Run With Perseverance

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It’s been about a week and a half now since the benefit race.

Never having run in anything like it before, it was totally a new experience for me.

At least, the parts about being electronically tracked and timed by a sticker on my chest, having people along the route hand me water and seeing my age on race day posted on a flat screen tv set up at the site.

That was all new.

What wasn’t new, was that I had already walked/jogged about 386 tracked miles in the last three years.

That was important.

In several respects, I was ready.

Prepared.

An achievable goal in front of me.

To add to the significance of the day, four other family members took part in the race.

Two of them won medals.

I did not.

That’s okay with me, because we all happily ended up past the finish line.

Hebrews 12:1-2 reads:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We each have a race marked out for us.

It’s not about medals.

It’s not about coming in first.

It’s not even about being electronically tracked or having someone give you water along the way.

It’s about setting out to do what God has for you to do.

It’s about keeping on keeping on.

Perseverance.

Focus on God.

Remembering that Jesus died on the cross so we could be in the race and finish in Heaven with Him someday.

That’s important.

Are you ready?

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marked out final

What Really Matters

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Houses.

Cars.

They’re important.

We need places to live.

Places to eat and sleep in.

Places to talk and laugh in.

A way to get to our jobs.

A way to go where we need to go.

We could make a longer list of things that are important to our lifestyles, but what is most important?

Many years ago, my husband’s parents and younger brother survived the direct hit of a tornado to their property.

As we drove to another state to get to them, we were not concerned about a house.

We were not worried about cars, furniture, televisions or appliances.

Our concern was for the lives of our loved ones.

Were they okay?

That was what mattered.

I spend a tremendous amount of time working to afford things in my life.

Things like a house and a car.

A cell phone and a computer.

Stuff like that.

But what do I really care about?

My family.

My friends.

Do I spend a good bit of my time showing love and concern for them?

If they are more important to me than houses or cars, why wouldn’t I be devoting moments to nurturing our relationships?

Maybe it’s time to reevaluate my priorities.

Wash my car or call a struggling friend?

Clean the garage or attend my son’s ballgame?

What really matters, anyway?

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

–Philippians 1:9-10

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what really

When He Speaks

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It was one of those unusual times when the sun was shining and it was raining at the same time.

Everything looked vivid with a wet, shiny glow.

As I stood on my front porch, I photographed the rain on the roof.

I photographed the rain on the sidewalk.

And the rain dropping in front of our rock fountain.

It was a delightfully rare collection of moments as I quietly thrilled to the sights and sounds of God’s plan to water the earth.

God made the earth by his power and wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding.  When he speaks, there is thunder in the heavens, and he causes the vapors to rise around the world; he brings the lightning with the rain and the winds from his treasuries.

Jeremiah 51:15-16

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Right and True

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For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

—Psalm 33:4-5

In your own life—-

Haven’t you found that God’s word was right?

That it was true?

Don’t you feel that God loves justice?

Can you see His unfailing love all around you?

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Beside a Stream * * * (LEAVE A COMMENT)

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The trees by the water were inviting.

All lined up, straight and tall.

The rain was light and the afternoon sun was muted as though it were filtered through a thick, white blanket.

Standing there, looking at water drops on the leaves, listening to the quiet surroundings, I was happy to be a part of the moment.

Life was thriving there at the water’s edge.

When we stay close to God, we are like trees that grow close to the water.

Thriving.

Alive.

Fruitful.

God blesses those people
    who refuse evil advice
    and won’t follow sinners
    or join in sneering at God.
Instead, the Law of the Lord
    makes them happy,
    and they think about it
    day and night.

 They are like trees
    growing beside a stream,
trees that produce
fruit in season
    and always have leaves.
Those people succeed
    in everything they do.

–Psalm 1:1-3

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growing

Beyond the Way

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What would you think if…..

You were visiting a country where the language spoken was not your own.

After eating a meal at a restaurant, you become ill and go to a hospital.

Trying desperately to communicate to the people in the emergency room, you feel helpless because you are so sick and there is no one who can understand your words.

Through your pain, you ask God to please send you help somehow.

In moments, the door opens and a doctor walks in who can speak your language.

