With a Loud Command

 

 

I knew my friend’s father was sick–very sick.

Many people were praying for him.

He died today in the hospital.

His family is hurting because they miss him.

I understand.

For those that know Christ as their Savior, death is not the end.

It is a beginning.

 

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

—I Thessalonians 4:13-18

 

You Are Familiar

 

 

 

Are you ever confused by your own words?

By your own actions?

Do you ever question why you procrastinate important things?

Do you ever wonder why you feel a certain way?

Besides sounding like a patient information form at a psychiatrist’s office, these questions are probably on target with most people, at least some of the time.

I know I could ask myself some related questions—

"Why did I say those words?"

"What was I thinking when I did that?"

"Why didn’t I get that done on time?"

"Why am I so upset over this?"

Sometimes I have the answers.

Many times, I don’t.

It is comforting to know that God knows me completely.

He knows everywhere I’ve been and He’ll be right with me wherever I travel in the future.

He’ll be with me in the car, on the plane, beside me on the train or walking with me on the road.

He knows my thoughts before I can even form them into words.

He knows why I do what I do.

He knows why I say what I say.

 

I can talk to God about anything—even the me that I don’t always understand.

You watch me when I travel and when I rest.
    You are familiar with all my ways.
        Even before there is a single word on my tongue,
            you know all about it, Lord. –Psalm 139:3-4

 

Do Not Seek Revenge

 

 

It was a rainy day, suitable for watching a movie.

A friend picked out which one to watch.

Well into the film, my attention was drawn not to the main character but to the antagonist.

A sad and troubled individual, he had become obsessed with revenge over an incident that had happened when he was a child in an orphanage.

I was especially intrigued by the inclusion of a flash back into his young life.

As he recounted what he believed had happened to him, the viewer sees what actually occurred.

Though having been bullied by some, he had convinced himself that "everyone" hated him, yet the audience is allowed to see his peers being friendly and wanting to include him.

It seems that he was so focused on what he conceived as a great injustice toward him, he could not go on in a postive way with the rest of his life.

Instead, retribution became his mantra.

If only forgiveness could have taken hold!

Instead of countless amounts of mental and emotional energy being spent on another’s demise, his efforts could have gone a different direction toward his own personal good.

It was a fictional story, but it rang true.

Chances are, you know someone who has decided not to forgive an offense.

You’re probably acquainted with someone who has never let go of a past emotional injury, allowing its memory to permeate each day with anger and desolation.

It may even be you.

The Bible says,

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. —Leviticus 19:18

God knows our hearts.

He knows when we have been hurt.

He sees our pain.

He also wants us to forgive.

Revenge?

It’s not our duty.

Forgiveness.

Love.

They are ours to give.

The movie would’ve been a lot different if the broken heart of a young orphan boy had embraced forgiveness instead of revenge.

 

 

The Farmer Sows

 

 

 

 

"The farmer sows the word.  Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.  Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word;  but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.  Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”  —Mark 4:14-20

 

He Will Calm All Your Fears

 

 

 

"Do you grind your teeth in your sleep?" asked the dentist.

"I don’t know," was my reply.

Something about my usual 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule must send clues to medical professionals.

Doctors like to talk to me about stress.

The dentist continued.

As a test, he asked me to close my jaws tightly.

His approximate words were, "You certainly DO grind your teeth!"

"If you exercised your entire body that much, you would look like a body builder!"

(Thankfully, we did not venture to discuss what I actually looked like….)

The information that I gained from this segment of our conversation left me somewhat powerless to change the situation.

First of all, I am not consciously aware of my jaw activities when I am asleep, and secondly, I cannot control the subsequent development of jaw muscles from my unconscious workout sessions.

Is it stress related?

It could be.

If I were really upset while awake, I would most likely pray and ask God for help.

I don’t believe I have ever prayed and asked God to calm me in my sleep.

Likewise, I don’t think I’ve ever asked Him to keep my jaws from grinding.

I should.

Zephaniah 3:17 says,

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

God continues to sustain me…. whether I am awake or asleep.

 

 

 


 

 

Outward Appearances

 

 

It was a gift.

A gift accompanied by explanation.

I was given part of a rock that had been broken.

The large, original rock was in a bag.

I was to recieve only a small section.

The rock was a geode.

It was rather plain looking on the outside.

The inside, however, was a different story.

Beautiful crystals sparkled in the sunlight as I looked at the beauty of my gift.

