Sinners to Repentance

After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

The Earth Will Be Full

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all My holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of Him, and His dwelling shall be glorious.

–Isaiah 11:6-10

I Will Help You

There’s a popular song out now that I hear on the radio a lot.

It’s “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns.

Here are part of the lyrics:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

I was recently privileged to hold a three month old goat.

It was cold outside and the little thing simply allowed me to hold him in my arms and rock him side to side for about twenty minutes.

I think he just about went to sleep, even though there were a lot of people walking around us.

He was trusting.

He was calm.

He was relaxed.

He wasn’t struggling to get away.

In fact, he seemed content and happy—just being held.

Can you just picture yourself as a little child, resting in Jesus’s arms?

Just allowing Him to rock you side to side as you drift to sleep, even though there are a lot of things happening all around you?

Can you picture yourself there?

Being trusting?

Being calm?

Being relaxed?

Not struggling to get away?

Content and happy–-just being held?

So, when we are on our knees in prayer, or in our car in prayer or at work in prayer, and answers seem so far away, can we trust that we are not alone?

Can we trust that Jesus is at work and that things in our lives are falling into place?

Can we understand that God is on His throne and He is in control–not us?

Can we stop struggling and just be held?

 

~

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

—Isaiah 41:13

 

help-you

The Lord’s Servant

The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient…

—2 Timothy 2:24

What does it mean to quarrel?
To have an angry argument seems like the best definition. 
So, a servant of the Lord must not have angry arguments. 
I truly desire to be a servant of the Lord, but I have definitely been a part of some angry arguments…
I should also be gentle to all. 
At my workplace, there is an overarching motto that is put out to the employees:

“All means all.”

If there is a directive for a group of people at work, it is for all of them. No one should be left out. 
If I am to be gentle to all, well, all means all. 
I can’t pick one person to be mean or harsh with and pick another to be gentle to.   
As a servant, I should be able to teach. 

I should be able to teach others through my words and actions about God’s love and faithfulness. 
I should also be patient…
Not quickly frustrated with others, it would seem. 
Are these easy character traits and attitudes to have?
Sometimes, the answer would be, “no.”
Still, if I have the desire to do what God wants, He will strengthen me. 

Perfect Clarity

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
—1 Corinthians 13:12
The reflection I saw near the lake was like a painting.
Subtle colors, mirroring themselves in the still, quiet water.
Ripples bending the shapes into patterns of light and shadows.
The reflection wasn’t far from the true image of the plants growing close to the water’s edge.
We are not far from seeing our lives in perfect clarity, either.
When we enter Heaven, we will know everything completely, just as God now knows us completely.
clarity

Strengthens

 

I have read that some ducks can fly at speeds of 50 miles per hour or greater for a sustained length of time.

Ducks can also fly for hours.

It makes me think of people who run marathons….

There are times in our lives where we feel like we are in situations in which we are running “marathons” or trying to have the strength to “fly” long distances.

Extended illnesses, military deployments, relationship struggles—plus countless other circumstances that require personal strength to get through—compel us to look to Jesus for help.

He is with us.

Do you believe?

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

—Philippians 4:13

 

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The Day is Almost Here

And do this, understanding the present time:

The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.

So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness,

not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,

and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.

—Romans 13:11-14

 

Wake up.

Put aside.

Put on the armor.

Behave decently.

Clothe yourselves.

The day is almost here…….

 

 

the-day

 

 

 

With You

The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

—Matthew 28:16-20

 

Even though we may feel alone, we are not.

Even though we may doubt, Jesus remains the same.

Even though the end of the age may come, Jesus will be with us, always…

 

 

with-you

All Your Need

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:19
Philippians 4:19 was perhaps the first verse I can remember memorizing. 

I was in college, and newly married, I believe. 

It was a very good verse to know, because it is true that God will provide. 

Today I am thankful for the great blessings God has given me. 

They are too many to list. 

Now, at the end of the day, as I sit in a quiet house with my cat lying on the chair with me, I am thoughtful. 

Is there anything that I have ever needed or that I will ever need that God cannot provide according to His riches in glory?

