Your Walls

 

Will God ever forget me?

Does He not listen when I call?

Will He be there for me, no matter what?

Will God ever stop loving me?

 

 

 

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
       and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
       Though she may forget,
       I will not forget you!

  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
       your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49:15,16

 

 

By Grace

 

 

 

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:6-10

 

 

 

 

Blessed Be The Name of the LORD

Praise ye the LORD. Praise, O ye servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD.

 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’s name is to be praised.

 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.

 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,

 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

—Psalm 113:1-6

 

 

 

Unfailing

 

A little research in the dictionary brought forth these definitions…

UNFAILING:  not failing; not giving way; not falling short of expectation; completely dependable. Inexhaustible; endless.

LOVE:  the benevolent affection of God for His creatures.

COMFORT:  relief in affliction; consolation; solace.

 

May Your completely dependable, inexhaustible and endless benevolent affection be my relief, consolation and solace. Amen.

 

 

   

 

 

Iron Gate

 

 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.

He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.

When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each.

Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers,

bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell.

He struck Peter on the side and woke him up.

"Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.

 8Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals."

And Peter did so.

"Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him.

Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening;

he thought he was seeing a vision.

They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city.

It opened for them by itself, and they went through it.

When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.

 Then Peter came to himself and said,

"Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches

and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."  –Acts 12:1-11

 

Never Die

 

The phone rang late last night.

The call was to inform me that a friend had died unexpectedly.

Sometimes, everything changes……

 

God has been completely aware of every thought that I have had in these last hours.

As I was walking along a city sidewalk this afternoon, some miniature roses planted near a curb caught my eye. Beautiful roses, full of life.

For those who know Jesus as their Savior, life will never end. God will transport us from this realm into His presence to live forever.

As Jesus was speaking to Martha after her brother’s death, he comforted her in this way:

 

Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
  She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

–John 11:21-27

 

Time for Every Purpose

 

For the past several days, I have been contemplating the thought that sometimes one must tear down so that what is new can be built.

When a garden is planted, the old twigs, dead leaves, and dried roots must be removed. The soil is prepared and the new seeds are placed at their appointed spot.

When God becomes the Gardener of our lives and begins the process of spiritual renewal, the old twigs, dead leaves and dried roots must also be removed from us, as from the soil. The process will be thorough, and perhaps, time consuming. When our hearts are finally prepared, the new seeds of our future in Him are placed at their appointed spots in our souls.

Are gardens made from soil only cleaned and prepared once? No. Keeping them in order, free from weeds and debris is a continual undertaking—-IF the health of the garden is a priority. Sustained growth in the future will depend on it.

Will God begin times of "clearing out" in our hearts?

Times of removing twigs, leaves and roots that are no longer functioning in our "spiritual" best interest?

 

To everything there is a season,

      A time for every purpose under heaven:
       A time to be born,
And a time to die;
      A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
        A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
      A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
        A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
      A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
        A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
      A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
        A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
      A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
        A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
      A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
       A time to love,
And a time to hate;
      A time of war,
And a time of peace.

—Ecclesiates 3

 

 

Gentle and Humble

 

When I walked in, the movie had already started.

I was greeted with a whisper of something like, "You’re going to like this" from a friend who had arrived earlier.

Nothing could’ve really prepared me for the emotion I was about to experience. Nothing could’ve really prepared me for the opening of my mind and heart to consider the love and compassion of the Savior.

The film was full of surprises for me. It was based on one idea: what would it be like if Jesus were to visit modern day earth and come to live among the people? How would he interact with us? What would he say? What would he do?

In the span of ninety minutes, I viewed quite a bit of what he might say and do. When it appeared that someone on the screen was so far away from God, doing and saying things that were rebellious or insincere, I felt fear, or perhaps embarrassment. Realizing, as part of the audience, that the actor was portraying Jesus when the rest of the cast did not know at all, brought many uncomfortable feelings to me. Every time, however, Jesus’ response would be so compassionate–so all knowing of the person’s heart–their true motives. It was as if, over and over, Jesus would push the rest of the world away somehow and the most important thing at that moment would be interacting with a mere mortal—a mortal with a heart that needed healing, encouragement or restoration.

