Turn From Evil

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Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.—Psalm 34:14

Turn– to change direction

Evil–that which is sinful and wicked

Good–that which is morally right

Peace–the state of quiet and tranquility

What am I doing today?

What am I seeking?

What am I pursuing?

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turn from evil

Whiter Than Snow

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Psalm 51:7

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

I grew up hearing a hymn about being washed and cleansed.

I’m not sure if I grasped the meaning as a child, but I understand it now.

The old English words of the hymn bring my mind to a time long past, yet Jesus was there to save then just as He is today.

Whiter Than Snow by James L. Nicholson 1872

  1. Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;
    I want Thee forever to live in my soul;
    Break down every idol, cast out every foe—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

    • Refrain:
      Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow,
      Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  2. Lord Jesus, let nothing unholy remain,
    Apply Thine own blood and extract every stain;
    To get this blest cleansing, I all things forego—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  3. Lord Jesus, look down from Thy throne in the skies,
    And help me to make a complete sacrifice;
    I give up myself, and whatever I know—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  4. Lord Jesus, for this I most humbly entreat,
    I wait, blessed Lord, at Thy crucified feet,
    By faith for my cleansing, I see thy blood flow—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  5. Lord Jesus, Thou seest I patiently wait;
    Come now and within me a new heart create;
    To those who have sought Thee Thou never said’st “No”—
    Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  6. The blessing by faith, I receive from above;
    Oh, glory! my soul is made perfect in love;
    My prayer has prevailed, and this moment I know,
    The blood is applied, I am whiter than snow.

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wash me

Whatever You Do

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Rabbits hop.

Eagles soar.

I play the piano….

If I am anywhere near a piano, I usually have the urge to play it.

In my opinion, any piano in my vicinity is simply silent, waiting for me to tell it what to say.

As I sit in front of the keys, many times my fingers relay a message of praise to God.

The strings and hammers respond with complete obedience and a melodious hymn vibrates from their midst.

Those who hear may or may not recognize the sounds as being an offering, yet God knows every note I play as it pairs with the strings of my heart.

I have a voice.

It is simply silent, waiting for me to tell it what to say.

Will my words be those of praise?

Will they encourage others?

Will they show God’s love?

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

—1 Corinthians 10:31

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eat or drink

He Sold Everything

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When I walked into the room, I started noticing the decorations immediately.

As I looked up toward the ceiling, I saw two trunks on a shelf.

I wonder what was inside them?

Trunks and chests are for safe keeping.

Items that are important are stored in such special places.

If you owned a trunk or chest, what sort of things would you place there?

What would be valuable to you?

Jesus told the story of a man who had discovered something of great worth–a treasure–in a field.

Upon doing so, he sold everything that he had in order to buy the field so he could own the treasure.

Whatever it was, it was worth more to the man than anything he currently had.

When we learn of God’s gift of salvation, we have a choice to make.

We can accept His gift and leave our old way of life behind or we can leave the gift that is offered and walk away.

It’s about what we value.

What means more?

Jesus, or…….

something else?

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure a man discovered in a field. In his excitement, he sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field—and get the treasure, too!

—Matthew 13:44

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treasure final

Where We Always Hoped We Might Stand

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Where have you always hoped you might stand?

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

–Romans 5:1-2  The Message

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glorious two

The Longer They Live

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Walking across from the hotel, the deck was adorned with flowers as we approached the water.

The late evening sun was glowing over the lake and coming to rest on some purple blooms.

Made transparent, almost, by the intense light, the delicate blooms were gleaming.

Have you ever met someone like that?

Transparent.

Honest.

Loving.

Christ-like.

As each year goes by, does it seem that as they grow closer to God, they grow more kind and loving than before?

Like fragrant flowers growing beside a lake, we are drawn to their inner beauty that comes from their faith in God.

