Gemstone

 

 

 

 

When I consider my relationship with God, the complete preciousness of it cannot be explained in words.

With the memories of my life story, I find Him there—guiding, protecting, comforting; encouraging me and empowering me.

Each word that He has spoken to my heart, every provision He has given and the blessing of the awareness of His presence is like a precious jewel or gemstone that only I can fully appreciate and intimately understand.

If I were to open my pouch of relational gemstones to show to others, they could rejoice with me as they view each one, understanding the communion within my relationship with God, but from their perspective. The actual knowlege of every facet laid before them could only be comprehended fully by me.

As I carry my "pouch" of precious gems from God, I am reminded of His great love. I am ever placing new jewels within it as He continues to show me that from every vantage point, His faithfulness is refracted in a beautiful, glorious display.

The complete preciousness of it cannot be explained in words…..

Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone; any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.
—Proverbs 17:8  The Message

 

 

 

 

 

Devote Yourselves

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a spiral notecard book in vivid, bright colors.

This is the third week that I have written a scripture on one of the notecards and placed it at the base of my computer where I will be reminded of it each day.

The verse that I selected for this week is:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. —Colossians 4:2

To be devoted to something, you commit a lot of time to it.

If you had a neighbor who was devoted to his backyard garden, it would be quite probable that his garden would be well tended and lush.

If another neighbor was devoted to his antique car, it would also be quite probable that it would be in such superb condition that it could be entered into an antique car show.

But, devoted to prayer? What does that look like? How can that be observed?

If we return our thoughts to God several times during the day, would we not become watchful in expecting to see answers to our prayers?  Would we not also be thankful as we watched and thankful as we became aware of His hand in our lives?

My notecard book reminds me to pray, to watch and to be thankful.

Every day…….

 

 

 

 

Protection

 

 

 

For years now, I have heard of being under "an umbrella of protection."

I suppose, simply put, it means that God is covering you with protection.

When it is raining, a large umbrella will deflect the drops so they fall to the ground without touching the one holding it.

When it is extremely sunny out, a large umbrella may be used to sheild those under it from the harmful rays that cause sunburn.

Even as a child, I can remember seeing a woman walking down the street where I lived carrying an umbrella to keep the sun from affecting her.

What a picture it is to imagine someone walking down the street, or anywhere, for that matter—with a large umbrella of God’s protection hovering above them!

We are many times unaware of God’s protection as we travel on through our everyday lives. Whether we acknowledge it or not, His protection still remains.

But let everyone who trusts you be happy;
       let them sing glad songs forever.
    Protect those who love you
       and who are happy because of you.
  Lord, you bless those who do what is right;
       you protect them like a soldier’s shield.

–Psalm 5:11-12

 

A Ransom For All People

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine people literally flocking to auditoriums in all kinds of weather just to hear about salvation through Jesus Christ.

Imagine so many thousands of people trying to come to one event to the extent that tickets were given away only to those who professed that they wanted to be saved.

Imagine again that this happened with the ministry of a Christian evangelist in the 1800’s.

As I read part of a biography of Dwight L. Moody this morning, I found these things to be true, plus many, many more blessings of God in reaching lost souls.

In the area in which I live, I do not normally hear of thousands of people going to hear someone talk about salvation, yet God’s offer hasn’t changed at all through the ages–Jesus died to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind. Each individual must only believe in Jesus and what He has done and, repenting of their sin, ask Him to be the Lord of their lives.

One thing is certain in my own introspection–I need to be more open and verbal about my Savior and what He has done.

Is anything more important than where we spend eternity?

Is there a message of higher importance?

Is there anyone in all creation immune to the need of salvation?

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.”

I Timothy 2:5.6

 

 

 

 

 


Unfailing Love

 

 

How do you feel when you see God at work in your life or in the life of another?

I have been praying intently for someone in the past couple of weeks who is having a struggle.

This past week, I developed a sore throat, chest congestion and a cough, coupled with a loss of overall strength.

Around this same time, I was hearing about and seeing for myself, evidence of God’s work in the one for whom I had been praying.

Just a couple of nights ago, God brought about a rare opportunity for me to speak with this person for an extended period. This was  highly unusual, because I normally do not spend much time at all with them.

This rare opportunity came at a moment that I might not have chosen. After all, I was sick and might rather have been resting. However, I sensed the importance of the occurance and the provision of God to allow it. Sick or not, this was God’s timing.

God’s unfailing love for us goes beyond what we can understand. The yearnings and desires of our hearts are fully comprehended by Him, no matter how complicated or unspoken.

As I have been praying, He has been listening.

How do you feel when you see God work in your life or in the life of another?

For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
   your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
   let your glory be over all the earth.

