What does it really mean to press toward the goal? Three of our sons have been on track teams at school. For a spectator that cares about the well being of the atheletes, I personally feel that track meets are harder to view than many other sports. Round and round the contestants push themselves to their limits, one lap after another until a winner is declared or their physical strength is depleated to the point of collapse on the course. There are runners who seem to be good "pacers." They faithfully take each curve with determination and with focus on their stride. To press on in the daily walk with God requires submission to His will and a clear view of the finish line. No one begins a race without the desire to finish, and to finish well. He gives us the motivation and encouragement we need at the times we require it most in order to urge us on toward the prize that awaits us when we finally pass from this earthly race into our eternal existance with God.
There was a time that I had never heard of it. I had not seen or imagined such a thing before. Yet, there it was, in plain view. After inquiring about this strange, yet lovely tree, I had my answer. It’s the Bottle Brush Tree. Of course! Each bright red "brush" was adorning the green limbs it had bloomed from, ever so delicately. If I had seen the tree before it had bloomed, I would not have thought that such radiant bristles would have emerged from its branches, transforming its common visage into a thing of remarkable beauty.
When others see our day to day actions, do we appear to be ordinary, usual and plain? Or do they see in us the result of a transformation so unique because of the love of Christ dwelling in our hearts that they are compelled to ask us about it?
It was a perfect day. Sunny? No. Warm? No. The sky was gray with clouds. Light rain had been falling. At about 60 degrees, I needed a jacket and it had to be zipped. Walking through the park I was graced with one beautiful scene after another. With every photo I took I think my heart smiled. The flowers were in bloom with bursts of color–a gift from God to me and others who viewed them. I am thankful for His enduring love.
It’s a little hard to explain. At times, when I am praying, it’s as if the answer to the thought I am forming comes to me at the same time my question was created. The heavenly reply seems simultaneous to my inquiry. Often I am startled by the sudden communication. I am reminded of God’s love at those moments and of His divine direction and encouragement.
I’ve been listening to a song a lot lately. It is "We Speak to Nations." A section of the lyrics states, "We speak to nations, the kingdom is coming near to you, we speak to you, be free." God is reaching out to people all over the world. Millions are caught in the strongholds of Satan, miserable and hopeless. God’s message of love through Jesus invites us—"Be free!"
Do you ever have struggles with feelings of guilt over past failures? Just today I had a memory pop up that was not very pleasing. My actions had not been godly; though it was a long time ago, I remembered that time in my life clearly. Did God forgive me of my sin? Yes. Did Jesus die so that I would be cleansed of all unrighteousness? Yes. Then how is it that I still get a sick and shameful feeling inside when I remember mistakes and attitudes of the past? I know I must agree with God that He has forgiven my failures and will remember them no more.
When traveling, I am not good with directions. This is especially true if I have never been to a certain area. When we first moved to our home years ago, I had trouble remembering which way to turn out on to the highway in order to get to my destination. Shortly after our move, I wasted a good bit of time driving around searching for the building I was to have an appointment in. It can be very frustrating to be lost—to be aware that you don’t know how to get to where you need to go. Doubly frustrating when you gain the courage to ask for help, only to hear the words, "Sorry, ma’am, I can’t tell you how to get there."
I am very thankful that there was a time when I realized that I was lost. I am also very thankful that through the Bible and the testimony of others’ faith in God, I recognized the right path of life through Jesus Christ.
The beasts of the fields. Do they worry? They seek sustenance and shelter. When they find it, who is the provider? God knows the needs of every living thing on earth. He is ready and able to care for every one. Today, I would do well to remind myself that no matter the circumstance, God is my strength and my very life.
It was as if you could see the walls going up to Heaven. How glorious the clouds and the sun were that day! I tend to think that the beauty we experience in the sky is just a glimpse of the radiant majesty that we will behold for eternity with God. We are now living in the shadow cast by a fallen world, yet, He is with us.
Restoration. I have been thinking a lot lately about God’s ability to restore in our lives what has been lost through sin. Not just on the day of our own personal salvation, but later in our journey when precious aspects of day to day living have fallen prey to the enemy and his schemes. As I was walking one day, the steps I took on dry, barren ground led to a place of lush, green foliage. The contrast is evident. At times, my life has resembled the parched ground. How thankful I am to hear God beckoning to me—"Come out; be free!"
I recently visited my doctor’s office for a yearly check up. As part of the routine, a small sample of blood was used to determine my overall health. Within a matter of days, I was given a report of several statistics declaring my internal well being in many areas. Although a common procedure, it speaks of the vast greatness of our God, as science continually reveals new knowledge of our bodies, our surroundings and the universe itself. The works of God are wonderful.