Immediately, my thoughts turned to "ugly on the outside, beautiful on the inside."

The outer side of the geode was not actually ugly, but if it were lying on the ground it would be homely enough to be passed by and never picked up.

How many opportunities have I missed by simply not taking the time to get to know someone?

Have I passed by countless numbers of remarkable people who seemed plain and uninteresting on the outside, but who were sparkling with beauty and rich with experience inside?

It is probably impossible to know what type of formation you will see inside a geode until it is broken open.

While what lies inside is hidden, it remains a mystery.

The Bible says,

Humans look at outward appearances, but the Lord looks into the heart. –I Samuel 16:7b

God sees us in a way that we will never see each other, yet we can take the time to look closer into the lives of those we come in contact with.

The treasure we find in doing so will be well worth the effort.

 


He Will Calm All Your Fears

 

 

"Do you grind your teeth in your sleep?" asked the dentist.

"I don’t know," was my reply.

Something about my usual 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule must send clues to medical professionals.

Doctors like to talk to me about stress.

The dentist continued.

As a test, he asked me to close my jaws tightly.

His approximate words were, "You certainly DO grind your teeth!"

"If you exercised your entire body that much, you would look like a body builder!"

(Thankfully, we did not venture to discuss what I actually looked like….)

The information that I gained from this segment of our conversation left me somewhat powerless to change the situation.

First of all, I am not consciously aware of my jaw activities when I am asleep, and secondly, I cannot control the subsequent development of jaw muscles from my unconscious workout sessions.

Is it stress related?

It could be.

If I were really upset while awake, I would most likely pray and ask God for help.

I don’t believe I have ever prayed and asked God to calm me in my sleep.

Likewise, I don’t think I’ve ever asked Him to keep my jaws from grinding.

I should.

Zephaniah 3:17 says,

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

God continues to sustain me…. whether I am awake or asleep.

 

 

 


 

 

Put On Your Shoes

 

 

 

So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God’s approval as your breastplate.  Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace.  In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Also take salvation as your helmet and the word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies. —Ephesians 6:14-17

 

He Cannot Understand

 

I have taken photographs and placed scripture with them that seemed to fit perfectly at first glance.

A verse about the beauty of God’s creation with the image of a rose, let’s say.

The photo below is not like that.

In fact, at first glance–and even second–you may have thought that I had made a mistake.

A photo of groceries and a verse about understanding spiritual things?

What’s the connection?

I recently heard something about a certain percentage of scientists who do not believe in God.

Although I can’t quite remember where I heard the statements, what stayed with me doesn’t really apply to numbers.

I am not considering the general population of scientists, in part or whole.

I am considering only one.

Just one?

Which one?

Any one of them who does not believe in God.

I am inclined to think that by being a scientist, this person studies diligently.

They look to every possibility to find an answer within their specific area of expertise while on their quest for discovery.

Tests, observations, hypotheses—all these are basic to the scientist and his way of thinking.

Their thorough research brings about a great deal of knowlege.

As they study with all diligence, what they find is categorized apart from the inclusion of God.

Although I am not a scientist, I am fascinated by the world around me.

The tiniest of hairs on a dragonfly’s leg or the pink flash of a bolt of lightning create an excitement and interest that is difficult to explain.

There is, perhaps, a greater difference between the scientist and me, other than his advanced intelligence and hard earned degrees from notable universities.

I believe in God.

Imagine someone going to a grocery store day after day, looking at food products.

They study the food.

They take notes on the food and how it is packaged.

They photograph the food, rearrange the food on the shelves and consider where the food originated.

The only problem is, they do not understand that what they are studying IS food.

They completely miss the fact that the items they are constantly considering are to be ingested.

What if, tragically, this person was actually starving?

What a great calamity to finally die of malnutrition, being surrounded by so much food!

A silly story?

Maybe.

But think about it—

This same scientist may spend the greater part of his life studying things created by God in an effort to help mankind in some way.

They study what He has made.

They take notes on what He has made and how it is put together.

They take photographs of what He has made, rearrange it and considering its origin.

With all diligence and fortitude, they become experts at what He has made, never really understanding what is before them—the handiwork of God.

They completely miss the evidence as it points to Him.

Tragically, this scientist is starving spiritually.

What a calamity to finally die one day, becoming eternally separated from God, after having spent the bulk of their lives researching so great a testimony!

I can only hope that one day their hearts would become open to hearing and believing that which is beyond scientific speculation.

That one scientist?

I want to see him in Heaven.