If I need a car, He’s able to provide one. 

If I need a home, He’s able to provide that, too. 

But it’s much more than that. 

He is able to provide salvation for me. 

He is able to provide healing in my relationships. 

He is able to provide guidance and strength. 

He is able to provide a peaceful heart. 

All my need—supplied. 

Through His riches in glory. 

By Christ Jesus. 

Everlasting Rock

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

–Isaiah 26:4

If we trust in ourselves for guidance without God, who are we to have the answers?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

When we try to do things our way instead of His way, who are we to know what is best?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

If we trust in God all of our lives, we are putting our confidence in an everlasting rock.

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

We are to be thankful….

 

everlasting-rock1

I Will Give Thanks

Salvation.

Redemption.

A new life here on earth.

The gift of eternal life in Heaven.

Forgiveness.

Unfailing love.

Guidance.

Assurance.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

—Psalm 9:1

 

thanks

Now Faith

 

A very odd thing happened the other day.

While I was having lunch with some coworkers, I noticed that two of them were enjoying Chinese food.

I asked them where they had gotten their lunches, because I also enjoy Chinese food.

Telling me about a nearby oriental restaurant, we continued our conversation on other things.

After a few moments had passed, a friend sitting next to me opened a fortune cookie that was provided with his lunch.

I normally don’t even want to open them when they are added to a meal.

“Fortunes” are not something that I believe in; only the sovereignty of God.

My friend handed me the paper that he had taken out of the cookie.

It had Hebrews 11:1 on printed on it:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

 

The scripture reference was missing, but the verse was there, nevertheless.

That is the first time I have ever heard of Bible verses being placed inside fortune cookies.

This was a situation where I was able to discuss briefly with my friend where in the Bible this scripture was found.

At any moment, I know that I need to be ready to speak to others around me concerning matters of faith.

A moment might come when I least expect it.

 

faith

 

Hears

Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.

John 8:47

I have an old-styled radio that is somewhat difficult to tune. 
Sometimes, the dial can be just ahead of, or just past, where it would need to be to get clear reception. 
Voices and music can be heard, but they can be greatly distorted by the static and even sometimes by another station’s broadcast trying to break in. 
In either case, the radio signal is not understood—unless, of course, the dial is changed, making the reception clear. 
Personally, I lived many years not understanding clearly that I needed God to be in control of my life. 

Some others around me were getting “clear signals” and guidance in their lives because they had chosen Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. 

Confused and searching, I was living in static. 

Shortly before coming to realize that I needed God and only God to heal my life, I had attended church services, but I was still not understanding what I needed to do. 

It was unclear…

Until the day came when I read a small booklet that explained God’s plan of salvation. 

My heart was ready. 

When I asked God to forgive me of my sins and to come into my life and guide me, I found that I was no longer living in “static.”

Where is your dial today?

He Began to Cry

Jesus was going to Jerusalem:
When  He came closer and saw the city, He began to cry. He said, “If you had only known today what would bring you peace! But now it is hidden, so you cannot see it. The time will come when enemy armies will build a wall to surround you and close you in on every side. They will level you to the ground and kill your people. One stone will not be left on top of another, because you didn’t recognize the time when God came to help you.”

—Luke 19:41-44
Because they didn’t recognize the time…

When God comes to help me, I don’t want to fail to recognize it. 

Jesus cried over Jerusalem. 

He wants us to be obedient and faithful. 

He wants what is best for us. 

Can you picture in your mind Jesus crying over Jerusalem?

How does that make you feel?

Does it help you to understand His intense love?

Higher Than Your Ways

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

—Isaiah 55:9
We may harness the electricity that God has made and use it to power a light pole, yet—-

It is God who created the moon to reflect the light of the sun to give us sight in the midst of darkness. 

The Peace of Christ

It was a different kind of day at work.

That’s because I really wasn’t at work, exactly.

I spent the day at a community center, taking part in a special training.

Walking into the room, I recognized only two people in the crowd.

Throughout the training seminar, there were times when I was deep in thought, processing all of the new material through my mind.

