Favor With God

 

 

The Christmas season is upon us.

The music.

The lights and decorations.

The gifts.

In the midst of all the hectic schedules and rushed shopping, will I miss the opportunity to reflect on what Christmas really means?

Because Jesus came to the world, everything changed for humanity.

Through forgiveness of sin, we may become part of His kingdom and ….

 

His kingdom will never end.

 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”–Luke 1:26-33

 

 

 

Honest Lips

 

 

 

How important is honesty to you?

Allow me to share a personal story…

About nine years ago, we purchased a new car.

It seemed like a good choice at the time; however, shortly thereafter, the car manufacturer went bankrupt. Production stopped for all the models of our newly acquired vehicle. There was no dealership to turn to for repairs.

Sadly, our little car now had a poor reputation and a low resale value, at no true fault of its own…

Time passed and with the usual wear and tear, the decision to trade our car was made. Because of the bankruptcy and the diminished public opinion of our transportation choice, we did not recieve a sizeable amount in the exchange.

Fair is fair.

That was about four years ago.

Recently, I was looking at our mail. I opened up a note that was obviously printed, but in a handwritten font.

It was from a local car dealership.

Shortly after the salutation, "red flags" began to immediately pop into my mind.

Dishonest tactics were quite evidently being employed.

Our letter conveyed that our used 2001 vehicle (the one from the bankrupt manufacturer) was in high demand. They wanted us to consider bringing it in to trade!

Had it not been for the fact that I knew the complete details about our long-gone car, I might have been fooled.

Getting me to come in for a sales presentation was more of a priority to this company than honest business practices. Our car, humble as it became, was NOT in demand. Armed with the knowledge of the total truth regarding our side of the matter, I saw the dishonesty quite clearly.

God’s written word to us—the Bible—is truth.

Armed with the knowledge of this truth and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are able to discern what is false.

Whenever a lie from Satan comes our way, "red flags" will appear, signaling that which is not of God.

If not for God’s guidance and the truth of His word, we might be fooled.

Have you checked your mail lately?

 

 

 

Gracious Words

 

 

 

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. –Proverbs 16:24

 

Kind, compassionate words are pleasing and fragrant to the deepest part of us.

Words that are gracious are healing.

Tender, merciful words flow from a tender and merciful heart.

Kind, compassionate words emerge from a kind and compassionate heart.

Who we are inside, our real selves, is made known to others by word and action.

Have I been gracious lately?

What about you?

 

 

 

 

Whose Hands

 

 

 

Several times a year, I visit a local boardwalk (although it is actually constructed of other materials) by the waterside of a nearby town.

Running parallel to the walkway is a train track. Just a few feet beyond its measured rails, tall trees adorned with Spanish moss stand gracefully. As evening approaches, the pastel bisque hue of the sunset travels across the lake and diffuses onto the rugged bark and mossy ringlets coming alive with the gentle wind.

It is a place when nature converges with city life. The savory scent of a nearby restaurant wisps silently past. An occasional wedding reception gathers at a community center located near a children’s playground.

It is both a refuge of calm and a hub of nightlife.

With every visit, I find God’s wonders there. The trees, the wind, the birds and flowers.

He is in control of all things–we are not.

Can our hands gather up the wind as the writer of Proverbs inquires?

Bring your anxious thoughts to God.

Spend some time looking at all He has made.

Allow Him to calm your heart today.

 

 

 

 

My Mind Was Healed

 

 

 

Late last night, I was reading the testimony of a great ruler.

He began his time of power without acknowledging God, but instead, exalting himself.

He ended his time of power having proclaimed God’s great glory and magnificence to all those under his rule.

What happened in between?

An incredible story of healing–

the healing of this man’s mind and heart.

Who was he?

King Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar was one of my spelling words when I was in the 6th grade at a public school many years ago. I can remember being taught a dual spelling–Nebuchadrezzar and Nebuchadnezzar. Now, I am studying the two different sides of his spiritual awakening.

