Weak

 

 

My husband decided to create a French drain at the entrance to our driveway. Water had always collected there after storms, causing a puddle for perhaps a day or two. In putting in the drain, soil had to be moved and leveled. The grass was gone. After a trip to the hardware store, my husband planted winter rye, a grass that thrives in cooler weather.

While other lawns were turning a pale shade of flaxen yellow, the area around our driveway became lush. Very lush. As an autumn decoration, we placed pumpkins amidst the thriving greenery. What makes winter rye so different?  God, in His creativity, decided to give it the "fortitude" necessary to grow during the cold, when other plants fade. Does He do that same thing for us?

The Apostle Paul talks about his weaknesses in the New Testament. In II Corinthians 12:10b he says, "For when I am weak, then I am strong."  He is speaking of having Christ’s strength within him, when his own is lacking. Have you witnessed this in your own life? Consider a "wintery" time that you have gone through. Did God strengthen you to the task and enable you to be what you could not have been on your own? Did you press toward the sky, green and vibrant, while others who were not trusting in the Lord struggled in the cold? If you answered, "yes," then you know first hand what Paul was speaking about.

God is faithful. When we are weak, He is strong.

 

 

 

 

 

I Will Trust

At a women’s retreat several years ago, I heard a speaker ask this question: "Don’t your fears get bigger at night?"  I think we all knew what she meant. When everything gets quiet and distractions become few as the household settles down for rest, peace and calm may settle over you—or maybe not. What if, in the stillness of those moments as we hope to drift off to sleep, our "fears" begin to escalate and our concerns become larger than reality? The Bible tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear. What should we do if this happens?

Begin to talk to God instead of yourself. Bring the object of fear to His light; ask Him to take away the worry. Mentally repeat scripture that reminds you of God’s love and protection.

Isaiah 12:2a says, "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid."

 

 

 

Hold Fast

I could hear him calling to me. As I entered the room, my son was standing past the open door with our dog on the leash. He didn’t want me to miss the excitement—there was a woodpecker in the garage.  We watched as he flew all around the ceiling in search of freedom. He darted here and there, perching on a light fixture, the attic cord or a metal railing.

My son had an idea. He took a metal tool and began to hit a nearby drawer with a simple rhythm; then, he waited….  Loudly came the reply from the beak of the woodpecker, hitting into the metal garage door. (ouch!) Over and over he would listen to the tapping on the drawer and respond. Did he think it was another bird like himself? A companion nearby during this time of confusing captivity?

Suddenly, I thought about who we as humans choose to listen to in our lives. When matters become difficult, do we listen to our own thoughts of discouragement and doubt? Do we respond to temptation’s call to worry? Do we tune our ears to an old familiar path that leads us away from God?

With wisdom that only He can give us, we are able to listen to His Spirit, guiding us toward His truth through every challenge. We must contrast the sound of His voice with that of deception.

Who are you listening to today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cattle

 

 

It was a quiet ending to a calm day. Another Thanksgiving coming to a close. The sky that had been bright blue throughout the afternoon was changing rapidly as the sun was setting. The cattle on the farm near my house were content to stroll along the pasture, silently perusing their surroundings.

Someone recently spoke with me about their need of financial assistance in order to take advantage of an opportunity set before them. I remembered from scripture that God owned "the cattle on a thousand hills." I shared that thought with them. God owns everything; He is able to move one thing here and another there to accomplish His purpose. We should pray about our financial needs and trust Him for the outcome.

In my own life, God has provided all that I needed.  He will continue to do so. I have much to be thankful for. Everything I have is His, and I myself am His child. I am truly grateful.

       Aren’t you?

 

 

 

A Time

    Ecclesiates 3:

1 There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven:

 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,

 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
       a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
       a time to keep and a time to throw away,

 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
       a time to be silent and a time to speak,

 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
       a time for war and a time for peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exalted

 

 

What does it mean to be exalted? Here’s one definition from the dictionary:   "Raised or elevated, as in rank or character; of high station"

Hopefully, we all have someone that we hold in high regard—a good friend, a faithful pastor, a trusted leader in the community. Whenever their name is mentioned, we immediately remember the respect we have for them.