—Psalm 108:4,5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Peace of Christ

 

 

 

The river seemed peaceful.

The sun was setting and an amber glow was bathing the boats in the dock.

It was a picturesque scene, worthy of painting.

Why is it so that we are drawn to peace and calm? Is it because it eludes us so frequently?

As Christians, we can experience a different kind of peace–the peace of Christ.

Do you know Him today?

 

 

 

Living Water

 

 

 

 

About a 30 minute drive from my home stands an archaeological "memoir"—a historical account, but without a written volume.

Passing it on the road brings thoughts of ancient peoples. It resembles an aquaduct of old.

Through the ages, cities have thrived with an abundance of water and perished without it.

Spiritually, through the ages, people have thrived with an abundant life of faith in God—and they have perished without it.

When Jesus was speaking to the woman at the well as recorded in John, chapter 4, He speaks of living water:

 

Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John  (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did).  So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.

He had to go through Samaria on the way.  Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.  Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”  He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.

  The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

  Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” —verses 1-10


Ancient aquaducts served to bring water where it was needed most.

Shouldn’t we serve to tell others about the "living water" that Jesus provides?

 

 

Masterpiece

 

 

You know them.

They may be in your family, your church or your workplace.

People gifted with many talents, yet completely incumbered with broken self-confidence.

When they smile, it is laced with a shadow stemming from the fear that even a small attempt at joy will not be accepted.

Often, their words are self-depreciating—"I’m no good at this,"  "Things will never work out for me," or "There’s just no use trying."

Being so unsure of themselves around others, timidity trumps even the most modest of interactions.

Somehow, the belief in their own true worth has been diminished.

Is there any hope?

Ephesians 2:8-10 says,

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

What would it take for our down-trodden friends to understand that they are special in God’s eyes?

How can they really believe that He has good things planned for them to do?

In love, we can gently encourage them.

We can pray that their hearts will be repaired.

The words and actions that we direct toward them can be uplifting as we point them to the truth of God’s word.

You know them.

Are you willing to help?

 

 

 


 

 

The Light

 

 

 

 

Walking on the edge of the shore with the cool waves splashing against my legs, I began to feel a stinging sensation.

Jelly fish?

No. Just the salt of the sea irritating my skin.

As we drove back home from the ocean, the sun was setting in front of us. As though it would travel on the same highway as we were on, but continuing the journey without us, it was coming to rest between the power lines on the sides of the road.

In the course of an afternoon, two characteristics of believers in Christ were illustrated so beautifully:

1. We are to be the salt of the earth

2. We are to be the light of the world

The question is, am I?

 


    “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." –Matthew 5:13-16

 

 

Counsel

 

 

 

Not long ago, I came across an old journal from my early college days.

It was almost painful to perceive how I was approaching life.

I was a new Christian, yet my immaturity was all too evident in the written observations of my every day experiences.

What I have learned over the course of many years since that time, took me exactly that–many years.

On occasion, I have met people who seemed to have gotten things "right" long before I had.

It is my sincere hope and wish that my own children will walk on the speedy path to wisdom, choosing what is God’s best without wasting precious time and enduring needless disappointments.

The Bible gives us many examples of parenting relationships.

We can read about sons and daughters who honored God and lived lives of faith.

We can also read about sons and daughters who struggled.

God’s word speaks to every life, as it penetrates our hearts and finds us where we live.

Ask God for guidance in preparing the next generation to live a life of faith.

Our task is large as we encourage them to remember our counsel to them in the Lord, but God is with us through it all.

 

 

 

 

Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;
   never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.
Wear their counsel like flowers in your hair,
   like rings on your fingers.
Dear friend, if bad companion
s
tempt you,
   don’t go along with them. —Proverbs 1:8-10

 

Different Gifts

 

 

 

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;  if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:3-8

 

 

 

 

Keeping His Promises

 

 

In the book, "Discerning the Voice of God" the author, Priscilla Shirer, makes this statement:

"He (God) orchestrates not only the events in your life, but the timing in which they occur. He will speak when everything is in place for Him to reveal the next steps for our life."

At the beginning of the chapter where this quote is found, there is a scripture printed under the title.

It is II Peter 3:9–

The Lord isn’t slow about keeping His promises, as some people think He is.

I have certainly seen how God has orchestrated several events in my life, as well as the timing.

Looking back, His faithfulness is evident and His presence undeniable.

There are times when I would like to have every concern of my heart rectified and made whole right then.

I realize, however, that I am looking at a small part of any particular situation.  God sees everything, and through His wisdom and great love for me, He puts His plan in order.

I can trust God with the past.

I can trust God with today.

I can trust Him with tomorrow.

He isn’t slow about His promises.

