By Faith

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Faith.

Believing.

Trusting.

Knowing deep within our hearts.

God is there.

He loves us.

Do you believe?

 

 

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.

—Hebrews 11:1-3  The Message

 

 

 

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by faith

 

Lay Aside Every Weight

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Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  —Hebrews 12:1-2

A few weeks ago, as I was walking with a friend, I saw some large blocks of stone.

I decided to take a picture of these incredibly heavy rocks.

So many times over the past weeks when I’ve picked up the New Testament that I keep in my bedroom, I’ve opened to the passage above that mentions weight.

The last time I read it, something seemed different.

I began to think about my life and the weights I had taken upon myself to carry.

Many of those weights were extremely heavy.

Focusing on those weights kept my focus off of the race.

The race Jesus wanted me to be running.

A lot of those weights had specific names on them.

Acceptance.

Rejection.

Companionship.

Loneliness.

Fear.

Doubt.

I wanted to be accepted by others, so my thoughts could easily camp out on how to make that happen.

If I felt rejected, I could spend hours thinking of why it happened and what I could do so that it would never happen again.

I longed for companionship, so a lot of time was devoted to trying to be someone that was worthy of it.

Loneliness would visit me along the racetrack as I sat with my weights or trudged along trying to carry them.

Fear kept me a step behind courage, many times.

And doubt?

Second guessing my decisions, emotions, and self-esteem was a regular pattern.

I’m different now.

The weights are becoming more visible to me as I recognize the hindrances that I have previously allowed to consume my attention.

Jesus is helping me to identify unnecessary weights as they present themselves in my mind.

If I am to be free to follow Him, I must daily set aside any temptations to pick up anything that would become heavy, stalling my progress.

All of those things—like rejection, fear and doubt—Jesus can replace with acceptance, peace and assurance.

There is a path set before me.

I need to lay aside every weight.

 

 

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Rising of the Sun

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The clouds were so thick and consuming.

The sun appeared as a white, round sphere in the sky, almost moon-like.

Such power is demonstrated to us every day.

The power of the sun to burn and to destroy, yet its warmth allows life to exist on our planet.

The power of the clouds to mask and filter the sun’s magnificent rays as they hint of rain to the earth below.

At every turn there is a display of God’s power within reach.

All powerful and understanding, He chooses to hear our words of praise.

 

Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord,
    praise the name of the Lord!

 Blessed be the name of the Lord
    from this time forth and forevermore!
 From the rising of the sun to its setting,
    the name of the Lord is to be praised!

—Psalm 113:1-3

 

 

 

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But of Power

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Some years ago, I was introduced to a book titled, “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.”

I’ve heard a lot about leaving our comfort zones and stepping out into new territory.

A different job.

A different school.

Deciding to get married.

Actually speaking up in a meeting.

Actually NOT speaking up in a meeting.

 

Courage takes form in various ways.

The courage to say hello.

The courage to say goodbye.

The courage to take initiative in areas that are not familiar.

 

God is at work every day.

To suppose that God would not be open to working in my life as one of His children would be in error.

If you are a child of God, as well, wouldn’t you say that He is open to working in your life?

With each tick of the clock or sweep of the second hand, a new period of time is being experienced.

We can’t know what God will ask us to do in advance.

We can only have the listening ears and willing hearts of a messenger.

 

If we want to experience what God has for us, sometimes we have to “get out of the boat.”

 

 

For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.

–2 Timothy 1:7

 

 

 

 

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See How He Scatters

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How great is God—beyond our understanding!
    The number of his years is past finding out.

 “He draws up the drops of water,
    which distill as rain to the streams;
 the clouds pour down their moisture
    and abundant showers fall on mankind.
Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
    how he thunders from his pavilion?
 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
    bathing the depths of the sea.”

—Job 36:26-30

 

 

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The Land I Will Show You

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A good friend of mine is moving away this week.

Although it was hard to say goodbye, I feel that she is following God’s leading by going to this new place.

