Ask

You may know someone who is currently in the military. Some time ago, I heard an illustration that involved visualizing a possible situation in a soldier’s life. It went something like this:

Imagine that an officer is ordered into a battle zone, deep in the lush, green jungle area of a distant country. On arrival, he takes stock of the situation at hand. He realizes that his group of men are not equipped to carry out the orders given. He will need supplies and reinforcements. He takes the walkie talkie in hand and calls the general, relaying his urgent requests.

Could just anyone send out that call and hope to be received? No. It had to be made from one whom certain authority had been given. The soldier had been granted the authority to ask for what he needed.

As forgiven children of God, we are like the officer. When we find ourselves in need of anything during our time of service to Him, we can be confident that He will receive our requests.  But what if we never make them? What if we never trust God enough to ask for the reinforcements? What if we are too ashamed to ask, or we feel unworthy to make a request?

Does the officer on the field feel unworthy to ask for assistance? Likely, he would be compelled to react in just the opposite manner. With the authority given him to carry out his mission, he would assess the need, and take the steps necessary to communicate that need to his superior.

Luke 11:9b says, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;"  We have been given the authority to ask for help.  We have been given the distinct privilege of coming to our loving God with our petitions and our needs. As we carry out the mission of our lives, He is continually available to hear us when we call.

 

A Rewarder

What is a reward? The dictionary says, "something given or received in return." 

This verse was first brought to my attention at a women’s gathering several years ago. The guest speaker quoted this scripture, and it has since become very special to me.  Through every experience of my life, my understanding of God is newly developed. I do want to please Him, and believe.

"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

 

 

 

Found

There were so many of them. They had filled an area of the parking lot that day, seeking—-and finding.  It was obvious that they were searching for food; diligently, eagerly, single-mindedly searching. They were intent on their quest.  Nourishment was evidently available, and they were there to seek it out.

Am I diligent and eager to find God? Am I single minded about my quest to know Him more? Am I intentional? Seeking? Searching?

Recently, in a Bible study group, we were challenged to consider what it would be like to have our "theology" match our "reality."  Will I be focused on bringing the truth of God into alignment with my every day, earthly existance?

I think I’m ready—what about you?

 

 

 

Immediately Forgets

Distraction. It’s everywhere. Do this, look at that. Stop here, go there. Wait—what was I intending to do today?

Not all battle tactics are the same. Think of a basketball game. While it may be against the rules to just knock someone down to keep them from catching the ball and scoring, distraction is another thing. If the opposing team can succeed in distracting a player from his focus, if only for an instant, it may be enough to keep him from the victory that was well within his grasp.

I have had several good intentions, many of which that were realized. Sadly, I can also look back and see important plans foiled by seeming procrastination that left opportunities by the wayside, with some impossible to retrieve.

May I not immediately forget God’s leading and my most important goals in life, in lieu of luring distractions which seek to draw me off course, away from the victories that await me in serving Him.

 

 

 

Your Ways

At times I am surprised by something completely new to me. Just a year or so ago, I saw a moonbow for the first time. It was amazing. I didn’t know that moonbows existed–that is, until it was plainly visible in the night sky above my house. After a little research, I found several photos of rainbows at night. Somehow, it was just a little unsettling to think I had lived all these years and never known about them.

A few days ago, a similar situation happened. I cautioned my son not to step barefooted on what looked like the broken end of a large glass Mason jar. Upon further inspection, we realized it wasn’t broken glass at all. In fact, the clear, bumpy object in front of us was alive. A sea creature known to God since the creation of the world, but introduced to us just then. How intricate it was! Rows of perfectly aligned "dots" circled the top of this crystal-like specimen. About the size of a pancake, it glistened in the sun.

God’s ways are infinite. As I continue to journey in my walk of faith, I am sometimes met with the new–the unfamiliar; something I hadn’t considered yet. From time to time, God allows me the joy of experiencing a new understanding of faith. With the eyes of my heart opened to the revelation before me, I find myself with the feeling of special surprise that comes with the unveiling of yet another of His wondrous ways.