So great was King Nebuchadnezzar’s opinion of himself, he was made to live with the mind of an animal in the wilderness:

You will  be forced to live with the wild animals, away from the people. For seven years you will eat grass, as though you were an ox, until you learn that God Most High is in control of all earthly kingdoms and that he is the one who chooses their rulers. –Daniel 4:32

Here is his own description of this time in his life:

This was no sooner said than done—I was forced to live like a wild animal; I ate grass and was unprotected from the dew. As time went by, my hair grew longer than eagle feathers, and my fingernails looked like the claws of a bird. –Daniel 4:33

In the midst of this desparaging time, precious words come from the king addressed to God. We are not given those words, yet the scripture gives this fantastic statement of freedom:

Finally, I prayed to God in heaven, and my mind was healed. –Daniel 4:34a

What testimony do you suppose would come from one so marvelously and miraculously healed?

I praise and honor God Most High. He lives forever, and his kingdom will never end. To him the nations are far less than nothing; God controls the stars in the sky and everyone on this earth. When God does something, we cannot change it or even ask why. –Daniel 4:34b

And what of the rest of his rule?

At that time my mind was healed, and once again I became the ruler of my glorious kingdom. My advisors and officials returned to me, and I had greater power than ever before. –Daniel 4:36

God is a God of second chances. He is a God of restoration. He is a God of mercy.

As it was in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, so it is today–He is the great and only true Healer.

 

 

 

 

Hidden Things

 

 

The first section of Job, chapter 28, speaks of miners–miners of gold, silver, copper–even lapis lazuli.

It describles in detail the ordeal it is to find what is beneath the earth’s surface.

As was the case then, men still strive in horrid conditions in order to produce the treasures found far below.

The 28th chapter of Job is not just about mining. It is about searching—-searching for wisdom.

In beginning a quest to search for wisdom, it would seem logical to define it.

The last verse of the chapter does just that:

The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom… (from verse 28)

As a society, we go to a lot of trouble to search out precious stones and metals. It’s hard work.

Shouldn’t we be diligently searching for wisdom and guidance… from the Lord?

People assault the flinty rock with their hands
   and lay bare the roots of the mountains.
 They tunnel through the rock;
   their eyes see all its treasures.
 They search the sources of the rivers
   and bring hidden things to light.

  But where can wisdom be found?
   Where does understanding dwell?

 Job 28:9-12

 

 

 

I Have Longed

 

 

 

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” –Luke 13:34

 

What would this verse mean to you if you put your own city or community in place of the first two words?

If you look around, you’ll see the same sentiment.

Pastors, ministers, Bible teachers, missionaries, evangelists—-Christian friends, coworkers. Has God not sent them to the people where you live?

Have they been rejected or ridiculed? Possibly ignored or scoffed at?

God longs to gather us as a hen gathers her chicks to safety under her wings.

If you are like me, you know several people who have been "unwilling."

We must not give up hope.

Continue to shine the light of God’s love onto every person you encounter.

One day, they may answer His gathering call…..

 

 

 

 

Through All Generations

 

 

The Bible tells us that God’s faithfulness continues through all generations.

If I think back to my small segment of "all generations,"  I find this to be true.

Certainly, God has been faithful to me. I see His mercy, His provision and His love throughout my life.

Going back a generation, I can see God at work in the life of my mother, decades ago.

A generation before that, I remember my grandmother singing the hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" when I was a little girl. She died when I was ten years old.

I have the Bible that my grandmother’s brother had when he was young. Inside it, he wrote the date when he recieved the Bible.

FORTY FIVE years later, he accepted Jesus as his Savior and wrote it down in the front of that same Bible.   But that’s only part of the story—five years before that, he had evidently been in the hospital. Someone gave him a New Testament when he was in "Ward 11A."  It would take that five year period, coupled with the previous forty years to bring him to the point of accepting Jesus.