Don’t you?

 

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

–I Corinthians 2:14

 


 

 

 

 

 

We Are Dust

 

 

 

I had heard the song before.

This weekend, however, it became more than just a song for me.

Reminding me that God can bring about great change, the lyrics are permanently instilled in my mind.

I saw a video presentation where people walked up with a sign that described how their lives had once been.

They turned the signs over to the other side to reveal what their lives were like after God began to change them.

In the background, "Beautiful Things" by Gungor played.

Here are a few of the lyrics:

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Watching each person step up with their own personal testimony of God’s faithfulness was very meaningful.

The Bible tells us in Psalm 103:13-14,

As a father has compassion for his children,
    so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

 He certainly knows what we are made of.
    He bears in mind that we are dust.

If you are praying for change in your own life or in the life of someone you know, don’t give up.

Imagine this—

Picture you or the person you are praying for stepping up, holding a sign.

Think of what would be on it.

What needs to change?

Now, imagine that the sign is turned over.

What is written on the other side?

What is it that you’ve been praying for?

Just think of that answer to prayer being written on the other side.

God does make beautiful things—-

out of dust.

 

 

 

The Wonders You Have Done

 

 

 

I don’t like to get up when it’s dark outside.

I really don’t like to get up when it’s dark outside and it’s going to stay that way for a few hours.

This morning, when it was quite dark—3:27, to be exact—my alarm went off.

I sprang up with an inner excitement.

Why?

History was about to be made.

A private company was launching their first spaceship.

I knew I would be able to see the launch from my yard.

Right on schedule, at 3:44 a.m., the horizon began to glow orange.

As the Falcon rocket rose into the cool air, it appeared to be a giant rod of fire in the night sky.

Watching it move across the black canvas dotted with stars and planets, I was seeing a great wonder of man’s accomplishment.

Taking 1,000 pounds of food to the International Space Station, this mission was important.

Being able to go to the moon, having the technology to orbit the Earth—those are advancements that seem to be the crown of achievement.

The heavens are vast.

So great in size we cannot comprehend it.

And God made it.

He commands it.

He sustains it.

We may have reached a point in history where we can begin to explore the universe, yet it is God who has authored its wonders.

 

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. —Psalm 40:5

 

 

 

The Road That Leads to Life

 

 

 

 

 

The way that seems easy, perhaps–at least at the time.

The way that feels good–at least at the beginning.

The way that looks popular–at least when you want to fit in.

Which way is that?

The broad road.

Wide and open.

Plenty of room.

But where does it lead?

Not to God.

The end holds destruction.

There is a way that seems narrow.

But where does it lead?

To God.

The end holds everlasting life.

 

Which road will you choose?

 

 

 

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. —Matthew 7:13,14

 

 

The Rock Eternal

 

 

 

I attended a program this afternoon for graduating seniors from a local high school.

One of the speakers talked about Peter walking on the water toward Jesus.

She brought out the point that when Peter began to take his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink.

And how does that apply to us?

When we allow the troubles of our lives to draw us away from looking at Jesus, we can begin to "sink," as well.

I know what it’s like when I start to sink:

Worry creeps in.

Hope fades.

Regret looms large around me.

Then, it happens—"WHAT AM I DOING IN THE WATER?!"  is the cry of my thoughts, only the actual words are different.

They would sound more like this, if they were ever uttered:

"How could I have been so foolish."

"This was my fault."

"Why aren’t the people I love making good decisions?"

"I can’t help anyone because my own life is in such disarray!"

At this point, it’s quite likely that my eyes have strayed.

Strayed away from looking straight ahead–at Jesus.

If my mind is steadfast because I am trusting in Jesus through whatever might be going on, I won’t find myself sinking.

Through the power of Jesus working in me, I will be peaceful instead of anxious; calm instead of distressed.

 

 

You will keep in perfect peace
    him whose mind is steadfast,
    because he trusts in you.
 Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

—Isaiah 26:3-4

 

The Flowering of Truth

 

 

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
   Love doesn’t strut,
   Doesn’t have a swelled head,
   Doesn’t force itself on others,
   Isn’t always "me first,"
   Doesn’t fly off the handle,
   Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

–from I Corinthians 13  ~The Message

 

He Cares For You

 

 

Finances.

Illness.

Death.

Joblessness.

Relationships.

Hunger.

Crime.

Sadness.

Despair.

I read about these things in the news.

I hear about them from my friends.