 

The Force of the Wind

It was a beautiful, peaceful afternoon. Such majestic calmness, as the water steadily met the shore in even, rhythmic pulses. Birds flew overhead with effortless stillness as the sun was beginning its descent in the west. Companion to this serenity was a reminder of man’s increasing wisdom.  Just beyond the swaying stalks of foliage, across the distant waters, was the NASA  launch  area. Two majestic tower-like structures loomed on the horizon, awaiting their next assignment to usher a symbol of Earth heavenward.  A testament of human knowledge and understanding, their presence conveyed a silent contrast between God’s ultimate power and the limited grasp of the human mind.

 

Left Everything

They left everything.  They followed Jesus.  Who were they? Peter, James and John. Where did they go? Wherever Jesus told them to. Why did they leave? They had heard Jesus speaking to the people, they had witnessed a miraculous catch of fish and He had told them, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will catch men." With that, they left. It was the beginning of a great adventure with God.

Am I ready to get out of the boat?

To lay the net down?

To go?

To follow?

 

 

 

The Ram’s Horn

You probably know the feeling—God has allowed you to be a part of something that brings honor and glory to His Name. Perhaps you were part of a Christian rescue team after the onslaught of a terrible storm.  "We thank God for you. If it hadn’t been for your skills in that boat, our daughter wouldn’t have made it."  Thank you, God, for training me all those years in the Coast Guard."  You might have been the teacher that helped the discouraged 5th grader through a particularly difficult time in his life. "Without your encouragement to me back then, I doubt I wouldv’e ever become a doctor." Thank you, God, for giving me patience with that boy, day after day."  

"Is there an electrician here that could help us with the lights?"  "Lord, I think I can help them."  We need someone to come to the nursery and help with the toddlers."  Lord, would you like me to go?"  God gives us our talent; we choose to give it back to Him in His service, in His timing.

Imagine a child born in the time of ancient Jericho, learning to purse his lips in just a certain way in order to create the characteristic blast of the ram’s horn.  One day—one very important day—he is called upon to use his ability in obedience to God.  He will sound the horn at the very moment he is instructed to, heralding God’s victory for the children of Israel. "Thank you, God, that you allowed me to be among those who blew the horns."

As we praise God by using the abilities God has given us for His glory, we experience a joy that is like no other. Knowing in our hearts that we have pleased God in our obedience as we watch Him take our offering of service and use it to touch others’ lives is almost indescribable.

What talents and abilities has God granted to you?  Will you choose to offer them gratefully back to Him?

 

 

 

Changed

It was so delicate looking. There, resting on a leaf, was a small feather. Once it had been a part of daily flight, of sightseeing from heights above– present at every nest building and quest for food. Now, it was only a gentle reminder of its former state. What bird did it come from? I will never know. Certainly, I can be sure of one thing—the bird is not here, yet the feather is a testament to its brief time near my home.

One day, we will leave behind all things needed on this earth and claim a heavenly existance prepared for us by God. Our bodies will be renewed, our hearts made to perfectly align with the will of the Father. We will abandon the former things in order to be transformed into the likeness of Christ.

 

 

 

 

Remember

Nehemiah 4:14 says, "When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: ‘Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.’"

Thankfully, most of us are not protecting our families from physical battles in our neighborhoods. Yet, we are part of a battle–a spiritual battle.  Just this past weekend, I heard someone speaking about the contentions of the unseen world around us.  So what’s all the fighting about?

To be sure, Satan does not want our families to prosper. He does not want us to grow more firmly rooted in our relationship with God. With weapons of temptation, discouragement and doubt, he pummels us at every turn. Our defense? The armor of God. He is our covering. He goes before us, mighty and strong in battle.

As we face the wily schemes of the enemy, we must "remember the Lord who is great and awesome." He will be our shield.

May He grant us heavenly peace and calm in the midst of our daily struggle.

 

 

 

Anxious

Does anything ever upset you? As I was struggling with my own emotional response to something this evening, I remembered—God doesn’t want me to worry about anything. I picked up a New Testament that was nearby. As I began reading, there it was! "Do not be anxious about anyhing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6) I had not been looking for this passage, yet God led me there.