The morning after the presentation, it seemed as if I had begun to look at people differently. The assurance that Jesus loves all of us with his gentle, understanding heart had permeated my mind in an incredible way.

If he loved so completely, shouldn’t I?


Matthew 11:29

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Light to the Eyes

 

 

The law of the LORD is perfect,
       reviving the soul.
       The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.

  The precepts of the LORD are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
       The commands of the LORD are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes.

—Psalm 19:7,8

 

 

 

 

 

Reach

"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’"

—Acts 17:24-28a

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good News

 

As I was walking along on the sidewalk, I noticed a single piece of candy–a green M&M–on the pavement. It was covered with ants.

This, of course, is a very normal occurance. If food is on the ground, ants are likely to find it. Why? Because they’re looking. There’s one more thing to consider, too. How many times have you seen bits of food on the grass at a picnic with only ONE ant on it? If you do happen to catch a glimpse of a single ant on the dropped potato chip or the half eaten hot dog, it won’t last long. Very quickly the news will be spread by that first ant and soon many others of his kind will be partaking in the feast. It would seem that they don’t keep secrets about something that important.

I can just imagine what was communicated today between my little ant friends. First, one tiny ant ventured out to the pavement to have a look around. Suddenly, he saw it. Upon further investigation and a sample taste, he knew he’d found something special.

So, did he sit beside the M&M, and chomp away, all by himself? No, he probably scurried back to all his friends with a statement of excitement: "It’s big, it’s green and it’s GOOD!"  Leading the processional, he would have returned with his entourage, sharing his find for all to enjoy.

What should be our response when we discover God’s love and forgiveness through His Son, Jesus? Do we just keep what we’ve found to ourselves? Or do we go and tell others the good news and lead them to the Savior:

"God is forgiving! He loves us and He’s GOOD!"

We should want to show God’s love to those around us. That should be the desire of our hearts. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ll ever look at an M&M quite the same……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeds

 

He presented another parable to them: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds  among the wheat, and left.  When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared.  The landowner’s slaves  came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’

     " ‘An enemy did this!’ he told them.

    " ‘So, do you want us to go and gather them up?’ the slaves asked him.

     " ‘No,’ he said. ‘When you gather up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but store the wheat in my barn. ‘ "

—Matthew 13:24-30

 

Spark

 

 

I had noticed some smoke above the tree line Saturday afternoon.

What was burning?  I couldn’t tell from where I was standing in the parking lot.  As the day progressed, I forgot all about the fire and concentrated on other things that seemed important.

Sunday dawned a clear day, much chillier than the one before. I didn’t venture out in my car until just after noon.  As I pulled my car around to face the western sky, I was shocked! There before me was the smoke from a serious fire. Dark colors of smoke mixed with billows of white raged before me, just beyond the pavement. I had not even thought about the possibility that the fire could have grown in intensity during the night.

This past week, I heard someone speaking to a group of teenagers about making poor choices in selecting words to speak. Many times speech that is not pure or Christ-like in any way is uttered from our lips. We may forget what we have said, yet the words have a way of growing in intensity and spreading. Destruction of trust may lead to broken relationships. Broken relationships may lead to broken lives.

In the book of James we find these words:

All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body.

By putting a bit into the mouth of a horse, we can turn the horse in different directions. It takes strong winds to move a large sailing ship, but the captain uses only a small rudder to make it go in any direction. Our tongues are small too, and yet they brag about big things.

It takes only a spark to start a forest fire! The tongue is like a spark.  —James 3:2-6a

 

 

Pay attention to what you say…

do you smell smoke?

 

 

 

 

The Hawk

 

For the past two days, I have had the wonderful priviledge of learning about advances in aerospace technology. While outdoors at the facility I was visiting, I noticed someone looking up into the sky. All around us were examples of man’s efforts in science and motion. Right above us was a very graceful bird, gliding along effortlessly with nothing to aid him except his own two wings.

The contrast was amazing.

We, as humans, can accomplish only that which God gives us the ability to achieve. If we reach the farthest ocean depths, we must then ask, " Who made the ocean?" We wanted to fly like the birds, so we invented the airplane. But who gave the birds their ability to fly? Physicians strive to treat our medical needs, yet who has made the body?

God is magnificent.

God is awesome.

God is all powerful.