The ways of right-living people glow with light;
    the longer they live, the brighter they shine.
But the road of wrongdoing gets darker and darker—
    travelers can’t see a thing; they fall flat on their faces.

—Proverbs 4:18-19

    The Message

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living

But In Deed

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When I was a very young child, I would sometimes spend the night at my grandmother’s house.

It was a small home with many areas in need of repair.

My grandmother was in her 70’s and losing her eyesight, yet I don’t remember her complaining about either situation.

If I were staying the night in the summertime, it would be quite hot in the little house.

There was no air conditioning.

Only an old, black metal fan.

I saw a fan similar to that one today.

It reminded me of going to sleep at night with the air flying past my skin as I snuggled up on the feather bed made with real feathers.

By morning time, the air would make me feel almost cold.

The air in the room did not change temperature, but the fan moved the air and my body’s response to that was a cooling effect.

Moving air made quite a difference.

At any time, the fan could be plugged in and turned on.

If it wasn’t, it didn’t help anyone feel better.

It was just part of the room’s decor.

I can be like that fan.

I can really care about someone in my heart, but if I don’t show that by my actions, it will not be known.

The care and concern in my heart will not reach out and touch another person if I am only static in my love.

Like the air around a fan, my love must move to another’s need in order to be effective.

Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

—1 John 3:18

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in truth

Christ’s Triumph at the Cross

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A few weeks ago, a church very close to my home erected a white cross on their property.

Several stories in height, it towers above everything.

It would be very difficult for anyone to miss while driving down the road.

A reminder to all, it speaks silently of the sacrifice that Jesus made in order to pay for our sins.

We need only accept His payment and repent, asking for forgiveness as we purpose in our hearts to live for Him.

I recently purchased a song that I had heard on the radio.

Part of the song’s message is:

               There’ll be days I lose the battle
               Grace says that it doesn’t matter
              ‘Cause the cross already won the war*

Sure, I will make mistakes sometimes.

So will you.

God is willing to forgive us when we do.

Jesus has already won the war over the destiny of those who love Him.

When we find that we have displeased God in some way, (sin) we must seek His forgiveness, get up, and move on—

move on toward the path He has laid out for us that day.

You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins,  and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross.  In this way God took away Satan’s power to accuse you of sin, and God openly displayed to the whole world Christ’s triumph at the cross where your sins were all taken away.

—Colossians 2:13

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triumph

Well Adjusted to Your Culture

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Going out for coffee.

Popping into a vintage restaurant located in what seems to be a long, brick hallway.

Stopping into a bicycle shop.

Looking through tons of candy for sale by the pound at a confectioner’s store.

Browsing sportswear and shoes displayed along the sidewalk.

A typical Saturday morning out on the town.

It all seems normal.

Normal and okay.

But, is it?

There are a lot of other offerings in the town, some not as wholesome.

Most people would consider them just fine.

But, what does God think?

Passing by some establishments, do I just walk on by without considering that God would want a different life than what the advertisements offer?

Do I walk by the people on the street and just consider everyone’s ideas as “normal” and okay?

Do I accept the atmosphere and the environment as something I want to fit in with, without really thinking about it?

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

—Romans 12:2  The Message

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culture

Really Far Away

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I really like lizards.

Brown ones.

Green ones.

The flashy, iridescent blue ones.

The green ones are a little different than the others in one respect– they’re not always green.

Sometimes, they change to brown.

At other times, they’re green AND brown, because they are changing from one color to another.

So, you might not know by looking at them when they’re brown that they really are green.

You probably know some people like that.

They may purposefully mask who they really are in order to impress others.

In the Bible, Pharisees are talked about a lot. Some of them, according to Jesus, would honor Him with their words, but their hearts were distant from Him.

They would teach laws made by humans just like they were God’s laws.

Jesus said they were hypocrites.

Maybe they looked brown to most people, but really, they were green.

In some ways, I’ve done this.

Not wanting to appear sad in public, I smile and act like everything’s great.