God’s word is real and alive, because God is real and alive.

 

The Glory of the LORD

Mercy Me is a contemporary Christian music group. Their song, "I Can Only Imagine" has brought me to tears many times as I pondered my loved ones’ eternal experience as well as my own.

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?

Will I dance for You, Jesus

Or in awe of You, be still?

Will I stand in Your presence

Or to my knees will I fall?

Will I sing hallelujah?

Will I be able to speak at all?

I can only imagine…

                           

 

 

When He is Old

The room was very crowded. Between three and four hundred people were standing, facing a group of singers and instrumentalists on a stage. A small rock concert? No.  A charity benefit? No.  It was the final praise gathering of a local Christian camp after several days of retreat and seclusion to focus on God.

As the band played, the students sang and jumped. With syncronized uniformity, they used identical motions they had learned to accentuate the lyrics of the songs. As I stood near the back, I noticed a very tall young man in front of me. He was about 6 foot, four inches tall, about 17 years old and built like a football player. Since I am quite short, he towered above me.

During the singing time, an even TALLER man with gray hair and a gray beard entered the room and stood beside this student. It was obvious to me that this was probably a father and son. As the service progressed, the older man tried to do all the motions, even though it was apparent that he had not seen them before. Many times, the son would look over to him and smile or slap him lightly on the shoulder. After being away from each other for several days, they were glad to be in each other’s presence again, and praising God together. It was a wonderful, touching sight for me to behold.

I couldn’t help myself–when the service ended, I asked the man if he was indeed the father. He was. We talked briefly about the encounter I had just witnessed. When I mentioned the movements to the songs he had so willingly attempted (and did I mention that the band was so loud you could hardly hear yourself talk?) he replied, "It’s more of his style than mine."

What an example to me of becoming all things to all people in order to further the kingdom of God. If this tall, muscular man could come into a jam packed room of jumping youth and join his son in a declaration of praise that involved loud music and unfamiliar motion patterns, should I do anything less? He was meeting his son where he was in his walk with God, and encouraging his relationship with His heavenly Father. In so doing, he was securing a bond with his son that would not easily be broken. You could see the love between these two as they worshiped together.

May I never forget that God allowed me to view this encounter. I know I wasn’t standing there by accident. It’s as if God could have spoken to me and said, "Watch this." 

Loud music? Sure. Silly video? Let’s see it.  Invite your friends for a sleep over and devotion time? …..Yes.

What joy will I have in my heart to know when my children are old, they have not departed from their faith in our everlasting Father.

 

 

 

Without Cost

Suppose you were to win a grand prize sweepstakes this month. Five days on a luxurious cruise ship; all expenses paid. You and your family redeem your winning status and enjoy a wonderful time basking in the sun, dining under the stars and visiting exotic islands along the way. It was all free—or was it?

Someone had to pay. It was given to you at no charge, but yet the resources you enjoyed were purchased somehow.  It was freely given for you to experience, however, there was a price.

Jesus paid the price for our admittance into Heaven when He willingly chose to die in our place on the cross.  We must "drink of the water of life" that He offers us and accept His gift of eternal life–all expenses paid–by Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Commands

It was raining lightly. The temperature was mild.  Since it was Father’s Day, my husband decided he would choose a place to spend some time together with me and our youngest son.  He chose a familiar lakeside park. With the overcast sky, the water was transformed into a sea of brown. The squirrels scampered from tree to tree. The water birds flew effortlessly from one destination to the other. As tiny droplets fell softly on the lush foliage, life was continuing it’s unhurried pace among the creatures who called the waterfront home.

Our son wanted to venture out onto the docks. Just dad and boy, they walked above the calm movement of the water surrounding them, creating a simple memory that would exist beyond the passing of the moment.

As parents, we invest our lives into our children; teaching them, protecting them and admonishing them toward faith in God. It is a worthy task, one with eternal reward.

