The Lamp of the Lord

The area we live in has many lakes, orange groves and farms. You could get lost if you weren’t well informed about your destination.

If someone is lost at night, an interesting thing may occur.  A search helicopter will fly overhead, shining its VERY large and VERY bright beam onto the ground. The beam of light is so intense, it’s as if a cone of light has formed a passageway from the craft above to the earth below. It would be difficult to avoid exposure by this traveling search light, once the pilots have  decided which surroundings should be explored.

As they soar overhead, sometimes circling in the dark sky, I somtimes feel a small amount of anxiety. I might ponder, "Who could be lost? Has something gone wrong? What if that light shines right down on me and the dog I’m walking?"  Will that be frightening if it really happened?

What about my heart? Is it so in order that God’s own searchlight could visit and illuminate my innermost thoughts and feelings and find little fault there? Is it still cluttered with unimportant endeavors and regrets of  the past? If so, I should find the strength in Him to conquer any dissapointment or distraction away from what God has shown me to do.

 

Do Not Be Afraid

Earlier this month, I was feeling apprehensive. As I was praying, I thought about visualizing Jesus sitting right beside me in the car.  It was a comforting thought.

Do you ever feel alone in a situation? Perhaps there are others with you, but you sense the weight of responsibility in that moment. God will not leave you to shoulder the tasks without Him. 

 

 

My Light

Lyrics to an old hymn read, "And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." Songs that I have sung in church as a child have remained in my mind. Music has a way of embedding itself into memory.

Some recollections help me to see that I have changed through the years. I no longer feel strongly about some things; issues that seemed trivial in the past are now of great importance.  I know God is shaping me and helping me to grow. As I come to understand Him more, concerns of the world do begin to lose their hold on my attention. Like sorting through a pan of dried beans and peas, separating them into two containers, I continually strive to accurately identify each circumstance in my life and place it in the proper perspective—important for eternity or….not.

If I were to self-examine each facet of my life through inner reflection, I think I would be aware of an on-going process of dimming. As I  begin to understand the heart of God– His mercy and His grace–my eyes are drawn more to Him.

He is my light.

 

Consider

We were sitting in our car on a parking lot.  My son and I were enjoying watching the birds come and go. Because of the recent rain, there was a sizeable puddle close by, providing much needed water for our airborne friends.   One bird had found a large piece of ….something.  Flying away with his prized meal, the weight was just too much for the grasp of his beak.  As the food hit the ground, it broke into pieces, scattering on the pavement. At that point, SEVERAL birds were able to join the dinner party.

I suspect this scenario repeats itself daily. In some way or another, the birds are fed. I wonder how many millions of birds there are in this country alone. So who’s in charge of caring for them? Is anyone assigned the task?

It is God who feeds and cares for them.  We are told in Luke 12:24: "Consider the ravens; they do not sow or reap. They have no storeroom or barn; yet God  feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

God is faithful to supply our needs as well.

Victory

My grandmother’s brother was in the first World War. I have many pictures of him. As a child, I visited his home. A chair that sat in his living room now sits in my kitchen. A huge picture of him aboard the USS Mongolia captured my youthful attention as I explored my uncle’s wall.

Details of his experiences while defending our country were handed down to me. I’m sorry for the things he had to go through; yet I am thankful for the freedom we have now in this country, and for the freedom that was purchased even then.

God protected my uncle; he came home from his many travels and lived to old age. God also protected our nation in that war, and the ones that have occurred since.  Truly, the victory belongs to the Lord.

Good Gifts

Has a florist’s shop ever delivered flowers to your door? You might have been asked, "Are you Mrs. Smith?" or "Are you Mr. Jones?"  You are either thrilled or disappointed to give your honest answer. One way, the gift is yours; another way and it isn’t.

Yesterday, a similar thing happened to me.  A man walking toward me with a florist’s box asked the "Are you…?" question. Happily, I was able to say, "Yes."  A beautiful cream rose adorned with tiny lavender blooms and a lovely blue ribbon had been awaiting my positive answer. I reached out my hand and accepted the gift.

There is a gift awaiting you from God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, He has purchased forgiveness for you and a promise of life eternal with Him in Heaven. You may have thought such a gift was not available to you. Do you sense His presence in your heart ?  Do you hear the quiet words, "Are you…?  This gift of forgiveness is for you. Won’t you take it?"