If a friend asks me if I’m okay, I might say “yes” when the real answer—the green answer—is “no.”

I’m sure if I thought about it very much, I could come up with other ways that I’ve tried to be brown around other people.

It’s probably been just as confusing when others see me at the in between stage–half brown, half green.

At that point, who am I showing them anyway?

I want to be the way God wants me to be.

It would seem that the Pharisees were misleading others.

I don’t want my heart to be distant from Him.

When I see a green lizard begin to turn brown before my eyes, a lesson could be brought to mind.

Are those who know me really seeing who I am?

Do they see what I really believe?

Do they see God’s love?

So the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law asked Jesus, “Why is it that your disciples do not follow the teaching handed down by our ancestors, but instead eat with ritually unclean hands?”  Jesus answered them, “How right Isaiah was when he prophesied about you! You are hypocrites, just as he wrote:

‘These people, says God, honor me with their words, but their heart is really far away from me.  It is no use for them to worship me, because they teach human rules as though they were my laws!’

“You put aside God’s command and obey human teachings.” —Mark 7:5-8

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Summer and Winter

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It’s that in-between time of year.

The time of year when the thermometer has the most fun moving twenty degrees up and down every day.

I guess, for thermometers, it’s roller coaster season.

Will it be hot?

Cold?

Windy?

You never know.

The leaves on some of the trees have turned golden and brown, scattered on the sidewalk like coins in a treasure chest.

That seems like autumn to me.

The rose bush that towers above the sidewalk isn’t up for the change as yet, though.

Right now, two crimson roses are blooming, just like it was the middle of summer.

The bright red color highlights the walkway up to the front door.

Winter will just have to wait, at least for a little while longer.

I wonder why God made the seasons?

Was it to mimic our lives as we grow older, only with an invitation for new birth in Christ?

It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth;
    you made both summer and winter.

—-Psalm 74:17

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summer

Good and Perfect Comes to Us

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I had only visited the quaint, little town perhaps twice before.

Consisting of only a half square mile, the atmosphere seemed calm and peaceful, leaving hurry behind.

Walking along and looking at the houses as I passed, I was met with quite the surprise.

Not one–but two, brightly colored peacocks were just browsing a small dirt road entrance between homes.

My presence was probably noted, yet dismissed as being of any sensible interest.

Putting my camera to very good use, I snapped a few photos of this odd, but wonderful sight.

There are many birds that populate the cities and towns where I live, but this was probably the first time that I had ever seen peacocks out strolling in a residential area.

I didn’t expect to see them, but I was delighted.

I consider occasions like this to be gifts from God.

Other gifts from Him happen unexpectedly, as well, sometimes.

We may not be praying about it.

We may not have even thought about wanting it or needing it.

Yet, suddenly, right there in front of you, is a wonderful blessing from God.

A gift from Him.

It could be a material item or something like—-

A phone call from a friend.

A hug.

An apology.

A note of encouragement.

A job offer.

The words, “I love you.”

Sometimes, when you least expect it, a peacock walks by….

 But whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God, the Creator of all light, and he shines forever without change or shadow.

—James 1:17

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perfect

Songs of Joy

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It was only an hour or so before dark and I decided to sit in my backyard for awhile.

Checking an outdoor chair to make sure I would not be sitting on a spider’s new home, I settled in to enjoy the cool air and the pleasant surroundings.

Those included the orange hues of blooming Lantana bushes, an ever changing sky with feathery clouds and the sight of our son’s cat racing from place to place, chasing insects or maybe even a lizard or two.

My husband decided to come outside and play the guitar.

I watched an airplane go by, tiny in my view, lit up by the sun’s rays.

Ants scurried around a hill not far from my chair, busy at work before nightfall.

I am grateful for all of those blessings.

The peaceful outdoor setting of my own home.

My husband.

Guitars.

Blooming bushes.

Clouds.

Sunsets.

Cats.

