They Took Palm Branches

 

 

 

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday.

Living in an area rich with palm trees, I see them every day.

In fact, I have several palm trees in my own yard.

While doing regular lawn upkeep, I have many times cut palm fronds.

I have gathered them, stacked them and bundled them to be discarded.

The entire process is very familiar to me.

Although I have never experienced a ceremony in which palm branches were placed in the path of an important person, I can imagine the scene.

Jesus—the King of Kings—arriving in Jerusalem, riding a donkey.

This event is referred to as the triumphal entry.

It would not be long before Jesus would die on the cross.

The dictionary defines triumphant as having won a battle or contest.

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
   and by his wounds we are healed.–Isaiah 53:5

Jesus won the battle.

He paid the price for our sins.

His punishment brought us peace.

Jesus IS triumphant over death, now and forever!

Are we laying down "palm branches," welcoming Jesus into our lives today?

If not, what do we need to change?

 

 

 

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

   “Hosanna!”

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

   “Blessed is the King of Israel!”

—John 12:12-13

 

The Islands Put Their Hope

 

 

 

It is almost Easter.

This time of remembrance has turned into a commercialized holiday to some.

For me, it is all about Jesus.

I put my hope in Him.

 

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
   my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
   and he will bring justice to the nations.
 He will not shout or cry out,
   or raise his voice in the streets.
 A bruised reed he will not break,
   and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
  he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
   In his law the islands will put their hope.”

  This is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
   who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
   and life to those who walk on it:
 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
   I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
   to be a covenant for the people
   and a light for the Gentiles,
 to open eyes that are blind,
   to free captives from prison
   and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

—Isaiah 42:1-7

 

 

Be Reconciled

 

 

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.—II Corinthians 5:16-21

 

 

Into Temptation and a Trap

 

 

 

Walking past the aquarium on display, the deception was obvious.

But then, again, I’m not a fish.

What’s obvious to me is surely not so obvious to the small residents of the tank.

A large turtle poised in a statue-like state waiting with his mouth open, ready to chomp on an unsuspecting fish.

But why would a fish swim over to the turtle’s mouth?

The turtle had a worm like appendage on it’s tongue that was pink.

The "worm" wiggled back and forth, hopefully luring and tempting any fish who would dare to come close into sudden and sure death.

The turtle remained so still, a fish could almost miss the fact that it was a real creature.

Of course, that’s exactly what he was hoping for.

Isn’t this just like temptation to sin?

The Enemy wants us not to notice what is really before us.

He would like us to become very interested in the lures he places in our path.

We decide to come a little closer.

And a little closer.

When we are hovering above destruction, we may realize our mistake, but it may be too late.

The consequences of our choices may already be in place.

God will forgive us when we cry out to Him in repentance, but yielding to temptation may already have cost us a great price—emotionally, physically, relationally and spiritually.

God’s word speaks of temptation.

It warns us of the "turtles" that lie in wait, ever so patiently for our demise.

The lures within their mouths come in many forms—-

the temptation to get rich at the expence of all else,

the temptation to become immoral,

the temptation to be dishonest,

the temptation to harm ourselves through various means,

the temptation to turn away from God……

the list goes on.

I didn’t actually see the turtle catch any of the fish in the tank that day.

Perhaps they had witnessed the destruction of one of their kind by the powerful jaws.

Maybe they had become privy to the wiles of the turtle.

As children of God, we must be on the lookout for the lures of temptation.

Sometimes evil is so still, we can forget the fact that it is really real.

 

 

 

He Speaks Peace

 

 

It had been raining on the highway.

The four hour round trip to the city was almost over.

The sun was out and the water on the pavement was clearly visible in some areas.

As I looked to my right, I saw a rainbow.

I am always ready to see a rainbow.

The bigger the rainbow, the more excited I get.

Rainbows are a reminder to me of God’s presence.

His faithfulness and His promises are proclaimed in rainbows.