It seems as though troubles in the world are worse than I remember, yet when I consider it more closely, there have always been troubles and trials throughout generations past.

God was there to comfort the people of the last century just as He is here to comfort us today.

The Bible tells us to, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." –I Peter 5:7

There are many life situations that we cannot handle.

There are NO life situations that Jesus cannot handle.

He cares for you.

 

 

 

 

Unleashes

 

 

 

Sitting at my computer, I had gotten up over and over at the insistence of our basset hound.

I gave her water.

I gave her food.

Did she want to go out through the back door?

Nothing seemed to satisfy her.

Okay.

I got the leash and started out the front door.

Personal attention and a change of scenery.

Yes.

That’s what she wanted.

When we got outside, I realized that the sky was flashing with lightning in the distance.

It was so completely compelling.

How could I not just look at it and nothing else?

I decided to get in the car after we finished our walk in search of open sky.

Traveling just a short distance to a nearby highway, I parked as though I were settling down at a drive-in theatre.

Flashes of gray, white and pink filled the massive clouds before me with only a second or two between the bursts of incredible energy.

Do you see God in the lightning?

Do you hear Him in the thunder?

He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
    and sends it to the ends of the earth.–Job 37:3

 

 

 

If The Son Sets You Free

 

 

 

It was such a great photo and the caption matched it perfectly.

The camera had captured just the split second when a small dog was running with ALL FOUR LEGS stretched out above the ground.

The caption?

"Live like somebody left the gate open."

Anyone viewing the photo of the dog could surely identify with his sudden burst of excitement and adventure.

Who wouldn’t want to be free?

The thought occurred to me that we should live as though the gate were open, but we actually live as though it has been sealed shut with concrete.

If we feel that we can never change–we are doomed to live in the confines of a fenced-in existence of sin–we do so without understanding that God is able to open the gate in order to set us free from those things.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

—John 8:31-36

 

 

 

 

So You Cannot Understand

 

 

 

When I saw the unopened flower, I decided to photograph it without hesitation.

Looking at the image now, it seems almost "wadded" up, like a wet wash cloth.

What would it look like when it was finally unfolded?

Closed tightly in preparation for what it was to become, it only revealed a hint of its future appearance.

When God is at work in our lives and in the lives of those we love, isn’t it that way?

We see a change–perhaps a very small one–and then new things begin to appear.

Attitudes?

Talents?

Desires?

At first, we may only look with puzzlement at the growing "wad."

Closed tightly in preparation for what God has in store, there may be only a hint of what is about to become reality.

Think of how many people you know who have said things like—

"If you had told me when I was in college that I would someday be a pastor, I would have said that you were crazy!"

"I never thought that I would teach Sunday School."

"When I prayed about a job, I never dreamed that God would have me in this career."

"She never seemed to care about anyone–now she’s the kindest person I know."

"For years, he denied even the possibility that God could exist. Today, he hosts a radio program centered on evangelism."

We can’t always understand what God is doing in our own life or the life of someone else.

Just because we can’t understand it at the moment, or even identify the first changes we become aware of, we shouldn’t be persuaded into thinking that God is not at work.

If He is creating a flower, it will certainly bloom.

 

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. –Ecclesiastes 11:5

 

 


Wonderfully Made

 

 

 

Two of our sons graduated from a high school located in "America’s Seaplane City."

That being the official slogan for the city, you would expect to find seaplanes there.

I just wasn’t thinking about them as I stood near the lake.

Suddenly, I saw a seaplane circling over the water in front of me.

Seaplanes that have retractable floats can land and take off from the water as well as land, making them versatile.

People have made aircraft to be flexible in specific situations.

It is God who makes people.

With His strength, He allows us to adapt and to be flexible as we go about our lives.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. —Psalm 139:14

 

He Who Refreshes

 

 

 

Just down the road from our oldest son’s home is a lovely waterfall.

Calm and serene, the sound of the water pouring onto the rocks below is soothing.

Last evening, the sun had already passed from view, leaving a dim glow for a few fleeting moments before dark, highlighting the scene with vibrancy.

It’s good to have friends that bring calmness and serenity to your life.

It’s easy to describe them–when they walk through the door, the entire atmosphere of the room becomes refreshed and relaxed.

They are generous with their time and with their concern for others.

Do you know someone like that?

Would you want to be that kind of person?

The Bible says,

"A generous man will prosper;
    he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." –Proverbs 11:25

 

Fishers

 

 

 

There was water.