A new place that happens to be about a thousand miles from here.

It really wouldn’t matter if the distance was great or small; obeying God is what is most important.

He has a plan for her in her new home.

He has a plan for all the friends and family that she’s leaving behind.

I am certain that she will be a great blessing to others as she begins a different chapter in her life.

 

Thinking about it this afternoon, my mind wandered back to my childhood.

One day, I was walking a few streets over from my home with a cousin.

We saw some wildflowers called Black-eyed Susans growing along the sidewalk somewhere.

One of us decided to pull some up from the ground, roots and all.

We happily carried them home to my mother.

She decided to plant them by our driveway.

My next memory is of Black-eyed Susans literally lining our driveway, growing prolifically.

Cheerful, yellow flowers, at least two feet high, bringing color and beauty where there was none.

 

I’m thinking this way about my friend’s move.

She and her family are like Black-eyed Susans growing beautifully here, where they are planted among other flowers.

God is “transplanting” them to a new spot.

At some point in the future, I think there will be a burst of yellow blooms, bringing God’s color and beauty to the new soil that they will call home.

In the book of Genesis, God told Abram to move to another land.

Abram obeyed.

God had a plan for Abram and although he didn’t know exactly what each day would bring as the plan unfolded, he followed His command.

He journeyed to the new place.

 

He trusted God……

 

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

—Genesis 12:1

 

 

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The Impulse of the Helmsman

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If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about.

Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.

 Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze!

—James 3:3-5

 

Words matter.

What we say and what others hear can have lasting and even eternal effects.

Do you remember words that were said to you as a child?

How about conversations that happened more than ten years ago?

The words we remember may be encouraging and helpful, loving and caring or full of wisdom.

They just as easily may be critical and demeaning, hateful and cold or full of blame.

If you’re  like me, it brings a sort of pain to mind just typing the words of the previous sentence.

 

God cares about what we say.

We are like the helmsman of a ship.

We decide what we are going to say in the same way that he decides where to steer the ship.

The small rudder, like spoken words, can maneuver the entire vessel.

 

I want my words to be good ones.

Helpful, not hurtful.

Uplifting.

Caring.

 

I am at the helm….

 

 

 

 

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Be Patient

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While shopping in a nearby city yesterday with my husband, I stopped to take a photo of a bird that was standing on a boat in a nearby lake.

The shopping area was busy, with waterfront shops and restaurants, an outdoor music concert and crowds of people.

As I got my camera to take the picture, I placed my keys on a wooden post.

Forgetting that I had done so, I walked away.

An hour or two later, merchandise in hand, we decided to leave.

It was then that I realized my keys were missing.

Where had we been?

My husband wanted to stop and pray about it before we began backtracking.

After we prayed, asking God to help us find the keys, we retraced our steps.

Were they in this store?

No.

Where had we been?

I remembered!

On the board walk by the lake and one other building!

We couldn’t find them on any of the wooden posts in the area that we thought we had been.

The board walk was quite long.

We went to the other building we had gone in.

They weren’t there, either.

As we walked back by the waterfront another time, I was focused on trying to find a lost and found area.

Telling my husband my intentions, he walked away from me toward a group of people in a pavilion.

I was impatient.

Although I didn’t say anything, I really wasn’t wanting him to talk to those people.

After all, we needed to hurry to find my keys.

Time was important.

He walked up to a man and the conversation started with me being some distance away.

My husband came to me and said the man directed him to my keys which were nearby.

I had left them on a wooden post, but in a place farther down on the board walk than we had been looking.

Just like that, God had guided us to my keys.

We had prayed about it and God had urged my husband to speak to a random person at a pavilion.

My impatient heart was set on locating a lost and found center instead of considering that God might bring help through someone my husband could talk to.

This was a big lesson for me.

 

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

—-Ephesians 4:2

 

 

 

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Be Patient

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While shopping in a nearby city yesterday with my husband, I stopped to take a photo of a bird that was standing on a boat in a nearby lake.

