us feel comfortable.

Outside, the leaves on the trees had not completely fallen.

In many ways, it seemed like a warm, autumn day as the crimson red leaves still clung to the branches above me, even as some had dropped to the grass and sidewalk.

In just a matter of days, “Happy New Year!” will be the greeting on everyone’s lips.

2016 will have become the old and 2017 will be ushered in as the new.

Just like the red leaf on the concrete, the old ways have to part from our lives as we become followers of Jesus.

We become new, and God brings newness of life every day.

A new heart.

A new beginning.

A new existence in relationship with Him.

 

 

old-things

Born to You

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. 

—Luke 2:11
This morning, after the Christmas Day church service was over, I paused as I was walking out by a  stained glass window. 

It was depicting Jesus, our Savior. 

His arms were outstretched and welcoming. 

On a night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born. 

When that happened, everything changed. 

Everything changed for all people everywhere. 

Death forever because of sin with no redemption would now be only for those who choose not to believe in Jesus. 

When Jesus was born, so was the only way to escape the punishment we deserved. 

Jesus would one day pay the penalty for our sin, offering us eternity with Him. 

A Savior—One who could save us—had come to the earth as a baby. 

Take the word, “you” out of the following scripture and insert your own name:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to _______; He is the Messiah, the Lord. 

Born to Tom. 

Born to Robert. 

Born to Jason.

Born to Kayla. 

Born to Liz. 

Born to Kathy. 

Every name of every person on earth could be placed in that scripture and it would still be true. 

If you have not accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life, please don’t delay. 

Pray and tell Him that you believe He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin. 

Repent of those things you have done that displeased Him. 

Ask Him to be the Lord of your life, giving you guidance. 

It’s not too late—–you can pray right now. 

A Savior has been born—to you. 

Armor of Light

—-Romans 13:12

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

It had been a long night with a family member at the hospital for several hours. 

Driving to work as the sun was just breaking into the darkness, the beauty of the morning was before me. 

Jesus is our light. 

The Set Time

We know how long it takes for a baby to form before it is born.

We know how long it takes for certain crops to mature, ready for harvest.

We know how long it takes for the earth to make its journey around the sun.

Yet, there are so many things that we have no idea how long we will have to wait for.

In fact, we are not even sure that some of the things we are waiting for will ever take place.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth at just the right time.

Jesus was not early in coming, nor was He late.

In our own lives, God is in control of time.

We pray, and God answers in His time frame.

He will never be late with an answered prayer.

He will never be early with an answered prayer.

When the set time has come, He will work in the lives of His children according to His will.

Through faith, we must trust Him completely to care for us as our all-knowing Father.

 

~

 

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman,

born under the law,  to redeem those under the law,

that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child;

and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.

—Galatians 4:4-7

 

set-time

The Husband of Mary

Are you leaving a legacy for your family?What stories are written on their hearts about you and about your life?

What stories will they remember about what your life was like or your own parents and grandparents lives?

What times of God’s faithfulness are recorded in their hearts?

Just imagine this story:

“My great grandmother once told me of what had happened to her when she was young. She got married to a man from another country who had a brother and parents still living. After some time her husband’s father died. Later his brother and her own husband died. This left my great grandmother and her husband’s mother and also the widow of her husband’s brother. Three women and no men in the family. 

My great grandmother decided to stay with her husband’s mother as she decided to travel back to the place that she had come from. 

After arriving there, God provided for them through the generosity of another family member. My great grandmother ended up marrying this man and he provided for her. God created a home for my great grandmother after the loss of her husband, by providing a new husband. 

My great grandmother then gave birth to my grandfather. My grandfather and grandmother then had my father. From my great grandmother all the way to my father there was faith in God. I grew up knowing of His faithfulness in my family stretching many years back.”

What is your own personal legacy of faith?

The legacy you build now is of eternal significance. 

The story related above was of King David. 

His father was Jesse, his grandfather was Obed and his great grandfather was Boaz, husband of Ruth. 

Later in King David’s descendants, we find Joseph who was husband to Mary, the mother of Jesus. 

~

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

—Matthew 1:16