The Word

A group of people from the church that I attend is far away from home right now. They are working on another continent to help the inhabitants of an impoverished community, showing them God’s love as they minister to their needs. Through the years, I have known of many such visits by various people to all sorts of places. Some organizations bring food to those suffering in famine. Others provide short term medical provisions and supplies. What do all these volunteers have in common? They are seeking to help others in need and they are coming to dwell in their circumstances in order to accomplish the task.

Jesus did that.

In the Bible, in the Book of John, chapter 14, we read, " The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Jesus became flesh—like us. He came to dwell alongside us. He brought the fullness of God’s love to the people of the world, dwelling in our circumstances to accomplish His task.

There is a indescribable peace that lives ever so deeply within the soul of one who has felt the forgiving grace of Jesus in their lives.

Jesus came to dwell with us–and we know it with certainty.

 

 

 

You Will Answer Me

 

The morning began clear and clean, the sun shining brightly after a night bestowed with clouds and lightning.

I had just returned home from an early outing. As I was walking up to my door, an excited butterfly came flitting around the bushes near me. Stopping to take in the beauty of this erractic dance in the air, I followed its every move. Up, down, this bush, that wall. Far away, closer.

Realizing that I had taken my camera with me, I stood still, hoping for a moment that I could photograph my delicate friend. There was no way. Lighting on a branch for a little wing rest was clearly not on its mind. After some hesitation, I decided to pray. "Lord, may I photograph this one?" I asked. I waited and watched the acrobat of color dart toward me, only to land beside my feet on the stone porch tile. Several photographs later, it took once again to flight, continuing its tour of endless blossoms in the sunshine.

I thanked God for allowing me to photograph the butterfly. He allowed me to look more closely at one of His intricate creations. He reminded me that He is listening. Listening to me.

Listening to you.

 

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. –Psalm 17:6

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Distant Shores

 

When I was in high school, I took a very interesting class. It was an upper level English course, centered on imaginative writing.

Intriguing as they were, I still remember some of my assignments. Living in close proximity to one of the country’s largest rivers, we were given the task to visit its banks. We were to touch the river with our hands and write about what it felt like. As I recall, it wasn’t to experience the sensation of water alone, but to discover being connected to something so far reaching.

In Psalm 97, the author writes,

"The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad;
       let the distant shores rejoice."

The distant shores. Far, far away from the closest shore there is another, connected by the massive waters that God placed on our world long ago. Far from that shore is yet another and another. With the breaking of the waves onto land, the sounds of power and authority pierce the silence, proclaiming the majesty of their Creator.

Those who dwell in every land are loved by God who reigns in control.

 

 

 

Choose

 

As I stood on the upper level looking down, I saw an interesting sight. Symetrical furniture decorated the lower floor. Tastefully placed, their arrangement caught my eye.

One could choose to sit in an identical chair to the one just opposite it. The color and the fabric would even be the same. So, did the choice of seating really matter at all? If your point of view was important, selecting a seat would be, as well.

From one side, the vantage point would provide a very different view than that of the other. The entire sitting experience would be altered by which way your eyes were led to gaze. Which side should you choose?

We have so many choices in life that direct and redirect our thinking, our actions, and our very being. Choosing godly wisdom, by seeking it earnestly and petitioning for it in prayer sets us in a place to view life’s events from a different perspective. Those around us may seemingly be choosing a path identical to ours, yet their vantage point does not include God’s view. Choosing wisely makes all the difference.

Please……be seated.

 

 

 

 

With Perseverance

 

I have a job to do.

What might that job be? Well, here’s the thing—it changes daily. My instructions come when God decides, because it is God who gives me my job. At any moment, my "job" may be to speak to someone, carry out a particular task that He wants me to do, write a note, sing a song, take a photograph, smile a smile, give a hug. I never know what my job will be, exactly. I just know that I need to be ready and willing to complete it.

Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1: 

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Those who have gone before us, having completed their jobs on this earth for God would cheer us on with encouragement to keep trying; to do those things set before us by Him. We must keep going, one day at a time.

We all have a job to do.


 

 

The Everlasting God

"There is no one like the God of Israel,
       who rides through the skies to help you,
       who rides on the clouds in his majesty.
  The everlasting God is your place of safety,
       and his arms will hold you up forever."–Deuteronomy 33:26,27a

Take a moment to say this to yourself silently, or pehaps, even out loud:

     "There is no one like the God of (please say YOUR name),
       who rides through the skies to help (ME),
       who rides on the clouds in his majesty.

  The everlasting God is (MY) place of safety,
       and his arms will hold (ME) up forever."