On my father’s side of the family, we have extensive records. Skipping back into the 1600’s, one of his ancestors was a pastor. His first name was Thomas. Unaware of this fact when my husband and I had our first son, we named him Thomas, as well. He is now a Christian….

What about your life? How has God shown His faithfulness to you? Your parents? Your grandparents? Your children?

His faithfulness continues….through ALL generations.

 

 

 

The Peace of Christ

 

 

 

 

Peace.

Harmony and unity with one another.

What’s the flipside of peace?

Turmoil.

Discord.

Tension and division with one another.

Hurtful words.

Damaged  feelings.

Doesn’t it stir your very heart to hear how a friend is suffering from lack of peace?

If it’s possible for the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts as we have been called to peace, then why is it that such lack of peace abounds in His children?

Bringing the source of fear and worry to God in prayer is a first step in finding peace.

When concern and powerlessness creep up, time and again we must bring these spiritual "peace robbers" to Him to see what He has to say.

God wants to heal our troubled hearts.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be at peace today?

 

 

 

 

 

Feed My Lambs

 

 

The afternoon had been cloudy, with a hint of rain in the air.

I had visited the farm before, but I hadn’t remembered seeing the lambs.

Timid and cautious, one particular lamb drew my attention.

Dusk was setting in and evening shadows were beginning to mask some of its features.

Even so, I lingered. Was there a tenderness there? A certain innocence?

Jesus speaks of His lambs in John 21:15-16:

 

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

   “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

 

At work, at school, at home…..Jesus’ sheep are there.

A lonely widow.

A crying child.

An expectant mother.

If we love Jesus,

will we feed His lambs?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hairs of My Head

 

 

Baby animals are adorable, aren’t they?

Kittens, puppies—even piglets!

But what about baby porcupines?

Baby porcupines have a cuteness all their own that is accompanied with their unique form.

However adorable they may be when they are small, an adult porcupine is not the best of animals to live in close quarters with humans.

You may be thinking, "Oh, yes…those awful quills!"

True, they are laden with spiny quills (about 30 thousand on an adult porcupine), but that’s not the real problem.

What comes along with them is where the problem begins.

Porcupines can be heavily infested with ticks, fleas and mites. Those creatures, of course, carry disease.

If a porcupine makes its den under your front porch deck and later decides to move on and live elsewhere, the "bugs" that found their livelihood on the animal will now invade your home, looking for a replacement.  (That would be….you.)

Not a pretty picture, is it?

Something cute and adorable growing into something that could cause great harm, quietly, almost unnoticeably.

Isn’t sin like that?

It looks harmless at first. Maybe even small. It won’t hurt anything, will it? Surely not.

But then—-things begin to change. It grows.

It may seem to be quietly contained in its own compartment in our lives, hidden from public view.

But what it carries with it, now that’s another matter.

Instead of fleas, broken trust may appear.

Instead of ticks, addiction may latch on tight.

Instead of mites, guilt and depression may crawl in at every crevice.

Sadly, even if the original sin has long gone and forgotten, the effects of all the accompanying pests can still be felt.

Is there any hope?

Thankfully, there is.

God helps us to recognize the "porcupines" as they amble into our privacy. With His strength, we can keep them from constructing a home in our hearts.

But what if a porcupine is already living there? Or gone on its way, leaving an infestation?

Nothing is too difficult for God.

He can clean it all away, down to the very last mite.

Psalm 40:11-13

Do not withhold your mercy from me, LORD;
   may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
 For troubles without number surround me;
   my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
   and my heart fails within me.
 Be pleased to save me, LORD;
   come quickly, LORD, to help me.

 

 

 

As Water Reflects

 

 

 

 

Like shimmering silver pieces on polished emerald glass, the ducks gracefully adorned the water as they performed a silent dance with their own reflection.

As a passenger in a car, I caught only a view seconds of their kindred reverie before they were out of sight.

The exact likeness of each individual duck had been cast in perfection on the water’s surface.

There’s something simple and serene about reflection in nature. It suggests tranquility as we pause to take in the calm of the moment.

