Change Your Hearts

 

Twice this week I have come face to face with the idea of missed blessings.

A friend spoke first about it in an email a few days ago. That was my introduction to the consideration of such things.

Then, this morning, I heard a speaker explain the idea of disobedience resulting in lack of blessing.

Repentance was the intertwining theme, the action of the heart required in finding forgiveness.

In one version of the scriptures, "repentance" is translated to be, "change your hearts and lives."

What change needs to occur in my heart?

In what way do I need to change my life?

What am I missing?

 

 

 

You Hear My Voice

 

I had been watching the sky.

As I drove down the street on my way to work this morning, I could not escape the vast canopy of colors blanketing the sky in front of me. I photographed the vibrant pinks of the wispy clouds. Arriving at work, I once again noticed the sunrise. Though the colors had faded with the advancing approach of the sun, clean, brisk hues of blue, white and gray took the stage as they welcomed the morning.

A new day was about to unfold.

A new opportunity to be a part of God’s plan.

A new chance.

A new day to begin with prayer.

 

 

 

God is Spirit

 

My son and I were taking a short trip in the car to a nearby town. I suggested that he take a particular road. He decided that he wanted to take a different one….

We discussed our differing plans of travel for a moment. It really didn’t matter; we would get there, one way or another.

It didn’t take long before I began to tell my son that the way he had chosen was actually very nice. We were driving near a large lake just before sundown. It was an exceptionally windy day, and the small waves were crashing onto the swaying grass close to the shore.

The beams of sunlight traveled through the spaces between the large trees that stood peacefully on duty at the water’s edge.

The beauty of the moment would soon be gone as the ambience created by the glowing rays and the wavy water faded with the coming of evening shadows.

Had we taken my way, we would’ve missed it.

Did God prompt my son to choose that route, just so we could experience the lovliness of a sunset? That is a great possibility.

Having God’s spirit within us is an open channel of communication to Him.

When we are exposed to the magnificent splendor of God’s creation, our hearts are filled with awe and

we are drawn to worship Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About This Time

There was a great shortage of food in Samaria. The people were desperate.

God had a plan and He revealed it to Elisha, His servant:

Elisha said, "Listen to the Lord‘s word. This is what the Lord says: ‘About this time tomorrow seven quarts of fine flour will be sold for two-fifths of an ounce of silver, and thirteen quarts of barley will be sold for two-fifths of an ounce of silver. This will happen at the gate of Samaria.’ "

  Then the officer who was close to the king answered Elisha, "Even if the Lord opened windows in the sky, that couldn’t happen." (II Kings 7:1,2a)

Have you ever felt that God was showing you that He would indeed provide for you in a certain area, only to have someone tell you that it would be impossible?

When you believe God with all your heart, have you found that even those close to you mock your belief?

As the story unfolded in Samaria, God’s word proved to be true. The next day, food was provided for them.

When we pray for help from God in a matter, we may not understand how He will give us that help.

God’s timing is perfect. The answer to our prayer may come immediately. It may come many months or years after we have asked–OR it may come "about this time tomorrow."

We must trust Him as we wait.


 

 

The Lord is Peace

 

 

In the book of Judges, chapter six, God said these words to Gideon:

"Peace. Do not be afraid….."

What was Gideon’s response?

He built an altar to the Lord and called it, "The Lord is Peace."

Does worry need to be replaced with peace in your life today?

What about anxious thoughts?

Fear?

Disappointment?

Doubt?

 

When troubling times are upon us, we must remember as Gideon did:

"The Lord is peace."

 

 

 

The Water’s Edge

 

Jesus told the parable of the sower and the seed while in a boat. The crowd had grown so large that he sat in the boat speaking while those who came to listen were on the shore.

When He finished telling the parable, He said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

I want to have ears to hear, but sometimes I am afraid that I have ears that do not.

What if I miss what God is saying to me?

What if I don’t understand?