He is speaking through the colors in the sky through all their grandeur.

The psalmist said,

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,
    for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
    But let them not return to their foolish ways.

—Psalm 85:8

 

With God, there is inner peace.

He is willing to guide us through every part of every day.

When we are aware of our failings and repent, we should not return to them.

Looking ahead to God’s promises, we find strength to go on.

I’m always ready to see a rainbow.

How about you?

 

 

 

Neglect

 

 

 

It had just been left there, parked for years.

The back tire on the old bicycle was separating from the rim.

Only the metal frame of the seat was still existing, the plastic cushion long worn away by the weather.

Why would someone have neglected it?

Sometimes our neglect is not intentional; at least, we don’t plan on being neglectful.

It just sort of…..happens.

Or does it?

Forgetfulness and neglect go hand in hand for me.

If I am not thinking about certain things, I may neglect them.

If I am determined to be attentive, I will make plans toward that end.

Psalm 119:10-16 says,

I seek you with all my heart;
   do not let me stray from your commands.
 I have hidden your word in my heart
   that I might not sin against you.
 Praise be to you, O LORD;
   teach me your decrees.
 With my lips I recount
   all the laws that come from your mouth.
 I rejoice in following your statutes
   as one rejoices in great riches.
 I meditate on your precepts
   and consider your ways.
 I delight in your decrees;
   I will not neglect your word.

 

If we want to live in fellowship with God, we must determine to do so.

If we don’t, we may one day find ourselves having been neglectful.

 

To Him Who Loves Us

 

 I was late for the church service this morning.

Not incredibly late, but probably about a minute or two after it started.

Singers were up in the front of the room, already singing.

As was usual, the words to the song they were singing were being displayed on a screen so that all could see and follow along.

I was aware of the music but I wasn’t paying complete attention to it as I found a  place to sit.

Finding a spot, I settled in and then looked ahead to the screen and began to focus my mind on what was happening.

At the moment when I did, the first line that I can remember seeing and hearing was, "It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive…." *

Being so struck by those words, I don’t think I opened my mouth to sing.

A recent illness is still very fresh on my mind these days.

The lyrics on the screen jumped to my heart, ringing with absolute truth.

It IS all because of Jesus that I am alive.

There is no other reason.

Here are the next lines to the song:

It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
It’s all because the blood of Jesus Christ
That covers me and raised this dead man’s life
It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive
I’m alive, I’m alive      (* All Because of Jesus by Steve Fee)


 

 

John,

   To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

   Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,  and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

   To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,  and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.–Revelation 1:4-6

 


 

 

 

 

Many Waters

 

 

 

 

 

How much does God love you?

Is there anything that could lessen that love?

If we consider how we love, it is flawed and impure.

Although we may love others with the greatest love possible for us, it is not perfect love.

Could our love for another be harmed by their actions?

Could our love grow cold and distant?

Could our love fade into apathy?

No matter how many times we fail, God’s love for us is the same.

His perfect love does not grow cold.

It does not grow distant.

His perfect love will never become apathetic, lacking concern.

The writer of the Song of Songs says,

Many waters cannot quench love;
   rivers cannot wash it away. –from chapter 8:7

The power of a raging river could not wash God’s perfect love for you away.

What do you think?

How much does God love you?

 

 

 

 

 

Like Eagles

 

 

I have read that an eagle stops flapping its wings in the winds of a storm, allowing the winds to push it higher as it soars and glides.

Isaiah 40:29-31 reads,

"He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint."

 

When we grow tired of "flapping our wings" through whatever storm we are currently in, we can find rest in God.

Right then.

He allows us to hold out our arms and glide with His strength, trusting in Him to care for us as we soar together.

Are you weary?

Weak?

Tired?

Have you stumbled or fallen lately?

Your strength can be renewed.

 

Put your hope in the LORD.

