Love and Faithfulness

 

 

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions.

If I were to make one, however, a very good choice could be taken from the book of Proverbs:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
       bind them around your neck,
       write them on the tablet of your heart.

(Proverbs 3:3)

The passage goes on to say that if you do these things….

  Then you will win favor and a good name
       in the sight of God and man.

(Proverbs 3:4)

Resolving to be more loving. Resolving to be more faithful.

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

 

 

 

 

My Heart Rejoices

Do you ever wonder why the Bible contains what it does?

God has always known exactly what we needed to have in written form.

The Bible reveals God’s character, His sovereignty, His power–in many different ways.

Each story in the Old Testament has a purpose for its inclusion.

Every account of Jesus and the lives of those devoted to Him in the New Testament has a purpose.

Through reading and with the help of Holy Spirit, we come to understand who God is and how much He loves us.

Take the story of Hannah, for example.

Have you ever yearned for something with all your heart?

Hannah did.

She wanted to be a mother, yet she was childless.

Have you ever taken your deepest concerns to God in prayer?

Hannah did.

She prayed earnestly for a child.

God knows what is best for us.

Trusting in that, we may ask for things that we feel are best, yet He may have a different plan.

There are times, however, that what we seek is completely in line with God’s best for us,

perhaps at even the time that we ask.

God granted Hannah a son–she named him Samuel.

 

 

Then Hannah prayed and said:
       "My heart rejoices in the LORD;
       in the LORD my horn is lifted high.
       My mouth boasts over my enemies,
       for I delight in your deliverance."

  "There is no one holy like the LORD;
       there is no one besides you;
       there is no Rock like our God."

 — I Samuel 2:1,2

 

Rejoice

 

Then Hannah prayed and said:
       "My heart rejoices in the LORD;
       in the LORD my horn [a] is lifted high.
       My mouth boasts over my enemies,
       for I delight in your deliverance.

 2 "There is no one holy [b] like the LORD;
       there is no one besides you;
       there is no Rock like our God.

 

 

I Will Come Back

 

 

 

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

 

 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"

 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

–John 14:1-7

 

 

The Face of the Full Moon

 

 

What can God do?

Is anything too hard for Him?

For some reason, I opened the back door late at night. It may have been to allow our dog to go outside, yet I can’t quite remember. What I DO remember is seeing such a beautiful sight that I had to hurry into the house to get my camera.

The clouds were passing in front of the moon. The moonlight illuminated the leafless branches that framed the scene. There was almost a blueness to the sky as the light penetrated the darkness on such a wintery evening.

In the book of Job, we find these verses describing God:

He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
       he suspends the earth over nothing.

  He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
       yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

  He covers the face of the full moon,
       spreading his clouds over it.

  He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
       for a boundary between light and darkness.

—Job 26:7-10

If God can do all this, is there anything too hard for Him?

 

 

 

Just As He Had Done

 

 

 

 

 What do you suppose people think of you, really? Does it matter?

Last night, I was reading the account of Daniel and his sentence of death by lions. His crime? Let’s take a closer look…

In the book of Daniel, in chapter six, verse three says this:

"Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom." 

Daniel distinguished himself. Did he behave in such a way as to please the king and all those around him? I don’t think so. I believe that he behaved in a way that he felt pleased God, and in so doing, he set himself apart in others’ eyes as being "trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." (from chapter six, verse  4b)  This pleased those who appreciated trustworthiness and loyalty. It displeased the administrators with jealous hearts.

Because Daniel had distinguished himself as God’s servant, his corrupt contemporaries decided to plot against him. They tricked King Darius into signing an edict forbidding the people to pray to any god or man (except for the king himself) for thirty days. Being confident that Daniel would continue to go to his window each day and pray, despite any law that forbade it, they awaited the moment of his demise.

True to their calculation, Daniel ignored the edict and continued to pray. When this fact was brought to light, the king knew he had been tricked into signing the edict just so Daniel would be put to death. The edit could not be recalled, even by the king himself.

Greatly saddened, King Darius simply said, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"  (from chapter six, verse 16b)

The story comes to a close as Daniel spends the night in the lions’ den, unharmed. God, whom Daniel continually served, closed the mouths of the lions and preserved his life. Seeing this, King Darius came to believe that God was indeed the " living God, who "endures forever." (from chapter 6, verse 26)

Daniel distinguished himself. By his words and actions, he gave testimony to his faith and trust in God. This impressed some and angered others.What mattered to Daniel? Knowing that he was in right relationship with God, living a life that honored Him. What others thought was secondary.

What do you suppose people think of you?

 

 

 

To Be Zealous

We were driving by the lake when I saw him.

It was Christmas Eve. Before the night was over, we were to attend parts of two services, with family members at both.  We weren’t far from one of them when I sighted the bird.

