Rivers of Living Water

 

 

 

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

  On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

  Others said, “He is the Messiah.”–John 7:38-41

 

 

To Fish For People

 

 

Where do you go to fish?

I don’t mean which lake do you like to go to or to what river or stream.

I mean where do you actually go if you want to catch fish?

The answer, of course, is water.

Fish live there.

All the time.

When fish are caught, it is safe to say they are removed from their previous environment.

Everything they have known before changes.

A new world of non-water is suddenly around them, and unless they are caught to be in a zoo or home aquarium, it is the end of their life.

Jesus told Peter and Andrew that He would teach them to fish for people–they would become "fishers of men."

Where do you go to catch people?

The answer, of course, is wherever they are.

Where they live.

Where they are existing without the saving knowledge of God.

Where they are exisitng without a relationship with Him.

They live that way.

All the time.

When people are "caught" for the kingdom of God, it is safe to say that they are removed from their previous environment.

Everything they have known before changes.

A new world of forgiveness from sin is suddenly around them.

Unlike fish, however, it is not the end of their lives—it is the beginning of an eternal one with God.

Unlike fish, when people are "caught" by God, they finally become free.

Instead of packing a fishing pole, you and I are to pray for those who have not believed.

Instead of attaching hooks to line, we are to live our own lives in such a way as to give testimony of the love and forgiveness of God.

Instead of using lures or worms as bait, we are to share with others how they could know Jesus as their Savior.

We need to live that way.

All the time.

 

 

The Curtain

 

 

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we have hope.

We have hope to live a life in fellowship with Him right now.

We have hope to live a life in fellowship with Him when we die, because He will take us to be with Him.

We have hope that goodbyes on this earth are not final for those who trust in Him.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we know that, "Surely He was the Son of God!"

Do you know Him today?

 

 

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

  At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split  and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

  When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

–Matthew 27:50-54

 


Jesus Directed Them

 

 

 

The graduation was held at a pleasant time of day.

The sun was just setting and the evening had a sweet coolness that settled in with the dusk.

I attended the ceremony several weeks ago.

Today, I heard someone speak these words:

  "Come and bring the best of who you are to what Jesus is all about."

I have been seriously pondering thoughts that relate to this statement.

What exactly is the best of who I am?

What strengths and gifts has God given me?

Am I bringing my best to Jesus?

Going further to the second part of the statement, I have to ask another question:

What is Jesus all about?

If Jesus is about serving others, am I bringing the best of who I am to serving others in His Name?

If Jesus is about mercy, am I bringing the best of who I am in showing mercy?

If Jesus is about love, am I bringing the best of who I am in loving?

When Jesus fed five thousand people beginning only with five loaves of bread and two fish, He took what had been offered to Him to use and increased it beyond what anyone could have ever imagined. Mark 6:35-41 gives this account:

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

  But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

   They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

    “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

   When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

  Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass.  So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.

At the graduation I attended, many of the students had given of themselves for years to the task of academic excellence, each bringing the best of who they were and receiving guidance in return. Throwing their caps into the air at the completion of the ceremony, they marked a specific beginning of going out and doing what they were equipped for. They had been given direction; now, it was time to act.

Jesus took the best of what had been given to Him and He directed His disciples to carry out the task. Jesus provided the increase of the food; the disciples took the food and gave it to the people.

I have been given direction.

Now, it is time to act….

Am I bringing the best of who I am to what Jesus is all about?

 

 

 




Prayers

 

 

 

It was a one day retreat located at a lakeside camp.

I was looking forward to attending, not knowing exactly what it would be like.

The first few hours had gone well.

Without prior notice, we were told to get in our cars and drive to another area of the camp for the next activity.

We arrived at an intricately designed prayer labyrinth.

Manicured bushes lined the winding pathways near the spanish moss that gently swayed in the breeze. The lake was just a short distance away. Dark clouds hinting at rain moved slowly overhead.

We were given a half-sheet of paper with instructions about praying as we entered the labyrinth, along with suggestions for prayer when we reached its center and began our way out.