 

Each By Name

 

 

He determines the number of the stars
   and calls them each by name.
 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
   his understanding has no limit.–Psalm 147:4-5

 

If God calls each star by a specific name, is it too difficult to trust that He knows us by name, as well?

By His understanding and great power we are created and sustained moment by moment—

no matter what that moment holds.

 

 

 

Look At The Birds

 

 

When I was a child, I worried.

Oh, how I worried!

Fear was an unwelcome companion that visited me often.

Mostly, I worried about the possible destructive decisions that others in my family might make.

What might happen?

What would I do?

What could I do?

It was an intense worry, laden with the uncertainty of the next moment.

There was a particular day in my childhood when the circumstances seemed too much for me to bear.

I simply prayed and told God that I just couldn’t do it.

What happened next was a great assurance from God that He was there, ready to handle the struggle that was before me.

Events began to unfold within a short period of time that relieved me of what I felt was my responsibility.

What began to happen was so completely out of the ordinary that I realized that God was answering my plea for help.

I have never forgotten that day.

I have never forgotten God’s faithfulness to me as a young child.

 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" —Matthew 6:25-27

 

 

Be Strong and of Good Courage

 

 

 

 

Does anyone ever actually plan on becoming ill?

It certainly wasn’t in my plan.

I had even entertained the thought of inviting friends over for the evening.

For a good part of the day, I had been cleaning house and rearranging some furniture.

Everything was fine, until….well, until it wasn’t.

At first, there seemed to be no reason to become alarmed.

Later, it became apparent that a trip to the hospital was necessary.

Extremely necessary.

That was Saturday; today I was allowed to come back home.

The view from my hospital room gave the distinct impression of snow-capped mountains.

Since I live in a sub-tropical area, that was utterly impossible—it only looked that way because of the unusual architecture of building as seen from my 4th floor window.

I had a lot of time to gaze out those windows.

I had a lot of time to think and to pray.

In fact, it seemed that I was praying almost constantly Saturday evening, many times, out loud.

Was God there?

Most assuredly.

Did He hear me?

Absolutely.

A friend visited, praying a powerful prayer over me.

I told her of a previous time that God had brought healing to me as I suddenly became ill just days before I was preparing to direct a Christian musical.

Mentioning the words to one of the songs, I sang a beginning line to her:

"Be strong and take courage. Do not fear or be dismayed…" (Be Strong and Take Courage by Don Moen)

Later, I opened a Bible that had been placed in the hospital room.

It opened to the Book of Joshua.

I decided that I would begin reading it.

Chapter one, verse nine, read,

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Not having remembered that this passage was in Joshua, I was convinced that God wanted me to remember this and take it to heart.

I needed to be strong.

I needed to be of good courage.

I did not need to be afraid.

I needed to remember that the Lord my God was with me.

Right then.

In the hospital.

As He would be, always.

Had I been afraid and dismayed?

Tremendously—especially upon my arrival in the emergency area.

To be dismayed is to experience distress that is usually caused when something unexpected happens.

I was definitely distressed.

My fears were calmed in His timing and I trusted that He was with me, hearing every prayer.

In your own life, when everything is fine until, well….it isn’t, let me encourage you to cry out to God.

Right then.

Immediately.

God is all-powerful and He is in control.

 

 

 

The People Walking in Darkness

 

 

 

If you feel…..

hopeless—Jesus came to give you hope.

If you feel…

worthless—Jesus paid the price of your sin for you; you are worth much.

If you feel…

that your days are filled with darkness and fear—Jesus can deliver you from both.

 

 

The people walking in darkness
   have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
   a light has dawned.–Isaiah 9:2

 

For to us a child is born,
   to us a son is given,
   and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
   Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.–Isaiah 9:6

 

Mountain Goats

 

 

 

Tonight, I witnessed God providing a car for someone that I know.

You may not think that God actually does things like that—provide things like cars or houses, boats or airplanes.

But I do.