God knows the questioning of our innermost thoughts. Surely He knows our desire for comprehension. Still, our yearning for the meaning in the words we read may not be instantly satisfied.

It is only God who gives wisdom.

It is only He who reveals His truth.

My husband and I were walking around the lake just before sundown. The amber glow from the west was streaming across the water. As we walked by a cypress, he remarked that the "knees" of the tree reminded him of people. They did strangely resemble wooden statues, still and silent by the water’s edge.

What would it have been like that day to have stood on the shore, physically hearing the words of the Master teaching of the kingdom of God in parables?

If I had been there, would I have had ears to hear?

 

 

Knit

 

 

Psalm 139:11-16

 

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,"

  even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

  For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

  My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

  your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 

 

He Should Ask God

 

 

If any of you lacks wisdom,

he should ask God,

who gives generously to all

without finding fault,

and it will be given to him.

But when he asks,

he must believe

and not doubt,

because he who doubts

is like a wave of the sea,

blown and tossed by the wind.

That man should not think

he will receive anything from the Lord;

he is a double-minded man,

unstable in all he does.

James 1:5-8

 

 

 

 

 

Seas

 

 

How do we praise God?

Is it through our singing?

Is it through poetry or art?

It is through service to others in His Name?

How do the birds give Him praise?

The animals that roam the earth?

The creatures in the sea?

The stars in the heavens?

How do they all praise God?

Psalm 69:34 states,

"Let heaven and earth praise Him,

the seas and all that move in them…"

As we live each day, existing in the knowledge that we are

loved by God and redeemed by Him for eternity, we bring

praise to Him when we follow His leading in each situation.

As the sea creatures silently display their color and form far beneath

the surface of the water, they give testimony to the greatness of God.

How are you praising God in your own life?

 

 

 

 

Each By Name

 

 

When I stand outside at night and look at the stars, I sometimes feel small.

It is a correct assessment.

Who am I in the scope of the universe?

How tiny a part I have in the incomprehensible vastness!

Yet, I have been set apart– assigned value and worth– by God.

He knows each star by name, and still He regards my own.

Why?

Through God’s great love and mercy, He remembers us.

He knows our names, He sets us apart and He counts us worthy to be saved through

the great sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on our behalf.

 

 

He determines the number of the stars
       and calls them each by name.

  Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
       his understanding has no limit.

Psalm 147:4,5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For This Reason

 

Ephesians 3:14-19

For this reason I kneel before the Father,

from whom his whole family in heaven

and on earth derives its name.

I pray that out of his glorious riches

he may strengthen you with power

through his Spirit in your inner being,

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

may have power, together with all the saints,

to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—

that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

 

 

 

Those Who Walk

 

Catherine Marshall, author of Walking With the God Who Cares, states,

"Your goal is to discover God’s eternal perspective in the promise contained in His Word. You want to see all of life from God’s point of view and let that change the way you live in the present. This eternal perspective will give you hope."

Hope.

Found in eternal perspective.

Hope.

Stengthening within us as we see things God’s way.

The psalmist tells us that, "No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

God has good things in store for us as we grow closer to Him, whether in trials or times of peace.

That should give us hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Message of the Cross

 

 

 

Those who are perishing.

Exactly who are they?

Those who are being saved.

Exactly who are they?

Identical at first glance, it would be difficult to tell.

Upon closer inspection, the distinction would appear.

When the attitude of the heart is combined with the message of the cross,

only those who percieve it as the means to salvation will consider it to be

the power of God.

Who do you know that needs to hear the message of the cross?

Exactly who are they?

 

 

 

 

Everything Through Him

 

 

For a moth to reach deep inside a flower for food, it has to have a long proboscis. That’s not a problem for a moth—God made moths with exactly what they needed.

So, if a moth needs food and God has provided  a proboscis with which to get it, where is the food?

No worries—-God took care of that, too. He caused flowers to bloom and grow, just waiting for the moth to come. The truth is, God has thought of everything.

All of creation blends together in perfect order and harmony.  God created it perfectly, just the way He wanted it.