Certainly, there must have been fish in the water.

But the sign clearly read, "NO FISHING."

A decision had been made.

Don’t even think about fishing here.

No explanation.

No apology.

No fishing.

But what if you want to fish there?

Mark 1:17 reads,

Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Sometimes I feel like there is a "NO FISHING" sign in front of the very person that needs to hear about God.

Right up front, where all can see, is an attitude of "stay away" when it comes to spiritual things.

A decision has been made.

Don’t even think about talking to me about God.

No explanation.

No apology.

No "fishing."

Why?

Maybe they are hurting because of personal tragedy.

Maybe they are mad at God.

Maybe they are turned off by those they have met who seemed hypocritical in their faith.

A thousand reasons may fill an unpublished list that continually fuels their skepticism and lack of trust.

Whatever the cause, we shouldn’t give up.

Returning often with cane pole in hand, we should hope to find a day when fishing is allowed.

Until then, we can continue to pray that the NO FISHING sign will be taken down.

Permanently.

 

 

 

 

A Woman Who Fears

 

 

 

It’s almost Mother’s Day.

A friend recieved two different vases of flowers honoring her as a mother. I was privileged to photograph both arrangements while visiting today.

Being a good mother isn’t about outward beauty, though when seen through the eyes of loving children, she appears more lovely than anyone.

Being a good mother isn’t about strength, though the daily exercise of parenting builds compassion, wisdom and character.

Being a good mother isn’t about kindness, though the passage of the years brings an awareness of regretful words and actions that serve to temper current days with tenderness.

Proverbs 31:25-31:

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
    and she laughs without fear of the future.
 When she speaks, her words are wise,
    and she gives instructions with kindness.
 She carefully watches everything in her household
    and suffers nothing from laziness.

 Her children stand and bless her.
    Her husband praises her:
 “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world,
    but you surpass them all!”

 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
    but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
 Reward her for all she has done.
    Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.

Being a good mother is about having a relationship with God and raising children in a way that is pleasing in His sight.

 

Cover You

 

 

I hadn’t walked in the yard much lately.

Wildflowers were blooming and an array of insects were feasting on the blossoms in the late afternoon light.

As I stepped slowly from one area to another, snapping a picture here and there, I noticed something white and fluffy lying on the ground.

A downy feather lay still.

Its presence was in complete contrast to its surroundings.

Being both delicate and strong, it was a tiny, but beautiful sight.

Feathers protect birds in many ways.

They keep them warm and they keep them dry.

They shield their skin from the sun.

Psalm 91:4 says, "He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection."

God’s "feathers" will shield us from harm as His "wings" shelter us.

His promises are true and unending because God is true and unending.

God is our armor against all evil.

He will cover us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children of the Light

 

 

 

 

 

For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night.  When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.

 But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.  So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.  Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk.  But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.—I Thessalonians 5:2-8

 

Salt

 

 

Salt.

When used as a preservative, it is the primary agent in meat curing.

As a seasoning, it is sprinkled on everything from mashed potatoes to popcorn.

In medicine, it is used with intrevenous infusion (commonly called IV) in a solution with water.

When a similar solution is used with contact lenses, it serves as a rinse.

If your feet are tired and achy, a warm salt water soaking might serve to relieve the pain.

In the book of Colossians, chapter 4, verse 6, salt is mentioned in a different context:

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

This verse is encouraging us in how to speak to those who are not believers in Christ.

As we speak to them, our conversation should draw them toward the truth and not away from it.

It should not lack grace, or appear tasteless and uninteresting.

Instead, it must be genuinely and authentically flavorful as we seek to answer any questions they may have about our faith.

Why not let your conversations today be seasoned with your own testimony of what God is doing in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

He Is The Atoning Sacrifice

 

 

I heard someone make a statement last night that I don’t hear very often.

It was something like this:

"If you do not know Jesus, then you are guilty."

Guilty.

Honestly, have you heard many people referring to those that do not know Jesus as guilty?

The problem is, the thought that we all have sinned and stand guilty without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross has somehow faded away in our society.

It has been replaced by the thought that people are innately good and that—-here is the big deception—EVERYONE GOES TO HEAVEN WHEN THEY DIE.

Think back to the last time you heard of someone passing away.

What did you hear?

"He’s in a better place."

"She’s not in pain anymore."

It’s likely that you’ve heard similar statements.

Of course, I understand that people are only trying to be comforting in times of great sorrow.