Even ants and lizards.

The part of me that knows that God is there all the time blends with His blessings to bring about an inner joy in my heart.

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The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.

—Psalm 65:8

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songs of joy

Praise the Lord!

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As the sun was setting, it was like a blazing ball of fire behind the trees.

It’s hard to imagine the true size of the sun.

It’s hard to comprehend it’s burning temperature.

It’s hard to fathom the brightness it expels into space.

Yet, God looks on all the universe that He created at once, controlling infinity.

His name is to be praised!

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!

The Lord is high above all nations,
    and his glory above the heavens!
 Who is like the Lord our God,
    who is seated on high,
who looks far down
    on the heavens and the earth?

—Psalm 113:1-6

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rising

Not From Christ

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I like streetcars and trolleys.

Though it has been years since I have ridden one, I still find them interesting and nostalgic.

When I saw the streetcar painted mostly a bright red crossing in front of me, it was time for a quick photograph.

I didn’t know where the passengers were going.

I did know that they were going wherever the streetcar was going.

It’s safe to say that the people on the streetcar believed that they were headed to their desired destination.

Honestly—who would get on not being sure of where they would have to get off?

Most people would make sure before they ever took the first step through the streetcar door.

Spiritually, there are a great many men and women who haven’t done this.

Following the crowd, they have recklessly stumbled on a streetcar of deception, traveling away from God and an abundant life.

Colossians 2:8 tells us,

“Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ.”

Three words stand out to me in that passage of scripture:

…not from Christ.

I don’t want to get on a spiritual streetcar that is not from Christ.

It’s not going to go where I need to go.

With a flashy red paint job and fancy lettering on the sides, it may look good at first, but those who are wise will check the destination.

Since streetcars run every day, bustling this direction and that, we have to make choices every day about which ones to board and which ones we allow to pass us by.

An every day question for every day direction would be:

Is this offering the way of Christ?

Is this way offering what is not of Christ?

Every day.

It’s our choice……

What do you think?

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astray

I Am Holding You

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I suppose it was falling.

On it’s way from where it had been from the time it had first budded on a branch to the ground below.

If leaves had a mind capable of thinking, it might have said, “Well, here I go. It’s over now.”

When I noticed it, that was not the case.

Something had intervened.

The leaf was caught by a single line of spider web and suspended in the air.

As the sun shone brightly through its amber fibers, its beauty was displayed in an exceptional way.

Delicate and glowing, it looked like a wooden form from an old cobbler’s shop.

There was still time to be spent above the ground.

Sometimes, things can be really hard for all of us.

We may even think that certain situations are final.

The job is over.

The relationship is over.

The opportunities are over.

We may feel like we don’t have any more chances.

God is a God of second chances, however.

He can reach out when it seems like we are falling and catch us.

And when He does, who is there that could remove us from His grasp?

I am holding you by your right hand—I, the Lord your God—and I say to you, Don’t be afraid; I am here to help you.

–Isaiah 41:13

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holding final

Your Strength

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It wasn’t exactly a tree house, although it was certainly nestled in the trees.

The weathered wood of the simple structure blended in well with the flowering branches surrounding it.

More of a tiny house on stilts, it stood high off the ground.

Spanish moss draped serenely from the trees.

Dried leaves had fallen to the sloping roof, settling down to form a rust colored carpet to match the blooms above it.

Who spends time up there?

What do they do?

Is it a neighborhood clubhouse for children?

An artist’s workshop?

Perhaps a quiet place for reflection and  prayer.

Taking time to listen for God’s direction is very important.

As recorded in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God spoke to the children of Israel:

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.”

—Chapter 30, verse 15

Repentance.

Rest.

Quietness.

Trust.

The words seem to reach out and beckon us to come closer.

Closer to knowing God more fully.

Closer to inner peace.

I may not have a tree house, but I can still find a place to……..

listen.

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quietness

The Wonders

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We had not ever visited the park before.