It was a very moving experience. The wind was an almost constant companion throughout the journey. I began to think about the Spirit of God blowing on us.

As I completed the path and emerged in an area close to the entrance, I was unsure as to how many minutes had elapsed. I had spoken to God about several things; I felt that He was there.

Ephesians 6:17,18 reads,

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.   And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

If you haven’t already done so, take some time to speak to God today.

He is there, ready to listen.

One more thing—

Be ready to listen to Him, too.

 

 

Pressed Down

 

 

 

During the past several days I have witnessed the unfolding of God’s work in someone’s life.

When God works things out, it can be in such a way that we could never have imagined.

It’s sort of like this…..

If you prayed for the funds to repair your car and someone gives you a practically new one.

If you prayed for the chance to get an entry level job at a company and you are hired in a management position right away.

If you prayed that your mission group would have a canoe to take supplies across the river and a villager comes with a large boat to transport all you have.

The examples of God’s faithfulness are endless, because His faithfulness is never ending.

Being present to see this once again with my own eyes, my heart is filled with joy over the blessing of another.

I thought of a verse today that fits the situation:

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

—Luke 6:38

When God works things out, it can be in such a way that we could never have imagined.

Hasn’t this been true in your life?

 

 

 

Do Not Stumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I rejoice in your word
      like one who discovers a great treasure.
  I hate and abhor all falsehood,
      but I love your instructions.
  I will praise you seven times a day
      because all your regulations are just.
  Those who love your instructions have great peace
      and do not stumble.  –Psalm 119:162-165

 

In View of All This

 

 

We we driving along the ocean front when I saw the Ferris wheel.

What a great place to mount such a thing!

Looking west, a rider could view tall buildings, farms, city streets.

Looking east, the vast ocean and coast line would be in full view.

Reaching the very top, one could see the most.

Things not visible from the ground would now be seen.

When we come to know God, our perspective changes, doesn’t it?

Attitudes we once held give way to new insights as we begin to see things His way.

Certain and sure that things are what they are from our vantage point on the ground of our old life, we change our minds as we are lifted high above our own thoughts to percieve what an all-knowing Father is showing us.

With this high reaching view of what God has done, our desires begin to fall in line with what God wants us to be.

 

 

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

  In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. –2 Peter 1:3-7

 

 

Walk Up The Street

 

What would it be like if we could hear lonliness?

What if the feeling of being disconnected could make a sound?

What if the silent cries of a broken heart could vibrate and reach the ears of those nearby?

If we could hear the sounds of people feeling lonely, unloved or unimportant, it would be deafening.

In fact, I think it would drown out traffic noise in the city streets.

It would be louder than the music booming from a neighborhood tavern.

It would be more distinct than the voices from countless televisions.

So great would be the sound that it could not be ignored.

A fantasy?

Maybe.

But can’t we hear it, really?

Can we not percieve the "sound" it creates?

People everywhere.

On the street.

At work.

At school.

In the park.

On the beach.

In the jail cell.

In the alleyway.

In the homeless shelter.

In the board room.

In the five star hotel.

In the million dollar home.

In the sportscar.

In the office.

Depression.

Divorce.

Drug abuse.

Lost jobs.

Lost homes.

Lost families.

Lost hopes.

Lost dreams.

What does God want us to do when we hear the sounds?

We can show compassion and love toward those who are hurting.

We can point them toward the wisdom of knowing God and living for Him.

We know that there is a life worth living, a meaningful life set apart with purpose.

This passage from The Message speaks of this wisdom:

Lady Wisdom has built and furnished her home; it’s supported by seven hewn timbers. The banquet meal is ready to be served: lamb roasted, wine poured out, table set with silver and flowers. Having dismissed her serving maids, Lady Wisdom goes to town, stands in a prominent place, and invites everyone within sound of her voice: "Are you confused about life, don’t know what’s going on? Come with me, oh come, have dinner with me! I’ve prepared a wonderful spread—fresh-baked bread, roast lamb, carefully selected wines. Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning."