Sometimes we find ourselves feeling inadequate.  We think we don’t have what we need to do what God has meant for us to do.

Not that I could actually know, but I don’t suppose that moths pass up tasty flowers because they feel that they just couldn’t handle trying to get the nectar with their built-in straw. I rather think that they happily enjoy every meal that God provides for them.

Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."

Will God strengthen you?  Will He provide the tools for you to accomplish what He asks?

 

 

 

Born Again

 

 

 

I Peter 1:22-25

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
   "All men are like grass,
      and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
   the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord stands forever."

And this is the word that was preached to you.

 

 

I Am Making a Way

 

 

Do you believe that God could actually be doing something new in your life?

Do things look so bleak, so mundane, so ordinary that you have forgotten that God can make all things new?

I have gone through seasons where sadness took the place of hope, and routine had replaced expectancy.

Isaiah 43:19 says,

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

God is at work in and around you—of that you can be sure.

What new thing is springing up in your life today?

 

 

 

 

 

Dwell in Your House

 

 

My soul yearns, even faints,
       for the courts of the LORD;
       my heart and my flesh cry out
       for the living God.

  Even the sparrow has found a home,
       and the swallow a nest for herself,
       where she may have her young—
       a place near your altar,
       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

  Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
       they are ever praising you.
       Selah

 

—Psalm 84:2-4

 

 

 

All One

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

—Galations 3:26-29

Years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a powerful speech. There is a statement from that speech that I find particularly moving–

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Who, in our society, would not want to be judged by our own personal character? We would hope to attain respect and acceptance from others by our display of honesty, loyalty, hard work and discipline. Yet, as children of God, we are priviledged to look upon each other in still a more important light.

Since we are children of God through faith in Jesus, we have clothed ourselves with Him. It’s as if we have all put on identical robes that identify us as being His—

—all of us one in Him.

 

 

 

 

I Am With You

 

Isaiah 41:10 is an encouraging passage:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
       do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
       I will strengthen you and help you;

       I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

A good friend recently gave a book to me as a gift.

The subject of the book?

Hope.

The author draws the reader to this passage.

What if we were to insert our names after the word, "you"?

Would God’s words suddenly seem more alive in our hearts?

 

So do not fear, for I am with you, Bill;
       do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
       I will strengthen you, Susan,  and help you, Frank;
       I will uphold you, Elizabeth, with my righteous right hand.

How much of our lives do we waste being fearful?

To be dismayed means to completely lose courage in the face of trouble or danger.

How many victories do we forfeit because of our lack of courage?

God will strengthen us, help us and uphold us.

Whatever your name may be, His word applies to you.

Let that truth give you HOPE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Not Give Up

Just give up.

You shouldn’t have even started.

You can’t possibly succeed.

Forget the whole thing.

You weren’t cut out for this.

You’ve never been good enough.

Don’t even try anymore.

It’s not worth the effort.

 

Has anyone ever spoken to you in this way? Have YOU ever told yourself these things?

A great deal of discouragement can sprout from the tiniest seeds of accusation.

You’ll never amount to anything.

You’re just like your father!

What a weakling!

Just quit and go home.

 

Although you may hear these words from others or speak them to yourself, it does not mean they are beneficial or true.

In the Old Testament, in the book of II Chronicles, chapter 15, the king of Judah is given a message from God. Part of the message states,

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded."

The Bible goes on to say that when the king heard this prophecy, he was encouraged.

Where are you at today? Are you hearing words that cause your soul to ache inside, or are you listening for God’s confirmation in your life as He softly urges you to be strong and not give up?

Oh, and one more thing….God will never accuse you with statements like those listed above. Instead, He is ever encouraging us, nurturing us and guiding us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declare His Glory

 

 

Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
       proclaim his salvation day after day.

  Declare his glory among the nations,
       his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

—I Chronicles 16:23-24

 

We were just about to get into the car.

It was cold outside as the sun was beginning to set.