I hope your answer will be, "Yes."

 

Dwelling of Light

Do you ever feel small? Sometimes at night, when the sky seems so big, I do feel small with my two feet planted on the soil of this Earth, held from floating off into oblivion by God’s anchor of gravity.  Rainbows seem to put my size to the test,too. (I always lose.) Magnificent and glorious, they appear to form a portal from one part of the planet to the other.

I was almost finished shopping when the thunder began. It was raining as I pushed my cart laden with my purchases toward my car. I saw the rainbow almost immediately. After hurriedly putting my things away in the trunk, I witnessed the forming of one of the brightest rainbows I have ever seen. Majestically forming an arch across the wide, expansive sky, it glowed with vibrancy.

On the way home, I was thankful God had allowed me to see what He had just made moments before. He knows how happy and excited I get when I see a rainbow.

When Jesus returns someday, I can imagine what the sky will look like, filled with the Heavenly Host. Do I sometimes feel small? Yes, but my God is BIG. He gently reminds us of His power with the creation of a radiantly glowing rainbow on a  stormy day.

One Flesh

I attended a wedding rehearsal today. The church was peaceful and inviting. The warm tones of the wooden planks that arched in the ceiling gave subtle ambience to the occasion. A small fountain in the courtyard outside bubbled softly, drawing my attention to its position and form. It was a comforting place. It was real somehow—nothing artificial.

As I think of it now, that’s how I might describe the ceremony preparation. Attitudes seemed peaceful and genuinely warm. Sincere smiles and bubbling laughter were present throughout the evening. It was a comfortable gathering. It felt real–not artificial.

Is that how it’s supposed to be when two people are to be wed? I think so. Genesis 2:24 says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."  Nothing artificial sounding there; just closeness and transparancy united with love and faithfulness.

The Plans

Tonight our son was given an important achievement award at a lovely banquet.  Just over two years ago, I never would’ve imagined this evening. At that time, no indication was present to point to the skill that God has allowed him to develop in so short a time. Because of the sudden appearance of this talent in his life, it was obvious that God had given him a special gift at just the time He intended to; no one anticipated it’s arrival, yet God’s delivery was not early–nor was it late.

 Hidden deeply within the chest of possibilities is the treasure of all that God intends us to be, revealed as many faceted jewels, enabling us to do His will in His timing. From the prickly cactus, seemingly forever green and barren, comes a burst of brilliant yellow, with blooms unexpected by some, yet fully anticipated by our Heavenly Creator.

Peace Within Your Walls

 

Often as I’m driving home, I listen to the radio. On this particular late afternoon, I was privileged to hear an encouraging broadcast. The speaker told an interesting story about a man named Bob. Bob had remarked that when his children left home, he and his wife would just sit and “listen to the laughter in the walls.” I began to cry as I considered all the many voices and sounds of the past “residing” in my own walls—the giggles of the birthday parties, the welcome home barks of our beloved dogs, the bedtime stories and the good night “I love you”s—the treble pitches of the voices of children, the deep bass tones that marked their journey to manhood. There are other sounds as well; words of disappointment, misunderstanding and frustration, common to many families, I’m sure. Through it all, the sonance of prayer, spoken and silent, is gently intertwined with the rest.

My walls have witnessed the unrelenting passage of time—time that God has so graciously blessed us with. May our walls forever resound with the speech of praise as we live and grow older in His grasp. May they also give testimony of His great faithfulness, acceptance and love.

 

 

You Gave Them Water

 

 

A couple of days ago, someone asked me a question. Not just any question. A question that caught my attention and has left me pondering the answer for about 48 hours now. If someone quietly turns to you and speaks, that’s one thing; if you hear your name on the public address system of a filled sports stadium, well….that’s another thing.

I didn’t actually hear words directed to me through booming speakers, but for me, it was that rousing.

The question began, “Why aren’t you…….?” The inquiry was about what I am doing in my life in obedience to God, or rather, quite possibly, what I am not doing. It was as if I was standing aimlessly holding a canteen of water in a dry desert. Someone walked by and asked me why I wasn’t sharing my water with the thirsty people around me.