Not only has God provided me and my family with various things that were needed, He has done so with many other people that I know.

It makes sense, actually, when you think about it.

God owns everything.

Period.

It’s His.

If He wants to give you something, He can.

Car.

House.

Apartment.

Boat.

Airplane.

Sofa.

Table.

Clothes.

Dishes.

College tuition.

A new job.

Food.

And what about money?

Oh, yeah.

He owns that, too.

He is totally capable of providing money.

Of course, we should have jobs and not be idle, but there are times when what is needed is not there.

The unexpected debt from a medical emergency.

The repair cost of a broken water pipe under your home.

Funds to purchase plane tickets for a mission trip.

The list is endless, because what God can provide for us is endless.

We know so little, and yet, God knows so much.

In the Old Testament book of Job, God asks,

"Who provides food for the raven
   when its young cry out to God
   and wander about for lack of food?" –Job 38:41

"Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
   Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?"–Job 39:1

 

God provides.

What do you need to trust Him for today?                    

 

You Also Should Wash

 

 

 

It was a very meaningful service.

In fact, I have never attended anything quite like it before.

After having a time of reflection, we were each given a small piece of paper.

What was to be written on it?

Anything in our lives that separated us from God.

A little later, we all walked outside.

A fire was near the entrance to the building.

Each piece of paper was to be thrown into the flames, signifying the defeat (through God’s power) of the items listed.

Next, we sat in groups out in the grass.

It was sunset, and the sky was steadily darkening.

Three wooden crosses had been erected on the property.

The one in the middle was draped with purple material.

The groups were given a bowl of water and a cloth.

Each participant washed the feet of the one sitting to the left of them.

Our cloth was yellow.

My feet were washed, then I washed another’s feet.

When we were finished, the cloth was to be torn into strips, equal to the number of people in our group.

We all wore our cloth strips wrapped around our wrists as a reminder that we are never alone because God is with us.

We sang songs of praise and encouragement, prayed together, and then went out into our own communities.

As Christians, God wants us to care for others’ needs.

Jesus gave instructions to His disciples:

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. —John 13:12-17

 

 

 

 

 

Such a Gift

 

 

 

 

 

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:29-32  The Message

 

 

 

 

I Will Help You

 

 

What is it that you think you can’t do–even if God told you to do it?

Become a pastor?

Sing in front of people?

Teach Sunday School?

Work with children?

Teenagers?

Give a speech?

Tell people your personal testimony of trusting Jesus?

What would it be for you?

In the Old Testament book of Exodus, there are some specific passages I would like to reference in thinking about what we think our personal limitations are. The LORD appeared to Moses from within a burning bush in the desert:

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.  So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.  And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.  So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”–Exodus 3:7-10

 

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”

The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

  But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”—Exodus 4:10-13

But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”–Exodus 6:12

Now when the LORD spoke to Moses in Egypt,  he said to him, “I am the LORD. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.”

  But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”—Exodus 6:28-30

After reading Moses’ responses, one would be left with the thought that he really must have had a difficult speech problem.

Jumping ahead to the New Testament book of Acts, we find the account of Stephen speaking to the Sanhedrin before he was stoned to death. In speaking to them about Moses, he said, "Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action." —Acts 7:22

Was God faithful in enabling Moses to speak?

Yes.

Will God be faithful to us today if He calls us?

Yes.

Have you felt Him urging you to do something, but you have been reluctant?

Why not consider again what that might be, trusting that God will equip you with whatever you need to accomplish what He wants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covenant of Love

 

 

 

He died well before I was born.

My grandmother’s brother lived only to be a young adult.

His portrait hangs in my living room, a reminder of years past in my family’s history.

I am privileged to have a Bible that was handed down from a generation long ago.

Although going blind during her last years, my grandmother would play Christian hymns on a keyboard.

Being only a child when she died, her example to me was only for a short while, yet I remember.