When the last session was over, people began to exit the building, walking to their cars.

I did that, as well, but looking out in front of the parking lot, there was a railroad track with a large lake beyond it.

It had been a cloudy and overcast day and the misty lake scene drew my interest.

Placing my things into the car, I took my cell phone with me as I walked to the railroad track and beyond.

Standing toward the edge of the lake, I photographed a visual representation of serenity.

Things were tranquil.

Calm.

I probably needed that.

I’m not exactly sure what emotions compelled me to walk toward the water.

Perhaps I needed to pause for a moment and just take in the peaceful, gray surroundings.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

—Colossians 3:15

rule

He Gives

He gives food to every living creature;
    His love is eternal.

—Psalm 136:25

I could hear a distinct bird voice outside.

Looking through my bay window, I could see a group of birds visiting the rock fountain in the yard.

They were enjoying the flowing water and flitting from one place to another.

God provides food and drink for all His creatures.

When I am blessed to see some of His creatures as I did by my fountain, it creates a joyful excitement within me as I witness the beauty of what He has made.

creature

In the Midst of Trouble

Do you remember the accident you didn’t have?
How about the time the thieves decided NOT to break into your home?
Do you recall the day your doctor didn’t prescribe the wrong medication?
Or the time the poisonous snake in the woods didn’t bite you while you were hiking?
You don’t remember those things because they never happened.
The protection of God–we are not always aware of it, but it doesn’t mean we are not right in the center of it.
Sometimes we are guided away from danger without recognizing our circumstances.
We may feel an intense urge to leave a place or to go to another–finding later that we avoided catastrophe.
God will never leave us.
He is in control over all things.
~
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life. —from Psalm 138:7
midst-of

When I Look

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which You have set in place,
 what is man that You are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that You care for him?

–Psalm 8:3-4

 

When I left the grocery store, it was beginning to get dark.

The traffic was busy on the two lane highway toward home.

As I looked at the sky in front of me, I realized how beautiful it was.

Passing my street and driving on a little farther down the road to a clearing, I stopped the car and took a picture.

Venus was white and blazing above a creamy glow of pale orange and yellow.

When I look at the sky like this, I see the mighty work of God.

 

heavens

Help in Trouble

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

—Psalm 46:1

I just really didn’t know what to do. 

It was almost time when I would get to leave work and come home. 

Busily concentrating on some last minute tasks, I was staying late. 

A family matter had come up quite unexpectedly, and I was surprised and caught off guard. 

God knew that I was unsure how to handle the issue.

He knew how I felt inside. 

It was an unusual drive home, as my mind was focused on the situation. 

A song came on the radio. 

The lyrics were encouraging the listener not to give up, even though certain prayers had not be answered. 

As I came close to my home, I saw two large sand hill cranes in my driveway. 

I am always excited to see the cranes. They walked in my driveway, moving over to the side as I pulled my car in. 

As I got out of the car, photographing them with my cell phone, they walked in between my neighbor’s house and mine and then on into the field behind my house. 

For a few moments, I was able to pause and enjoy the beauty and gracefulness of these birds. 

An uplifting song. 

My favourite birds in my own driveway, acting as though they were waiting on me to arrive. 

I think God was encouraging me. 

He knew my heart at those moments. 

He knows my heart right now. 

He will give me wisdom and understanding in this matter. 

God is faithful. 

Rather

Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.All glory to Him, both now and forever! Amen.

—2 Peter 3:18

I don’t even know what kind of flowers they are…

Having purchased them several months ago, I have had the opportunity to watch these little flowers grow taller. 

Lately, however, I have noticed another change that is occurring at this stage of their development. 

As the days are getting shorter and the weather is getting cooler, some of the blooms are becoming a deep pink color. 

Returning home from work today, I placed the items I was carrying from my car on the sidewalk so I could photograph the vivid petals. 

Such beautiful color developing at this later stage in the plant’s life!

As Christians, we should be growing. 

Growing closer to Jesus every day. 

Changing. 

Growing “taller” in our faith. 

Displaying new and vibrant “colors” of love and compassion as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.