After telling him your medical history and what pain you are having, he is able to begin treating you accordingly.

When you begin feeling better, you ask the doctor some questions.

As it turns out, he doesn’t normally work at that hospital at all.

In fact, he had gotten a call a couple of hours earlier with a request to deliver some medical records there.

He was just about to leave the hospital that you’re in, when he noticed that it was pouring down rain.

Deciding to go back inside to borrow an umbrella, he walked down a hallway to speak with some nurses.

There, he heard talk of a patient who only spoke a certain language.

Realizing there was a need, the doctor walked down to the emergency area to find you.

Earlier that day, when the sun was just rising, the doctor had prayed and asked God to allow him to help someone who could only be helped by his specific training.

How can God work things out so that—

1. Someone orders medical records at about the same time that you are ordering food.

2. The doctor who delivers them speaks a certain second language.

3.  They are to be taken to the place that you will choose to go when you get sick.

4.  It begins to rain at just the right moment to stop the doctor.

5. He goes down a hallway where just the right nurses are standing and speaking of you.

6. Even before you knew you would need a doctor, He was preparing to send you one.

Although this is not a true story, I could tell a few that ARE true that sound very much like this one.

God’s ways are higher than ours.

We can’t imagine how He works the details out.

Sometimes we realize that events were in the planning years before they occur.

Today, an event truly did happen in my life, similar in essence to my fictional one.

I have been thanking Him with gratitude since then, reminded of His sovereignty and His great love.

Isaiah 55:8-11  The Message

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

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sky soars

I Will Instruct You

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Train signals.

I stood looking up at the colorful array.

They’re very important, aren’t they?

I don’t know anyone who would want to board a train if they knew that there would be no working signals for the conductor along the route.

Without signals, who could know what was up ahead?

There would be no preparation to avoid a possible disaster.

God encourages us with these words from Psalm 32:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (verse 8)

We are not without instruction.

God has not positioned us aboard a train that will travel without proper direction and warning.

Through His Holy Spirit working in us and through His Word in the scriptures, we have instruction and direction to guide us as we travel through the journey of time allotted to us.

The question is, will we follow the directions that are given to us?

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Nothing New

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Several years ago, something new arrived on the store shelves.

Delicate strands that looked almost like a brush came alive with light on their tips.

The strands were connected to a base and the light show was fascinating to watch.

Introducing——–fiber optics.

Actually, the fiber optic “lamps” purchased as conversation pieces for the home may have been the next new thing on the market, but fiber optics had been on a few select scientists’ minds for decades.

Today, fiber optics are used a lot in the world of technology and communication.

But, is anything new under the sun?

As I walked along a trail deck, I came across some unusual looking pink blooms.

They looked like the fiber optic lamps in the stores years ago.

What were they?

After researching them online, I found their identification: Mimosa microphylla.

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

Whatever the name, God had made a plant that produced pick strands topped with white, marshmallow-looking tips.

I wonder if the very early developers of fiber optics had ever pondered this plant and its likeness?

If I wanted to, I could purchase an intriguing fiber optic lamp for a table or desk in my home.

If I wanted to, I could walk out on a trail and find intriguing flowers that almost glow with pink in the sunshine.

There is nothing we can develop, invent, adapt or manufacture that God has not allowed us to.

He knew all about it first…..

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new

You Are Worth More

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It had started raining about a half hour before I was to leave work.

When I had finally gathered all my things—-including a briefcase, purse, and a bottle of water—I headed out to the parking lot.

On the way, I scurried under a covered walkway as far as I could.

Not only was there rain, there was lightning.

Feeling uneasy about walking right out into the rain and flashes of light, I began to pray as I did so.

My prayer was probably something like this:

“Lord, please protect me.”

As I walked on the pavement, I suddenly heard a bird.

I looked up to see a bird singing, very high in a palm tree.

Singing in the midst of the storm.

Singing in the top of a tree.

Some lyrics came to my mind.

“For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

(by Civilla D. Martin)

As I got into my car, the storm continued.

I lowered a window in the car and got out my camera.

With a good zoom shot, I photographed the little bird.