Proverbs 27:19 speaks to us of reflection~~

As water reflects the face,
   so one’s life reflects the heart.

Could the people I have known through the years paint an accurate picture of my heart based upon the actions of my life?

Would the words I have spoken become vivid strokes of tenderness and love?

Would my deeds mirror an image of kindness and humility or would they point to selfishness and apathy?

What reflection does my heart cast?

 

 

 

Guide Me

 

In you, LORD my God,
   I put my trust.

  I trust in you;
   do not let me be put to shame,
   nor let my enemies triumph over me.
 No one who hopes in you
   will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
   who are treacherous without cause.

  Show me your ways, LORD,
   teach me your paths.
 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25:1-5

 

 

 

 

Squinting in a Fog

 

 

 

On my way to work this morning, I had to drive through thick fog.

It was so thick, in fact, that it was difficult to see the road ahead at times.

I tried to be cautious and travel at slower speeds.

Other cars would "emerge" on the highway from the blanket of moisture that was enveloping the countryside.

When I arrived in the parking lot, the sun was just on its way above the treetops.

In a serious competition with the brightly shining sun, the fog was somewhat victorious in diminishing the blaze into a softer glow.

As the day progressed, the mist would surely dissipate and all would be clear again.

For those who believe, the lack of understanding we experience in our lifetime here on Earth will one day clear.

The things that we can’t comprehend, the questions we yearn to have answered, and the longing in our hearts for life to be whole and well will be revealed to us.

I Corinthians 13:12  in The Message states:

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

 

 

 

 

Your Glory in the Heavens

 

 

 

 

The weather was perfect today.
Not too hot, not too cold.
November weather where I live is known for being pleasant.

My son went to visit a friend after school. When I arrived in the car to get him, the sun was almost setting.
As we drove to the end of the street, a decision had to be made. Turn left and take a busy road home or turn right—and drive through a quiet, lakeside neighborhood for the first part of the trip.

In a split second, I chose to turn right. As we came alongside the water, I looked over my left shoulder. What a sight!
Quickly checking my rear view mirror to see if there were any vehicles behind me, I completely stopped in the road.
The sunset over the lake was tremendous! The beams of light were soaring high into the sky.

We had only a short time to gaze until I noticed headlights coming from behind. It was time to move on.

Such intense, majestic beauty. A momentary portrait of glorious power cascading above the water—what a gift from God!

LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. ~ Psalm 8:1

 

 

We Deceive

 

 

 

Yesterday, my husband and I attended a Bible class at church. The topic was dealing with our own personal sin.

The presenter brought a visual aid to help us understand a particular concept about sin.

She brought a brick.

It was a common, everyday, construction brick.

Her son had decorated it as a craft project some years before.

It had been painted; sequins even adorned its side. Feathers had been glued on to each edge.

So how does a brick conceptualize sin?

We can hide our sin, or "dress it up" any way we want to—-but when we pick it up, it remains a heavy burden.

How many times have I wanted to hide who I really was?

Struggling with one thing or another, I wanted to look as though I wasn’t.

I wanted to appear to be something different.

The fact is, I still struggle with that. When asked, "How are you?" I usually answer, "Fine" even when I’m not.

After the class was over yesterday, my husband surprised me with a trip to a local lakeside park.

Not long after we arrived, he noticed a group of birds by the water—all standing on one foot.

With a little research, I found that certain birds want to cast a deceptive shadow onto the water.

If they are standing on one foot, they appear more like a shrub or bush to an unsuspecting fish.

Even a bird will try to look like something it’s not.

I John 1:8 says,

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

Do I really want to waste any more time standing on one foot?

Do you?

 

 

The Ways of a Man

 

This is a stretch of the imagination, I know…

but suppose for your entire life, you moved about from place to place.

Not just every year or every month. Not just every day.

But throughout the day, you kept walking or riding to…..somewhere, and you never stopped until your life was over.