—Proverbs 9:1

 

What would it be like if we could hear lonliness?

 

 



Your Works Are Amazing!

 

 

An interesting spider had made its web very close to my front porch.

Having seen that kind before, I knew how stunning its markings were.

I decided to photograph it.

Afterwards, I walked around my yard. I found two other types of spiders near the porch, as well.

While photographing the last spider, a dragonfly came to rest on an aloe vera plant near me.

Turning my lens to him, I snapped a few shots.

He would fly away, then return.

It happened at least three times, giving me ample opportunity to explore the beauty of this remarkable creature.

I hadn’t intended on photographing a dragonfly, yet God allowed me to witness His workmanship unexpectedly.

Such magnificence darts around me daily in the form of a dragonfly….

How amazing are the works of God!

 

Everything on earth, shout with joy to God!
  Sing about his glory!
       Make his praise glorious!
  Say to God, "Your works are amazing!
       Because your power is great,
       your enemies fall before you.
  All the earth worships you
       and sings praises to you.
       They sing praises to your name."
                         Selah

–Psalm 66:1-4

 

An Undivided Heart

 

 

Walking toward the bridge, I saw him.

White as cotton, walking slowly near the water’s edge, eyes wide open.

Such a graceful bird, uninhibited and free.

Who has taught him to be so?

Not man.

God has created his kind and given them the mind to be what they were meant to be.

They rely on God to provide for all their needs.

Doesn’t God want us to be in relationship with Him?

To be uninhibited by the things of this world and free to live for Him?

Free to rely on Him?

Free to praise Him with an undivided heart?

The psalmist prays,

 

"Teach me your way, LORD,


   that I may rely on your faithfulness;


give me an undivided heart,


   that I may fear your name.


 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;


   I will glorify your name forever.


 For great is your love toward me;"

–Psalm 86:11-13a

 

 

He Brings Gifts

 

 

This afternoon, my husband and I were talking about all the good things that God had brought into our lives. So many blessings have been given to us.

Time spent reflecting on what God has done is time well spent.

Take a moment–right now–and think about God’s activity in your life.

Who have you become because of it?

But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. ~Galatians 5:22  The Message

 

A Strong Tower

 

 

 

 

The building was very stately looking.

Complete with a tower, it’s unique characteristics were truly very interesting.

As part of my job, I was attending a five day training seminar located in a large conference room there.

While on lunch break, I decided to photograph some of the interior aspects of the structure.

Having seen the tower from the road many times, I had never stood inside at its base looking upward—that is, until that day.

The windows encircling it framed the bright sky above.

An ornate chandelier graced its center.

If I could have stood beside the windows, my view would have been far reaching.

The tower, however, was just for aesthetic purposes.

No guard was placed within it to keep watch against an approaching foe in time of war.

How does God see our lives?

Doesn’t He keep watch over us with His complete and total view of what is approaching?

He is our strong tower.

 

Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.

  From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
 For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.

–Psalm 61:1-3

 

 

 

Listen To My Cry

 

 

I think it happened day before yesterday…

While in a very large room at work, I happened to notice a very small ghecko crawling on the wall.

I was immediately troubled, because I knew that for this little one, being in the room was a death sentence. Lack of water would eventually take over and he would probably be shriveled up in a corner somewhere without any hope in a very short time.

Hurrying to get a container to trap him in, I returned to the area, only to find that he was gone. I crawled under a table near the place I had last seen him.

No ghecko.

Well, at least, I tried.

This afternoon, I returned to the same room.

I had totally forgotten about my young friend as I went about matters at hand.

Walking in another area of the room, I suddenly saw him near the windows!

Making a quick decision, I elected NOT to go and get a container.

I would catch him with my bare hands.

Let me pause for just a moment and ask you—how hard do you think it would be to catch a small, frightened ghecko with your hands?

How difficult is it to juggle cubes of jello?

Both questions belong in the same category….

Knowing my limitations, I began to initiate the rescue, all the while praying.

I asked God to allow me to save this creature.

Within seconds, he was safely inside my two cupped hands.