The area where I live is home to many thorns. Just a touch can cause quite a bit of pain. Often, they get caught on clothing and go unnoticed as they go right in the wash cycle. Somewhere in the deep recesses of the dryer, they attach themselves to other articles in their midst–like towels, for instance. I have reached for a clean, fresh towel in order to dry my face, only to discover something harsh, rough and painful among the soft fibers. As I investigate, there it is–the ball of thorns, hiding from my unsuspecting skin. Many times I have been tempted to take the path in life that was filled with thorns and snares.The continual question is, when I feel the first painful "prick" will I stop and heed God’s warning?
I am not a "morning" person. However, morning comes to me, just the same. When my day begins, I do not know what it will bring. I do know that God will be with me, whatever may come. He is my helper. He is my strength.
Sometimes I don’t feel very loving. Sometimes I don’t feel like a good and faithful servant, either. Sometimes I feel tired and I find myself wanting to step away from the emotional din and noise of everyday life. I long to rest. After God has granted me sleep and comfort, my strength is renewed as I find the assurance of His love and faithfulness still inscribed on my heart.
Luke 4: 5,6 and 7 says, "The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to Him, "I will give You all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me and I can give it to anyone I want to. So, if You worship me, it will all be Yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’"
Recently, I have been asking God for wisdom and guidance. There are two definite aspects of my life that I feel are at a crossroads. I am standing still, pondering which path to take. Many have joined me in prayer about my concerns. As I wait for a clearer direction, I am gaining perspective in areas that I had not even considered. I am calling to God; He is answering. He is teaching me in the way of His choosing and in His time.
When Jesus comes back. What a great and glorious day that will be. Are you ready to meet Him?
What has God planned for me today? What about tomorrow or next year? This morning, I heard a speaker say, "Seasons have a beginning and an end." I must wait patiently for each of God’s seasons in my life and ask Him for the wisdom to discern His will throughout every one.
I have a promise given to me by my Heavenly Father. Through the victory over sin and death by the sacrifice of His Son, I will one day stand in the presence of my Savior. I will see with new eyes colors not fathomable on Earth. I will hear with ears tuned to perceive the perfect and holy melodies of God. I will speak with a voice filled with resounding praise to my Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I will be reconciled to my Creator for all eternity.
We have such a privilege in prayer. God always listens to His children; He is never too busy to hear our concerns.
I’ve been inside a couple of caves before. Great underground passageways to…..where? Much is yet to be discovered about the wonderful world in which we live. In God’s wisdom, He created the heavens and the earth. With each new discovery, we learn a little more about God’s greatness. We can’t explain how, but He sovereignly controls all of creation in perfect order–from the cavern’s passageways deep into the earth to the farthest constellation detected by man. We go to sleep at night trusting that the sun will once again rise the next morning. The ocean’s tide will surely ebb and flow one more time. The God who holds the world in existance is, in fact, holding my life as well. The plans He has for me are revealed in His timing at the point at which He knows I can grasp them. Even though I may grow impatient in my waiting, I know I must trust Him by faith to show me, step by step, which path to take.
Encamp. I was curious about that word. One dictionary definition is "to settle or lodge in a camp." I once attended the funeral of someone who had lost their life in the line of duty. Hundreds of people were gathered to show their gratitude for how this man had served in the communty. As the lengthy procession of vehicles left the funeral site and headed toward the cemetery, official helicopters hovered at stationary points over the building to honor the memory of their colleague. As I stood gazing into the sky, pondering their presence, I thought of angels. How many times does God send His messengers to hover over the place where His children are in need of protection? On that day, I could have imagined those man-made marvels of aviation transforming into God’s celestial beings, "settling" in to their positions to assure us of His presence, His comfort and His love.
I remember the day. Our family had been having a difficult time with illness. An older couple visited our home. After speaking with me for awhile, they let me know that they had some things in the car to bring in. They had brought several grocery items for us to help out during those trying days. At the time, our children were very small. The couple simply explained that they were helping us and that we, in turn, would help others at a different time. After they left, our son said something like, "Jesus told them to do this, didn’t He?" I was amazed at his words. All that I own really isn’t mine at all–it belongs to God. As He allows me to become a steward of that which is His, He may direct me to share it with another. He faithfully provides what is needed. The next time you receive a provision of love from someone, you might ask yourself the question my son asked of me.
Thank you, Lord, for meeting our needs and encouraging us through the obedient generosity of others.