That would be quite a journey! Oh, the places you would see! The things you would experience!

Now, imagine this–

God is looking down at the world. He sees you when you were at a certain point in your travels and then, the next. As you keep moving, He sees where you’ve been. He knows where you have just come from. He also sees where you are headed. He knows where you are going. This continues, year after year. He watches you from a distance. He understands all that you have known and He has seen all that you have seen.

Because His vision is greater than any man-made satellite in space, He not only watches you on your journey, He feels what you feel–the disappointments, the joys, the failures and the successes. And because His thoughts are so much greater than ours, He looks at our lives, where we’ve been and where we’ll go, all at once.

We cannot grasp the mind of God. We may only trust Him. Throughout each chapter of our existance, He is there on every page.

God understands it all and He loves us.

We don’t have to imagine—

He’s real.

He’s here today,

and He’s always been…with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishers of Men

 

 

How long does it take to catch a fish?

Living in an area with many lakes, fishing boats are common to see. In fact, where I live coud be called a "fisherman’s paradise."

I think that most people who are serious about their fishing, would say that patience is a must–with a determination and a willingness to sacrifice the time to do it right.

You can’t just hop in the boat, throw out a line, count to ten and voila! ~you’ve got a fish. It’s not that easy.

A boat must be purchased.

What bait to use is considered.

Which rod and reel should be taken?

How much time can be spent on the water?

What type of container could hold the fish once their caught?

After careful consideration, the fishing can begin.

Jesus spoke to Peter and Andrew about fishing:

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.~Matthew 4:18-20

As those who follow Jesus today, we should be fishers of men, as well.

We can’t just walk out on the street and count to ten…

First of all, our own lives are purchased back from sin and death by the sacrifice of Jesus.

With that knowledge, we choose to share our faith with others.

How will we get to know those that don’t know who Jesus is?

How will we devote the time to nurturing someone toward salvation?

Should someone accept Jesus as their Savior, how will we encourage them in their walk with God?

After prayerful consideration, the fishing can begin.

As those who follow Jesus today, shouldn’t we be fishers of men, as well?



 

And That Hour

 

 

 

 

So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.–Mark 13:29-33

 

 

 

For Such a Time

 

 

 

I really wasn’t looking for any particular parking place at the shopping center.

Withouth thinking much about it, I selected a random spot and pulled the car in.

The lot had a landscaped area running through the parking space. The hood of my car was now adjacent to it.

A beautiful bush was blooming in the bright sunlight.

Before walking in to the large store to do some shopping, I photographed the pink flowers adorning the slender green limbs.

Delicate.

Vibrant.

Stuck in a parking lot.

If the bush had been placed in the front lawn of a home, it might have been constantly commented on and appreciated.

The same loving hands that planted it might have tenderly cared for it, season after season, pruning its branches and watering the soil beneath it.

As it is, people probably come and go, hour after hour, day after day, parking beside it and hurriedly walking past without giving it much thought. Hired lawn crews are likely to trim its limbs.

Would it posess more beauty if it had been placed in a front yard rather than a parking lot?

Most likely, not. With the direction God had placed within it, each part had grown into what He had desired for the bush.

In the Old Testament, a young  Jewish orphan girl named Esther found herself chosen by the king in power to be the queen.

Before her marriage to the king, she had been a woman of integrity who believed in God.

After her marriage to the king, she remained a woman of integrity who believed in God.

Given the knowledge of a plot to destroy the Jewish people in the land came, she began praying and fasting about the matter.

Esther had been raised by her cousin, Mordecai, after the death of her parents. She had respect for him and for his wisdom.

When the plot to destory the Jews had come to light, he had these words to speak to Esther:

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”–Esther 4:13b-14

God honored her faith and belief.

Whether rich and in power or a simple common citizen, she remained of one heart.

The inner beauty that Esther possessed —-her faith in God—-bloomed wherever she was planted.

I wonder if I am just where I am supposed to be at this point in my life, perhaps for such a time as God has determined…

 

 

 

 

 

 

His Divine Power

 

 

 

Power.