A large tree (a VERY large tree) had an informative monument in front of it.

Although I am not totally certain how the date was calculated, the tree is reported to be 350 years old.

If the date is correct, that would mean the towering oak tree was just getting started around the time that a man named Anton Van Leeeuwenhoek first saw bacteria with a microscope.

Also, about the same time, Sir Isaac Newton invented the reflecting telescope.

There were other things being crafted then, besides lenses.

Things like cuckoo clocks and candy canes.

Since the tree began its upward growth, a lot has happened.

Now, we have the Hubble and Herschel space telescopes, allowing us to see even more of God’s vast universe.

Electron microscopes probe deep into what is miniscule around us and within us with majestic clarity while cuckoo clocks and candy canes have probably managed to stay the same….

God has allowed recent generations to understand more of His creation through advances in science and technology.

Just because we weren’t aware of a nebula or a microorganism long ago, didn’t mean they weren’t in existence.

We may not be aware of God and His power, but it doesn’t mean He isn’t there.

A lot has changed in 350 years.

God has not.

In fact, He will not change.

We can trust in His love and His mercy.

We can trust in His power.

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deeds

For All Endurance

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They all seemed to come at once.

At the end of my street where it adjoins a highway, suddenly there was a large group of bicyclists approaching at a respectable speed.

Their bodies working hard to propel them on the pavement, they were dressed in various colored biking clothes, wearing helmets for protection.

They were most likely in an organized race; a very common thing in this area.

It takes endurance and strength to do something like that.

Mile after mile, legs pushing, hearts pounding, with eyes alert for cars and any obstacles on the road.

I never hear a dedicated bicyclist complain about hating it.

Just the opposite seems true.

It seems that bicyclists are eager to ride and just as eager to join with others for the experience.

As believers in Jesus, we should be eager to live each day for Him.

He is the one who gives us strength and power in every situation we find ourselves in.

Our endurance and inner joy comes from Him.

Day after day, we have purpose and meaning that is made known in all our encounters, as we speak and act as Jesus would have us to.

Like the bicyclists I saw this morning, we are on the journey together, traveling a roads that He sets before us according to His divine plan.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

—Colossians 1:11-14

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strengthened

In Order To Take Away

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I have lived in the same house for several years now.

Ever since I moved in, a private waste management company has taken care of the trash in my neighborhood.

A fee is charged and paid on a regular basis.

Each of my neighbors has their own idea about what type of trash can to buy.

Mine is metal and hefty; others have plastic ones that are lighter.

There are different colors of trash cans, too.

Whatever anyone wanted was always just fine.

Recently, that all changed.

Our trash pickup is now with a public service and new, matching trash cans were delivered to each house for our use.

A special truck will come once a week.

Giant prongs will pick up the cans and empty the trash into the back of the truck to be hauled away and forgotten forever.

When I came home after work today, my street was lined with matching, empty trash cans.

Although I know they could, I really don’t think anyone in my area is keeping their trash inside their homes, refusing to throw it away.

If they were, things would get really bad, really fast.

Throughout the week, when something is identified as trash, it gets thrown away.

Once a week, the giant pronged truck comes to take it all away.

When that happens, it’s gone from us.

We don’t see it.

We don’t smell it.

We don’t trip over it, get sick from it or deal with it in any way, ever again.

Sin can be gotten rid of, too.

Those words we said that we wish we hadn’t?

They can be thrown away and considered as trash.

The things we did that we wish we hadn’t?

Out they go.

How is that possible?

It wouldn’t be, if there wasn’t any way to actually be rid of the trash.

If no one picked it up, we’d see it.

We’d smell it.

We’d trip over it and get sick from it.

Every time we do or say something that is displeasing to God, we can ask for forgiveness and throw it away.

Jesus paid the price on the cross for all our sins and He can take away all our trash.

It doesn’t matter how heavy it is.

