My Peace

 

 

A dear friend went to be with the Lord today.

She was a faithful servant of God, a gentle and quiet spirit, loving and kind.

We who are left behind mourn in our loss, yet we know that she is in Heaven.

Does God leave us without encouragement in these days of pain and sorrow?

No.

He will comfort us with His peace, holding us in His arms.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.   —John 14:27

 


 

 

 

With Actions And In Truth

 

 

It was an evening wedding.

Beautiful colors, soft flowers, wedding cake and punch.

But it was much more.

The reading of God’s word, the promises of the bride and groom before Him.

The reminders of what true love is and how it is expressed.

The sanctity of marriage.

A pledge of truth with action for the future.

Solemn vows.

 

 

 

This New Life

I have been praying today for a precious friend who is very ill.

The lyrics to an old hymn came to mind earlier this evening–

"Praise the Name of Jesus,

Praise the Name of Jesus,

He’s my Rock,

He’s my Fortress,

He’s my Deliverer,

In Him will I trust,

Praise the Name of Jesus."

Jesus is my friend’s Rock. He is her Deliverer.

It is Jesus who saves, Jesus who heals, today as yesterday.

In Acts 5:12-21, we see His healing power and the exhortation to tell others about the new life that Jesus offers:

The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.

 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. "Go, stand in the temple courts," he said, "and tell the people the full message of this new life."

 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

 

 

 

Bird in the Mountains

 

 

"How are you doing today?"

If you are like me, you hear that phrase a lot. It seems that people say it as a greeting in place of the ordinary, "Hello."

What is the appropriate answer?  Fine.

That is, "fine" no matter what is going on in your life— how sick or sad you may be; "fine," even though you may have just had a flat tire, or you noticed your acne was worse or that you missed your car payment by one day, incurring a late fee.

"Fine," if you didn’t get the job you wanted, "fine," if you DID get the job you wanted, but now you are afraid you might not have enough experience to do it well.

We’re all just fine. All the time.

Whether we are in fact doing quite well or not, there is Someone who knows how we are doing, even without asking.

If you feel that no one truly cares about what’s going on in your life, moment to moment, consider this:

"I know every bird in the mountains,
       and the creatures of the field are mine."  —Psalm 50:11

If God knows every bird in the mountains, He knows you.  He knows what concerns you, and He cares. You can talk to Him about it at any time. He is always listening.

So….how are you doing?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sons of God

 

It was fairly quiet in the neighborhood. I decided to walk around to the side of our home, looking around the wintery scene of amber colored grass and leafless branches.

Walking in the field behind the house,  I heard a mockingbird. He was across the street in the orange grove, perched in a tree.

I paused to listen.

He made a lovely call—and then, his song changed completely.

There was another tune, and then another.

I understand, of course, that mockingbirds imitate the sounds of other birds, but this time, I was really listening.

Am I ever like this bird?

Do I only say what I’ve heard others’ say and hope that I’m fitting in?

Do I change my song to match what I think will be acceptable?

Do I actually have a voice of my own with a melody that is unique to me?

Who am I?

Galatians, chapter 3, verses 26 and 27 remind us:

"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."

Knowing this, the words of a hymn that I have known for years come to a new light—-

O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
O how marvelous! O how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

(I Stand Amazed in the Presence–Charles H. Gabriel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

To the Lord Your God

It was so beautiful.

So fragile.

So magnificent.

So fleeting.

The late afternoon sky was filled with clouds, floating in a patterned array high above me.

My Father, who owns the heavens, displayed the perfect canopy of blue and white, glowing with His sustaining power.

So wonderful.

So inspiring.

The awesome work of God.

 

 

 

 

Look for Peace

 

 

 

Children, come and listen to me.
       I will teach you to worship the Lord.
  You must do these things
       to enjoy life and have many happy days.
  You must not say evil things,
       and you must not tell lies.
  Stop doing evil and do good.
       Look for peace and work for it.

Psalm 34:11-14

 

 

Endures Through Every Circumstance

 

 

 

What is love?

 

 

Love is patient and kind.

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.

It does not demand its own way.

It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 

It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

—I Corinthians 13:4-7

 

Who is love?

 

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

—I John 4:8

 

 

 

Precious Gift

 

 

In chapter thirty of the book of Genesis, we read of Jacob and his two wives, Rachel and Leah. This is a time in their lives when children are being born into their family. Though there seems to be a great deal of jealousy and hurt within, there is still an awareness from Leah’s heart that it is God who has given her a son.  She says, "God has presented me with a precious gift."