The shopping area was busy, with waterfront stores and restaurants, an outdoor music concert and crowds of people.

As I got my camera to take the picture, I placed my keys on a wooden post.

Forgetting that I had done so, I walked away.

An hour or two later, merchandise in hand, we decided to leave.

It was then that I realized my keys were missing.

Where had we been?

My husband wanted to stop and pray about it before we began backtracking.

After we prayed, asking God to help us find the keys, we retraced our steps.

Were they in this store?

No.

Where had we been?

I remembered!

On the board walk by the lake and one other building!

We couldn’t find them on any of the wooden posts in the area that we thought we had been.

The board walk was quite long.

We went to the other building we had gone in.

They weren’t there, either.

As we walked back by the waterfront another time, I was focused on trying to find a lost and found area.

After telling my husband my intention of finding a lost and found area, he veered away from me toward a group of people in a pavilion.

I was impatient.

Although I didn’t say anything, I really wasn’t wanting him to talk to those people.

After all, we needed to hurry to find my keys.

Time was important.

He walked up to a man and the conversation started with me being some distance away.

My husband came to me and said the man directed him to my keys which were nearby.

I had left them on a wooden post, but in a place farther down on the board walk than we had been looking.

Just like that, God had guided us to my keys.

We had prayed about it and God had urged my husband to speak to a random person at a pavilion.

My impatient heart was set on locating a lost and found center instead of considering that God might bring help through someone my husband could talk to.

This was a big lesson for me.

 

 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

—-Ephesians 4:2

 

 

 

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Conclusions

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Things aren’t always what they seem to be….

It was time to finally part with the old doghouse.

My husband had built it years ago for our beloved hound.

As we were moving the house from the back yard to the road, my husband alerted me to a brightly colored butterfly that had just come to rest on his equally bright shirt.

In fact, the butterfly and the shirt were pretty much the same color.

I ran into the house to get my camera, hoping that the neon butterfly would be there when I returned.

To my delight, he was still perched on the woven fabric, brilliantly glowing in the sunshine.

 

He was also tickling the back of my husband’s neck–trying to find nectar somewhere in the giant green flower he had just found.

The problem was, there was no flower.

No blossom.

No nectar.

And, sadly for him, there never would be.

Why?

He had mistaken a green piece of cloth for sustenance.

Determined to get to just the right spot, the butterfly remained on my husband’s shirt for several minutes, trying out one spot and then another.

Surely there was food somewhere!

 

It can be easy to jump to conclusions.

Easy to think one way, when truth would have us think another.

Things can look and feel like the right thing when they are not.

Stubbornly, we may keep trying to get nectar from a cloth.

 

Asking God to help us understand our circumstances and move on from incorrect choices is always a good idea.

 

 

Don’t jump to conclusions—there may be
    a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw.

—Proverbs 25:8  The Message

 

 

 

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Dwell in Safety

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You know, you just can’t always be sure of what you are up against.

That being said, you can always be sure that God knows.

Like a couple of nights ago.

I had heard a news story on the radio about wildlife coming into residential areas in a nearby county.

They were suggesting that all pets be brought inside at night.

We have a cat that we love dearly.

He enjoys being outside.

On this night, however, I just felt that he should come in and sleep in the garage.

Later, my husband decided to go outside to take a raincoat to my car.

When he opened our front door, a large bear was standing right there in front of him!

Being mutually surprised, they both began to make vocal sounds—my husband calling to me and the bear making woofing noises.

The bear then decided to climb a tree in our front yard.

Flash photography in the middle of the night of a bear in a tree probably isn’t going to be award winning, but I couldn’t help but try to capture the moments.

I certainly wasn’t going to be capturing our bear visitor!

After a while, he seemed to be more agitated as he sat in the tree.

My husband decided it was time to go in.

The photos turned out looking like a tree with two Christmas lights hanging among the branches.

The lights were actually the bear’s eyes reflecting the flash.

I personally feel that God wanted me to bring our cat in that night, and prompted me to do so.

