We Have Continued

 

 

 

What do you really want for your children?

To have a nice home?

A car?

To be married?

To be successful at a job?

To be a caring parent?

To be an honest citizen?

I would have to say, "yes" to all of the above. However, I know they are not most important.

 

About a month ago, my husband and I took our youngest son to a restaurant to celebrate his birthday. He chose the restaurant for the three of us. We mentioned to our server that it was our son’s birthday. Toward the end of our meal, the owner of the establishment came to our table and an ice cream sundae was given to our son, complete with a blue and white spiraled candle. It was a gracious gesture that brought smiles to our faces.

We had hoped our son would have a happy time, but there were certainly more important hopes written on our hearts for him.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:9-11:

Because of this, since the day we heard about you, we have continued praying for you, asking God that you will know fully what he wants. We pray that you will also have great wisdom and understanding in spiritual things so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.

Do we want our son to have wisdom and understanding about spiritual things?

Do we want him to live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way?

Do we want him to produce fruit in every good work?

Do we want him to grow in the knowledge of God?

Do we want God to strengthen him with His great power so that he will not give up when troubles come?

Of course, for us, the answer to all of these would be a resounding, "yes."

 

What do you really want for your children? 

Let us continually pray for them.

 

 

Able to Separate

 

 

 

 

How much does God love you?

Does He ever stop?

Do you feel that your mistakes lessen His love for you?

There is a truth that speaks louder than the deception of Satan. Paul writes,

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."      –Romans 8:38-39


Listen to the truth in God’s word.

Begin again. Right now.

Today.

 

 

 

 

In The Past

 

In the past God spoke

to our forefathers through

the prophets at many times

and in various ways,

but in these last days

he has spoken to us by

his Son, whom he appointed

heir of all things, and through

whom he made the universe.

The Son is the radiance

of God’s glory

and the exact representation

of his being,

sustaining all things

by his powerful word.

After he had provided

purification for sins,

he sat down

at the right hand

of the Majesty

in heaven.

 

Hebrews 1:1-3

 

 

Peace With God

 

 

 

I love the beach.

Something about the waves in never-ending rhythm against the sandy shore draws me closer in. The awesome power of God is displayed in such an intriguing way as the ocean waters meet the land. In the midst of the constant sounds of the sea, I feel peace. A calm peace that joins an already existing peace that never leaves me. One that is assured that I belong to God.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…

   Romans 5:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Great You Are

 

 

In only a split second, the dragonfly came to rest on a leafless stalk emerging from the water. They are such interesting creatures.

Dragonflies don a variety of velvety rich colors.

Dragonflies have the ability to stop in mid-air and hover in front of you, contemplating your very existance in their world, only to warp into hyperspace before your very eyes, disappearing as quickly as they appeared.

They also have six legs.

And that is worth mentioning because…..

Dragonflies can’t walk.

Their legs allow them only to stand.

If they are going to soar to the heights or simply hover in their dragonfly sort of way, they must fly.

They must fly with the wings that God provides for them.

A dragonfly could choose to stand and not fly, but it would do so at great personal loss.

After living a short, stationary existance, only eating the few insects that crossed its path, it would die, certainly not having fulfilled its potential.

The good thing?

As far as I know, all dragonflies choose to fly.

But what about people?

What if we had spiritual legs?

They would allow us to stand and to walk toward faith—but fly?

We would need spiritual wings.

Wings that could only be given to us by God.

Wings that would take us to marvelous places that we could never experience while standing.

Wings with which to soar to the highest heights as our relationship with God grew deeper.

Wings that would allow us to be still, hovering as we take in the wonder of His presence.

It is God who gives us these spiritual wings, yet  is we who must choose to fly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Am There

 

I received a card today.

The inscription read, Wherever you go, God is already there.

God reveals His plans to us a little at a time. Take this step. Now, take this one…

Isaiah 48:16a puts it this way,

Come near me and listen to this:
       "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;
       at the time it happens, I am there."

 

 

 

 

 

The Lonely

 

 

 

 

Lonely.

You may be lonely now.

You might have been lonely in the past.

You may be lonely in the future.

But does anyone want to be lonely?

 

Being lonely is not the same as being alone. Certainly a person could feel lonely in a crowd—lonely at home, school or work. On the other hand, someone could be experiencing great connectedness and support sitting alone in a park, reading. It’s not always about solitude, although it could be.