Jesus said, Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

—Matthew 10:29-31

God was comforting me with a singing bird, reminding me that His eye was on me as I walked across the parking lot in the rain and lightning.

His eye is on you, too.

Even when you walk through a storm…..

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afraid

My Mind Tastes Truth

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The sun was shining so brightly on the flowers in the yard this afternoon.

After looking out the window for a few moments, I decided to get my camera and walk outside for a closer look.

I noticed a butterfly on a lantana bush.

He was a busy guy, and I only took two photos of him.

Looking at those photos more closely on the computer screen, I could clearly see the butterfly’s proboscis inserted into the yellow flower.

It was dinner time!

Or, perhaps, just part of his regular day-long activity, taking in nourishment as he found it.

He would not have found any nourishment in plastic flowers, even if they had graced my patio table with delicate colors.

Nor would he have found it in neatly lined stones on the ground.

What he needed could only come from specific sources.

Sources that God created to do certain functions—like feeding butterflies.

Wisdom and truth come from God.

We can’t find it anywhere else.

Looking for wisdom and truth apart from God is like a butterfly trying to feed off a plastic flower.

Discerning what our eyes see and our ears hear is vitally important.

Are we seeing and hearing truth?

That is a significant question to ask—-

all day long.

From the book of Job, chapter 12:

Just as my mouth can taste good food, so my mind tastes truth when I hear it. –verse 11

But true wisdom and power are God’s. He alone knows what we should do; He understands. —verse 13

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mouth can taste

As You Would Have Them

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It was funny, really.

But then, I thought for a second, and I realized there was much more to it.

My husband read me something that he had seen online.

Children were asked about their thoughts on marriage.

Some of the answers were humorous.

What completely peaked my interest and started my pondering were the words of an eight year old girl.

“Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.”  

After laughing to myself, I began to apply this wisdom a bit further.

Certainly people need to talk in order to get to know each other all the time, not just on dates.

We need to talk to our friends, neighbors, relatives—–even strangers sometimes.

And when we talk, we should pause and take the time to listen.

To listen to each other.

Everyone—not just boys—-has something to say if you listen long enough.

It may even take a good long time of listening to casual conversation before someone feels comfortable enough to begin to share their true thoughts and feelings on a matter.

Jesus said, Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)

If you want to be heard, then listen.

Everyone has something to say.

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Do unto frame

Secret Motives

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Why?

Why did they say that?

Why did they do that?

Why are they acting this way?

You’ve probably asked yourself these questions many times.

It could have been concerning family, friends, neighbors or coworkers.

It could have been concerning people you’d heard of in the news.

At times, we might think we know the answer to our questions already.

We consider what we know about the situations and the personalities involved.

We then form a possible conclusion for the words or actions.

This can be for good words and actions as well as the bad ones.

But do we really know why?

I don’t think so.

Only God sees the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

People.

People like you and me.

And sometimes, we find ourselves asking the “why” questions about our own actions and words.

Haven’t you ever thought,

“Why did I say that?”

“Why did I do that?”

We may become confused about our own behavior, but God isn’t.

He knows us.

He really knows us.

Much, much better than we know ourselves.

That being said, He knows everyone else better than we do.

Much, much better.

Better than they even know themselves.

It’s okay to ask, “why?” when we are wondering about the actions of others or ourselves.

It’s even better, if we truly want to understand, to ask God to reveal to us the answer to the “why?”

He may choose not to tell us, but since He is the only One who actually knows, He is the only One who could actually give us the perfect answer.

Our words and actions begin in our hearts.

It is there that God sees who we are, with nothing hidden.

“But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

—Jeremiah 17:10

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The Day is Yours

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Who does today belong to?

Who owns tonight?

Are they ours to control?

Can we plan their outcomes with total certainty?

God is sovereign.

As His children, we belong to Him.

Our days and nights belong to Him, as well.

We must rest in His love.

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moon correct

Holy, Holy, Holy

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On my way home today, I was listening to the radio.

“Revelation Song” came on.

Here are part of the lyrics:

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You…!*

The lyrics are taken from the book of Revelation, chapter four.