Certainly our children and families are precious gifts from God.

Our homes, our jobs, our very lives are gifts from His hand.

Each day, there are abundant gifts that are given to us.

Do we notice them all? Are we grateful?

I know that I am busy with the moment too many times to realize the goodness around me–

a beautiful sky, a gentle wind, a warm pillow.

There are times, however, that I do notice.

Birds are especially delightful to me. As I was standing just outside my front door, I heard the familiar sound of sand cranes, approaching in flight above me. I happened to be holding my camera, and in a quick second or two, I was able to preserve the moment.

Seeing those birds, even briefly, is a gift from God to me. I noticed.

It’s like He is saying, "I love you—see the birds?"

So much is there;

I’m alive,

I can see,

the cranes can fly

and I have a camera.

I am a child of God,

He loves me,

and He is the Giver of precious gifts.

 

 

 

Rain in the Springtime

 

It’s been unusually cold here.

Scraping ice off of a car and covering the palm tree in your front yard with a bedsheet at night are rare tasks.

Outdoor activity has been curtailed by the temperatures that warrant windchill and freeze warnings.

Today was slightly warmer. My husband encouraged me to go out and photograph a squirrel I had spotted from the kitchen window.

After venturing out, my little friend was no where to be seen.

There were several birds flitting about, however, so I began snapping pictures.

Following a robin into a neighbor’s yard, (and hoping they wouldn’t mind) I noticed some very tiny flowers blooming in the grass.

At the first of the warm weather, they had eagerly emerged while other plants had turned brown and died from the cold.

They were incredibly small and delicate, yet wonderfully intricate in design.

The recent rains had provided the moisture they needed to soar upward on their journey from soil to sky.

With a silent and simple statement, the message was clear–spring is coming; new life is here already.

God wills it be so.

The earth is renewed with His power.

We, too, are renewed in the same way.

 

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime…

 

 

 

Prepare a Place

 

 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.

 John 14:1-3

 

 

 

Like a Palm Tree

"The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree…" (Psalm 92:12a)

The dictionary has some interesting definitions for righteous and flourish.

While righteous is deemed "to be free from guilt or sin,"  flourish is defined, "to grow luxuriantly."

Thinking of it that way, those who are free from guilt and sin will grow luxuriantly like a palm tree.

Where I live, palm trees are everywhere. We have several on our property. We lost a very nice one a year or so ago. Something went wrong, and the fronds began to gnarl up in unusual contortions. Finally, it died.

We are that way, aren’t we? When we accept God’s forgiveness, we are free from guilt. We are free to grow luxuriantly in the Lord. If we do not accept God’s forgiveness, however, our feeble efforts at living independently from Him leave us with gnarled and broken lives.

Have you been flourishing lately?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Life

 

New life.

Both of those words are compelling to the human race, don’t you think?

Who doesn’t yearn for the new, the unspoiled, the fresh?

Who doesn’t want life—a good life, a productive life, an enjoyable life?

When these two words are placed side by side, hope emerges.

Is it possible? Can it be?

Store shelves boast of products to bring about the new.

New skin. New hair. New style. New taste.

Is there truly a longing for the new?

Consider these words from the book of Ephesians:

We should have suffered God’s anger because we were sinful by nature. We were the same as all other people.   But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace. —Ephesians 2:3b-5

When we come to the realization that we are in the worst of situations—-lost and separated from God because of our sin—-the promise of forgiveness and new life through Jesus becomes the ultimate desire.

New Life In Christ.

When these four words are placed side by side, hope emerges.

 


 

 

A Broken Spirit

 

 

 

Psalm 51:15-17

 

O Lord, open my lips,
       and my mouth will declare your praise.

  You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
       you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

  The sacrifices of God are  a broken spirit;
       a broken and contrite heart,
       O God, you will not despise.

 

 

 

In Search of Jesus

 

It was very cold outside in the early morning hours after sunrise.

As we were driving along the road near the lake, I saw the sailboats in the distance. So very many sailboats.

I knew instantly it was the regatta probably put on by the local boat club.

Lamenting the fact that I would not be able to photograph the event, my husband suggested a change in plans to accommodate my desire. I could walk around the park that bordered the water and he would pick me up later.