God’s light has shown in the lives of many in my family.

Deuteronomy 7:9 encourages us:

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

 

 

 

 

Sing And Make Music

 

 

 

The old violin sits on top of a chifforobe that belonged to my grandmother, who was born in the 1800’s.

The seasoned instrument, however, did not belong to her.

It belonged to my husband’s great grandfather, who was also born in the 19th Century.

He was the one who played it.

My husband is a musician and the violin was passed down to him.

I wonder if it was used to sing praise to God long ago, before we were born?

Throughout the ages, those who loved God sang about Him and played instruments.

When we make music in our hearts to Him, we can also share it with others and bring them to a personal place of worship.

We are also creating a legacy of praise to our children and our children’s children.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—Ephesians 5:19-20

 

My Fortress

 

 I’m sure you have seen them.

Movies of medieval times and warfare that ensued.

Masses of people taking refuge inside castles.

Arrows shot, bouncing off the hard stone they were constructed of.

If an attack was eminent, heading toward the inside of the castle for protection was a good choice.

Those caught outside would be vulnerable to the weapons of the enemy.

Centuries before this time period, King David wrote these words:

I love you, O LORD, my strength.

  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
   my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.–from Psalm 18:1,2

We are in a spiritual battle today.

I am.

You are.

Failing to acknowledge the advancement and hostility of the enemy will not change reality.

The Bible warns us of what we are striving with in Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Exactly what are we supposed to do when we are attacked by rulers, authorities and powers of this dark world?

What are we supposed to do when we are attacked by spiritual forces of evil?

The LORD is our fortress and our deliverer.

Fiery arrows shot from the enemy are deflected from the Rock, who is our God.

As we take refuge in Him, we are safe.

In the movies, no one pretends to be as strong as the stone that surrounds them.

On the contrary, it is the understanding of their frailty that brings them to seek safety behind the walls of the castle.

Is there any reason for us to pretend that we can handle whatever is going on in our lives without the ultimate protection of God surrounding us?

By understanding our human frailty, we acknowledge our need to seek refuge in Him.

The battle is widespread and raging.

Don’t be vulnerable to the weapons of the enemy.

The LORD is our strength.

Run to Him……

 

 

 


 

 

Complete the Work

 

 

 

Probably no one ever notices.

After all, who actually pays attention to a small bird in the grass?

One bird among hundreds that might fly by or stop and walk around.

Of course, it’s a very big deal to that one bird, even if it is meaningless to anyone else.

You see, the bird is handicapped.

He has only one leg.

I have no idea why.

He could have been in an accident.

Perhaps he was attacked by an animal and survived.

Mabye he emerged from his egg that way.

What is intriguing to me is, he’s still going on with life.

Balancing with one foot, I photographed him as he was looking in the blades of grass, probably for food.

Obviously, he hadn’t given up on life, even though living life meant living it with a certain degree of loss.

I would say that it’s impossible to go through life without experiencing loss.

Loss of jobs.

Loss of relationships.

Loss of dreams.

Loss of people you love–

Grandparents.

Parents.

Siblings.

A spouse.

A child.

A family pet.

When we find ourselves faced with loss, the pain can be overwhelming.

The future we envisioned suddenly morphs into an unexpected shape and everything changes.

Everything, that is, except God and His presence with you.

Even if no one else ever notices your loss and your pain, it is full screen for you.

Waking up to it’s reality every day, it is you that must go out, "hopping on one foot" emotionally, while it seems that you are only one bird in a giant flock.

The size of the population has never been a difficulty for God.

He knows your pain, your loss and your struggle.

He also knows the plan He has for you.

He knows the work He has given you to do.

He doesn’t want us to  give up on life, even though living life means living it with a certain degree of loss.

It also means continuing to live it with God….

no matter what the circumstance.

 

 

 

How Excellent Is Your Name

 

 

 

Last night was the perfect kind of night to be outside.