What about God? Do we exalt His Name? When we hear someone speak of Him, do we immediately remember His greatness, His glory and His holiness?

"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth." Psalm 57:11

 

 

 

Do Not Be Afraid

It was only a plane ride. A short plane ride, at that–just a couple of hours. Only three days before I had taken the same flight. Now, it was time to go home. Both trips were at night, so there wouldn’t be any cloud gazing for me. Stars and city lights would have to do. This was the first trip I had taken on a plane. Up to that time, cars had sufficed very nicely to transport me to all my destinations.

Just before we were to board the plane, I realized I was feeling a little nervous. Suddenly, I thought of Joshua. I had not been studying the Old Testament successor of Moses, yet he came to mind. I remembered that God had taken care of him as he led the children of Israel. I thought of how his shoes had miraculously never worn out. 

After getting settled into my seat, I just sat quietly, dealing with my uneasiness. I decided I would get out a brand new book that I had in my bag.  It was a collection of several personal stories of difficulties and victories in the lives of various people. The account of a young Christian girl was most interesting to me. As I read, I was surprised and in awe of what I saw on the page. She was recounting how, during a trying time in her life, she would get on her knees and remember, "..be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go……JOSHUA (!) 1:9

God was telling me not to be afraid. He was assuring me that He would be with me, even in a plane. While in the airport, He had placed the thought of Joshua in my mind, and moments later, confirmed it with scripture. He knew in advance that I would be uncomfortable. Just the day before, I had been handed a complimentary "gift" bag with several items inside. One of those items was the book I began to read on the plane…

Feeling a new sense of calm and the presence of God, I turned and looked out the window at the lights of civilization below.  It was almost as if I was being given a guided tour by God, viewing His creation from up above.

It was only a plane ride—but I will remember my "Joshua" flight forever.

 

 

 

 

 

Refuge

 

Refuge.  There’s a word I don’t hear too much. Refugee is a word, however, that I do hear. Someone who must leave their home for another place. The current conditions are no longer suitable for living. If the refugee is to survive, they must leave behind what they have known and turn to face a new destiny.

Although I have never left a country in this manner, I have been a spiritual refugee. Years ago, my current state of living did not include a surrendered heart to God. Because I had not allowed God to lead me, conditions became unbearable. I had come to the end of myself. This would be a sad story, except that its conclusion is filled with the mercy of God. When I found myself to be lost in my own sin, God was standing right there. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, I had a choice. A choice to accept forgiveness and begin a new life in a far better place—in the loving and accepting care of God. He had become my refuge–a place of safety.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fully

 

 

 

 

Some days my heart is full to overflowing.  Some days are filled with reflection; an inventory of what has been and what could be in my relationship with God. I seek to know Him more fully, while He knows me with the fullness of all knowlege. With each new revelation of His character and His great love for me, the joy of the Lord becomes more precious.

 

Oaks of Righteousness

We have four oak trees on our property. This time of year, acorns are in abundance. Just in case we were to forget what type of trees they are, the acorns remind us.

Oak trees are mentioned a lot in the Bible. One passage speaks of some blessed by the Lord to be called "Oaks of Righteousness."    God will replace what is bad with the good. God’s good is very good. He will give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Do you see yourself in any of the negative descriptions? Have you felt the pain of mourning or felt the confusion of despair?  God can bestow something different. What would it be like to wear a "garment" of praise? To be completely whole in Him and filled with thankfulness?

 

 

 

 

 

Be Still and Know

 

 

It was such an exciting thing. I spotted five hot air balloons in the distance. I was in my car, so I pulled over to take a few photos of the tiny orbs so far off. I began to realize they were getting larger. They were traveling toward me. Soon, I decided I could try to drive closer to where they were. I did just that. The fantastic thing was, God allowed me to go right to the place where three of them landed! I have never been so close to a hot air balloon before. It was magnificent.