If you should find yourself distraught over the seeming impossibilities in your life, look at the birds overhead.

Who taught them to fly?

We soar through life’s moments not of ourselves, but because God–our God–wills that it be so.

Put your trust in Him—today.

 

 

 

 

I Prayed

The story of Nehemiah in the Bible has been an encouragement to me for many years. His example of praying "on the spot" when wisdom was needed, or perhaps, a complete miracle, is edifying.

As he persevered in the task of leading the people of Jerusalem in the rebuilding of their city wall, he faced many accusations and difficulties. One by one, he considered the options, prayed about the circumstances and trusted God.

At some point in our lives, we may face difficulties and challenges. Nehemiah’s example is a good one to follow.

Our enemies were trying to scare us, thinking,

"They will get too weak to work.

Then the wall will not be finished."

 But I prayed, "God, make me strong."

—Nehemiah 6:9

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasing in Your Sight

 

 

 

The fear of the LORD is pure,
       enduring forever.
       The ordinances of the LORD are sure
       and altogether righteous.

  They are more precious than gold,
       than much pure gold;
       they are sweeter than honey,
       than honey from the comb.

  By them is your servant warned;
       in keeping them there is great reward.

  Who can discern his errors?
       Forgive my hidden faults.

  Keep your servant also from willful sins;
       may they not rule over me.
       Then will I be blameless,
       innocent of great transgression.

  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
       be pleasing in your sight,
       O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:9-14

 

 

Abundant Showers

It was raining.

Not a dangerous, "thunder-and-lightning" kind of rain. This was a peaceful, gentle and quiet time. I decided to venture outside…

What beauty can be found while droplets of water are delicately gliding over leaves and petals! The rain seems to bring about a transformation as the soil drinks up the moisture. The very scent of water making contact with the ground is one that is permanently marked in our memories.

Are we, like the plants, in need of Heaven’s spiritual rain?

God tenderly nourishes us.

He knows what we need.

He refreshes us when we are weary

and gives us a renewed zeal.

 

 

 

 

Sadness of Heart

It was last Sunday morning. The bird was fixed in his stead, the wind ruffling his feathers slightly as he stood atop the roof of the lakeside dock. Surely, he had reason to be alone. Yet, there’s something that could suggest lonliness and sadness when I consider a bird all by themselves, just "out there."

 

What do you do when you see someone who is obviously sad at…

work?

school?

church?

your neighborhood?

a park?

the beach?

a hospital?

a wedding?

a sporting event?

a party?

your own home?

 

If you truly answered each question, would there be much difference in the responses? Would you show compassion and concern to someone at church or in a hospital waiting room, yet walk past someone crying alone at a ballgame?

True, each situation would be different and would require its own measure of wisdom. However, if I answered each question, I’m afraid that my responses would show some inconsistancies.  But, should there be any?

Instead of asking ourselves what we would do, let’s try a different approach: what do you think Jesus did when He saw someone in situations like these?

What if a fellow carpenter had been sad, a neighbor on one of Nazereth’s roads was upset, someone at the temple was crying, or a lonely looking guest was sitting in isolation just outside wedding festivities? I can just imagine Him walking over and saying something. Saying just what they needed to hear–helping them to feel just what they needed to feel: acceptance and love.

Should my response be any different?

Should yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Must Be

Apples have a small amount of seeds tucked just at their center. Grapes may have a couple. Peaches, well, there’s just one. But oh, the cantaloupe!  I must say I’ve never counted the massive amount of seeds that rest just in the middle of the melon where the wonderfully flavored, pastel orange fruit is at its best.

For some reason, we decided several weeks ago to save and "dry" a large, wet clump of cantaloupe seeds. My husband planted them behind our back fence. I’m not sure if he told me about it right away. On the phone the other day, he told me I should go and look at the cantaloupe plant…..so I did.

Impressive could be used to describe the sprawling, blooming vines. Vibrant, bright. Lively. Unbridled. Beautiful.

Isn’t love like that? Love sprawls out, growing this way and that, reaching out from where it’s planted to other places. It’s vibrant and bright. It’s lively. Unbridled. Beautiful.

The Bible tells us that love must also be sincere.

Romans 12 tells us that we should be devoted to one another in brotherly love.