He is always right on time.

 

 

 

A New Way of Thinking

 

 

 

How hard is it to not notice God?

Just a few days ago, I witnessed a rather unusual sight.

On an outdoor duty at work, my attention was drawn to something in the sky.

Approaching at what seemed to be a very slow and casual speed was a …..blimp.

Jets, helicopters and small private planes are commonly seen on a regular basis, but not blimps.

Once I had noticed the airship, it was very difficult to take my eyes off of it.

Where was it heading?

Was it moving closer?

Were there any markings to identify it?

Why was it in our area?

Others began to notice as it began to change its course to pass almost silently above us.

Being such a strange occurance, an announcement came over the loud speaker from the main office, informing everyone that a blimp was passing by.

During the time it was near, I was compelled to focus my attention on it.

Moments before, I had not been intently interested in gazing at the sky for any length of time.

Could it be that God wants us to change our focus from the worldly things around us and instead pay attention to what He is revealing to us?

If we really believed that God would transform us so that we could look to Him and know what was good and pleasing to Him in evey situation, would our eyes be drawn elsewhere?

If we could see God working in each other’s lives, would we make an announcement……

"Look up!  God is speaking to us!"

How hard is it to not notice God?

 

 

 

 

Substitute

 

 

I’ve been thinking lately about substitutions.

More specifically, substituting the secular for the sacred.

Today is March 17th—Saint Patrick’s Day.

Who was St. Patrick?

Although there are different opinions regarding this man, I feel it is safe to say that he was a Christian who desired to spread the gospel to those living in Ireland many, many years ago.

Easter is only a short time away.

What is Easter about?

What is Christmas really about?

It would not be unusual to find many who would respond in this way:

St. Patrick’s Day?  It’s about leprechauns and shamrocks and drinking green beer.

Easter? It’s about specially themed baskets laden with candy and gifts, egg hunts and chocolate bunnies.

Christmas? It’s about giving gifts to people you love and receiving gifts under a tree from Santa Claus.

Of course, each day has quite a different meaning, as well,  and a rich history.

Somehow, the origins have been "substituted" by thoughts not centered on God.

What are these days really about?

St. Patrick’s Day? Remembering a devoted Christian missionary to Irleland who was named Patrick.

Easter? The death and ressurrection of Jesus Christ.

Christmas? The birth of Jesus Christ.

Is it possible that I am also substituting the important with the unimportant in my own life?

If I choose to engage in a fruitess activity instead of investing in something that is God-honoriing, aren’t I making substitutions?

 

 

 

 

 

Wait

 

 

How difficult is it for you to wait?

Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to be a problem, but really, it all depends on what you are waiting for.

I have had a very important matter on my heart for quite some time.

Recently, the spiritual burden has grown more heavy.

I am in a position of waiting to see what God will do.

Remembering how He has been faithful in the past is a encouragement to me.

I am trusting that He will strengthen my heart in the midst of the journey.

 

 

Through The Narrow Gate

 

I suppose there were thousands of people there.

Through the years, I have attended functions at stadiums and arenas.

Sometimes, I feel totally comfortable.

Other times, comfort eludes me and an anxious feeling makes its way into my mind.

I normally do not find myself several stories high looking down—WAY down into masses of people.

It can actually be very overwhelming; an overload for the senses.

Today, however, I was fine.

I had looked forward to attending a conference in an indoor arena.

Finding my seat, I settled in peacefully at a mid-range altitude–I couldn’t touch the ceiling, but the bottom floor was a couple of light years away…..

While listening intently to the speaker, I received a text message. I decided to leave the audience and go to the outer walkway surrounding the level to make a phone call back. To do so, I had to climb up a several stairs.

As my cell phone conversation ended, I made my way back to the entrance nearest my seat. The problem was, the program had just ended and the great throng of people once arrayed in neat and tidy rows were now intent on leaving, filling the stairways. I had left my belongings at my seat next to a friend. I had to go back.

With both sides of the hand rail packed with people climbing UP the stairs, I began making my way DOWN the middle of the upward moving crowd one step at a time. It was a shocking contrast. Hundreds and thousands of people trying to go one way while I was intent on going the other. The entryway at the top was wide and open; I was maneuvering through a narrow path.

I understood.

God reminded me.

Jesus said,

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Oh, that I might be faithful to plead with others to enter through the narrow gate…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread

 

 

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

  He said to them, “When you pray, say:

   “‘Father,
hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come.
 Give us each day our daily bread.

 Forgive us our sins,

   for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”

–Luke 11:1-4

 

All Things

 

 

With just a spur of the moment idea, I decided to stop at a park before going home.

The familiar springtime plants were once again coming up out of the soil.