It is God who created relationship. The fabric of our human civilization is based on relating to one another. Most importantly, we have a relationship with God. He is our Maker, our Sustainer.

In the Book of Psalms, chapter 68, the writer tells us that, "God sets the lonely in families…"

God knows and understands the need for fellowship. If you can remember a time when you were lonely and without a family or group of friends, what does that memory seem like now? Do the images in your mind only appear as snapshots in a scrapbook? Have they been surpassed by the addition of loving people that God has now placed in your life?

If you are in a lonely state right now, pray and ask God for a friend. A good friend. One that would encourage you in your walk with Him.

Let God select the memories for the next page in your album.

He loves you.

You are never alone.

 

 

 

 

 

That Brings Healing

 

 

 

"It’s going to be okay."

"Let’s talk it over."

"I’ll pray for you."

"Here. Let me help."

"It’s never too late to call."

"Please forgive me."

"I’m here to listen."

 

These are words of healing, are they not?

A young child trips and falls, scraping his knees. The comforting voice of a parent begins the process of moving away from the pain and fright of the fall.

A woman cries alone on the back pew of a church, ashamed and bewildered at the events of her life. The comforting voice of someone who cares reaches her ears and then touches her heart.

A man, recently divorced, grips his pencil tightly at work, anxiously hoping for encouragement and strength. The comforting voice of an old friend calms the storm in his mind as he picks up the phone and hears genuine concern in every word.

 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs, chapter 15, that "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life…"

 

 

 

 

 

All Men

 

 

I had to stop.

My son and I were driving home down a small stretch of highway that connected to the main road that would take us home.

At this time of year, our county must surely sow wildflower seed along the many highways that connect us on our busy commutes. Every spring, the roadsides are filled with vivd color from the emerging plants.

With assurances on my part that I would be right back, I left my son to wait on me in the car as I treked back to photograph the lavender wonderland I had just passed.

A winding road led through thick bushes leading to somewhere. Hundreds of blooms flowed effortlessly along the ground in a sea of various pinks and purples.

I had stopped because I wanted to capture the scene. I wanted to capture it because, without really thinking about it, I knew that the gorgeous blooms would not be there for very long. In a few short weeks, they would be only a memory.

The Bible tells us that we are like the flowers of the field, at least while we are on Earth. As Christians, we have been born again of "imperishable seed."

The flowers remind us of what is to pass and what is to come….

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."

I Peter 1:23-25a

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Not?

 

 

 

My husband and I decided to take a Sunday afternoon drive to—-well, wherever.

It was cloudy and overcast, with just a hint of a threatening storm.

We ventured to backroads and less populated areas, just to explore places we’d not been.

We found vines with flowers growing in trees, lazy country roads winding between canopying trees and blackbirds searching for food in the spring grass.

God’s provision for the day was before them.

Isn’t it also for us, His children?

 

 

 

 

 

Remain

 

 

To "remain true to the Lord with all of their hearts."

This was an exhortation from Barnabas to the Christians at Antioch.

What does it mean to remain true?

Loyal?

Steadfast?

Faithful?

What does "with all of your heart" seem to suggest?

If that is too difficult to define, try describing, "with only part of your heart."

That sounds really negative, doesn’t it?

Not only is it negative, it is contradicting.

How could one remain partly faithful?

Partly steadfast?

Partly loyal?

As humans, we all fail. There are times when we miss the mark. Our thoughts, words, and actions fall short of what God wants. At those moments, our loyalty may slide on the slippery slope of temptation. It is then that God draws us back to ask forgiveness, beginning again the firm allegiance to remaining true.

God knows our struggle and yet He loves us, still.

When he (Barnabus) arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.—Acts 11:23-24

 

 

 

 

Who is Like You

 

 

It was a perfect day for walking in the nature preserve area. Tiny drops of rain fell as an overcast sky illuminated the park with gentle, diffused light.

Various kinds of wildflowers grew within a few feet of the water’s edge. The soil beneath my feet, though covered in grass and weeds, was sinking, at times, with each step as though I were walking on a giant, inflated pillow.

The most stunning flowers that I spotted were a brilliant white with golden centers. How delicate they were! Such beauty! The work of God, adorning the grass with contrasting color.

Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ?
       Who is like you—
       majestic in holiness,
       awesome in glory,
       working wonders?