Walking out the door to the grass, I let him go, giving him back his freedom and his life.

I knew then that I wanted to tell of this answered prayer.

I walked back into the building to my office. I wanted to retrieve a camera and head back outside to make a post-rescue portrait.

Here’s another question for you—

How long do you suppose a newly released ghecko would hang around in the same grassy spot he’d just been released to?

Probably less time than it would take to give up on juggling jello….

God knew, however, that I wanted to share His faithfulness in this situation.

By the time I returned to the area I had left my multi-colored buddy in, he was………still there.

In Psalm 142, King David was desparate and cried out to God:

Listen to my cry,
   for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
   for they are too strong for me.
 Set me free from my prison,
   that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
   because of your goodness to me.

The ghecko was in desperate need. He had been without water for some time already. God allowed me to set him free from his prison–one that he had chosen himself out of ignorance to the danger.

Did the ghecko thank God for his release? (I truly believe that animals are aware of God.)

Whether he did or not, my own heart was grateful for it.

God had heard my prayer on his behalf and granted my request.

God is faithful.

 

Every Spiritual Blessing

 

 

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. –Ephesians 1:3-6

 

On a Donkey

 

The donkey was calmly grazing in the field.

He was not frightened in any visible way of my presence.

He made no sound as he looked at me.

I wonder what it would’ve been like to have seen Jesus riding into the city on a donkey?

The huge crowds.

The palm branches.

The excitement.

The hope.

I wonder…..

 

 

The next day a large crowd was in Jerusalem for Passover. When they heard that Jesus was coming for the festival, they took palm branches and went out to greet him.  They shouted, "Hooray! God bless the one who comes

   in the name of the Lord!

   God bless the King

   of Israel!"

    Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, just as the Scriptures say,

    "People of Jerusalem,

   don’t be afraid!

   Your King is now coming,

   and he is riding

   on a donkey."

–John 12:12-14

 

 

Mystery

 

 

I realize that poetry and lyrics can have many meanings.

This afternoon, as I was unpacking a shipment of boxes at work, I began to actually contemplate the words I was hearing from the radio in the room.

Tuned to a Christian station, the song, "City On Our Knees" was being broadcast. This is the line that seemed to fly across the room and land in my heart:

Tonight could last forever
We are one choice from together
As family

What seemed to be gripping my mind was this possible interpretation:

What if tonight is the very last night? What if the world as we know it should end and Jesus returns?

If He did, those who have accepted Him previously as their Savior will go to be with Him forever.

Those who have not accepted Him will be separated from Him–and us–for all eternity.

If the singer is speaking to those who have not made the choice to trust in Jesus, then I believe he is saying that they are only "one choice" away from being a part of God’s family in Heaven—just one choice from being with Jesus–and us–forever, as a family.

This not only landed in my heart; it hit hard when it did.

Just a few weeks ago, I found out that a very close friend had been killed. We first met when we were twelve. He attended my wedding. Years later, he came to my mother’s funeral. We spoke at more than one high school reunion. Living in separate parts of the country, news had not reached me until now about his death.

Several years ago, my friend and I spoke earnestly about my faith in God and salvation through Jesus. We talked for hours. Sadly, my dear, dear friend finally told me that he just felt that he had done nothing to deserve Hell….

Did he ever come to a place where he felt the need for forgiveness and salvation? I am not sure that I will ever know.

On the day he died, he was one choice from forever; one choice from together–with God, and with me and all his other Christian friends.

The song goes on to say,

When we step across the line
We can sail across the sea
To a city with one king
A city on our knees

If you have never asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, please don’t delay.

Please, please, step across the line–the line that separates you from God.

Sail across the sea with Jesus–ask Him to save you.

Tonight COULD last forever.

You are one choice from forever, you…….

and me.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—  in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

–I Corinthians 15:51-54

 

 

 

Thoughts

 

 

 

My friend and I were driving in the rural community near her home.

As we were traveling near a wooded lake area, she spotted two birds flying high above the trees.

They were Swallow-tailed Kites.