The horizon was scattered with white sails meeting the brisk wind with determination.

Some were farther along the course than others; all were intent on the same course.

In John 6:24 we are told, "Once the crowd realized that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went to Capernaum in search of Jesus."

Jesus had just miraculously fed five thousand people gathered for His teaching the day before. Now, the people were getting into boats and traveling to Capernaum in search of Him.

Although I have not witnessed the supernatural feeding of thousands, God has certainly blessed my life with great and wondrous works of His doing. Things not thought to be possible have become a reality. I have seen hearts and lives changed in miraculous ways.

Since I have witnessed His power in my own life and the lives of others, would it not be fitting for me to become intent on "searching for Jesus" each day? Wouldn’t it seem normal to think that I would get into the boat and set sail for wherever it might take me as long as He was at the destination?

Though I own no boat, prayer is my sail.

Am I intent on finding Jesus?

He is waiting.

 

 

 

New Song

 

It was just a normal trip to the bookstore.

A large bookstore.

A Christian bookstore, actually.

I had gone with friends to pick out some literature. Quietly, inside my heart, I had other things on my mind.

I really do want to follow Jesus and do the things He wants me to do; yet hearing the clear cut instructions may not happen.

Standing there in the store, looking around at the vast array of books in several categories, I wondered if there was anything there that could help me—-something to give me insight and encouragement.

Somehow, I sort of felt as if I were someone who was ill with an infection who had just walked into a pharmacy.

"Great!" you say? I’m right where I need to be? Well, there’s just one catch—the pharamacist isn’t in and I am standing there surrounded by medications, not knowing which one, if any, could help me.

I prayed and asked God about showing me anything He wanted me to see. One book in particular caught my attention. Although I didn’t buy it until the next day, I believe it to be God’s response  to my prayer.

Do you ever feel like you are standing in a field of answers, tightly gripping your one question, yet confused at how to go about seeking the truth?

The Psalmist said in chapter 40, verse 3:

"He put a new song in my mouth…"

Are you longing for a new understanding?

A fresh outlook? 

The true answer?

Why not ask God to show you what it is He wants you to see?

 

 

 

Who Perseveres

 

 

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.   —James 1:12

 

Nehemiah.

I thought of him today.

Deep in thought about my own life, I considered how certain difficulties had been present as I had tried to accomplish things for God—difficulties that had weighed me down, perhaps keeping me from doing "a good job."

I’m not sure the thought ever made it quite to words within my brain, but the desire that was surfacing centered around the idea of hoping to be free of the problems, able to do what I was called to do, unhindered. 

Within seconds, I thought of Nehemiah.

He went back home to organize the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.

Did he accomplish this without difficulty?

No.

In fact, he had many "outsiders" who were set on preventing him from rebuilding the wall.

He was lied to many times and the work that was being accomplished was scoffed at.

Nehemiah kept praying and he didn’t quit.

Although I feel that it is fine to ask God to remove hindrances from our path so that we may serve Him more freely, it would seem that even if the difficulties arise and remain present for a time, it is not cause to give up.

 I noticed someone reppelling this past weekend.

The only way to the top of the wall was to climb—one step and one handhold at a time.

It took perseverance and determination.

Whatever God has for me to do, I must trust Him even in the midst of difficulty–

 

–even when the climb is the hardest.

 

 

Broken

 

 

"In that day I will restore
       David’s fallen tent.
       I will repair its broken places,
       restore its ruins,
       and build it as it used to be,

  so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
       and all the nations that bear my name, "
       declares the LORD, who will do these things.

Amos 9:11-12

 

 

 

A Letter From Christ

Paul and Timothy sent these words to the church of God in Corinth:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

II Corinthians 3:2,3

Many years ago when I decided to accept God’s forgiveness and follow Him, a young woman gave of her time every week to disciple me. Only a few years separated us in age. I was a new Christian; she was more mature in her walk with Christ.

Each week, we would meet for about an hour. When I look back on those times, I am grateful that she nurtured me in the faith.

As I consider the moments she spent with me, could I possibly consider myself to be one of her letters? Was her concern for me and my spiritual well being written on her heart for all to see and read?

Do I continue to be a letter from Christ—a result of her ministry, written on human hearts?

 

 

 

 

 

Forth from the Earth

 

 

 

 

Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
       that his glory may dwell in our land.