All I could do was trip over my words and mention how I had actually been “giving water out” in past years. Finally, I admitted to them and to myself that “dispensing water” is actually where my heart is, although I’m not really doing it NOW.

Here’s the problem; I’ve been hiding the water. Why? Could it be fear of the unknown? Uncertainty about where water is actually needed? I’m not quite sure.

The Bible shows the goodness of God to the children of Israel in the book of Nehemiah, chapter 9, verses 19 and 20:

19 "Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst."

I pray that God will give me wisdom about "my question" in the days and weeks to come. I pray that I will have the courage and strength from Him to be obedient in all things.

 

Our Guide

Years ago, I was employed as a secretary. The man I worked for was a tour guide for a travel agency.  Vacationing explorers could go halfway around the globe and learn about their new surroundings firsthand from my boss. Promotional literature would even have cover statements like, "Tour Italy with Gilbert Schnalden." (not his real name, or the country)

Although I never went on such an excursion, I could safely assume that the travelers he led from one interesting site to another found assurance and comfort in his knowledge of the culture, the land and it’s people. They surely must have trusted him. To have gone alone on their trip to an unknown destination would have been frightening, to say the least.

I may not have been on many far away vacations in my life, but I am on a constant journey. Each day brings its own possibilities and challenges. I can never know for sure what God may have planned for me to experience. One thing I know; I wouldn’t want to take this trip without a guide. It would just be too frightening. Who could  I trust to be my guide on such an endeavor? God is the only choice, and He promises to be there when I need Him, from beginning to end.

Which way should I go? Where do I turn? My Guide will tell me, one intersection at a time.

 

 

Faith in Me

 Are you ready for the test? First question: What does a Christian look like?   "Hmmm. Well, they all talk like…I mean, they all just seem to…..Uh, of course, they would all have….  Okay. What’s question two??"

It’s not that easy to consider, is it? (Question two was easy.) Once we have made the choice to believe God’s plan of salvation through Jesus, His Son, why don’t we look like someone else who has made the same decision? In many ways, we do; in many ways, we don’t.

Let’s say that older gentleman who always wears a heavy suitcoat to church (even in the summer) has been a Christian since he was 27.  The young lady you saw last week working at the Crisis Pregnancy Center is truly devoted to her Lord and Savior. Funny thing, though; she has a tatoo on her arm and a pierced lip… Your cousin, who has gone on several mission trips to the Northwest, wears way too much turquoise jewelry, even when it doesn’t match his shirt. Could they all possibly fit into the same category?

I really like roses. God created a beautiful thing when He fashioned the rose. The red rose. The yellow rose. The pink rose. The large rose. The tiny rose. What about, say, the carnation? It’s beautiful, too, AND it just happens to be a flower–just as the rose is a flower.

Our brother or sister in Christ may be more like us than we think. They may just be a rose in the budding stage, with not too many petals showing. They may bloom into a brilliant yellow to one day compliment our ruby red as we serve the Lord with our differing "color."  The Christian colleagues at work may appear to be multi-faceted carnations with blended pastel shades, but when it comes right down to it, well, you have to admit, they are flowers, after all.

Upon closer inspection, I think we will find that a Christian is reflecting the character of Christ in what they do and what they say. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing."

 

 

 

Faith

Faith. What is faith? Is it trust? Is it just believing something? The dictionary states that faith is "the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved." Could we trust in God and yet fail to trust His promises? We can never be justified by our own merit, but through the sacrifice made by Jesus on the cross, we are set free.

 

My Son

A glad heart. It cannot be purchased. I am reminded of a children’s story from years ago where a woman searching for contentment entered a large department store. It seemed that anything ever desired could be found there. She asked the clerk, "Where do you keep the happy hearts?" With regret, she was told they had none to sell.

If you are a parent, what makes your heart glad today? Among God’s greatest blessings is to know that your children are walking with God, with heart’s tender toward Him. Is there a greater wisdom to attain? Is there a more pertinent  joy to possess as we consider our role in their lives?