Silently, they floated along, carrying their baskets of people with them. Slowly hovering above the trees. Gently, they came to rest on the ground.

I have never been on a balloon ride. Would it be frightening? Would it be awe inspiring to see the works of God from up above? I think so.  One thing I think is quite evident. You have to stay put, right there in the basket. Still. Probably very still.

In our society, we are not found to be still for very long. My great grandparents lived on a farm. The rooster may have awakened them, or perhaps the glow of the morning sun. Certainly they were not shocked into the day by an electric clock roaring in their ear. We eat quickly, work quickly and multitask our existance into a pinwheel ride from dawn to midnight. Be still? There’s no time.

God tells us, however, to do just that. In Psalm 46:10a, He says, "Be still and know that I am God;"  Lately, I have tried to just be quiet and listen.  I wonder what those people in the air balloon baskets were thinking of as they sat still on their journey? When looking at the tiny rooftops and intertwining arrays of highway, did they consider the awesome works of God surrounding them—the fields of fruit, the crystal blue lakes, the horse pastures or the forests of trees?

If I ever find myself gliding silently above creation in a basket, I think I will be overwhelmed with the realization of God. He is everything. He is all things. He is God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set Free

 

They came out of nowhere. I heard the sound first. That wonderful, scraping, chortling voice coming from several sand cranes. Suddenly, I saw them. I tried to follow them with my eyes as they soared past the trees. How carefree they were, gliding away at the sunset over the orange grove ahead of me. Gracefully, they sang as they flew, allowing me only a few seconds to witness their presence. As quickly as they came, they were gone.

As children of God, we have been set free to soar past the old life that held us down. We can glide away, singing as we fly. Think of it—do you remember what it was like before you knew the God of the universe as your Savior? What did you hope in? What security did you have? What comfort did you feel? What confidence did you possess? It’s different now, isn’t it? Even when problems arise, our "wings" are supported by His love. We are continually aware of His presence as we travel through the gift of life He has given us. Through Him, we have escaped our destiny of destruction for our sins.

Our help is in the Maker of heaven and earth.

 

 

 

 

 

Count the Stars

It was dark. When I got out of the car and began walking to the house, I could see the sky. I put the items I was carrying on the sidewalk and found my way to the open field where the view would be unobscured by the trees in my yard.

Amazing! A very large blanket of clouds was stretched across the sky in a giant band of white. The full moon was nearby, illuminating everything below. As the clouds drew nearer to the moon, I began to photograph the advance. In only moments the scene would change as the moon would be engulfed by the unrelenting movement in the atmosphere. Moonlight causes a certain "pink" aura as it sometimes strikes the clouds at night. Tiny and small as I stood looking up, the vastness of the heavens surrounded me.

God spoke to Abram and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilderness

The clouds were getting grayer as the air began to feel cool. As I walked down the sidewalk to my front door, I noticed a very tiny bee. It had found a single stemmed wildflower that had grown up through a sago palm tree. It was so small and so unusual looking. I just had to stop and watch it for a few seconds. Soon, I decided on going inside for the camera. When I returned, it was still there, hovering around the blossom.

The wildflower stood out among the branches of the palm tree. It had sprung up right through the fronds. Certainly, the bee must have been glad to have found it.

The Bible tells us what it will be like when all things are restored. The wilderness will rejoice and blossom, the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. The lame will leap like a deer and the mute tongue will shout for joy. (from Isaiah 35)

The palm tree in my yard NEVER blooms. It can’t, just as a wilderness cannot be fruitful and lush on its own. On this day, however, a beautiful bloom emerged from it.

I am looking forward to the day when God will restore His creation. Until that time comes, I believe He is about the business of restoring lives right now—-today.  Surely you know someone living a "wilderness" type of life. Maybe that person is you.  God can cause a life to blossom from seemingly barren ground. Eyes that have never before considered the Savior as their redeemer and friend can suddenly be opened to the word of God. Ears that have rejected the truth concerning Him can be miraculously unstopped, enabling them to receive the knowledge of salvation. A voice that was never known to praise the Lord for His unfailing love can be made to shout for joy and sing praise to His Name. Those who could barely gather enough strength to walk another day in their world of lonliness and separation from God can be set free to leap like a deer in restored fellowship with their Creator.