Pulling over, I got out of the car and walked toward them, listening to their high pitched, almost whistle-like voice.

According to my friend, these birds visit only at a certain time of year. We had seen a mated pair and that was even more extraordinary!

After arriving home, I read some information about them.

Come to find out, they are listed as endangered in one state, threatened in another and rare in the state that borders my own.

Rare.

Of value.

We were privileged to see them.

Psalm 139:17 in the Contemporary English version says,

Your thoughts are far beyond

   my understanding,

   much more than I

   could ever imagine.

In The Message we find these words:

Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
      God, I’ll never comprehend them!

Rare.

Of value.

Yet, we are privileged to know God and be loved by Him.

 

 

 

God’s Workmanship

 

 

It was going to be a four night stay at the hotel.

The view from my window was relatively uninteresting, even from the 5th floor.

Someone suggested that I travel up to a higher level where I could easily photograph a nearby church.

Although I did not have an opportunity to visit the church or even know it’s name, the cross on the top of its pinnacle gave testimony to Jesus and what He did for us.

The building itself was a fine example of architecture, majestic and detailed. The careful workmanship displayed in every aspect was evident.

In the second chapter of Ephesians, we are called God’s workmanship:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. –Ephesians 2:8-10

 

As God’s workmanship, do we give testimony of Jesus and what He has done for us?

 

 

 

Remember the Wonders

 

 

What is a miracle to you?

Something that just could not ever happen, happening?

Something that probably would never happen, happening?

Suddenly, an illness disappears.

Without warning, a large, anonymous donation is made, just in time for the need.

Or how about this?

A co-worker who has always treated others with a terrible attitude one day changes to the personality of Mr. Scrooge on Christmas morning.

Any of these would be a miracle in my mind, even more so if I had been praying directly about them.

If I had been talking to God about healing an illness and He did, that would be a personal miracle.

If I had been praying about a financial need and the funds were provided, that would be a personal miracle, as well.

If I had been praying for the irritable, unruly person at work and found them one day to have become generous and kind, that would be a personal miracle, too.

There are many miraculous occurrences in the Bible. Each one shows the mighty power of God.

Is there an area in your life that is begging for a miracle?

 

Psalm 105:1-7

Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
   make known among the nations what he has done.
 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
   tell of all his wonderful acts.
 Glory in his holy name;
   let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
 Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always.

  Remember the wonders he has done,
   his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
 O descendants of Abraham his servant,
   O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.
 He is the LORD our God;
   his judgments are in all the earth.

 

Their Prayer Reached Heaven

 

 

 

Does God really hear us when we pray?

 

While walking downtown in a large city last month, I decided to photograph some rooftop communication devices.

Perched high on a tall building, they sat silently.

Or did they?

I could percieve nothing from them as they remained motionless, pointed at various spots in the sky.

It is safe to assume, however, that they were busy about their business—transmitting words and sounds and images to countless numbers of people.

Cell phone conversations.

Television programs.

Much technical advancement has gone into place in order for our current level of communication to be achieved and maintained.

Now that we have it, we don’t want to do without it.

But what do we need in order to communicate with God?

Constructing a parabolic dish would not suffice.

Wire antennas of varous lengths would do no good.

An orbiting satellite far above the Earth?

No.

What then?

Can we actually communicate with the Maker of the universe?

According to one source, I found that the words pray, prayed, prayer and the like, appeared 365 times in the Bible. (NIV 1984 Bible Gateway)

Over and over we see that men and women through the ages have prayed to their Father in Heaven.

Over and over we see that God hears them.

In one such passage, the people prayed:

The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD’s instruments of praise.

  Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites, who showed good understanding of the service of the LORD. For the seven days they ate their assigned portion and offered fellowship offerings and praised the LORD, the God of their fathers.

  The whole assembly then agreed to celebrate the festival seven more days; so for another seven days they celebrated joyfully.  Hezekiah king of Judah provided a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep and goats for the assembly, and the officials provided them with a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep and goats. A great number of priests consecrated themselves.  The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the aliens who had come from Israel and those who lived in Judah.  There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.  The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.–II Chronicles 30:21-27

 

"…their prayer reached heaven…" 

We don’t need sophisticated antennas to reach God.