 

—Amen.

 

 

 

And It Was So

My husband was busy doing woodwork in the driveway. He noticed something on the ground. This was a sighting that had to be shared. He came into the house to find me.

As far as I could remember, I had not seen anything like this, either.

There it sat, as though it were staring right at me.  A black beetle with HUGE fake eyes on top of it’s head. As I talked with our son about it’s appearance, I told him of how this was just another reason I believed in God.

My faith in God is substaniated by an incredibly large amount of reasons, but when I see things in nature that are marvelous and miraculous, it reminds me of God’s creativity as He is the author of order and beauty.

When a spider weaves the same design in it’s web that also appears on it’s back—only God could do that.

When a black beetle wanders up our driveway with giant "pretend" eyes that would make it appear, perhaps, more foreboding to a predator, well, I know that only God could design that, too.

The Bible tells us in Genesis 1:24,25, "And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

With a little research, I found that our little driveway buddy was an Eyed Elator Beetle.

I wonder what name Adam gave to it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Door

Just this morning, I found out that a friend was praising God because a "door had been opened" in her life.

Just last night, my son and I were trying to attend a meeting. Trying? When we arrived at the facility, we were unsure where to go. As someone led us around to the different buildings looking for the right room, we tried to open a door. No, that one was locked; no meeting there.

Finally, after a quick phone call, we were instructed where to go by someone who knew—the person in charge of the meeting. When we arrived, the door was open. We walked right through.

God may give us instructions one at a time, if He chooses. When we show up where we think He wants us, we may have to stop and say, "Where should I go now?"  As we see different doors ahead of us, we may find that some are locked. That must not be the plan. As we come closer to the opened door, we see that God has allowed us to get to that place and now, walk on through.

As we step into the correct room, we discover that He is there.

He has been preparing the way for us, all along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summoned

The acreage was beautiful. Green grass covered the ground as it sloped gradually toward the lake. Birds cavorted across the water on the land beyond us.

Dinner at the lodge was coupled with good conversation and laughter. I was thrilled to be a guest, enjoying every moment.

After dinner, I strolled with friends down to the dock. As the sun was getting lower in the sky and darkness was setting in, we heard the old dinner bell ring. It was time to go, and this was our signal to head back.

In Isaiah, chapter 43, God tells the people of Israel that He has summoned them by name; they are His.

Have you heard God call to you? What has your heart felt when you’ve heard the "bell" of His voice chiming in the distance throughout your life? He longs for you to accept His love and forgiveness.

Don’t wait another minute—

let’s head back up to the lodge….

 

 

He knows

 

 

I was alone in my car, driving down the road, when a short, inspirational message came on. It may have been only 30 seconds long. What was said lingered on in my mind for some time.

If we were to ask God to open a door for us—make a way; create an opportunity—we shouldn’t kick it down. We should wait for Him to open it for us.

Oh.

If I think I see "the door" up ahead, would I be one of those people who is impatient enough to try to get it open by force, instead of waiting on God? He knows everything; certainly He knows what is best for my life.

Although I could say that I don’t want to be that person, I realize that this behavior might truly describe some of my actions in the past.

The broadcast I heard made me stop and think. Trusting God is doing just that.

Trusting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light

 

Walking in the light.

Let’s just say that sometimes I tend to step outside the light and it gets pretty hard to find my way.

It’s funny how it doesn’t seem to be a distinct line I’m crossing—-light ends here, darkness begins there. Somehow, I’m carelessly distracted to the ever so slightly dimmer edge of whatever it is I’m thinking and before long, I’m bumping into stuff, getting hurt and stumbling around in confusion.

Time to make my way back to the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House

If I make plans apart from God and His plan for me,  will my efforts amount to nothing? Am I trusting God to guide me?

If I try to control things in my life in order to feel protected, am I trusting God to be my protector?

If I work so much trying to provide for my needs when God would gladly supply them, am I trusting God to be my provider?

God gives rest—peace, calm, comfort—to His loved ones.

 

 

Unless the Lord builds a house,
      the work of the builders is wasted.
   Unless the Lord protects a city,
      guarding it with sentries will do no good.
  It is useless for you to work so hard
      from early morning until late at night,
   anxiously working for food to eat;
      for God gives rest to his loved ones.

 

–Psalm 127:1,2

 

 

 

Rejoice

  Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How High

 

Sitting. Talking.

Laughing. Crying. Trusting.

I had the privilege today of being with a friend who has been facing some adversity. God’s strength was evident as I listened to the words being spoken and the attitude of the heart. I had a front row seat in the theatre of her life as I watched her responses to several challenges.