The New International Version of the Bible uses the word "power" alone or as a root word, 335 times.

But what is power, really?

The energy needed to make the lamp on my desk give light?

The influence needed to lead a nation?

The self-will needed to persevere in the face of difficulties?

The strength of gravity or the force of ocean waves?

Power is all around us.

The most important power, however, is not our own.

God’s power working in us, God’s power working around us and God’s power working in the world should encourage us greatly.

By ourselves, we are weak.

With God, we are strong.

We are no longer chained to bad habits.

Destructive lifestyles can be replaced with wholesome living.

With God’s power, there is hope.

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.–II Peter 1:3

 

 

 

Provision

 

 

 

Right now….

I have a friend who is in the hospital.

Right now….

we have a car that needs an expensive repair.

Right now….

we have some medical bills that need to be paid.

Right now….

I have friends that tell me they do not believe in God.

Right now….

Back then….

I was in the hospital. I got well.

Back then….

we needed a car and someone GAVE us one.

Back then….

we had some medical bills. They were paid.

Back then….

I prayed specifically for two family members. They both came to know the Lord.

Back then….

Right now….

God provides.

Our barns will be filled
   with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
   by tens of thousands in our fields;
  our oxen will draw heavy loads.
There will be no breaching of walls,
   no going into captivity,
   no cry of distress in our streets.
 Blessed is the people of whom this is true;
   blessed is the people whose God is the LORD.

–Psalm 144:13-15

 

 

 

 

Sorrow No More

 

 

I grew up in a single parent household as an only child. My grandmother lived nearby and I usually spent a lot of time at her home.

My mother’s sister had an only chld–a boy. His father died when he was only four years old.

This child spent a lot of time with my grandmother, as well.

We shared grandmothers, mud pies and laughter.

He had a stuffed toy– Alvin the Chipmunk and a really cool bicycle with hand brakes and a banana seat.

Four years older than me, in my younger childhood, he was always there.

We went our separate ways as we became young adults. The years have come and gone while bringing us to the here and now.

I never had a brother, but he was the next best thing.

Several days ago, I recieved a message that he was ill. The very next day, he died.

His obituary spoke of how he was an avid gardener.

After his funeral, I took pictures of some of the flowers he had cultivated in his yard.

I’m happy that we had the opportunity to grow up together.

I’m happy that he enjoyed gardening.

What makes me the happiest, though, is the knowledge that he had accepted Jesus as his Savior.

Knowing that gives me peace.

Knowing that gives me hope that I will one day see him again.

The flowers he grew in the landscape arrangement of his lawn are living on in his absense.

Being absent from us, he is living on in the presence of God.

He is like a well-watered garden, whole and well.

He is suffering no more.

What about you? Do you have peace in your heart about where you will spend eternity?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have A Message

 

 

Just yesterday, I attended the first meeting of a six session Bible study.  The theme for our weeks together is simply being able to hear when God is speaking to us personally.

It was mentioned that we, as Christians, want to know what God wants us to do. We want guidance. We want help on the choices we are about to make—but is that possible?

For everyone in the room with me yesterday, I think the answer to that question would have been a resounding, "Yes!"

God desires for us to know Him and to follow His leading.

King David began the 36th Psalm with these words,

"I have a message from God in my heart…"

God still speaks to us today—to tell us to visit a sick friend who lives far out into the countryside or to urge us to speak to a stranger standing nearby in a crowd.

He is ready to speak and to guide.

The question is, am I ready to listen?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kingdom of God

 

 

The sound was enormous.

As I stepped outside my aunt’s home, I could see them.

Birds.

A hundred? Two hundred? They were together, flocking to this treetop, then the next, flitting about as though they wanted to get a varied perspective on the view down below.

They filled the tall trees, perching on the highest of branches and on down to the ones underneath.

I was so drawn to watching their activity and listening to their constant chatter, it was difficult to break away from them to go back inside the house.