The large clover and other ground cover greenery were there to greet me.

Wind was blowing swiftly across the waterfront.

Unattended boats were secured to the dock.

Birds stood nearby on the bank, perusing the water’s edge.

It was peaceful and inviting.

For a few moments, my mind and heart enjoyed the restful calm of nature.

But what about all the many everyday voices of responsibilities, people, places and things that tend to cloud calmness with urgency and replace restfulness with overwhelming bouts of multi-tasking busy-ness?

No matter what we are experiencing, God works for the good of those who love Him.

In bringing our vast array of life-filling circumstances to Him, we can ask for guidance in knowing how to act and respond to each one.

What things?

All things.

 

 

 

On Barren Heights

 

 

Certainly, you can identify with this–

Sometimes, life becomes very confusing.

Jobs.

School.

Finances.

Relationships.

Goals.

During particular moments, hasn’t it seemed that situations were just in too big of a mess to ever turn out well?

Humanly speaking, that could be the case.

With God, however, all things are possible.

Even when the outlook appears bleak, God can "make rivers flow on barren heights."

He can take the broken and the empty and create that which is vibrant and good.

Certainly, you can identify with that…..

 

He Helps Me

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This past Sunday, I decided that I would choose a verse in the Bible and ponder it throughout the week. I made this decision along with a few other friends. We are going to choose a verse each week for the next forty days. Looking through the Bible and considering what I might choose, I selected Psalm 28:7a. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. In just a brief 48 hours or so, I have seen evidence of this Scripture in my life. He has been strength and comfort to me. I have trusted in Him during perplexing moments and hours. Surely, He has shielded me from very real, yet unseen, dangers. As I contemplate this verse in the next days, I am anticipating how God will continue to show that He is there as my strength and shield. Hiding more of God’s word in my heart and mind is of great importance. Why don’t you pick a verse this week with me to meditate on for the next several days? Is there really any reason why you shouldn’t?

 

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Confides

 

Yesterday morning, the pastor of the church I belong to offered a very interesting sermon. He spoke about not speaking. More specifically, he spoke about not speaking during prayer.

Going to God and just listening.

Apart from this, I am currently reading a book about discerning God’s voice. Late last night, I began reading the 6th chapter while sitting quietly on my couch.

And what was being discussed in chapter 6?

Silent prayer.

I had no previous knowledge that this topic would come up in my reading. Now, twice in the same day, I was being introduced to it.

God has brought this to my attention for a reason. He has confided in me the desire for my thoughts to be turned toward silent prayer.

Was this a coincidence?

What do you think?

 

 

Stones

 

 

 

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

   “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

    “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:37-40

Compassionate and Gracious

 

 

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
   slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
   show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
   just as my mother did.

–Psalm 86:15-16

I’m really not sure I’ve ever noticed this passage before in the way that I did tonight.

David, a man after God’s own heart, is praying and asking for mercy.

What stood out to me was that he is reminding God that he serves Him–just as his mother did.

His mother? I have always thought of David, son of Jesse.

Evidently, David’s mother was a woman who served God, as well.

She and Jesse raised David to know the Lord.

They were raising a king and they didn’t even know it.

As parents, who are we raising to adulthood?

God has a plan for each of our children.

It begins with the nurturing of the faith within them by us–the mother and father blessed with that priviledge.

 

 

Wood, Hay or Straw

 

 

 

 

By the grace God has given me,

I laid a foundation as a wise builder,

and someone else is building on it.

But each one should build with care.

For no one can lay any foundation

other than the one already laid,

which is Jesus Christ.

If anyone builds on this foundation

using gold, silver, costly stones,

wood,

hay or straw,

their work will be shown for what it is,

because the Day will bring it to light.

It will be revealed with fire,

and the fire will test the quality

of each person’s work.

I Corinthians 3:10-13

 

Higher Than Your Ways

 

The sunset was captivating over the lake as we drove by last night.

The beauty in the sky is a gift to us.

A colorful feast for us to gaze upon, a hint of what we will experience in Heaven one day.

God not only blesses us with gifts of His creation, He provides us with spiritual gifts, gifts of friends and family members and even material gifts.

Do you think of His gifts that way?

Are your parents gifts to you from God?

Are your children gifts to you from God?

Are your friends gifts to you from God?

What about your house or apartment?

Your vehicle?

Your job?

I view all of these as gifts from God’s hand.

Just today, God blessed me with a material item that I have hoped for over the past couple of years.

He knew that I desired it; He knew that I would be using it, in some ways, to further His Kingdom; He knew it would bring joy to my heart to have it.

Knowing this, He provided it for me.

His ways are higher than my ways. I cannot begin to figure out how He will provide for me.

I can only trust that He will….