How should we pray for our friends? The apostle Paul described a prayer for the Christians at Ephesus while he was imprisoned. Here is that prayer, quoted from The Message:

"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.  God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."    —Ephesians 3:14-21

 When God places friends into our lives, we are granted access to a special place of intercession when they are faced with difficulties.  As we pray for our friends, we lay our love for them before God and trust Him to work in ways we cannot fully understand. His love is both wide and long, high and deep.

 

 

Expectation

When I was a child, it was a favorite pastime of mine.

I would sit on the couch with the big catalog on my lap, studying each item that my eyes fell on. The pages were filled with everything my heart could desire—-almost.

A new bicycle. A new jacket. The dark blue one with the double white stripes going down the sleeves. Oh, I would look great if I could wear that jacket! Somewhere in my little heart, I felt that clothes would be at least one ticket to acceptance and popularity.

Once when I was looking through the colorful pages filled with toys and clothes, I took a pen and wrote, "Get, if can" beside everything I wanted. I grew up as a single child with a single parent. I knew that funds were small, yet my eagerness to have what "other" kids had fueled my respectful requests. If a package came in the mail from the store, I was thrilled.

As an adult, I no longer search the 1,000 page dream book for answers to acceptance through clothing, household articles or jewelry. There are several things I might like to have, yet my identity is in Christ, and He is the provider for all my needs.

Do I still have any requests? Yes. Sometimes, they are spiritual in nature. Sometimes they are material. They may even be for something intangible, like time—-time at the shore with waves rolling up to my ankles in rhythmic harmony. Who can I go to with my requests?

My Heavenly Father owns all things. If He were to have a catalog, it would be too large to fathom. Considering that He knows both my needs AND my desires, I must leave these to Him to decide what I should truly have.

I have never written, "Give, if can" by any blessing in the scriptures. I have never prayed for God to come to my aid if He had the resources to do so, understanding that He might be lacking at the moment. No, He is infinitely resourceful, all powerful and ultimately the giver of everything that I have in this world and will have in the next.

I my lay my requests before Him and wait expectantly for what is to come, wrapped in a special package of His making, tied with spiritual cords of His unceasing love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nourish Many

Righteous.

That’s not a word I hear often. I was curious to see what the opposite of righteous would be. The thesaurus states the opposite as being, "bad, corrupt, dishonest, immoral, unfair."  Words used to describe "righteous" included, "trustworhy and upright."

Proverbs 10:21 states, "The lips of the righteous nourish many.."

What about nourish? The opposite meaning is to, "neglect, abandon, deprive, starve." Words used to describe "nourish" could be, "cherish, encourage, support."

Thinking of the verse in one way, the words I speak could either neglect and abandon someone or they could cherish, encourage and support them. This would depend on the nature of my words.

Are the words from my mouth coming from a heart that is dishonest? A heart that is immoral? Unfair?

Are they coming from a heart that is trustworthy and upright?

The remarks and comments that we say have an impact on those who hear them.

What type of impact should I be making today?

 

 

 

Unfailing Love

 

As I made my way along the sidewalk, the overcast sky formed a canopy for the cool breeze against my face.

Looking ahead, I beheld such a gorgeous site—-the sun crept from behind its veil of moisture and vividly lit up the scenery directly in front of me. Shadows gave way to streams of glowing light, forming a landscape as beautiful as any painting could ever express. For a few seconds, it was there to behold. A visual gift from God, flowing in the sovereign syncronized motion of my life.

God’s unfailing love is present in the everyday moments of our existance.

He comforts us with His unfailing love.

 

 

Live Safely

We pulled the car over to the side of the road at a nearby town. There, in the grass ahead of us was a squirrel and a bird. I reached to get my camera and quietly stepped onto the ground. By the time I could have photographed them, they were gone. Immediately, my husband got my attention—just to the right of us was a small path in the tall grass and bushes nearby. On the path were wild brown rabbits.  One rabbit–no, two; there’s three! Oh, four!

Occasionally, bunnies will hop through our front yard, but they are usually scurrying on their way to the next location, gracing my vision for only a few seconds. These bunnies were different. They were eating. One was digging. They took turns hopping with their well-developed, plump haunches. Hop away, hop back. They were not in a hurry. One calmly chewed on the branch of a small tree that was lying on the path. Everything they needed was right there. A beautiful lake was close by, as well. I wonder if rabbits swim on hot days?