With dinner in the oven, I decided to go for a mile jog/walk.

The temperature was comfortable and the wind was soothing.

After dinner, I decided to venture outside and photograph some stars and planets.

At least for this one night, there seemed to be no mosquitoes out.

They tend to make outdoor evening photography almost impossible.

As I had set up my camera for a particular shot, I looked to my left in the sky and saw a meteor streak by and burn up in the atmosphere, above a large tree in our yard.

Several stars were visible in that part of the sky.

I was pleased to have seen such a beautiful and rare sight.

Standing out at night, looking at the vastness of space, I sometimes feel uncomfortably small.

I am a tiny speck; a miniscule part of creation.

Yet, there is something different about me and all other people.

We are God’s chosen creation.

For us, He sent Jesus.

God listens to my prayer—the prayer of a tiny speck among the vastness.

I am important because He is my Father and I am His child.

You are important, too, in just the same way.

It is amazing to consider all that God has done.

A saving relationship is available with the Creator of the universe.

We need only to turn to Him to recieve it, accepting the sacrifice of His Son.

How excellent is God’s Name in all the Earth!

 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
 What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
 For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
 All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
 The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

 O Lord, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!

—Psalm 8:3-9

 

 

 

Your Doors and Gates

 

 

I felt a huge check in my heart.

Actually, I was caught off guard by the suggestion.

An opportunity was suggested to our youngest son to take part in an activity that would keep him from attending Bible study class and church service on Sunday mornings.

Immediately, I had a concern deep within.

For a few hours, this concern kept coming up.

My first response was for my son to let the opportunity go and continue to attend church and Bible study.

As I sat down at the computer moments ago, I visited a Bible website.

A daily passage was there before me.

It was from Deuteronomy, chapter six.

The words spoke right to me and what I had been thinking.

I accessed the entire chapter in the New Century Version.

Moses is speaking to the Israelites.

Here are a few verses:

Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign. Tie them on your forehead to remind you, and write them on your doors and gates.

–Deuteronomy 6:4-9

As a parent, it is my responsibility to encourage and provide ways for my children to grow in faith.

I must teach them about God.

When?

At any moment of any day.

At home, when we are out, at night time, in the morning.

God is a part of all of our lives all of the time.

Being a part of a Sunday worship and Bible study time is a very important part of this teaching.

If something takes away from that availability, is it truly an….

opportunity?

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Not Fighting

 

 

 

A few months ago, I attended a ballgame at a local stadium.

The scoreboard was brightly lit and it was easy for the crowd to understand just which team was ahead of the other–which side was winning.

Every player was visible on the field.

You could see when someone was about to be tackled.

You could see when a player fell down.

You could see a victorious team member score a touchdown.

In recent days, I was contemplating the verse in the Bible that speaks of battling with principalities of the air and not with people.

This morning, I attended a church service.

The pastor mentioned this passage early in his message.

This afternoon, I went to a volunteer meeting for those who would be working at a special community outreach to young people coming up soon.

The man who is to be the guest speaker at the event was standing at the front of the meeting.

He referenced a verse in the Bible.

The same one….

We may not see the struggle reported on a brightly lit scoreboard, but it is taking place, none the less.

Consider for a moment what the writer of Ephesians 6:12 meant when he penned these words:

We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.

If we could pull back the invisable curtain that keeps us from seeing the true battle that is occuring, what would we see?

Tempations.

Distractions.

Discouragements.

All sorts of things thrown in the way of accomplishing what God wants.

So, what do we do?

A football player suits up in a uniform, complete with padding, helmet and special shoes.

Ephesians 6:13 reads,

So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day  comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

A later passage encourages us in this way:

Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.  –Ephesians 6:12

We can’t win without God.

His power is victorious over all.

Remember, we are not fighting with humans……

 

 

Peace, Real Peace

 

 

 

People drink until they can’t even tell you their name.