 

 

Depth of the Riches

Today, I witnessed a rare and beautiful thing–a change of heart and attitude in another’s life.  An answer to something that I had prayed about for quite a long time was unmistakably present. Though not in complete fullness of everything I’d hoped for, I knew God was working in a wonderful way toward the fulfillment of my prayer. As I began to understand what God had begun, I was filled with gratitude over the realization of what was transpiring. I know so very little. God knows so very much. He knows the avenues that lead to understanding. He knows the specific route needed in order for us to arrive at a particular spiritual destination. God’s wisdom is perfect and His love for us is……everlasting.

 

The Peace of Christ

When someone or something "rules," what does that mean to you? I think of the king of the jungle ruling, or being the strongest of the animals. Winning sports teams may boast of "ruling."

The dictionary defines rule in several ways. Two of the definitions stood out:

1. "the customary or normal circumstance, occurrence, manner, practice, quality, etc.: the rule rather than the exception."
2. "control, government, or dominion"

If the peace of Christ is to rule in our hearts, should this peace be a normal occurrence of our day to day living? Should this peace that only Jesus can give control and govern my heart?

Help us, Lord, to have calmed hearts, filled with Your peace.

 

 

Return Home

A man from whom Jesus had cast out demons begged to go with Him as He was leaving the city.  Jesus told him to "Return home and tell how much God has done for you."  What do you suppose that man did? He obeyed.

Luke 8:39b says, "So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him."

What has Jesus done for me? If I wrote a book in effort to list it all, it would be incomplete; for by the time of printing, He would have done more. We are blessed with the magnificent love of God. I have a story to tell. Do you?

Each Other’s Burdens

What do you think of when you hear the word burden? One thing that comes to my mind is an animal with traveling bags placed securely on its back. Another thought might be the mountain climber with a huge and bulging backpack strapped on tightly. Both scenarios have something in common–weight. Uncomfortable weight.

What if there were two animals to carry the load instead of one? A second adventurous companion to shoulder the needed supplies for the climb? What a difference it would make!

I don’t have to look very far into my past in order to find the memory of someone coming alongside me at a time when the heaviness of life was a difficult weight to bear. In fact, throughout the years there have been so many people who have helped me carry my load. Some were my friends; others I hardly knew, yet they willingly came to my aid.

In each instance, I feel that God was caring for me through the loving help of each individual. Think back—who were the people that God placed in your life to help you bear your burdens? Galatians 6:2 says, "Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ."

 

 

Good Fruit

You may have heard someone say, “You can know a tree by its fruit.” That’s actually a biblical reference to understanding certain people by their actions. Matthew 7:16a says, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”

I would have to agree. If I see a tree with oranges on it— even if I had mistakenly identified it as a different type before—I know that it’s an orange tree. We have several in our neighborhood. Leaves may mimic the shape and size of a similar tree, but if it’s got oranges… there’s no doubt.

Did you know that you can know a tree by it’s sound? Well, almost. Actually, you can know what’s going on inside a tree by the sounds coming from it. Let me explain.

It happens every year. We have several trees on our property. At just the prescribed time, the trees begin to produce their flowers. These are large trees that we often walk under, but not so much at this time. Why? Because the trees hum. A very LOUD hum. Sort of like a small motor. A motor being powered by hundreds of bee wings—that could mean hundreds of bee stings.

The bees are doing their assigned task in the work of pollination. They know before I do that the branches are going through some radical, post winter changes. The old is being replaced by the new and plans are already in the making for the burst of color that is inevitable. Now, in case I hadn’t noticed, the bees herald the news of this change with the only means they have available—their presence and the song of their wings.

What about people? Can we know what’s going on inside them by the sounds coming from their vicinity? What does it mean to hear the giggles and squeals of a group of children gathered around an aged grandfather who’s giving piggy back rides at a family reunion in the park? Do we hear kindness and love? Acceptance?

There are many clues to the mystery of a person’s heart— who they are and who they are becoming.. Some are visual, some are not. The question is, will we take the time to look into another’s life, or perhaps even listen for the “hum” beneath the branches of their soul?

For By Him

If you look at the picture below, you might think it was a photo of a very soft, finely knitted, hand-made blanket. At a nearby mall, I love to visit a certain store that sells ultra soft baby blankets. Their texture has such a delicate feel. It almost defies description.