High atop a dead tree, he perched from his vantage point of the large body of water. He could have chosen to rest in a tree with leaves, yet he did not. No, this towering structure of sticks was the perch of choice.

When I was growing up, I used to hear the phrase, "going out on a limb."  I understood that it meant that someone was choosing to take a risk in a situation. It was implied that limbs are sometimes untrustworthy in bearing the weight of those who are "going out" on them.

Many people take risks; some do so with a passion. They are zealous about their intent. The dictionary defines zeal as,

"fervor for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavor; enthusiastic diligence; ardor."

Paul has this to say to the Galations:

It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. (Galations 4:18)

If we are zealous for God, willing to take risks as we eagerly desire to obey Him, then the purpose is good. We can "go out on a limb," trusting that God will strengthen the branches as we go if we are heeding His call to venture out into the unfamiliar.

 

 

 

A Child is Born

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:

and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

and his name shall be called

Wonderful,

Counsellor,

The mighty God,

The everlasting Father,

The Prince of Peace.

 Of the increase of his government

and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David,

and upon his kingdom,

to order it, and to establish it

with judgment and with

justice from henceforth

even for ever.

The zeal of the LORD

of hosts will perform this.

 

Isaiah 9:6,7

 

 

 

 

 

On Earth Peace

 

 

This Christmas just seems different.

Actually, if I think about it much, that’s a silly statement.

Every Christmas IS different. Nothing stays exactly the same.

Each of our lives subtly changes in minute, indistinct ways,

blurring the moments into days and the days into years.

Like a living kaleidoscope, the points of our journey move and blend into the next form—

intricate, meaningful and beautiful all on their own.

God is the author of this change.

The time we spend here on earth is not static.

From the moment of our conception we are in motion;

growing, changing, becoming the person He created us to be,

equipped with talents and tools to steward and use for His glory.

The first Christmas night when the angels appeared

to the shepherds, much was in motion.

What God had set into place long before was becoming

a reality for human eyes and ears.

A multitude of heavenly hosts proclaimed,

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

No night would ever be like this one. 

When the sky opened, EVERYTHING changed—and not just for the shepherds.

God was heralding peace on earth, announcing the arrival of Jesus.

So, for me, it’s okay that this Christmas seems different.

Trusting in Him through the motions of change will always be the right choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Firstborn Son

 

 

 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:4-7

 

 

 

 

Mercy Every Morning

 

 

 

 

Parts of the movie almost brought me to tears.

The main character’s acting was totally convincing. He portrayed an old man through many states of emotion. I felt his regret and pain; I rejoiced at the end when all turned out well.

Throughout the film, I was especially drawn to the lyrics of the songs within it.  Here is a sample:

Life is like a jouney, who knows when it ends?
Yes and if you need to know the measure of a man
You simply count his friends
Stop and look around you, the glory that you see
Is born again each day, don’t let it slip away
How precious life can be

 Lamentations 3:23-24 reads:

The LORD can always be trusted

   to show mercy each morning.

    Deep in my heart I say,

   "The LORD is all I need;

   I can depend on him!"

Every day is new with God. His mercifulness, His love, His faithfulness.

Look around—how precious life can be.

 

 

 

 

Like Honey for Your Life

 

 

Only a week before Christmas and the flowers are blooming brightly in the yard.

This time of year the weather fluctuates frequently. Really warm one day, very cool the next. Just a few days ago, it was 90 degrees when I got off work just a couple of hours before sundown; tonight, the temperature should be in the 30’s. Quite a difference.

No matter what month it seems, the honey bees and the bumble bees are about. Their business continues as long as there is work to be done. Somewhere far off, perhaps honey is being made. Bees make honey to survive through the winter.

If we seek wisdom and find it, might we also survive the difficult seasons of life?

"Wisdom is like honey for your life–if you find it, your future is bright."   Proverbs 24:14

 

 

 

The Heavens

For to which of the angels did God ever say,
   "You are my Son;
      today I have become your Father"? Or again,
   "I will be his Father,
      and he will be my Son"? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
   "Let all God’s angels worship him." In speaking of the angels he says,
   "He makes his angels winds,
      his servants flames of fire." But about the Son he says,
   "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
      and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
      therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
      by anointing you with the oil of joy."He also says,
   "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
      and the heavens are the work of your hands.
 They will perish, but you remain;
      they will all wear out like a garment.
 You will roll them up like a robe;
      like a garment they will be changed.
   But you remain the same,
      and your years will never end." To which of the angels did God ever say,
      "Sit at my right hand
   until I make your enemies
      a footstool for your feet"? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

 

Hebrews 1:5-14

 

 

But a Breath

A visual parable. Is there such a thing?

Well, for me, I think I experienced one. I’ll call it "The Parable of the Nipped Bud."