  Love and faithfulness meet together;
       righteousness and peace kiss each other.

  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
       and righteousness looks down from heaven.

Psalm 85:9-11

 

 

 

Cross Daily

 

 

What does it mean to take up your cross daily?

The New Century Version of the Bible puts it this way in Luke 9:23-25:

Jesus said to all of them, "If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life.  It is worthless to have the whole world if they themselves are destroyed or lost.

Eugene Peterson’s The Message explains it in these words:

Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?

 

Let Jesus lead me…..

If He were to lead me, I would have to be willing to follow, wouldn’t I? 

If I kept trying to help myself, would I really find what I needed?

Follow Him.

 

Daily.

 

Right now.

 

Sing

 

 

 

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
       it is fitting for the upright to praise him.

  Praise the LORD with the harp;
       make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.

  Sing to him a new song;
       play skillfully, and shout for joy.

 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
       he is faithful in all he does.

Psalm 33:1-4

 

 

 

 

The Name That is Above Every Name

 

It was just what I had to do. I didn’t need to put it off any longer.

It was time to go to the dentist.

Only one filling was needed. That would be taken care of….today.

It’s not that I get overly worried about the whole thing, but having my throat or tongue numb and not being able to swallow in the usual way has, in the past, well, scared me.

The fear component of my visit didn’t quite set in until I was left alone to allow the numbing chemical in the injection to set in. Almost as soon as the anxiety began to lift its ugly head, I began to pray. Most of my praying was in the form of a song. Suddenly, I was silently singing these words in my mind:

Jesus, Name above all names;

Beautiful Savior, glorious Lord……

This was followed by, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…"

These are both very good songs. You might think that they would be fresh on my mind because I had recently heard them at church or on the radio—perhaps on a favorite CD.

No. I can’t recall the last time I heard either one of them, yet, I believe God brought them to my mind to calm me at the moment I was in need.

As I became more relaxed, I looked out the window of the exam room. A dove flew to the ground and spent several minutes investigating the soil for dinner as I watched. Even then, I thought that God had sent the bird to me in order to draw my thoughts away from anxiousness.

The procedure went well, my tooth is fine, and I am thankful to God for the peace that He gave me today.

The Name above all names? It is Jesus, and He loves me. The Bible tells me so.

 

 

 

 

 

I Would Hurry

 

 

 

 

Last night, a friend sent me an article that spoke of forest fires and new growth. It explained that the seeds of evergreen trees are locked inside tightly closed pinecones. Even though they fall to the ground the seeds are only released when they are subjected to heat like that of a forest fire. The article went on to say that the forest actually needed the fire to reproduce and grow.  The idea was that we often want to avoid the "fires" of our lives at all costs, but perhaps it is God’s will that we experience these trials in order to grow in the way that He wants us to. (Forest Fires by Mary Odell)

With these thoughts fresh on the forefront of my mind, I heard a speaker this evening talk about how God allows us to go through certain storms in life, yet He is with us through those storms. I immediately began realizing the connection between last night’s article and the words he was speaking.

Looking back on the difficulties that have come our way in life, could it have been true that there were certain parts of our character that would not have been released unless we were exposed to the "fire"?

Would the tall trees of our faith have ever sprouted and grown had the seeds not have taken root in the soil after the fire?

When the storms or fires come upon us, we may try to run so as not to experience them.

Could it be that there is a greater purpose that is before us?

Do we really want to spend our lives as unopened pinecones?


 

 

 

Cornerstone

 

 

 

What is the foundation of my life?

If someone were to ask me that, my quick response would be, "God."

How could it be anything else, since it is He who enables me to live?

Yet, am I allowing God to permeate my daily thoughts with His Word?

Is the foundation of my thinking built on the truths that can only be found there?

I once decided that I would write down all the scriptures that I could remember.

Many, many verses came to mind.

Am I applying the truths that I have memorized to the challenges that I face?

The answer would have to be some of the time.

I am convinced that if my answer were all of the time, my life would be richer.

Wouldn’t yours?

 Lord, please help me to remember your truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Cease

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and,

taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds,

he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. 

The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma

and said in his heart:

"Never again will I curse the ground because of man,

even though  every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.

And never again will I destroy all living creatures,

as I have done.

  "As long as the earth endures,
       seedtime and harvest,
       cold and heat,
       summer and winter,
       day and night
       will never cease."

Genesis 8:20-22