Yet, the realization that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, purchasing for us a place in Heaven that we may accept or reject is of ultimate, eternal importance.

Without Jesus, I am guilty.

Without Jesus, you are guilty.

If you have never put your faith and trust in Jesus, repenting of your sin and asking for forgiveness, please don’t wait any longer.

God is listening.

He is waiting.

Talk to Him–-right now.

 

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

–I John 2:2

 

 

 

The Poor Wanderer

 

 

 

Last night, a stray cat came to our door.

We already own a dog and a cat.

I thought the poor animal looked thirsty.

My husband did not want me to water it or feed it, because then it would probably never leave.

Not long after our discussion, I decided to go for a walk to get some exercise.

When I got outside, I noticed some bread on the concrete.

I went back in the house and asked my husband if he had put the bread out for the cat.

He had.

It seemed that there had been a change of heart.

So much of a change that he told me to give it cat food.

I happily gave food and water to the hungry animal and watched with a hurting heart as he moaned while he ate.

Walking away to begin my exercise, the cat came with me.

I prayed and asked God what I could do for this little creature.

Before going to bed, I opened my Bible.

I had placed a paper in my Bible with some notes on it and I had turned to that spot.

I began to read a passage about fasting.

Here is part of what I read:

Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

—Isaiah 58:4-9

 

Suddenly, the words, "Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter —
" were before me.

Was caring for this little, starving cat pleasing to God?

I was not fasting at all, but my heart yearned to help him.

This is the fasting that God has chosen.

I am aware that He was speaking of helping people and not animals, yet I think He cares for the animals of the world, as well.

Our hungry friend has been at our home today, also.

Cat food and water were placed before him once again.

We will try to find a home for him.

Until then, I want to treat him the way God would have me to—

to share my food and provide shelter for the poor wanderer.

 

 

He Will Bear Much

 

 

Many, many years ago, I was a part of a small group Bible study.

As part of the study, the members memorized certain assigned scriptures.

One verse was, "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." —John 15:5

I do not live in an area where grapes are seriously cultivated.

Citrus groves are common and I drive past an impressive orange factory on my way to work each day.

Applying this verse to orange or grapefruit trees, I can still understand the analogy.

How fruitful will I be if I am not dwelling with Jesus?

The answer is, I won’t be.

I will be like a tree in the grove that stands with green leaves, but never produces oranges.

How fruitful will I be if I continually abide with Jesus?

The answer is, very fruitful.

Stay close to Jesus or do not stay close to Jesus.

The decision is mine.

 

 

 

 

They Went By Night

 

 

 

Do you ever find yourself making illogical decisions?

Last night, I read the account of Elisha facing King Aram’s army found in 2 Kings, chapter 6.

Here are a few verses from that passage:

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, ‘I will set up my camp in such and such a place.’

 The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: ‘Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.’  So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.

 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, ‘Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?’

 ‘None of us, my lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.’

 ‘Go, find out where he is,’ the king ordered, ‘so that I can send men and capture him.’ The report came back: ‘He is in Dothan.’  Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. —II Kings 6:8-14

 

If the king of Aram believed his officers when they told him that Elisha knew the very words he spoke in his bedroom, it would seem that he would have acted on that belief.

It certainly seemed to be true.

Elisha was a prophet.

Time and again, the people of Israel escaped harm because God informed Elisha of coming danger.

Instead of thinking that no mere army could go against God, the king wanted to send his men to Elisha to capture him.

But, wait.

It appears that Elisha supernaturally knows the words spoken by the enemy king concerning attacks.

Would he not also "know" the commands given to apprehend him?

How could Aram’s army hope to accomplish such a task?

Defying logic, the army surrounds the city where Elisha and his servant were that night.

When the morning dawns, the servant sees the surrounding army and becomes troubled.

Elisha prays that he will see the angels that are present on the scene.

The servants eyes are opened to the army of God in the hills around them.

Elisha prays that the soldiers will be struck with blindness.

Elisha then leads the blind men to Samaria where they are given back their sight and are provided with food and water.

Next, they are sent on their way home.

No battle.

No bloodshed.

No lives lost.

Yet everyone had experienced the awesome power of the one true God.

Does it seem surprising or illogical for Him to spare the lives of the soldiers?

Not when we consider God’s great love for every person on the face of the earth–

no matter what country they are from.

 

 

 

Coming and Going

 

 

 

 

The Lord watches over you –
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
 the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

 The Lord will keep you from all harm –
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and for evermore. –Psalm 121:5-8