Yesterday, while at work, a child handed me a large Hibiscus bud. The petals were tightly wrapped and unopened. Apparently, he had just pulled it right from the bush with only a tiny nub of a stem attached. It was a gift from a small and tender heart. I sniffed the closed bundle of petals; there was a pleasant scent. Next, I placed the teardropped-shaped wad on a somewhat cluttered table.

Then, I forgot about it….

It remained on the table throughout the night in darkness. When I arrived at work this morning, my duties were primarily in a different building. After a few hours, I found myself back in the room with the table–the one with the flower bud.

Suddenly, my eyes fell on a beautiful peach colored Hibiscus flower, fully bloomed to perhaps 4 inches in width, lying on the table.

The image before me shot straight to my heart.

  Even though it was dying, it bloomed.

It bloomed without water to nourish it.

It bloomed, using its very last bit of moisture and energy.

It unfurled its hidden petals to expose the beauty that God had given it.

It bloomed on purpose, despite the fact that irreparable damage had occurred.

It accomplished what God had intended it to do—to bloom, and give glory to God through its existance.

If a tightly packed flower bud can still bloom with its moisture cut off, separated from its nourishment, lying on a table in the dark, what does God expect me to do?

Should I dare to give up on any given situation, just because the circumstances are less than what I had hoped for?

Should I not bloom in life, purposefully, with a will to accomplish what God intended for me to do?

Should I continue to bloom until the last bit of who I am is fully dedicated to God?

When I saw the bloom, I quickly filled a cup with water and gently placed it there. I brought it home to allow it to continue its silent speech, reminding me to be courageous and committed, knowing that God does indeed have a purpose for my life.

 

 

 

 

Your Treasure

 

 

 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."—Matthew 6:19-21

 

Nations Will Come

The water was peaceful.

The lighthouse seemed to be the focal point of the scene. Bright red and white, it commanded attention from the eye.

A seemingly less significant structure stood nearby–a wooden sign identifying the port, bearing various images of flags. Did it imply that the people groups represented by each flag design might come to the port by boat? Did it mean to suggest that they were welcome to do so?

We are all traveling the waters of life, wrought with crashing waves, piercing rocks and uncharted horizons. Are we all lost, drifting hopelessly wherever the wind might take us, or is there another way?

God is our lighthouse. Without Him, all is darkness. With Him, the night is illuminated and the destination becomes clear.

If there was a giant wooden sign proclaiming the flags of those who could approach God’s loving light, it would be filled with images from every nation known to earth. None would be excluded. 

Isaiah 60:3 reads,
"Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn."

God stands waiting.

Who will come to the Lighthouse?

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Righteousness

 

 

 

I will give thanks (Thank You for this day, for my life and for my salvation)

to the LORD   (You are my Rock and my Redeemer)

because of his righteousness (You are holy and just)

and will sing praise (I praise You, Lord)

to the name (Your name is above every name)

of the LORD Most High. (You are the only God, high and lifted up)

 

 

 

 

All Mankind

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

   "A voice of one calling in the desert,

   ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

      make straight paths for him.

 Every valley shall be filled in,

      every mountain and hill made low.

   The crooked roads shall become straight,

      the rough ways smooth.

 And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ "

 

Luke 3:4-6

 

 

 

Messenger

 

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

—Malachi 3:1

Sometimes opportunities come unexpectedly. I had a scheduled commitment this afternoon, but it was cancelled. Suddenly, a window of choice opened for me. What should I do with my new found, unaccounted for, time?

Having enjoyed strolling through a nearby town at Christmastime in the past, I decided to park my car and walk by the shops and restaurants, camera in hand. Within a short while, it seemed as if my interest in things that glittered inside beckoning store windows was waning. Very quickly, I found myself at the lake, thrilling at the dance of the sunlight on the water, listening to the distinctive calls of birds nearby.

As I followed a bird in flight through my lens, I suddenly realized the rainbow of colors appearing in the clouds. Personal discoveries such as this fill my heart with excitement. Being alone, I did not turn to a companion and say, "Look! Do you see it? The colors in the clouds?"  No. It was just a moment that God and I knew about. He created it, and He allowed me to experience it with Him.

Christmastime. A time to reflect. A time to remember. God sent His Son to us, that we might be forever with Him enjoying the beauty of HIs presence for  eternity.

 

 

Heavenly Host

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

 

Luke 2:8-14

 

 

 

 

 

Binds Up

 

 

My heart is in need of binding.

If you have ever owned a pet, you’ll understand.

Our beagle, who was over eighteen years old, died today.

Does God allow us to see the entire process of puppy to aged dog in order to give a picture of what it might be like as He watches us go from infancy to elderly in a few, short years? Does He allow our hearts to love an animal so greatly in order to show us a glimpse of what His love is like as He watches us race toward old age?