That’s not a problem for Him.

It doesn’t matter how much it is.

There’s no limit to His forgiveness.

When He takes it away, it’s gone from us.

We don’t see it.

We don’t smell it.

We don’t trip over it, get sick from it or deal with it’s penalty in any way, ever again.

If you’ve been keeping all your trash, don’t you think it’s time to throw it out?

You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

—1 John 3:5

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take away sins

No One Can Brag About It

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I’m not very good at it.

In fact, I have never been good at it.

There’s just something that plays against your self-esteem every time a bowling ball rolls straight to the gutter and down the lane to that dark oblivion behind the pins…..

My husband and I had gone to a nice bowling alley with friends.

Time after time, I aimed the heavy orb in the air and then launched it toward the ten club shaped targets before me.

Had they been alive, there would’ve been little cause for their alarm….

One of our friends proved quite good at the task.

He actually got five strikes in a row.

By the end of the evening, he had gotten seven all together.

He had something to boast about, but, being kind about it all, he didn’t.

I’m glad that my skill at any given thing is not the basis for my relationship with God.

There’s nothing I can do to earn His love and forgiveness.

I can’t work my own entrance into Heaven someday.

It would be impossible to live a “five strikes in a row” life and then be good enough for God.

No.

It doesn’t work that way.

Listen to what these scriptures tell us:

 We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.)  God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him.  He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come.  God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.

—Ephesians 2:5-10

It’s not about what we’ve done or what we will do.

It’s not about how much we get right or how good we are.

We can’t brag about earning our relationship with God.

It’s all about God’s love for us.

It’s all about Jesus and His gift of life….

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result

The Sea Into Jars

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I was certainly surprised.

The rain was pouring off my roof at an amazing rate.

In a flower garden area by my kitchen window, I have a large glass vase filled with water.

If a section of a plant in the garden breaks off, it can be placed in the glass container to root.

The rain was collecting in just the right area on the roof to come barreling down right into the vase.

This was causing tremendous bubbling.

Intrigued by natural phenomena like bubbling water in a rainstorm, I decided to photograph the vase and the surrounding area.

Looking at the result, I could see uniform bubbles near the top of the vase.

Deciding to crop the photo just at the bubbling area to see what it looked like, I was amazed.

The clear bubbles now looked a misty white color, surrounding a violet colored plant that was rooting in the vase.

It looked like an oil painting, with gentle hues of green and mauve brushed delicately as a reflection in each individual sphere of liquid and air.

The task of gathering rain water into a jar is an easy one, given the presence of rain.

We are limited in how much water we can gather into one place by the size of the container we can construct.

Not so with God.

Psalm 33:7 reads,

He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.

Can you imagine what it would be like for God to gather all the water on earth together at one place and time and simply put it in a jar?

He could if He wanted to.

God is not limited.

Ever.

Can you and I trust God, who can place the oceans of the world in a jar, to:

-guide us daily?

-comfort our hearts?

-transform our lives?

Shouldn’t  we ask God, who is limitless, to work past our limitations?

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into jars

To Cleanse Us

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Clean.

How important is that to me?

A lot of money is spent each year on cleaning products.

Products to clean floors.

Products to clean dishes.

Products to clean clothes, furniture—even products to clean me.

When I began to cook dinner this evening, I pulled a pan from the dishwasher to use.

Checking it’s cleanliness, I noticed that there was still a very tiny amount of residue on the pan.

This made it unacceptable for me to use until it was cleaned.

Choosing a steel wool pad with embedded soap, I began to scrub the pan.

After rinsing it with water, I was satisfied with the result.

As I was cleaning it, I thought about what I was doing in the context of spiritual cleanliness.

We all want to be clean, don’t we?

Forgiven?

Free of guilt?

Removed from shame?

Some people try to become “clean” in a variety of ways.

Actively doing a number of good things to make up for the bad things they have done.

Simply hiding the actions and attitudes they are ashamed of.