Looking up, I saw a nearby American flag illuminated by the sun’s final rays of the day.

The light streaming through the red and white stripes gave a glow to the material waving with the wind’s ebb and flow.

Off in the distance, a lone jet soared through the atmosphere, no doubt reflecting a glow of its own, thousands of feet above the earth.

A flag.

A country.

An airplane.

Freedom to walk about as we wish.

All that we have is given to us by God.

Should we not tell others about His marvelous deeds, proclaiming his salvation?

 

 

 

 

 

Peace

The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
       the LORD is enthroned as King forever.

 The LORD gives strength to his people;
       the LORD blesses his people with peace.

—Psalm 29:10-11

 

What area of your life do you need peace in today?

Why not ask God to calm your heart.

His strength is the ultimate strength.

His peace is the everlasting peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Fully

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." —I Peter I:13-16

 

 

 

Trust

 

We had just left the park, deciding to walk a short distance in the neighborhood. Some small, indistinct birds up ahead of us flushed from a tree, catching my eye. But wait! What was that giant bird? With my camera strapped around my neck, I was ready to investigate.

Not knowing how many chances I would have to capture the unusual image of this huge bird, I began to snap pictures as I walked toward the tree. His momentary perch was located in the front yard of a home. I got closer and closer.

Surely, there is some unwritten law that says a photographer has permission to walk right up on private property and snap away if there are scientific/educational purposes in mind. At any rate, that is precisely what I did.

As I drew nearer, it was as if God had instructed him to trust me. He remained on the rough-barked branch, looking at me with an almost human expression. Finally, I was almost directly under him.

There he sat, patiently allowing me to record his magnificent beauty for all to see—the magnificent beauty God had created.

I could be mistaken, but it seems unlikely for a wild hawk to place it’s trust in a human who appears out of nowhere, advancing into it’s personal territory.

I could also be mistaken about this, but it also seems likely to me that God instructed him to remain on the branch while He allowed me to see and photograph yet another creature who displays the glory of His creative work. It was a gift to me, just to see it.

How would I respond to God if He asked me to trust in Him when something very out of the ordinary was occurring? Would I "sit on the branch" if He asked me to, even if I felt like flying off to safety? Would I trust Him?

 

 "Those who know your name will trust in you,
       for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you."

  —Psalm 9:10

 

 

 

 

You

 

Have you ever picked out a present for a child? With excitement in your heart,  you know it’s just what they need. You wait until  the perfect time, and then you surprise them with your gift.

Surely your love is felt in the exchange. After all, you took the time to select the gift with them in mind, and you gave it freely.

Does God give us gifts like this?

Think of something that God has given you. With love in His heart for you, He gave you the gift at just the right time, knowing what you needed.

Do you feel His love for you?

You are His child.

He loves you with an everlasting love.

He loves YOU.

 

 

 

To All Men

 

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions,

and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

while we wait for the blessed hope—

the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness

and to purify for himself a people that are his very own,

eager to do what is good.

—Titus 2:11-14

 

 

 

 

His Name is John

 

 

I have heard that obedience is doing what you are told to do, when you are told to do it, with the right heart attitude.

 If we apply that to obedience of God’s commands, it becomes extremely important to obey. Why? God knows what is best for us.

When the time of Jesus’ appearance on Earth was fast approaching, an angel appeared to Zacharias. The angel told him that he and his wife were going to have a son. He continued by telling him that the child would be named John. He would be the one who would prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah.

Zacharias was not totally convinced that this would truly take place; because of his unbelief, his voice was taken away. He could not speak at all.

When the baby was born, it was thought that he would be named Zacharias, after his father. Since he could not speak, Zacharias wrote these words:  "His name is John."  He obeyed the command of the angel.

What became of that obedience?

Immediately, his voice returned.

Obedience? Doing what you are told to do, when you are told to do it, with the right heart attitude.

 

And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.

 And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John.

 And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name.

 And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called.

 And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

 And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God.

–Luke 1:59-64