A heart that is yearning for fellowship with Him is what is needed.

He takes care of all the rest.

Once we know the precious fellowship of communication with God, we won’t want to do without it.

 

Even In Darkness

 

 

 

 

 

Praise the LORD.

   Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
   who finds great delight in his commands.

  His children will be mighty in the land;
   the generation of the upright will be blessed.
 Wealth and riches are in his house,
   and his righteousness endures forever.
 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
   for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.

–Psalm 112:1-4

 

Fellowship

 

 

 

Two very different birds were sitting on a railing together.

One had beautiful hues of blue accenting his black feathers.

The other sported chocolate brown mixed with a creamy caramel color.

Which bird was special?

Which one was the best?

Those questions fit nicely with an experience I had today….

As part of a training seminar at work, a story was shared.

The main character seemed to be concerned about being the best. The problem was, who can define what that is?

When he would hear positive comments about others, he would begin associating with that group and imitating them; after all, they must be really special.

That would all work out fine, until he heard impressive comments about yet another group. He would soon decide to make more changes and imitate them instead.

Maybe then he would be the best.

This scenario was played out repeatedly.

The moral of the story?

I’m not quite sure what the author had in mind, but it seemed to carry a powerful message.

God has made us who we are. Seeking improvement in any area of our lives can be a good thing—that is if the improvement is God honoring.

Trying to become someone for the praise of others is a futile trap that will rob us of valuable time and energy.

Trying to fit in with a certain group by acting differently, making their habits ours or taking on their attitudes places us further away from our true selves.

So, who are we, really?

I Corinthians 1:9 states,

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

We are called into fellowship with Jesus.

We have been admitted into a very special group of people–those who are forgiven.

I’d say that is a VERY special group. 

It is the very BEST group possible, because it is made up of those who are redeemed.

Purchased back.

Loved.

As part of the group, whom should we imitate?

We continue to be just who God created us to be, yet we become imitators of Jesus.

Blue and black feathers? No problem. Jesus made you that way.

Imitate Him.

Chocolate and caramel brown feathers? No problem. Jesus made you that way.

Imitate Him.

We have been called into His fellowship.

His approval is all we will ever need.

 

 

 

 

Winds

 

 

 

After work, I stopped at a store to purchase a few food items before going home.

Traveling down the highway, something happened.

I was driving straight ahead, when suddenly, it seemed as if the car moved over to the right.

Being an experienced driver, I immediately thought, "Wind?"

I glanced at the trees quickly to see if they were moving. If it was windy, they would be bending.

There was a small amount of movement in the upper levels of the branches.

As I came closer to my home, I passed a neighborhood community. New homes are currently being built there and tall, vertical flags used for advertisement are displayed at the front brick entryway.

The flags were flapping vigorously in the wind. They confirmed what I had thought. There was quite a wind blowing.

Enough to move a car….

Recently, I asked a very caring couple to pray with me about a concern that I had. A few days passed, then, one morning, I was made aware of what I felt was God’s movement in that concern.

Was that wind?

Many times, God is at work, but I don’t percieve it.

Suddenly, I catch a glimpse of what He is doing.

Looking more closely, I begin to see change—the wind is blowing in the treetops.

Going a little farther, I am sure of it—

there before me is an answered prayer, a miraculous work of God.

The flags are beating in the wind, heralding His faithfulness and power in my life.

The matter we had prayed about?

It’s not yet resolved.

God is the only One who can resolve it, so He is who I should continue to talk to.

Psalm 104:4a reads,

He makes winds his messengers…

When I begin to see God at work and feel the wind of His movement in my life and the lives of others, my eyes should be open to see what else is coming up the road—

the flags of answered prayer may be waving.

 

 

I Trust

 

 

 

Today was a perfect day to visit a park.

The lakeside park was equipped with a water sprinkler play area for preschoolers. Tiny feet were everywhere as they ran cheerfully through the water with parents and family members looking on.