 

You Give Life

Yesterday I witnessed the landing of a very large medical evacuation helicopter. Its wings beat the air  as if in defiance to gravity as it hovered above us. Slowly, it began its descent to the ground below. I was feeling somewhat anxious, watching this massive craft maneuver before me. Although its appearance brings a welcome chance of hope, it also carries with it the unthinkable—the peril of death is eminent and life is hanging in the balance.

As my gaze was fixed on this marvel of technology, I noticed the symbol painted boldly on its side—-the snake wrapped around a single pole. Immediately, the thought came to mind, "Look to Jesus and live." From that moment, anxious feelings that had crept into my mind began to dissipate.  I remembered the story of Moses in the wilderness:

 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.  The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.

  The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live."

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Although the symbol used in modern times has many historic references, I  know  God’s encouragement  to me was  clear. It is God who gives life to everyone.  Once He gives it, it is He who sustains it.  It is He who made the way for forigiveness through the sacrifice of His Son.   Look to Jesus—and live.

Power and Love

It was time to walk the dog. The sun had just moments before crept past the horizon, leaving the sky streaked with pastel colors of pink and blue. As I stood in the grass, the cool evening air gently brushed my face.  The wind chimes suspended in our big oak tree played a soft melodious tune. I noticed that the flowers beneath the tree were blooming–some pink, some yellow. Standing quietly, taking in all these sensations, I considered how God had created all these experiences for us. We feel the wind; we see the colors in the sky and in the blooming petals of a flower. We hear vibrations which we call "music" and it is pleasant to our ears. God has given us the ability to enjoy the world He has created. It’s as if each wonderous sensation is a gift made especially for us.  What would color be with eyes only tuned to shades of black and white? What could we hear with ears not poised to receive its sound?

God has given us other gifts as well. Could we know love had He not given us the capacity to do so? How could we speak of Him if He had not given us hearts to understand and tongues to proclaim His message? He replaces timidity with courage to do His will.  He gives us strength to persevere in those times when we are faced with challenge.

As surely as the wind blows and the flowers bloom, He is near us. God is forever faithful.

 

 

The Serpent

Our sons have all been on athletic teams. Knowing the characteristics of their opponents would have proved valuable during any competition.

Do you know the characteristics of your opponent? Do you understand who you are up against spiritually?

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:12, "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Prior to that, Ephesians 6:11 reads, " Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes."  We must trust in the Lord daily to guide us with His wisdom as we face all kinds of temptations and struggles.

 

Seek the Lord

Have you ever felt that God’s presence was especially evident? He is always with us, but there are times when it seems that He is moving in a special way. It’s as if He allows us to feel His nearness in that certain moment. As we honestly seek to communicate with God, our hearts yearn for His peace–for His all sustaining nourishment for our souls.

Unknown to You

We were packing up, ready to leave. It had been an enjoyable time of camping. The night before, distant lightning had graced the skies every few seconds, providing yet another nuance to the captivating cloak of stars. The morning had arrived, dry and sunny.

As I waited on my husband to finish some last minute details before our departure, I slowly walked through the surrounding area, noticing the trees and the dense brush that surrounded us. Occasionally, I would spot some unusual things–a snail shell, a tiny flower. Certainly, they must exist unnoticed most of the time. Although I had not expected to see each beautiful discovery, I was blessed to see them on this peaceful morning.

Often, I am surprised by the unknown blessings God has prepared for me. A different path opening up, a new friend to encourage and enrich my days, or a simple reminder that He has heard my prayer about a matter, and that He is working through the situation. It can even come in the form of a fresh understanding of a particular circumstance.

God is preparing even now the blessings of the future that He plans to reveal to us. Although hidden from our eyes at this moment, they exist in the reality of God’s loving will.


 

A Man’s Heart

 

Many years ago, someone first introduced the saying, "You are what you eat." I think I understand the sentiment behind the statement. Thinking of food in that way might, perhaps, encourage someone to make better nutritional choices.

If  we could change this modern day proverb to say, "You are what your heart reflects," would it encourage us as listeners to make better choices about what attitudes are allowed to  reside  within our  minds and emotions? Would we reject the "french fried " bitterness and replace it with a healthy serving of "humility" salad?

No matter what our appearance may be at any given time, who we are in our deepest being is what truly matters. The love, the compassion, the longing for fellowship with God….that’s who we really are, and He knows us more completely than we know ourselves.