Happy as they were, their natural playground was actually only yards away from the pavement where busy motorists zoom past any hour of the day or night. There may be many places that rabbits should not frequent, but certainly, the road should be avoided at all costs. My four furry friends seemed to have little interest in straying from the safety of the lush path they enjoyed.

Why do people stray away from safety? What causes them to choose to wander from the best life to the ruined life? Though we seldom talk about the poor choices of others that we’ve known, we all know someone who has lived far too close to the "road" for a long time. The pain of ill judgment mars their countenance.

God has given us the choice to obey His wisdom and acknowledge the boundaries He so lovingly sets before us. If we move too closely to that which is treacherous, He beckons us back to the safe place, where forgiveness is waiting along the path.

Do you know someone who needs this forgiveness? Why not tell them of the lush, green safety of God’s love today. One friend; no, two. There’s three…..

Perhaps, even four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christians

If someone were to come up with a descriptive word to characterize my life by what they observed, I wonder what it would be? What type of word would best fit you?

For me, perhaps, "Photoian."  Maybe "Wordian." Never heard those terms before, you say? I haven’t either, yet I understand what they imply.  If you knew me very well, they might actually seem appropriate. Hopefully, you might also feel that "Christian" would also apply to me.

The Bible tells us in in the book of Acts that, "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Evidently, these followers identified themselves with Christ enough that a new term was created.  In looking up the meaning of "identify," I found that to identify with means to "regard oneself as sharing the same characteristics or thinking as someone else." If I am identified with Christ, do I share in His thinking? Although I hope to do so, many, many times I have failed.  Many, many times, He has forgiven. With His strengthening, I will continue to learn and grow in faith, mirroring more and more of what He wants me to be.

As I go about my days, what could others say about me? Could they honestly say they felt that I was a Christian?

What would my descriptive word truly be in their eyes? 

 

 

 

Times

 

 

Old papers. Tattered books. Hand written cards.

Childhood drawings.

Images from the past.

 

My husband is spending his day cleaning out our garage. He had a request for me—go through a box; as in, ANY box. We have several that have been exisiting in the garage museum for years, unpacked and somewhat forgotten.

I selected a box that contained childhood paintings made by our oldest son who graduated this past spring with a degree in the arts. The comparison of what he drew when he was a young child to what he creates now could bring both a smile and a tear. God gave him his talent. It has been chronicled throughout the years on paper as a testament of His gift.

The box not only held artwork, but also various other items from our past. Personal, written reflections of mine; positive  evaluations from work—over 20 years ago, a poem my mother wrote (she died in 1987), a printed program from a school band concert when I was a high school senior.

Although it may appear that I am a highly reflective individual, I find myself avoiding such tasks that involve pulling up old memories. Let’s just say that they require a good deal of emotional energy to process. They demand the involvement of my heart once the long forgotten pathway to my former days is reopened.

Interestingly enough, within the confines of my box, I had written a quote some years ago from a book I had been reading:

"When you understand that life is a test, you realize that nothing is insignificant in your life.  Even the smallest incident has significance for your character development."   (Rick Warren—The Purpose-Driven Life)

By reading this quote, God was allowing me to frame the memories that were surfacing with the profound reality that He was always there, watching. He knew it all. Who I was coming to be throughout all those years was important to Him.

There are still more items left in the box to sort. As I pick up each piece, the awareness that my times are in God’s hands will be fresh on my mind.

Thank You, God, for walking with me through each stage of my journey through life.

 

The Unfolding

Your statutes are wonderful;
       therefore I obey them.

  The unfolding of your words gives light;
       it gives understanding to the simple.

  I open my mouth and pant,
       longing for your commands.

  Turn to me and have mercy on me,
       as you always do to those who love your name.

Psalm 119:129-132

 

 

You Know

 

Does anyone really understand us? Even our closest friends aren’t aware of our entire history.

It’s always comforting to have an old friend that we can trust nearby to counsel and encourage us. We don’t have to take the time to explain our lives; their already know it. We can begin our conversation on the current chapter—perhaps #81 instead of, well, #1. They’ve followed the novel of our journey as it unfolded. There’s no need to start at the beginning. But do they really remember it all? Come to think of it, do we remember it all? Probably not.

For some reason, a memory from my childhood came back to me this morning. I thought of a surgery I’d had when I was about 8 years old. I thought of getting my bicycle after that. The memories kept flowing. Suddenly, I realized I had thought of something that I hadn’t remembered in years. I may have forgotten, but God had not. He was aware of how I was feeling, even when I was a child. He hasn’t stopped. He knows how I’m feeling even now.

Our friends are precious to us, as they are a gift from God. It is only God, however, who knows the entire story of our lives–the past, the present, AND the future.