Here is a portion of that chapter:

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne.  Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.  The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was, and is, and is to come.”

(verses 2-8)

When I consider the holiness of God, I cannot even fathom what that truly means.

Holy.

Pure.

Almighty.

An emerald rainbow encircling His throne.

A sea of glass, clear as crystal in front of it.

God is to be reverenced.

God is to be awed.

He holds our very lives in His hands.

 *Phillips, Craig and Dean

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Each

Get Me Out of Here

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Who will give me wings,” I ask—
    “wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
    I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
    I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
    from rage and stormy weather.

—Psalm 55:6-8  The Message

In the Old Testament, King David knew what it was like to be overwhelmed.

To be betrayed.

To have slanderous things said about him.

To have people conspire against him.

After all, he was a king and nations do rise up against nations.

But no matter what happened, David would always return to his faith in God.

When he was troubled, he turned to God for help.

When he was joyous, he turned to God in praise.

In the passage above, David is tired of all the trouble that has mounted itself in front of him.

He longs for peace and an absence of the problems that are weighing heavily on his heart.

Peace and quiet.

A walk in the country.

A cabin in the woods.

Desperate for change…..

Haven’t you felt that way before?

Just wishing to fly away and leave it all behind?

King David trusted God, even in the hard times.

The dangerous times.

The confusing times.

He trusted Him in the good times.

The prosperous times.

The joyful times.

If you are in the midst of trouble today, I urge you to pray and tell God what is on your heart.

If you are in a place of peace and calm today, I urge you to thank God with a joyful voice.

Wherever you find yourself at this moment, God is there.

He is faithful……

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peace

Listen to What I Say!

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The tower stretched upward in front of me.

Communication is a serious thing.

Cell phones.

Satellites.

Computers.

We feel that we MUST be connected to certain people.

And, most of the time, we feel that we must be able to instantly connect to them.

But what about hearing from God?

What about connecting to Him?

What does our own spiritual tower look like?

Are our eyes and our hearts tuned to hear His voice?

Do we ignore Him?

Or do we listen?

Listen, O heavens and earth!
Listen to what I say!

—Deuteronomy 32:1

 

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listen

The Love of God in Christ Jesus

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It was a perfect morning to be out and about.

While riding my bicycle on a trail, I happened to look up.

An airplane was writing in the sky.

At first, I couldn’t tell what was being written.

After watching for a few moments, I recognized the letters J E S U S.

I gazed upwards as I watched the airplane carefully craft the word L O V E.

The message was probably going to be J E S U S  L O V E S  Y O U.

Although I am not sure why, the writing appeared upside down.

Still, the communication was the same.

For anyone who was outside at the time, it would have been hard not to notice.

We need to know that Jesus loves us.

The pilot of the plane yesterday was flying up and down, this way and that, somehow forming the letters that would proclaim to those on the ground a simple, yet eternally important, message.

 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Romans 8:38-39

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love of God

Through Jesus

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Does the weight of guilt sit on you with a heaviness you can’t get rid of?

Does the hope of ever being forgiven seem impossible to even consider?

Does the helplessness you feel when you remember your mistakes grip you with regret?

I want you to know that through Jesus, you can be forgiven of every sin.

The weight can be lifted.

The heaviness can go away.

The helpless feeling can be replaced with gratitude.

Regret can be replaced with thankfulness.

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.

–Acts 13:38

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forgiveness

Everlasting

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Answered prayer.

How could I possibly describe what it feels like to see God work?

People experience answers to prayer all the time—–

When they pray for funds and an unexpected check comes in the mail.

When they pray for healing and the tests come back negative.

When they pray for a marriage and the divorce is cancelled.

When they pray for the salvation of someone they know and that person comes to know the Lord as their Savior.

I could try to describe it.

There’s a feeling of gratitude that bubbles forth from deep within.

Praise rises from your thoughts to your lips.

A testimony of God’s goodness can hardly be contained.

Several weeks ago, my heart was heavy concerning those I was praying for.

I told God that I needed a miracle.

I was praying this prayer with my head covered with a towel, because it had just started raining as I was sitting in a chair at the beach.

When I uncovered my head, a beautiful rainbow had appeared above the ocean in front of me.