The bear did not have any opportunity to choose to eat him.

God protects us from situations that we sometimes are totally unaware of.

The other night, I think He allowed us to see that He was protecting our pet.

 

 

“I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

–Psalm 4:8

 

 

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I Changed the Way I Thought

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Sometimes it’s really hard to say you’re sorry.

 

Sorry for poor parenting.

Sorry for giving your own parents a hard time.

Sorry for not being a good spouse.

Sorry for not making good choices.

Sorry for being unkind.

Sorry for neglecting people who loved you.

Sorry for neglecting yourself.

 

Sometimes it’s really hard to say you’re sorry.

 

Sorry that you didn’t say, “I love you,” when you had the chance.

Sorry that you didn’t accept, “I love you,” when you heard it.

Sorry for not helping people who needed help.

Sorry for not giving attention to your family.

Sorry for not spending time with those who cared about you.

 

Sometimes it’s really hard to say you’re sorry.

 

Sorry that you didn’t live the way God was wanting you to.

Sorry that you didn’t listen to His guidance.

Sorry that you let fear keep you from accomplishing God’s best.

 

But even though it’s hard, we can say, “I’m sorry.”

We can start with saying those words to God.

We can, one by one, say those words to those that need to hear them.

We can ask for forgiveness from God and from others.

We can decide to live a different way from now on.

 

Sometimes it’s hard–but we can.

 

After I was turned around, I changed the way I thought and acted.

—from Jeremiah 31:19

 

 

 

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My God Sent His Angel

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Daniel was a man who trusted God.

In the Old Testament account, we find that Daniel was sentenced to be thrown into a den of lions because of an underhanded plot by jealous men.

By a series of carefully thought out procedures, even the king could not save Daniel from the sentence.

Daniel was thrown into the den and a stone was rolled over the opening.

The king, not wanting Daniel to be harmed, did not eat or sleep the entire night—–

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever!  My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”  Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

—Daniel 6:19-23

God was able to keep the lions from hurting Daniel.

In the very company of danger, he was completely safe.

The size of the lions was of no consequence.

Whether they were hungry or not made no difference.

God is in control, no matter how dire the circumstances.

Whatever you are facing today, know that God is greater.

Trust in Him.

 

 

 

 

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Unless the LORD

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Where do you live?

Who built your dwelling?

House, apartment.

The builder is very important.

Consider this passage:

 

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
–Psalm 127:1-2
 

What if we took the first six words of this passage and changed it to apply to our own situations?

Unless the LORD earns the degree….

Unless the LORD secures the job….

Unless the LORD moves the family….

We need God’s blessing on our endeavors, whatever they may be.

Though we work and strive to accomplish something, if it is not what God wants, it will not be what it could have been.

Anything plus God equals complete sufficiency.

Anything minus God equals a terrible deficit.

 

 

Unless the LORD…….

 

 

 

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I Will Extol the LORD

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Praise the Lord.

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
 He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant forever.

He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.

—Psalm 111:1-7

My heart is beating.

I know it is, because I am conscious and alive.

I also know it is, because I can feel it in my chest.

God chose to create me and He is granting me life.

At some point in my infancy, I realized that I was alive.

At another point in my childhood, I realized that God was alive.

When I learned to read, the words of the Bible were available to me.

When I understood what sin was, I realized I was sinful.

When I understood Jesus’ death on the cross, I realized I could be forgiven.

Throughout my life, God has shown me great mercy and love.

He has shown me that He could be trusted.

Since your heart is beating, too, it is God who is granting you life.

Do you trust in Him today?

 

 

 

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great are the works

The Prudent See Danger

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As soon as we stepped out of our front door this afternoon, my husband quickly noticed an unusual looking bird across the street.

We live in an area that is set apart for residential buildings, but our home is located on the outermost edge near thick woods.

Living here for 15 years, we had not seen anything quite like this bird around our property before.

Since it was across the street, we were not up close.

I got my camera out as fast as I could and started snapping pictures as it walked almost in a panic between two houses.