Exodus 15:11

 

 

 

 

 

Do Not Be Afraid

What are you afraid of?

Last night, I attended a choral program. The music was engaging and meaningful. One of the selections was sung partially in the Swahili language.

"Grant us peace, give us courage," was the message of the song.

As I walked outside at the conclusion of the concert, the sun had set; the blue and gray hues of dusk began to envelope the far-reaching steeple that rose high above the sanctuary.

Deuteronomy 31:6 says,

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."

In this passage, Moses was relating a message of encouragement to the children of Israel concerning those they were to encounter as they entered the Promised Land. They were not to be afraid. In matters of our own lives, neither are we.

Does the Lord our God go with us?

Will He ever leave us?

Will He forsake us?

He will grant us peace.

 

 

 

He will give us courage.

Amani Utupe Na Ustawi….

 

 

 

 

 


The Fourth Emerald

 

In most jewelry stores, one could find a large variety of precious stones to choose from.

"Do you have any sapphires?"  Yes.

"Any emeralds?"   Why, yes! Of course!

Have you ever wondered why God has permitted us to have these brilliantly colored jewels?

Have you ever wondered why He describes Heaven by referencing them along with gold, silver and pearl?

Could it be that He wanted us to have a glimpse of what was to come? To actually experience with our eyes here a small taste of what things would be like there?

 

The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.   Revelation 21:18-21

 

 

 

 

 

Foolishness to Those

 

Why would a person choose to believe that there is no God?

I have a friend that does not believe that God exists. What brought him to this conclusion? I’m not sure.

Almost by accident, I found out today that my friend’s father is a Christian.

That means that at least two people are praying for him–his father and, of course, me.

What means everything to us as believers can appear to be foolishness to those who do not believe.

Can I force someone to believe in God?

No.

Yet, I pray that I would have the words to say to my unbelieving friend, each time the opportunity arises.

 

 

 

Tender Shoot

 

 

As I sat in the group, we were told to close our eyes and think about how, when a couple has a newborn child, often they are speechless as they behold their child. We were to think about how the parents "delight" in their baby.

Next, we were asked to picture in our minds what God would look like delighting in each of us, personally.

The question? Had some never thought or felt that God would actually delight in us? In the quietness that followed, everyone in the room had to consider these words.

God loves us so very much. Jesus paid the debt for our sin, showing us His great love.

In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 53, verses 1-5 we find the description of what was to come:

Who has believed our message
       and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

  He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
       and like a root out of dry ground.
       He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
       nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

  He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

  Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.

  But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.

 

 

 

The Brightness

 

While visiting an elderly neighbor in the hospital last evening, we talked about various periods in her life–her career, her family, her faith.

One of the most significant moments of our time together came as a complete surprise. As we were speaking about her beliefs, she told of something she had experienced over four decades ago.

Because of a reaction to medication, she became unconscious. Efforts to revive her were underway, but before she awakened, she had what she called "a dream."

There was a bright light that she was moving toward. Family members were there, and even a beloved pet. They spoke to her; and then, quite suddenly, she was revived.

In relating this story, she said that she wasn’t afraid; she knew she would be in Heaven with her husband someday. The genuineness of her gentle words were more than convincing. Her experience had rendered a peace and confidence within her soul. It was as if this very same peace drifted from her heart to mine as I felt a certain reassurance well up inside.

I had hoped to encourage my neighbor in visiting her last night. On second thought, this dear woman was the one who encouraged me.

 

 

 

 

I KNow He Will

 

I saw a movie today. It was very touching and it left me thinking of it for quite some time afterward.

It was the story of a man who had no knowledge of who God really was and why Jesus had come to live among men. Like so many, he held attending church in low regard.

Near the beginning of the film, he visits a cemetery and stands at the grave of his beloved grandmother. Stricken and sad, he walks away silently. With no knowledge of the afterlife, he felt that she was gone from him forever.

Through a series of events laden with conflict, the lonely and misled man comes to understand that God had sent Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of mankind—and this included him. He learns from others that his grandmother had been a Christian, giving him insight into the last words she had spoken to him.

Toward the end of the story, the audience is allowed to see the man again at his grandmother’s grave. This time his countenance is changed. He brings a single white flower and places it in front of the stone.

With a renewed heart and the promise of eternal life, he speaks four  words in a gentle, calming tone before he turns to go:

"I’ll see you later."