He understands.

 

 

His Way is Perfect

 

God is answering my prayers in a specific area.

I’m not sure when I started to pray about it, but things seemed to be getting worse instead of better. I enlisted the prayers of others. Sometimes, I felt very downcast. This concern was huge on my list of petitions before God–at least, it was huge to me. For God, nothing is too difficult or too huge.

Not in the way I had expected, (what did I expect when I prayed?) nor at the time I might have thought, I began to see the miraculous work God was doing.

Recently, I planted a pine tree in our yard. It is probably 10 inches tall. With nourishment from the soil and water from the rain, in God’s time, it will one day grow tall and strong with branches reaching out beyond its trunk. Right now, it doesn’t look like that at all. God knows, however, what it will someday become. Plans for its future are taking place right now, beneath the soil, as He is causing growth in the roots.

God was working with my request even when I couldn’t see "beneath the soil."  Each day now, I am aware of His great love as He continues to work in the area of my request. The "tree" has emerged, beginning its determined ascent toward the sky. My heart is praising God.

He is faithful.

His way is perfect.

 

 

What is Man?

The temperature was almost perfect. It was a great time to go for a walk. The sun had already left the horizon, leaving the misty blue shadows behind that would soon turn to darkness. The moon was on duty high in the sky even while the sun’s rays were still visible.

Each house I passed had its own story to tell. Television screens flickering their light through windows, bicycles resting until the next outing, birds just beginning their nighttime serenade.

Life continues on schedule, one day following another. Psalm 8 ponders, "What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?"

 

 

 

 

Speak to That Rock

If you are grieving over a matter, how does that really feel?

Earlier today, I heard someone speak about what grieves the Holy Spirit in our lives. One of the actions discussed was disobedience. Specifically, willful disobedience. Perhaps this means not doing what you are told to do by God.  Taking notes silently in the back of the audience, I wrote, "We are forfeiting blessing."

Forfeiting blessing? To forfeit means to, "lose or be deprived of property or a right or privilege as a penalty for wrongdoing." If I am willfully disobedient to God’s instruction I may lose or be deprived of the blessings he has in store for me. Beyond what would be the consequences of disobedience is the fact that I have grieved God. When I think of grief, I think of intense sadness. I don’t want my choices to bring sadness to God. I don’t want to forfeit the blessings He has in store for me.

In the Bible, Moses was instructed to speak to a rock in order to bring forth water for the Israelites and their livestock to drink. Moses struck the rock instead. Did he forfeit a blessing? Yes. The punishment for not following God’s instruction meant that Moses himself would not enter the promised land.

In my heart, I know I want to do what God wants. Even so, I find myself doubting. I find myself afraid. I find myself lacking confidence and resolve. What can I do?

God knows my weakness. When I recognize my confusion and doubt, He is there to strengthen me when I call, clarifying my directive and encouraging me to move on.

Is there anything in my life that is grieving God right now?

 

 

 

Blessed is the Nation

 

Today is a holiday. A holiday of remembrance and acknowledgement of freedom. Costly freedom. Freedom bought with a price.

Picnics, fireworks and family gatherings often accompany its celebration. As we play in a park, enter a building, or jog along a sandy seashore, we do so with freedom of choice.

God has blessed our nation, as well as many nations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.

 

 

Go to Sleep

But, Lord, you are my shield,
       my wonderful God who gives me courage.
  I will pray to the Lord,
       and he will answer me from his holy mountain.
                         Selah

  I can lie down and go to sleep,
       and I will wake up again,
       because the Lord gives me strength.

Psalm 3:3-5

 

Who is God? He is my shield. He is also yours.

He gives me courage. He will give it to you, also.

He hears my prayers and answers them. Are you praying, too?

He allows me to sleep and rest. Are you tired and weary?

He gives me strength. He will stengthen you, as well.

 

 

 

Keys

 

I have plans for this evening. Not your everyday sort of plans, either.

I am planning to attend a live forum. There, people will be discussing (and perhaps debating) some components of salvation as presented in the New Testament. I am merely going as an observer. No doubt, I will gain some insight on others’ opinions and have a new resolve about my own.

Truthfully speaking, I am somewhat uneasy about attending. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and entering into an area not familiar to me will probably be a useful learning experience. Going out for ice cream would be an easier choice, but I was not asked to enjoy dessert with friends; rather, I was encouraged to attend the forum.

In the Book of Revelation, chapter one, we see, "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."

Whatever might be said, I know my Redeemer lives. He is alive forever more. He holds the key to deliver those who believe.