So He Ran Ahead

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Him, because He was going to pass that way.

—Luke 19:1-4

Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus in the crowd.

For some reason, maybe because he was a short man, he gave up on trying to see him in the place that he was. He decided to run ahead of Jesus.

He found a sycamore tree that would be in the path Jesus would take.

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to walk that way. Zacchaeus climbed the tree so he would be able to see Jesus when He passed by.

When Jesus came near the tree, He called to Zacchaeus and told him He would be going to his house!

I believe that Jesus knew Zacchaeus was desperately trying to see Him when he was still in the crowd.

Jesus could have called to him then.

He did not.

Jesus called to him, instead, after he ran.

After he climbed.

After he waited.

Spiritually speaking, am I running, climbing and waiting just to see Jesus?

Being Watchful

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

—Colossians 4:2

Do you ever feel as though you missed seeing something God was doing?

Often, my husband and I will be driving somewhere and he will mention something we just passed.

“Did you see that person on a bicycle?”

“No.”

We can be in the same car, traveling to the same place and yet he will notice what I do not.

I want to be watchful for the things that God is doing.

I don’t want to miss His answers to prayer.

I don’t want to miss knowing Him all the more.

The LORD Reigns

The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.
–Psalm 97:1

I am currently reading a book on prayer. This verse was sited along with the idea that we should have child-like wonder as we wait to see what God will do.

Sitting at my table, praying and reading, I looked up to see a candle holder that I have had out for a long time. It has a star tied to it that simply says, “Believe.”

Believe.

Believe that the LORD of all creation truly does reign?

That He is sovereign?

Believe that He hears our prayers?

That He understands our concerns?

The small ones as well as the giant, overpowering ones that cause us to cry out in desperation?

That His way is always best?

Yes.

All of that and so much more.

The LORD reigns.

Believe….

Great Mercy

Daniel 9:18: “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”

Could I be good enough to earn the privilege of talking with God?

Could I come to Him and ask for help because of my own righteousness?

No.

God’s mercy and love has given us the privilege of coming to Him in prayer.

He wants us to pray.

We need to pray.

It’s not about Him getting to know us.

It’s about us getting to know Him.

Pastures

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for His name’s sake.

—Psalm 23:1-3

Are you tired?

Weary from many things?

Does your smile fade too quickly?

Is your heart sad?

Is there any way you could feel better?

Who can help you?

Jesus can.

Imagine lying down to rest.

Restorative rest.

And when you need nourishment, good food is available.

Imagine quiet all around you.

Clean water to drink.

Imagine your very soul being refreshed.

Strengthened.

Encouraged.

Ask Jesus to help you today in every way that you long for.

He is your shepherd.

Listen to Him.

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