I thanked God for showing me a rainbow, and I felt that in His time, there would be a miracle concerning my request.

In the past several days, miraculous occurrences have been taking place in the realm of that request.

I have been thanking God for His work.

Praise and gratitude fill my heart.

Yesterday, I was driving to a Bible study, or so I thought.

As I drove, I saw a rainbow. I stopped to photograph it.

Within minutes, it was gone.

As I drove on further, I saw an incredible site.

A rainbow-like patch had appeared by a cloud.

I had been thinking about how I could see God working in one person’s life that I had prayed for, but I was still hoping for miracles in the other person’s life.

As I watched the rainbow patch, a dark cloud began to cover it.

I could tell that the bands of glorious color were still there, even though the dark cloud was beginning to hide it from view.

I believe that God is going to answer my prayer from that day on the beach for BOTH the people that were on my heart.

Just because I can’t see a rainbow, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Just because I may not see God working in someone’s life, it doesn’t mean that He isn’t.

As I pulled up to the home where I was to attend the Bible study, there were no cars in the driveway.

Checking the message I had received about it, I realized that I had come on the wrong day.

If I had not gone out to go to the Bible study, I might never have seen the rainbow patch and the dark clouds that floated past.

God wanted me to see it, I believe, to encourage me.

To remind me of His message to me that day at the beach.

His brilliant arc of blazing light in the sky as I uncovered my head.

God is with us, you and me.

He hears our prayers.

He knows our hearts.

He loves us with an everlasting love.

But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

Psalm 103:17-18

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everlasting

Flowers Fall

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Walking along a wooden deck that defined a nature trail, I was interested in seeing everything along the way.

The skies were filled with clouds and a storm was brewing.

I knew at any time I might have to turn back.

In the vividness that is created when afternoon skies grow dark, I noticed a brightly colored petal lying on the deck boards in front of me.

So vibrantly yellow, its presence could hardly be missed.

Where did it come from?

I began to look around to find out.

Nearby, a tree adorned with similar petals grew above the trail.

At some point, several of the petals would release and the deck would be covered.

Many things don’t last in this life.

Flowers are a classic example of that fact.

God, however, will never cease to exist.

His word will continue forever.

Isn’t there comfort in these words?

“All people are like grass,
    and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”

–from Isaiah 40:6-8

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withers

Spoil or Fade

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Walking down the street, I saw some Bird of Paradise plants growing.

These plants are named for their resemblance to actual multicolored birds called birds of paradise.

Paradise plants.

Paradise birds.

When I think of paradise, I think of Jesus’ words to one of the thieves crucified along side Him:

 

 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?  We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

—Luke 23:39-43

 

Paradise is where Jesus is.

Believers who follow Jesus will have an inheritance in paradise.

It will never “spoil or fade.”

There will never be a time when God takes it away.

Are you thankful for your inheritance today?

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

—1 Peter 1:3-5

 

 

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My Ways

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As I walked by the fountain, I decided to take some shots of the water as it surged into the air.

Things that are normally unnoticeable except through photography are particularly of interest to me.

Even though we may not notice them or even be aware of their presence, God knows all about them.

After all, it is God who created them and it is He who sustains them.

Looking at one of the photographs, the water was frozen in time, displaying an elegance of motion with every bubble and swirl.

Though I do not possess the mathematical mind to even consider it, there is a perfect order that God knows, even in the rising and falling of water.

A small thing, perhaps, but not really.

Stars boiling with heat unimaginable, light years from our planet.

Water falling with gravity’s pull in a small town’s fountain on a Saturday afternoon.

Understanding either one is just as easy for God.

Because He knows, because He is in control, we are forced to consider our limitations.

As we consider our limitations, we are drawn to consider His lack of them.

 

Whatever is of concern to you today, frame it with these verses:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    and my ways are not your ways,” declares the Lord.
 “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways,
        and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”

—Isaiah 55:8-9

 

 

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He Who Waters

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Walking along the dock, I saw the flowers growing in the metal tub.

Bright and colorful and at varying heights, they seemed to be thriving in their little environment.

I don’t know who planted them.