There was a large gathering of people at one of the wooden pavilions. A birthday party? Maybe so.

Others were out on the dock, fishing.

Children were happily playing on a set of swings.

An occasional boat would pass by.

Through all of this, the squirrels were scampering everywhere.

Up the trees.

Down the trees.

They didn’t mind having visitors.

In fact, they seemed quite interested in them—at least, in me.

I suspect that they give the same treatment to most anyone who stops to watch their antics.

Being accustomed to humans walking the path around the park, they were not very afraid. In fact, it seemed that they trusted me somewhat. They were up close.

Because of their trust, they got to take a closer look at me—and I got to take a closer look at them.

 

Do you know someone who lives with fear?

Perhaps they are actually afraid of God.

Afraid to attend church when someone invites them.

Afraid to read the Bible.

Afraid to pray.

Why?

There could be many reasons–guilt, shame, low self esteem–a general feeling of unworthiness; disappointments, unhealed hurts from the past.

"What would God say to me?" or "I have to hide; I can’t face God. He doesn’t care, anyway" could be typical statements that show a lack of understanding and trust.

The good news is, we don’t have to be afraid of God. He loves us and we can trust Him.

Guilt? He can take care of that.

Shame? He can forgive.

Low self esteem? He can tell of His great love for you.

Unworthiness? Because Jesus is worthy, we can come to God through Him.

Disappointments? He can help you to frame the past in the light of His will.

Unhealed hurts? He can comfort the brokenhearted.

Since this and much, much more is true of God, why are there still those who run from Him?

As believers, we can choose to encourage others to take a step closer to God–just a step–and see what happens.

Gently, we can show the way to Him by living our own lives "up close."

As we trust God more fully, we get a closer look at Him.

 

 

 

"Come"

 

 

 

Everything that Jesus did while on Earth was for a reason, don’t you think?

Every miracle, every word of teaching, every compassionate glance of His eyes.

Everything meant something.

Something significant.

Something eternal.

Holding this to be true, why do you suppose that Jesus would orchestrate the events surrounding the night He chose to walk on water?

 

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

  During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

    “Come,” he said. (Matthew 14:22-29a)

 

Why did He go alone to pray?

Why did He send His disciples on ahead in the boat?

Why did He let them struggle in the storm for so long?

Why did He walk to them, instead of just appearing into the boat?

Why did He allow Peter to walk miraculously on the water, as well?

Since all these things are recorded in scripture, they must be important for us to know about.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

(Matthew 14:29b-30)

Have you ever felt that you were alone in the storm without Jesus?  Battling the raging sea all by yourself? You may have asked, "Why would He leave me in this solitary fight?"

If this rings familiar, was there not also a time in the storm when Jesus joined you? A time when you felt His presence close by?

You may have called out to Him and enjoyed a time of miraculous peace and trust as you walked toward Him, the relentless sounds of the waves and rain fading in its wake.

But what happened then? Did you keep your eyes on Him or did your thoughts drift back to the crashing of the waters and the blinding flashes of lightning?

Did you begin to "sink?"

Even so, He didn’t leave you.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

Surely after this experience,  Peter knew in his heart that with Jesus’ strength and power, anything was possible….

as long as he trusted completely, even in the midst of a storm.

Jesus hears you calling to Him right now.

Can you hear His reply?

"Come."

"Come"

 

 

 

Everything that Jesus did while on Earth was for a reason, don’t you think?

Every miracle, every word of teaching, every compassionate glance of His eyes.

Everything meant something.

Something significant.

Something eternal.

Holding this to be true, why do you suppose that Jesus would orchestrate the events surrounding the night He chose to walk on water?

 

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,  but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

  During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

    “Come,” he said. (Matthew 14:22-29a)

 

Why did He go alone to pray?

Why did He send His disciples on ahead in the boat?

Why did He let them struggle in the storm for so long?

Why did He walk to them, instead of just appearing into the boat?

Why did He allow Peter to walk miraculously on the water, as well?