The poor thing really did seem to be very frightened and alarmed, bouncing almost as it walked.

It is common to see sand cranes in our area, which are very tall, long legged birds.

At first, I thought that was what we were looking at, yet I had NEVER seen a sand crane look so lost and desperate, almost running from one place to another in fear.

The bird finally ran into the woods as I made the trek across the road and into a neighbor’s yard to get a better look.

Checking my photographs to see just what the bird’s features were, my husband identified it as a wild female turkey.

How odd to see such a bird wandering among rows of houses!

Since the turkey would normally stay in the woods in an entirely natural habitat, no wonder she was extremely agitated and focused on getting back into familiar territory.

The houses, cars, and maybe even a barking dog or two may have been enough to cause her great concern.

She made the right choice and fled to safety.

Proverbs 27:12 reads,

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.

 

I don’t know how this female turkey came to be among houses and cars, but I witnessed her reaction and her choice to take refuge.

It was a wise choice.

When we make a mistake, or perhaps just fail to take certain precautions and find ourselves in danger, we have a choice.

Recognize the danger and begin looking for safety or disregard the danger and get hurt in the process.

Making choices about where we go and what we do are our responsibility.

Will we heed God’s direction?

If we wake up one morning and realize that our previous choices have landed us in an undesirable place, we can change course right then, asking God to take control at that moment, to guide us back to where HE wants us to be.

I have felt like our turkey visitor before and I may very well feel like her again.

Lost.

Confused.

Faced with unfamiliar surroundings.

When that happens, I must remember to take refuge…..

in God.

 

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Not Everyone

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“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

—Matthew 7:21-27

Walking down the sidewalks of the old town provided something eye-catching and interesting at every turn.

As I neared a stone wall with front gates, I looked inside.

An outdoor restaurant, inviting and quaint, was located inside.

Tree branches shaded the tables from the afternoon sun.

A sign was posted to see the host in order to be seated.

Making a mental note to eat there the next time I returned to the town, I took some photographs and went on my way.

If I had decided to eat there that day, I really would’ve only had to have a couple of qualifications.

I would have needed appropriate clothing, which in this case, could have been quite casual.

However, I am assuming that shirts and shoes were non-negotiables.

The second qualification would have been having enough money to pay for my food.

With those two things taken care of, my presence in the restaurant would have been welcomed.

But what if I hadn’t worn the appropriate clothing?

What if I’d had no money at all?

I would not have been welcomed.

No seat would have been offered to me.

Most people would understand that.

It seems that while many believe there are certain requirements for entering a restaurant, they feel there are no requirements for entering Heaven.

They think that everyone goes to Heaven when they die.

But, do they?

In the Bible passage above, Jesus does not state that all will be with Him in Heaven.

Those who do the will of His Father will enter the kingdom.

When we die, there won’t be a sign at the gates of Heaven instructing us to see a host in order to be seated inside.

Clothing won’t matter.

Money will be of no worth.

The only thing that will be important at that moment will be our relationship with Jesus.

Faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will be the only qualification needed to ensure not only our passage into Heaven but our eternal residence there, as well.

 

 

 

 

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not everyone final

Fishermen

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It was only a small light on the horizon.

A simple point of illumination above the vastness of the sea.

Being curious about what I was looking at, I took a camera and tried to zoom in on the faraway object.

What I thought was only one light became two.

Two lights fixed above a deep sea trawler.

With outriggers stretching far alongside, a night of hard work was probably just beginning for a crew of diligent fishermen.

Smoke trailed away from the boat into the atmosphere as darkness was beginning to swallow up the last bit of sunlight.

They were certain to catch more fish than one man alone could do in a simple boat.

This was serious fishing.

Intentional fishing.

Fishing with an end in mind.

 

 

Jesus chose some fishermen to be His disciples.

He chose them with an end in mind:

One day as Jesus was walking along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew fishing with nets, for they were commercial fishermen.