Trees, alive themselves, yet alive in a different way with teeming birds on what seemed like every branch.

As Jesus was teaching about the kingdom of God, He told parables to the crowd.

A particular parable was concerning the mustard seed:

 

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”  –Mark 4:30-32

 

I am quite sure that the trees I saw were not at all similar  to a mustard plant. Yet, the analogy was still present.

The trees had grown from a seed at some point in the past. Taller and taller they grew until their branches were far-reaching.

Tall and majestic, the branches hold birds too numerous to count.

Does the kingdom of God extend outward to the far reaches of the world?

Is it large enough and strong enough to hold the masses who believe?

"What shall we say the kindgom of God is like…?"


 

 

 

The Brokenhearted

 

 

 

Have you ever known anyone who enjoyed fixing broken items?

There’s just something about seeing what once was broken become useful again.

The words, "It’s beyond repair" are difficult to hear–

sad and final, like a building that bears the sign, "Condemned."

Conversely, positive words like, "remodel,"  "renovate," or "revive" bring life back into the picture.

There was a time in my life when I wore the word, "condemned."

Living apart from the salvation provided by God through the sacrifice of His Son—spiritually, I was broken and beyond human repair.

On a cold day in January, my fate was changed.

Changed by the power and mercy of a loving God.

In asking for forgiveness and accepting the gift of eternal life, my renovation began.

The new began to replace the old.

I think God enjoys fixing broken people.

There’s just something about seeing what once was broken become useful again…

 

 

Our Rock

 

 

 

It all began with a plan.

The plan called for a road–a passageway from one place to another.

A decision had to be made.

Build on the hill or cut through the hill.

Engineers and architects likely mulled and mused over the possibilities until one day, the laborers carried out their job description—go through the rock.

Exposing what had been hidden, the layers of one color now give way to the next. At some points, crumbling can be seen.

Though by its nature, the rock is very hard, it can be broken.

God is referred to as the "Rock" more than once in the Bible.

He cannot be broken.

There is none stronger than God.

No matter what the challenge in life, God is above it.

All else may crumble around us, but God and His love for us will remain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Wait

 

 

 

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
   Lord, who could stand?
 But with you there is forgiveness,
   so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

  I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
   and in his word I put my hope.
 I wait for the Lord
   more than watchmen wait for the morning,
   more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Psalm 130:3-6

 

 

 

A Huge Fish

 

 

 

You have probably heard the account of Jonah.

God called him to go to the city of Ninevah to preach.

Jonah didn’t want to. He went to another city, instead, and bought a boat ticket to Tarshish, which is pretty much in the opposite direction.

So what did God do then? Choose another person to go to Ninevah?

No.

This is what He did:

Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.

(Jonah 1:4)

Jonah told the sailors that he was running from God. He also told them to throw him overboard.

With fearful hearts, they did so—then the storm subsided.

Did Jonah die there in the water?

No.

God gave him a second chance.

What happens next, though, does not sound very pleasant:

Now the LORD provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

(Jonah 1:17)

Jonah had a change of heart while inside the fish. After he prayed to the LORD, He commanded the fish to spit him up on land.Then He commanded him a second time to go to Ninevah. This time, Jonah obeyed.

God gave Jonah a second chance.

A lot of heart ache occured because he did not obey the first time.

 

 

 

 

 

Living Water

 

 

 

Not long ago, I awakened from a dream.

The memory is fuzzy now, but I remember the context well.

The dream was about Jesus being our living water.

What does "living water" really refer to? Consider these passages:

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. — Zechariah 14:8

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” –John 4:10

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?–John 4:11

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,  but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13-14

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”–John 7:38

For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”–Revelation 7:17

 

Jesus, our Living Water, sustains us for eternity. He gives the gift of life to all who ask for it. We do not have to gather the water and place it in a tank or resevoir for future use. It is God who gives us life, forgives us of our sins and brings the living water to us.

All we need to do is… receive it.