All the many things we have learned to fashion through the ages cannot compare to God’s original designs. Everything that we "create" is simply a reiteration of what God has already done. We plant gardens with His soil and with His seed. We build tall buildings with metal and stone that we manufacture from the earth. He gives us the pencils and then, we draw. All that we aspire to begins with God.

So who made the southwestern looking blanket? God did–only it’s not a blanket at all. Two identical moths were visiting our home a couple of nights ago. With wings as colorful and soft as a baby’s blanket, they perused the outer walls of our garage. As though a visual gift from God to me, they posed for a late night portrait. Such beauty and uniformity. By Him, all things were created.

 

The Way

I had the opportunity to speak to someone today about my faith. They had been very concerned about where they were destined to go once they died.  I shared with them the fact that there are many views in the world concerning this very thing. That being said, I clarified the convictions that I hold: there is only one way to spend eternity with God in Heaven. That way is through Jesus Christ.  God sent His only Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life on the Earth and die on the cross in our place in payment for our transgressions. If we repent of our sin and ask for His forgiveness, He will.

Are you concerned about what will happen someday when you die?

Tree of Life

 

Yearning. Longing. Wishing. Hoping. There are so many words that describe that earnest feeling of the heart. Sometimes it is accompanied by "If only" or perhaps "when."  When I’m out of school, if only I could get that promotion…

Another word comes to mind, also. Jubilant. Jubilant? Yes. As the yearning is replaced with the knowledge of the dream come true and hope is confirmed in brilliant reality, jubilation is the natural result. Jubilant people, filled with gratitude, are awash with wellness at that moment. Have you ever seen a gold medalist look anything less than radiant when they are presented with their award? What about the look of joy on a father’s face as he spots his only son in the airport returning home from military service?

Many times our hoping and yearning are matters of prayer. We petition God with our requests; we speak to Him often about our longing in a matter. In trusting Him, we wait for an answer to our concerns. God, in His wisdom, grants us blessings as He sees fit.  As we realize how He is moving in our lives and in the lives of others, we are encouraged. We experience life-giving jubilation as we see the hand of God at work.

 

 

Perfect Love

I heard a story today about a young boy who had a very bad dream. Even though he had awakened, he still believed his bed was surrounded by tigers. His Dad came to his young son’s room and listened to him tell about the wild animals.  With compassionate understanding, the father comforted the frightened child. He could have dismissed his fear and made him to feel hurt and misunderstood. Instead, he seized the opportunity to show true, genuine love for his son.

Not many of us feel that we are surrounded by tigers—or do we? The tiger of finances, the tiger of illness; perhaps the tiger of lonliness. When we recognize fear in another’s life, we can dismiss their feelings or we can take the initiative to show sincere love and understanding.  Perfect love casts out fear.

 

 

 

For These Commands

Once again, I was driving and praying this morning. As I lifted my petition up to God, I had an instant of discouragement. The thought of another’s seeming lack of human ability in a situation had presented itself for verification.  Immediately, the verse in the Bible about God being stronger in our weakness came to mind.  I found the reference this evening. In II Corinthians, chapter 12, verse 9, it says, "… My power is made perfect in weakness."  This reminder of God’s power brought comfort and hope to me.

God’s word is a guide to us. A light for the present day, it illuminates even the past as we reflect on what has come to be.

And God Said

 

 

Today I heard someone speaking about faith and what types of things we really know for sure in our lives. One thing we all agreed on— we didn’t will ourselves to be here on this Earth, or anywhere else. The point was brought out that 60,000 miles of blood vessels are contained in the human body. That’s amazing.  We didn’t choose that; nor did we select any of the other attributes of our being. So who did?

We can’t deny that we exist and that we do so in a world full of life. The birds, the fish—the animals that roam the mountains and fields. Where did it all begin?

 God’s word tells us that He is the creator.  By faith, we may choose to believe that He is.  By faith, we may choose to accept His love. By faith, we may trust  that He sustains all that exists.  He is God.