 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me! And I will make you fishermen for the souls of men!”  At once they left their nets and went along with him.

 A little farther up the beach, he saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat mending their nets.  He called them too, and immediately they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and went with him.

—Mark 1:16-20

They did learn to fish for men.

They learned to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.

They learned what it meant to speak to others about Him, encouraging them to believe, as well.

Although two thousand years have passed, the mission is the same.

Once we believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, we should learn to speak to others about Him, encouraging them to believe.

Seriously speaking to others about Him.

Intentionally speaking.

Speaking with an end in mind.

Maybe even attaching some “outriggers” to reach people we may not have normally been in contact with.

Shouldn’t we think of ourselves as fishermen for the souls of men?

The souls of our friends?

The souls of our families?

The souls of our neighbors?

 

 

 

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souls of men

People Will Know

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A friend recently wrote a blog entry about how God brings people into our lives one at a time.

One person is divinely placed within your scope of care and influence, and then, another and another.

I was thinking today about some new friends that I had met.

We’ve talked some on a couple of occasions and I was considering the possibility of asking them to eat dinner at my home sometime.

Many thoughts run through my mind at lightning speed, just like everyone else’s.

After thinking the split-second thought about having them over for dinner, I immediately thought about how there are thousands and thousands of people I could meet.

The next sentence that popped into my head was, “You can’t invite thousands of people over for dinner!”

At that instant, I remembered my friend’s blog entry.

One at a time.

I can’t have thousands of people over for dinner.

I can’t sit and listen to thousands of people share about their struggles.

I can, however, begin with one.

And then, another one.

And another.

I think God brought that to my mind at just that moment to encourage me.

It’s almost a feeling of freedom to realize that God wants me to show His love to others as He brings them individually into my life—

one at a time.

John 13:34-35 reads,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

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by this

No Other Name

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There is a song that was released recently that has become a favorite of mine.

Here is a portion of the lyrics:

When you don’t know what to say

Just say, “Jesus”

There is power in the name

The name of Jesus

If the words won’t come ’cause you’re too afraid to pray

Just say, “Jesus”

(by 7eventh Time Down)

Have you been that way before?

So distraught that you didn’t even know what to say?

You couldn’t even form a prayer?

Maybe you were even afraid to try to pray.

I know I have just said the name of Jesus when faced with severe circumstances.

There truly is power in His name because it is His name.

In Acts 4:11-12, Peter spoke these words:

Jesus is

“‘the stone you builders rejected,
    which has become the cornerstone.’

 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

There is no other name under heaven like the name of Jesus.

If you are afraid, you can say, “Jesus.”

If you are sad and lonely, you can say, “Jesus.”

Wherever you are and whatever is going on around you and inside you, He will hear you when you say…….

“Jesus.”

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salvation

The Steps of Good Men

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The steps of good men are directed by the Lord. He delights in each step they take.

—Psalm 37:23

The steps.

The decisions, the words, the choices, moment by moment.

Good men.

Men whose hearts respect the Lord, desiring to please Him.

Directed by the Lord.

Instructed, guided, a willingness to follow.

I want God to delight in my steps, don’t you?

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good men

A New Heart

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A changed heart.

A changed attitude.

What does that look like?

How does it occur?

You may have prayed, as I have, for someone’s heart to change.

It could be that they were unforgiving and angry.

You hoped for acceptance and calm.

They may have been cold and uninterested in matters of faith.

You longed to see their hearts tender and warm toward God.

People actually do change.

But how?

God can work in anyone’s life in any manner that He chooses.

Sometimes, I think that there can be a series of events that build upon one another, culminating in what seems to be an instantaneous shift in attitude.

I have heard the story of a famous author who was not a Christian.

After some believing friends had spoken to him many times about their faith, he suddenly came to believe in Christ himself.

Think of it this way—-

Imagine a wall–a high, brick wall.

On the other side of that wall, a beautiful scene of rolling hills and farmlands is visable.

A stone is placed at its base.

The next day, another stone is set upon it.