I don’t know who comes by and gives them water.

I do know that planting or watering is of absolutely no use if God does not give the miracle of growth to the plant.

If we put a stone into the ground and water it daily, nothing will come from it.

Years later, it will still be a stone in the ground.

When God gives growing life to a seed, a magnificent miracle of creation unfolds as the plant emerges from the soil, reaching up toward the light of the sun.

 

When we invest in someone’s life, telling them of salvation through Jesus, we “plant” a seed of faith and truth.

When we invest in someone’s life, seeking to nurture their faith journey, we “water” them.

One person may “plant” in someone’s life and later, another person “waters.”

Neither would matter at all if God did not give the spiritual growth to the believer.

 

We should continue to plant.

Continue to water.

Continue to invest in the lives of those around us.

God is faithful to give the growth.

 

 

 

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

—1 Corinthians 3:7

 

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Beside the Quiet Streams

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Is the Lord your Shepherd today?

What honors Him the most?

 

 

Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!

 He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors Him the most.

—Psalm 23:1-3

 

 

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Before My Eyes

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I took several notes in church last Sunday.

The words were simple, but profound.

Putting what I know to believe is true into words that sit confidently on a page.

Based on a quote by John Wesley, they spawn life-altering direction:

“Do no harm.”

At first, one might think, “I don’t harm anyone.”

At closer inspection, there are other applications that branch out into every day living.

The pastor gave several glimpses into these purpose directed statements.

A very powerful, yet seemingly unpopular application is this:

Do not read or watch things that harm your relationship with God.

Before dismissing these words as a stifle on personal freedom, take a closer look.

Take the last six words of the sentence by themselves.

…harm your relationship with God.

If this cluster of words appeared alone, chances are they would be met with thoughts of protecting our relationship with God.

Would most people say that they wanted to have their relationship with God harmed?

No.

Yet, if we place, “Do not read or watch things” in front of them, our personal choices come into play.

We must then consider which, if any, things that we read or watch fall into this category.

Listing possible literary or visual offenders here would be of little use.

Each of us must listen for God’s direction as He lets us know, hour by hour, if something is not good for us.

He knows more than anyone what will enter through our eyes and begin to cause damage.

A question the pastor asked last Sunday was, “Is what I am about to do honoring to God?”

Asking that question and giving thought to its answer could change the course of our existence.

Three little words…..

 

Do no harm.

 

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Don’t Lose Your Grip

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Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
    Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
    in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.

—Proverbs 3:3-4  The Message

 

For just today–

Am I hanging on to love?

Am I truly being loyal?

Am I living well in God’s eyes?

Am I living well according to those who know me?

How important are these things to me?

 

How important are they to you?

 

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Sure-footed

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Have you ever looked back on a particularly trying time in your life and wondered how you got through it?

When all the problems seemed to be multiplying and stress threatened to rob you of any peace, why didn’t you just give up?

Where did your strength come from?

How did you seem to make the right decisions at the right time, making it to the other side?

When troubles come, God doesn’t abandon us.

He guides us.

He gives us strength.

As we look to Him, He gives us “sure-footedness” even as we walk on tall, rocky mountains of trouble.

 

 

 The Lord alone is God;
    God alone is our defense.
This God is my strong refuge;
    He makes my pathway safe.
 He makes me sure-footed as a deer;
    He keeps me safe on the mountains.

 2 Samuel 22:32-34

 

 

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The Pit of Despair

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Butterflies usually spend the night under leaves or in crevices.

Maybe in the grass.

But on my front porch wall?

Under a light?

Very unusual.

In the yellow glow of the porch light, I took several photographs.

He was all alone.

Many people are like that—-separated from where they should be.

 

Isolated and alone.
Not part of a loving family, but part of a dysfunctional one.
Criticized.
Belittled.
Devalued.

That sounds so negative….and it is.
Yet so many people have grown up in just these circumstances.

With that kind of life being all that they knew, it seems normal to continue that kind of existence.
As adults, a loving family where members appreciate and affirm one another seems like a fairy tale.