People cut themselves to mask a greater pain that torments them.

People take drugs to escape reality.

People ignore God, afraid of losing control.

People look for life in the wrong places.

People want to be accepted and loved.

People hurt from the losses of childhood.

People have a longing that can only be filled with God.

People are confused and searching for truth.

People want to be healed.

People want peace, real peace.

There is only one answer.

People must look to God.

I will give peace, real peace, to those far and near,
       and I will heal them," says the Lord. —Isaiah 57:19

 


 

 

 

Starry Host

 

 

 

While out with friends, my youngest son made an impulse purchase.

As his buddies were getting snacks, something caught his eye–

a display of kites.

Looking through the various choices, he selected the one he wanted.

At sunset, he and his brother went out to the field to send it up into the sky.

I arrived soon after, followed by his dad.

Ever the family photographer, I was taking pictures of the kite as it lifted into the air.

At some point, I looked above me and saw a jet airplane.

The sun had already passed the horizon, but its rays were striking the plane with great intensity.

The trail was a yellow-orange color, streaking the sky.

As I began to take pictures of the plane, I realized that it was passing in view of a planet.

Venus was just becoming visible in the western sky.

Somewhow, the reality of what we have been allowed to accomplish appearing next to what God has created in His great power is illustrated by the visual proximity of the two objects.

He has permitted us to develop the technology necessary to transport people in a large tube with wings and fuel high in the atmosphere.

He is continually holding Earth and Venus in place, along with the entire creation—all that exists.

These words are found in the Old Testament book of Nehemiah:

“Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise.  You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you."

—from Nehemiah 9:5-6

 

 

 

 

Do Not Despise

 

 

The book I read certainly seemed to have a moral to the story.

An older couple lived in a secluded area with their daughter, who they had late in life.

Their daughter was still young and lived with them.

They had a dog.

These are the only simple details that I will relate.

The rest are more complicated.

As evil is in the world, these people were about to be in danger.

There were those who had plotted to kidnap their daughter.

On the night of the planned abuction, the family dog heard them approaching their property.

Barking loudly, the dog frightened them away.

Not understanding what all the commotion was about, the old man was simply aggravated at the dog for barking so much when he was trying to sleep.

The next night, the man decided that he would put his dog in a barrel for the night, in hopes that he wouldn’t bark and disturb him.

Once again, the kidnappers approached at night in search of the girl.

The dog knew what was going on and tried his best to get free from the barrel.

Violently thrashing on the wooden planks that held him, the dog finally turned the barrel over, breaking it.

Once free, he again caused the would-be kidnappers to flee.

Unhappy about a second night’s disturbed sleep, the owner decided to tie his dog up in a cloth sack the next evening.

Sadly, the dog could not get free in time—and, of course, the kidnappers returned.

They entered the house, tied the parents up and took the girl.

Heroically, the dog finally makes his way out of the sack and chews the ropes of his owners to set them free.

He then leads them to where the girl is trapped.

The story ends with the attackers gone and the family safe and united once again.

There are many lessons to be learned from this work, but one stands out to me, especially.

There are times when God allows a provision for us.

A friend to speak words of encouragement–or maybe, rebuke–at a particular season of our life.

Someone to warn us of danger that we just can’t seem to see.

A parent, a brother, a sister.

A boss, a counselor, a pastor or priest.

A friend, a neighbor, a co-worker.

We have a choice.

Do we listen to their words?

Do we check for ourselves to see if what they’re saying is true?

Do we spend time in prayer, asking God about it?

Or do we dismiss them continually, shutting them out of our lives, aggravated that they bothered to talk to us in the first place?

Often, we may look back and think, "if only I had listened."

Then, it may be too late.

Take a few moments tonight and think about this.

Has God placed someone in your life that has cautioned you recently about a matter?

Have you ignored their words and dismissed the situation?

Why not consider again what you have heard?

Be alert to God’s warnings—

every time.