Whatever His plan, God is the author of love and any ability we might have to show it ourselves comes from Him.

 

 

 

Emmanuel

 

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,

 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.—Matthew 1:21-23

"He shall save his people from their sins."

Those are eight very precious words.

Words of deliverance.

Words of compassion.

Words of freedom.

Words of love.

What does the name of Jesus mean to you?

Does it bring to mind compassionate and loving deliverance?

 

 

 

 

 

Fowler’s Snare

 

 

  We have escaped like a bird
       out of the fowler’s snare;
       the snare has been broken,
       and we have escaped.

  Our help is in the name of the LORD,
       the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124:7,8

 

Do you remember what life was like before you came to understand the mercy, grace and forgiveness of God?

Perhaps there was confusion or even hopelessness. You may have been giving your all to find success in the world’s eyes, only to feel empty at the end of the day.

To have felt as though you were "trapped" in a pattern of unproductive living would have been a common occurance.

Do you remember when everything changed? I do. I remember the city; I remember the hotel room; it was there that I gave my life to God and asked for His forgiveness.

At that moment, He freed me from the "snare" that had me trapped. I escaped my old way of life, free to fly with new wings into the future.

 

You Gave

 

Psalm 68:9

You gave abundant showers, O God;
       you refreshed your weary inheritance.

 

It had been raining more than twenty four hours. I had to work on a Saturday morning, which is usually a day off for me.

The rain finally came to an end. Just after finishing my obligations for the day, I sat down at a park bench. Beside me what a beautiful, wine colored bush laden with water droplets. Still, as though to hang on to their new home for just a few moments more, they adorned the leaves like sparkling diamonds on burgundy velvet.

God refreshes the plants in His world with rain and sunshine.

God refreshes His children with assurance and love.

If we could see ourselves laden with droplets of God’s affection and faithfulness, we, too would shine like water droplets on a misty December day—like sparkling diamonds in the velvet of His hands.

 

 

Gather a Crop

A quote from one of my favorite authors speaks toward the power of our thoughts:

"Consider for a moment your thoughts as seed. Some thoughts become flowers. Others become weeds. Sow sees of hope and enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt and expect insecurity."  (–Max Lucado, Just Like Jesus)

Does this grip your heart? If I visualize my thought life through the years as growing crops, the picture is contradictory. Not only contradictory, but shameful. Not only shameful, but sad.

When I am driving down the highway in my community and look at the rows of pine trees or fruit trees, I see carefully laid out paths of growth. Purposeful, bountiful, decisive growth.

When I travel down the highway of my memories, I see rows of hope, optimism, trust and peace. Yet, intermingled with the thriving crops, I see doubt, insecurity, fear and worry. Why was that planted? Who’s been watering these worthless stalks of discouragement? 

The answer is sobering. True, difficulties can certainly come our way, yet I am the one responsible for what effects I have allowed to take root within my own heart. It is obvious that a change needs to take place.

If I plant only the seeds that God has approved as worthy thoughts, not only will my fields be fruitful, but they will be devoid of the poisonous weeds that dare to sprout, choking out the very essence of who God wants me to be.

Job 4:8b reads,

"People gather a crop from what they plant."

 

What crops have your thoughts become?

 

 

 

 

I Bring You Good News

 

Christmas gifts—sweaters and jewelry

Christmas dinners–ham and potatoes

Christmas caroling–fa la la and hot cocoa

Christmas lights–twinkle red and green

Christmas wrapping–foil and plain

Christmas candy–peppermint and fudge

Christmas stockings–nuts and treats

Christmas trees—garland and bells

Christmas ornaments–balls and candles

Christmas toys–dolls and trains

Christmas parades–bands and floats

Christmas angel——Good News!

   But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

The best thing about Christmas—the good news of great joy: Jesus has come to us!

 

 

 

 

My Spirit Rejoices

 

 

 

And Mary said:
   "My soul glorifies the Lord
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed,
    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
      holy is his name.
 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
      from generation to generation.

Luke 1:46-50

 

 

Friend

 

 

My husband came home with roses for me a few nights ago. The clerk at the store assured him that I would like them.

I did.

Most of the time, it would be difficult not to appreciate a gift given to us, wouldn’t it?

In Proverbs, chapter 19, verse 6, we find:

"…everyone is the friend of a person who gives gifts."

Would you agree? In thinking back over your own personal experience, can you identify someone you know that found great joy in giving to others? They were at their happiest when someone was opening that special "something."  They were always the first to remember to be an encouragement to a friend, giving of their time and empathy whenever it was needed?

With that person in mind, consider another aspect–did they have a lot of friends? True friends, that really loved them from the heart?

Your answer is more than likely, "yes."

Giving has a way of returning to the giver. The warmth of friendship multiplies once it is released, often flowing back from its point of origin.