Is the love in your heart sincerely reaching out and touching others with vibrant blooms of bursting color?

 

 

 

 

 

Be Beautiful

 

 

 

An old magazine resurfaced in our home the last few weeks. A publication from ten years ago, it had been sitting dormant, surely waiting for the day it could once again leave the stack or shelf it had been placed in so long ago…

Being a documentary sort of magazine, it is quite thick. Within its pages are several articles on various topics from around the world. One article in particular was intriguing to me. It was on the subject of beauty.

What is deemed to be beautiful in one area of the globe may, in fact, not be considered as beautiful at all in another. Outward beauty, it would seem, is rather elusive in its nature. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent in its persuit. But what is beauty?

The inner beauty of one’s character is of a value all its own. Who we are down deep inside defines more than just an outward show of momentary appeal.

 

It is not fancy hair, gold jewelry, or fine clothes that should make you beautiful. No, your beauty should come from within you—the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that will never be destroyed and is very precious to God.

I Peter 3:3,4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cling

 

Your love must be real.

Hate what is evil, and hold on to what is good.

Love each other like brothers and sisters.

Give each other more honor than you want for yourselves.

Do not be lazy but work hard, serving the Lord with all your heart.

Be joyful because you have hope.

Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.

Share with God’s people who need help.

Bring strangers in need into your homes.

—Romans 12:9-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revealed

 

 

 

Before me no god was formed,
       nor will there be one after me.

  I, even I, am the LORD,
       and apart from me there is no savior.

  I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
       I, and not some foreign god among you.
       You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God."

Isaiah 43:10c-13a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Will Be Your Glory

 

 

 

Instead of bronze I will bring you gold,
       and silver in place of iron.
       Instead of wood I will bring you bronze,
       and iron in place of stones.
       I will make peace your governor
       and righteousness your ruler.

 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
       nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
       but you will call your walls Salvation
       and your gates Praise.

  The sun will no more be your light by day,
       nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
       for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
       and your God will be your glory.

  Your sun will never set again,
       and your moon will wane no more;
       the LORD will be your everlasting light,
       and your days of sorrow will end.

  Then will all your people be righteous
       and they will possess the land forever.
       They are the shoot I have planted,
       the work of my hands,
       for the display of my splendor.

Isaiah 60:17-21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brighter They Shine

 

 

 

Do you ever ask someone for advice?

Sometimes it takes awhile before I get to the point where I am ready to admit that I don’t know what to do. Self-sufficiency steps to the podium of my mind and leads the show until it becomes apparent that extra wisdom is needed. On occassion, understanding my lack of knowledge in a more timely fashion would have assisted me in lessening frustration and stress.

Almost an unconscious decision, I set out to select someone from whom to seek advice based on what I think they already know. My opinion of their wisdom has been allowed to form through relationship—

She always seems to think so clearly.

I remember when he went through this same thing.

She’s so understanding–I’ll call her about this.

Their faith is the strongest  I have ever seen.

 

God brings others into our lives to lift us up, to encourage us and to guide us through uncertain times. Often, we recognize them as Christ-like people who are sincerely available to stand alongside us. They have walked many paths before, learning themselves to trust in God for wisdom and clarity of thought.

Proverbs 4:18, taken from The Message says,

"The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Dear Friend

How much effort does it take to speak these words:

Is there some way I can help?

I’ll go with you.

It’s okay to cry.

Tell me all about it.

You don’t have to be alone.

Let’s just sit for awhile.

What are you feeling right now?

I really do understand.

 

It’s not just a decision to put forth effort to help someone, is it?  When the attitude of our hearts is tuned to compassion, we are drawn to respond to the wounded of spirit, to those with broken hearts. Jesus did not ignore the difficulties in the lives of those he encountered. Would that suggest that we should not ignore those that He places within our path?

Look at the list of statements above one more time. Instead of thinking about how you would say them to someone else, repeat each sentence and imagine Jesus saying them…

to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Nations

 

 

He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
       he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
       he burns the shields with fire.

  "Be still, and know that I am God;
       I will be exalted among the nations,
       I will be exalted in the earth."

  The LORD Almighty is with us;

       the God of Jacob is our fortress.

       Selah

 

—Psalm 46:9,10,11