Day after day, other stones are positioned in front of the wall, some on top of others.

You decide the climb the stones.

Still, you cannot see over the wall and you are unaware of what lies beyond it.

Climbing back down, you go on your way.

As time goes by, more stones are placed in front of the wall.

Finally, they are reaching higher than before.

Deciding to climb again, you scale up the stacked stones until you reach the top.

Looking over the wall, you gaze at the beauty before you, seeing the hills and farmland for yourself.

God places many stones in our lives—

Things that people say to us about faith in God.

Acts of kindness and love from others.

Words from the Bible.

As we are exposed to each “stone” we climb higher and higher until one day, we see the truth for ourselves.

As we pray for others, we need not grow weary in our hope for them.

Each day,  a stone of testimony may be placed in front of those we love.

One on top of the other, they may form a spiritual journey of grace—

ending in a changed heart for God.

 

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

–from Ezekiel 36:26

 

 

 

 

 

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My Dark Path

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I had never been down the road before.

A sign inviting travelers to venture on it’s path was intriguing enough.

Bending trees made a canopy over the packed sand, forming an inviting mix of sunlight and shadow.

Following each turn and curve, it finally led to the water’s edge where a clear, blue sky shown from above.

If I had decided to decline the sign’s silent invitation to explore, I would not have known the rustic beauty of the path that led to the sea.

I would have missed the canopy of branches arcing overhead.

 

God has surely invited me to travel many pathways in life that would have been both beneficial and beautiful for me.

I will not know of some of them, however, as I chose to decline His invitation.

Perhaps out of fear.

Lack of self-esteem.

Failure to trust Him.

Maybe because I wasn’t listening closely enough to even hear His call toward the pathway.

God is a God of second chances however, and there have been other roads that I have chosen to travel.

Having answered God’s voice at those times, I have experienced the joy of what He had for me along the journey.

Psalm 119:105 from THE MESSAGE reads,

“By Your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.”

God will lead us along the paths He calls us to, even if they seem to be filled with shadows and uncertainty.

 

 

 

 

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Ever-Present Help

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It was a day to relax, mostly.

Reclining on the beach with friends, I looked out toward the water.

There was peace.

The steady, yet calm roar of the waves never ceased.

Predictable…..

Consistent…..

Then, I saw it!

What was that?

My friends hadn’t noticed, but I peered more closely toward the water.

Something jumped a couple of feet above the sand and flopped back down.

It did it again!

Could a jellyfish do that?

Ever curious, I got out of my luxury lawn chair, complete with a built in neck pillow, cup holder and supply bag and started walking toward the object in question.

As I grew closer, I realized what it was.

A TREE FROG!

He had his arms tucked under him as he sat still in my presence.

Along with sunglasses and sunscreen, I had decided to bring my camera to the beach.

It was time to take a few photos before embarking on the task of getting the little creature back to a more hospitable environment.

One of my friends had a ball cap on, which came in very handy when trying to catch a hopping frog.

When she had him secured, she walked to the nearest area of palm trees and other foliage to let him go.

The adventure complete, we settled back into our chairs, basking in the sun and the mist of the sea.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder….how did that frog get to the beach?

After some thought, I decided that he could have hopped into someone’s fishing supplies.

Maybe in a garage miles away, an unsuspecting sportsman picked up a bucket or bag, placed it into their truck and transported it with the tiny, green stowaway on board.

How he got there was not really the important thing, however.

Getting him back to a safe place was.

 

People do this all the time, you know.

Surroundings look interesting and relatively safe, like a bag or bucket with fisherman’s gear.

We crawl in, feeling quite accomplished.

Before we know it, we decide it’s time to hop out, but when we do, things have changed.

Tall, leafy trees and damp, green grass have been replaced by salt water and burning hot sand as far as the eye can see.

In a panic, we jump high into the air, not realizing that doing so alerts predators to our presence in an unforgiving and hostile place.

Even so, God is watching.

He knows where we are when we ourselves do not.