Since all these things are recorded in scripture, they must be important for us to know about.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

(Matthew 14:29b-30)

Have you ever felt that you were alone in the storm without Jesus? You were battling the raging sea all by yourself? You may have asked, "Why would He leave me in this solitary fight?"

If this rings familiar, was there not also a time in the storm when Jesus joined you? A time whne you felt His presence close by?

You may have called out to Him and enjoyed a time of miraculous peace and trust as you walked toward Him, the relentless sounds of the waves and rain fading in its wake.

What happened then? Did you keep your eyes on Him or did your thoughts drift back to the crashing of the waters and the blinding flashes of lightning?

Did you begin to "sink?"

Even so, He would not have left you.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

Surely after this experience,  Peter knew in his heart that with Jesus’ strength and power, anything was possible….

as long as he trusted completely, even in the midst of a storm.

Jesus hears you calling to Him right now.

Can you hear His reply?

"Come."

In Remembrance

 

 

It was a very memorable service.

The communion table was set and scripture was read.

It was a celebration of life.

Life given to us through Jesus.

May we always remember….

 

 

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

  And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

  In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." –Luke 22:17-20

 

 

The Race

 

 

It was just a friendly game of Yahtzee.

I was playing with several others at a large round table.

Not being a very competitive person, I wasn’t really paying close attention to my score or to the success of the other players’ rolls.

As the evening progressed, I decided that I would call it a night, even though I had only two turns left before the game was to end. I gave my score sheet to a friend that had joined us late and wasn’t playing. She agreed to play my last two turns.

On my way home, I recieved a text message from a different friend at the table.

The text read simply, "You won!!!!"

When my scores were added— along with the last two that I hadn’t played personally—I had finished first.

It was cause for a good laugh on my part.

Today, I was thinking about it all in a different light, however.

We live our lives growing closer to God as we invest ourselves into others.  Think about it—year after year, haven’t you rocked babies, read Bible stories and prayed with your children until they were grown?

Haven’t you listened as a friend shared their concerns and heartaches, urging them to trust in God?

Haven’t you visited the sick in the hospital?

Haven’t you been a witness for God at your workplace?

You’ve probably not bothered to add up your "score."

After all, we aren’t investing our lives in order to gain a ticket to Heaven; we are showing gratitude to God for all He has done for us and giving of ourselves to others because we care.

As we invest in others, they will carry on the faith after we are gone.

When we are no longer on this earth and in the presence of our heavenly Father, only then will we know the result of our efforts as God used them for His kingdom.

Except for those alive when Jesus returns, we will all leave the game before it’s finished with a legacy of faith behind us.

Because of God’s great love and mercy toward us, Jesus paid the price for all our sin by His death on the cross, purchasing a place for us in Heaven. If we have accepted that gift, there is no doubt—

we win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Rides

 

 

"I’d love to go!"

"We’re flying."

"Oh…"

If you can detect some cautious reservation in this ficticious dialogue, you’re probably like me.

At this point in my life, I have now flown on an airplane six times.

This is a significant number, seeing that I made a very clear and determined decision years ago not to even get on a ride at an amusement park. Pay good money just to feel sick? I’d rather be saving for a new camera…

Being really high up in the air has always been less favorable to me than being really low down on the ground.

But I really did want to go….

The pilot began to speak to the passengers as we flew. We would be going through clouds.

Clouds, I have learned, mean turbulance.

Turbulance, I have learned, means a bumpy, up and down ride.

I have also come to learn that in order to see clouds up close, one must BE up close.

I was going to be seeing clouds.

Like pillows of cotton, they floated to the side and below us.

Drifting along in vast enormity, their presence drew my attention.

Many times during the flight, I looked for comfort and protection from God as I prayed.

He was there, always faithful, calming my concerns.

Deuteronomy 33:26 reads,

"There is no one like the God of Israel, who rides through the skies to help you, who rides on the clouds in His majesty."

When I felt afraid, He truly rode "through the skies" to help me.

Remember—–He’s there to help you, too….