God is drawing people with wilderness lives to Himself—today.

 

 

 

 

 

Joyful

Years ago, it was common to hear people talk about an "attitude check."  Of course, that meant to stop and take a quick survey of what kind of attitude you were displaying at the moment.  Am I angry? Flippant? Rude? Usually, the "check" was not mentioned unless the current mood was less than pleasant.

Romans 12:12 says, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer."  The words "joyful" and "patient" could be used as adjectives describing attitude—joyful attitude, patient attitude.  But what about faithfulness? Can we have a faithful attitude? I think so. I’m thinking of another word, too: default.

The default setting is what happens automatically. It’s what happens first. When we hope, are we automatically joyful through the process? If we are afflicted, does patience rise up and take its place immediately? These attitudes might not come naturally. If we make the conscious choice to be faithful in prayer, we can ask God to grant us joy or patience.

  What would our lives be like if our "default" setting was faithfulness in prayer, no matter what the situation?

 

 

 

 

 

He Who Believes

 

This time of year, the sun sets at just the right place to cause a glow on the field grass behind our home. illuminated by the blend of crimson and peach rays, the tips of each flowering blade is transformed into a blazing blanket of color. The field becomes a work of radient beauty.

Today, I found out that a friend’s mother had passed away. Learning that she raised her hands as though in praise above her as she lay in her hospital bed and immediately went to be with the Lord, has left me thoughtful and contemplative. To raise your hands in praise, only to have them grasped by the hand of God to lift you from this earthly realm to the eternal. How precious are our souls to God; He sent His Son to die in order to purchase them from destruction.

John 11:25 and 26 have become two of my most cherished verses in the Bible:

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

My friend’s mother trusted in God. At the appointed time, she died–only to live. Like the flowing grass behind my home, her life took on a new dimension, as He who is the Resurrection and the Life transformed her into His likeness in radient, heavenly beauty.

How about you? Are you ready to meet the Savior?

 

 

 

 

Have You Journeyed?

 

 

"Why?" 

There are so many questions that we ask of God that begin with this simple, little word. We are  perplexed and confused. Things may not seem to be as we thought they would be.  We go to God in prayer— "Why?"

We cannot grasp the knowlege of God. His ways are higher than ours. Have we journeyed to the springs of the sea? Have we walked in the recesses of the deep?

I cannot comprehend how my own heart is beating; I do not understand how a memory exists in my mind. What really happens when I open my eyes and my brain tells me what I see? God could ask me those things. "How are your memories stored away in safe keeping? What keeps your heart moving in perfect rhythm inside your chest? In what way does your eye translate reality into its vision?

I could give no answer fully. If I know so little, might I trust that the "whys" in my life might be too lofty for me to imagine?

 

 

 

Come to the Waters

One of my favorite contemporary Christian songs is "Love is Here."  The words mean so much:


Come to the water
You who thirst
And you’ll thirst no more
Come to the Father
You who work
And you’ll work no more
And all you who labor in vain
And to the broken and shamed

Love is here
Love is now
Love is pouring from His hands
From His brow
Love is near*

How many people do we know who are "laboring in vain?"  People who are working so hard, but only to be paid wages that are empty and shallow? For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior, we remember what it was like to be broken and shamed. Even now, we may become broken again, only to rush to Him for comfort. Do you know someone who is thirsty for the life giving water of God? Why not tell them—–love is here.

 *as recorded by 10th Avenue North

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green Pastures

What is it that we need? Food, clothes, shelter; those may come to mind first. If we were to write every need we could think of, it still would not be complete. Why? Because we don’t know everything that we need.

God does know, however, and He wants to provide us with what He knows is best.