Isolated and alone, you can find these barren people living apart from most close interaction with others.
Going to work every day.
Coming home for a date with a simple meal and a t.v. screen.
When the weariness of the day finally catches up to them, they fall asleep, only to wake the next morning to do it all again.

Church?
Why, that’s for other people, not them, they think.
God?
He probably wouldn’t want them, anyway.

The fear of being shunned and rejected by hypocritical busy bodies holds a strong grip on they minds.

How could it ever change for these precious souls?

It can start with a smile.

A smile that shows a glimmer of hope.

Hope that something could be different.

Real.

Authentic.

Good.

A smile, a listening ear and a genuine interest in their life.

God’s love through you.

Through me.

From there, an invitation to church or a Bible study.

A chance to be accepted.

A new beginning as part of a family–God’s family.

A place to begin to trust.

A place to really discover that God does want them.

Look around.

Do you see them?

Isolated and alone……..

 

 

 I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along.

—Psalm 40:1-2

 

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More Than All

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It was time to go shopping for food.

After work, I drove to a particular grocery store that I enjoy going to.

This grocery store has a unique way of ensuring that their parking lot is never cluttered with abandoned carts.

In order to take one into the store to fill, customers must insert a quarter into a locking mechanism.

Once the coin has been inserted, the cart is released and shopping can begin.

When the customer has finished loading their purchases into a vehicle, they simply wheel their cart back up to the store and place it back in line with others.

There, it is connected to the other carts by part of the locking mechanism and a quarter pops out.

That’s all fine and dandy most of the time.

Today, however, I didn’t seem to have a quarter.

It was time to problem solve.

I went to another store close by and asked if they could give me a quarter—–in exchange for twenty-five pennies.

That was all I had with me in coins.

The clerk obliged, and all was well.

The spare pennies in my bag were worth something after all.

I really needed a cart and the pennies provided the payment to get one.

So, how much is a penny worth, anyway?

I suppose it depends on how much you need that penny and what it could do for you.

 

In the Bible, there is a passage about a woman who had two pennies.

Jesus was teaching in the Temple area:

Then he went over to the collection boxes in the Temple and sat and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Some who were rich put in large amounts.  Then a poor widow came and dropped in two pennies.

 He called his disciples to him and remarked, “That poor widow has given more than all those rich men put together! For they gave a little of their extra fat, while she gave up her last penny.”

—Mark 12:41-44

The widow had only two pennies.

Certainly, those coins meant a lot to her.

It represented much worth, for it was all she had.

And, giving to God what was of worth to her, was what was important.

 

What do we give to God that is of worth to us?

 

 

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Accept and Acquit

 

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When sickness occurs, everyone is on the same level of need, no matter what their social status.
No matter now much money they make.
College degrees? They don’t mean anything then.
Family affiliation? It doesn’t mean a thing.

When a patient is lying on a bed in the emergency room, crying out in pain because of appendicitis, they are in need.
Period.
No one says, “They won’t need surgery because they are rich.”
Nor would they state that surgery would not be needed because the patient was well known.
The patient would need what absolutely anyone in the whole world would need who was suffering with an appendix that was about to burst—–
they would need it to be removed.

When it comes to needing forgiveness from sin, everyone is on the same level of need, no matter what their social status.
No matter now much money they make.
College degrees? They don’t mean anything.
Family affiliation? It doesn’t mean a thing.
When someone is going about their days, never having professed faith in Jesus, never having asked for forgiveness, never having committed to following Him, they are in need.
Period.
Yet, they themselves and others might consider that wealth is all they need in this life.
Education and intelligence—-those are sufficient.
Coming from a good and well-respected family.
That is all they need.

But what do these verses from the Bible say?

“Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners.
 But now God has shown us a different way to heaven—not by “being good enough” and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us “not guilty”—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.  Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; yet now God declares us “not guilty” of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins.”   —Romans 3:20-24

We are all in need of salvation.

No one is exempt.

Even if they are rich.

Even if they are highly educated.

Even if they come from an important family.

 

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior today, it’s not too late.

Tell Him that you believe He died for your sins.

Ask Him to forgive you of your sins.

Ask Him to become the Lord of your life, guiding you in all things.

Commit your life to follow Him.

 

 

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