He knows the danger when we venture into the bag.

He watches us as we are filled with fear when we see where our decisions have taken us.

He knows we can’t live in the salty waves.

When we hop frantically on the shore, He can pick us up and take us to a place—

a safe place we can call home.

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

—Psalm 146:1-3

 

 

help

That They May See

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The plane was soaring across the sky as the sun was setting.

It did so, leaving a powdery jet trail of blazing white.

The rays of the sun illuminated the trail long after the plane was gone.

 

When I think back five years, ten years—-even twenty—-did I busy myself accomplishing things that were eternally important?

Did I leave behind a blazing trail of obedience to God?

How about a visible witness of a life devoted to Him?

When I had moved away to another city, was there any evidence of lasting investment in the lives of those I knew?

I want my light to shine for others, even after I’m gone.

That means I have to start today, making decisions that honor God in all areas of my life.

 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

—Matthew 5:16

 

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good works

New Every Morning

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The beach was glowing in the sunlight as the new day began.

I sat, watching the splendor unfold before me.

The clouds filled the sky with white, cottony patches that changed in hue as the sun rose.

Every day is a new day.

A new day to live for God.

 

 

 

 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

—Lamentations 3:22-26

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every morning

Through the Strong Currents

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Standing near the shoreline, I happened to notice a draw bridge opening up above the water.

I watched as a boat made its way through.

It’s quite an undertaking to design, construct and operate a draw bridge.

From the very beginning, the purpose of the draw bridge is to open up a passageway for boats so that they can go through.

Because the bridge was so big and so low, I might have mistakenly thought that the boat would not have been able to get to the other side.

There may be things in our lives that look like that bridge to us.

Illness.

Relationship issues.

Job concerns.

They seem way too big to allow us to pass through to a better place.

It is God, however, who controls the bridge.

At His command, the heavy mass of steel and concrete situations can lift, just in time for us to pass through safely.

We must trust God every day.

Even when the obstacles seem too big.

 

 

 

 

The Lord makes a path through the sea
    and a road through the strong currents.

—Isaiah 43:16

 

 

 

 

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You’ve Always Kept the Door Open

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Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
    “Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,”
    my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!”
    Don’t hide from me now!

You’ve always been right there for me;
    don’t turn your back on me now.
Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me;
    you’ve always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me,
    but God took me in.

—Psalm 27:7-10

The Message

Have you ever felt that the door was closed when you wanted to talk to God?

Maybe you felt that you were the one who had closed it and it could never be opened again.

God is a God of second chances.

The door is open.

He is ready to hear your voice call out to Him.

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door open

Rather, He Delights

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I had only been to the restaurant once before.

Located at the shoreline of a large lake, the scenery was delightful.

Walking along a wooden deck after dinner, I noticed the property right beside the restaurant.

A home had been built there.

In the backyard, a boat and chair sat, waiting to be used.

The boat would take the owners out on the water, allowing them to fish or just enjoy the movement of the gentle waves.

The chair would allow them to sit and take in the beauty of the lake before them, watching the sun set over the calm water.

The boat and the chair did not just happen along in the yard.

Someone purchased them and placed them where they could be used.

There was a plan.

A deliberate plan.

 

Do I plan to notice what God has made?

Do I plan to enjoy what He has provided for me?

Do I make a deliberate plan to focus on His presence?

 

Blessed is the person who does not
    follow the advice of wicked people,
        take the path of sinners,
            or join the company of mockers.
Rather, he delights in the teachings of the Lord
    and reflects on his teachings day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside streams—
    a tree that produces fruit in season
        and whose leaves do not wither.
    He succeeds in everything he does.

—Psalm 1:1-3

 

 

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Love Your Neighbor

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 One of the experts in Moses’ Teachings went to Jesus during the argument with the Sadducees. He saw how well Jesus answered them, so he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of them all?”

 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. So love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’  The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

—Mark 12:28-31

 

 

How do we love God each day?

How do we love our neighbors?

 

 

 

 

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