What a beautiful expression of trust, faith and hope.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, we read,

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

 Martha answered, "I know 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 will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  —John 11:23-26

What about you?

Do you believe?

 


 

 

 

 

Most Worthy of Praise

 

 

At first, I thought the flower was made of plastic; it seemed too perfect, perhaps.

With further examination, I discovered that it was quite real—a living plant. A vibrant, lavender orchid drawing sustenance from the soil surrounding it in a pot.

How beautiful it was– and delicate, as well.

It’s very existance praised God, for He created it.

With all that it had it gave forth praise.

The Psalmist speaks of praising God, exalting Him and extoling His Name.

With all that we have been given, do we, as His children, praise Him?

 

I will exalt you, my God the King;
       I will praise your name for ever and ever.

  Every day I will praise you
       and extol your name for ever and ever.

 Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
       his greatness no one can fathom.

Psalm 145:1-3

 

 

 

In the Heights Above

 

While visiting friends recently, I stepped outside to look around. Bushes were blooming; a lone bird was sitting on a power line. All was peaceful and calm.

Then I heard something.

As I looked up, a low flying airplane was approaching. It was so close.

My friend explained that there was an airport nearby—-very nearby. This plane had evidently just taken off.

Commonplace now, the airplane has only been a part of civilization for a few short years in history. The Wright brothers successfully flew the first powered aircraft on December 17, 1903. True, this became the beginning of man’s quest for the heights, but it was something else as well. It was the unveiling of God’s magnificence in a new way as we were allowed at this point in time to see His creation from above in a manner not known by man previously.

How privileged we are as a generation to see the vast expanse of planet Earth! God’s workmanship has been revealed to us in a way that others living in earlier times could only dream about:

What would it be like to stand on the moon and look at Earth?

What would it be like to look down on the planet and watch it spin in perfect order, set in motion by God Himself?

What would it look like to see the blazing rays of the sun envelope the Earth’s edge as dawn comes to mark yet another day granted by
God?

We know.

God’s glorious creation has been revealed to us in His timing.

As our eyes are blessed with the visons of the Earth and space beyond, can we keep our praise silent to the Maker of such magnificence?

 

 

 

 

 

The LORD Will Be

 

 

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.

Isaiah 60:18-20

 

 

Rose Again

 

 

Yesterday, my family and I attended a lakeside Easter service held at sunrise.

As we were all singing "In Christ Alone," the first blazing light appeared out of the glowing blanket of orange that hugged the horizon. Piercing the sky, it’s blinding point of light burst forth. The lyrics to our praise coupled with the display of God’s magnificent power sent a glorious message to my heart—-

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

(Keith Getty/Stuart Townsend)

The speaker at our gathering related this thought: "You came here in the dark, but you will be leaving in the light."

We are truly bought with the precious blood of Christ.

May we live our lives with the realization of His great love for us as we continue in the light.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.—-I Thessalonians 4:14

 

 

 

 

 

He is Risen

 

 

The sky was clear. The sun had set, leaving only a glow on the horizon.

With the cool evening air surrounding us, we waited for the tour to begin.

It was an outdoor theatre presentation called, "Walk the Path of Passion."  We were lead to the first area to see Jesus ride triumphantly on a donkey as those who heralded Him placed palm fronds on the ground. At another staging, we saw the money changers in the temple, followed by a scene from the last supper. As Jesus’ words were heard, I looked above the backdrop to see a rising star that had appeared. Was it a gentle reminder of His mighty power as I watched a represention of His last hours?

Next, the garden—then the trial; finally, the crucifixion. Those acting in the vignettes were bringing the suffering of Jesus to us in a unique, real-life setting.

It was not to end there.

We were led to the tomb where He had been laid. Fog billowed from the entrance as bright light penetrated the darkness. We listened as we were told the Good News that Jesus had risen from the dead!

Jesus was crucified to pay the penalty for our sins—all the things we have done or said that displeased God; all the things He wanted us to do or say that we didn’t. In believing that He is the Son of God and asking for forgiveness, we are spared a destiny of eternal separation from Him and granted the gift of life forever in His presence.

If you have never asked for this forgiveness, don’t delay. Why not talk to God–He’s listening for your voice….

and He loves YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So That They Might Go

 

 

 

 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"

Mark 16:1-3