Think of it—when a shepherd is caring for a flock of sheep, wouldn’t he desire to bring them to an area suitable for feeding and nourishment? He wouldn’t leave them wandering on rocky ground, far from food and water. The sheep may not recognize the neccessity of walking a long journey in order to reach the pasture, yet the shepherd knows what is best.

We can wander on dry, rocky ground emotionally and spiritually. Frustrated, we can grow tired and weary of the neccessary journey. We welcome the peace and restoration that comes from the green pasture, once we reach it. We may not have even understood our need for it, but God, our Shepherd, knew it all along.

Have you grown tired and weary? Ask God to lead you to a place of rest—the green pasture with the quiet waters. Ask Him to restore your soul. He knows what you need.

 

 

 

Press On

 

I press on——-I can’t quit, I can’t turn back and give up;

Toward the goal—–my mission is to reach the finish line before me,

To win the prize—–to complete the work, to run ahead even when others push against me.

For which God has called me—–my heart knows God’s voice;

Heavenward in Christ Jesus—–I will continue until I reach my eternal home in Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

Cling

 

It was big. Actually, it was HUGE. The morning sunlight had revealed a giant spider web that had been meticulously crafted overnight. The span of the web may have been 4 to 5 feet. The size alone was remarkable; yet there was something even more intriguing to behold.  The dew had settled in large droplets at specific points, glistening at precise, predetermined intervals dictated by the mind of the spider who had long since abandoned his work of art.

The Bible tells us in the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 9: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good."

Each droplet of water was clinging to the web.The sun was focused and reflected in the beautiful array of light.

What about me? Am I clinging to what is good? Like the tiny drops of water, am I allowing God to be reflected through me?

 

 

 

 

 

When You Sit at Home

 

 

Years ago, I became aquainted with a teenaged girl and her parents. We attended the same church. At some point, I began to notice something; the girl’s mother had a habit of saying a certain phrase when she was talking. It was just two harmless little words that had somehow become part of her vocabulary, and it would often come at the end of a sentence. It was nothing offensive; it was just her.

I noticed something else, as well. The teenaged daughter would add the same two words to her sentences, also. Apparently, the daughter had "picked up" the language habits of her mother. Now it seemed to be a family trait!

Earlier this week, as I listened to our teenaged son relate part of his school day to my husband, I realized that he used a phrase that I often say. My pattern of speech had become part of his.

What else is he learning from me? Does my faith in God permeate my life to such a degree as to influence my son toward that same belief? Through the everyday occurances in our family, am I impressing the love of God on his heart?

I pray that I would be the parent that God would want me to be, modeling a life committed to Him.

 

 

The Lowly

Am I insignificant? Not to God. The day to day journey of my life is important to Him. Although I cannot comprehend how He knows my existance completely–from every thought I have ever had to every word that has been spoken to me–I am certain that He does. Where I am in life and all that affects me is understood by Him.

Am I to be afraid? God does not give us a spirit of fear. Psalm 138:6a says, "Though the LORD is on high, He looks upon the lowly…"

 

 

 

Surely God is With You

 

The past few days have been bathed in the knowledge that God is faithful; He is faithful to comfort, faithful to heal. God is faithful to provide–spiritually, emotionally, physically.  He has shown me once again that it is He who owns everything. He has shown me that He is aware of my deepest, innermost needs and that He cares about each one. I am filled with gratitude and love as I rest in Him. It is surely God who is with me, now and forevermore.

 

 

 

 

 

Will Not Depart

 

Wind. Have you ever tried to explain wind to a child? You can’t see it, yet you see what it does; you feel it, but what are you touching?

When Christ inhabits the hearts of believers, His Spirit binds them together. We can’t see His Spirit, yet we see what it does; we feel it, and we know our hearts are touching the heart of God.

He enables us to speak His love; He empowers us to balm the wounds of others. He gives us compassion. Through His Spirit, we see through new eyes—eyes of forgiveness and understanding.

 

 

 

 

 

All Things New

 

 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

Revelation 21:4-6