Vowing to be better by a sheer act of will.

Tonight, as I took the pan from the washer, just rinsing it with water would not have been enough to get it clean.

The spots of left over food had dried and stuck fast to the metal.

Using the steel wool pad removed it in seconds.

If the pan was going to be clean, it was going to have to be cleaned in the proper way.

If you and I are going to be clean–forgiven, free of guilt and shame–our efforts are not going to be enough.

It is going to take an act of God to make us clean.

That act of God has already occurred.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, making us clean in His sight.

If you are tired of trying to get clean on your own, He understands.

If you are weary from the weight of living life apart from God, He is ready to lighten your load.

It’s not too late.

Ask God to forgive you.

Tell Him you believe in Jesus and what He has done for you.

Commit your life to His guidance.

It’s going to feel really good to finally be………..

clean.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

—1 John 1:9

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confess

A House is Built

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The web made by the orchard orbweaver spider was nearly perfect when I noticed it.

Row after row of mathematically perfect sections.

A geometry lesson waiting to happen.

A lesson for people, that is.

The spider is not in need of further instruction.

Without any problem at all, he can whip out a marvel of beauty, working steadily and efficiently with intense focus and determination.

Who taught the spider to do this?

God placed the wisdom and intellect needed to create such a masterpiece in the spider’s mind.

People don’t make webs like spiders, but we do many other things.

Consider this scripture:

By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;

—Proverbs 24:3

God gives us the ability to learn.

With our learning, we may construct a physical house.

By gaining understanding, a “household”  or family can be defined by loving care and nurturing.

Who gives us understanding?

How can we know how to build and establish our households?

God gives skill and understanding concerning webs to a spider.

He is certainly willing to give wisdom to His people.

Asking for guidance and instruction from God is always the right choice.

Always.

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wisdom

Be Still

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Friday night, some of my friends wanted to go out to see a movie.

I didn’t want to go.

There was this compelling idea of staying home and being less busy.

Maybe even quiet.

Yesterday and today, there was a nearby nature festival with a lot of photo opportunities and things to learn.

A friend invited me.

I decided not to go.

Instead, I quietly trimmed limbs from the trees in my yard.

Not talking to anyone.

Sometimes praying.

Sometimes singing.

Trying to listen for what God might be telling me.

After church this morning, I looked forward to coming home with more time to be quiet and thoughtful.

Sitting in a chair, writing some things down as I pondered, I saw a butterfly through the window fluttering around a blooming bush outside.

I am thankful for the past two days.

Intentionally slower days.

Decidedly quieter days.

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be still

The Solitary

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He was all alone.

The warm waves of a summer ocean crashed nearby.

Was he hungry?

I would say that’s the best guess.

Searching the shoreline, all by himself.

You know, I was like that once.

In fact, it was a very long once.

I felt all alone.

Big, looming circumstances in my life crashed nearby at unpredictable intervals.

Was I hungry?

No guessing needed—I was.

Not so much for food.

I always had something to eat.

My hunger was for acceptance.

Guidance.

Forgiveness.

Belonging.

Holding those four in a tight grip was my hunger for love.

When I was “out there” in life, all by myself, God rescued me.

At nineteen years old, I was ready for the redemption.

Just like the bird, I was up against a big world and there I was, spindly and small.

When I prayed and asked for forgiveness, it came.

I was not alone anymore.

God settles the solitary in a home;
    he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
    but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

–Psalm 68:6

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solitary final

Examined

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What means more to you?

After work yesterday, I decided to stop at a large store to pick up a few items that I was needing.

Three of the items were located in the same section of aisles because they were similar products.

As I browsed the displays, I selected an item from a brand I had purchased before and was familiar with.

The package boasted, “Over 40 Million Sold.”

It also gave a date it was first manufactured—1987.

Well, that is impressive.

After all, I was buying it as a returning customer (one of 40 million).

I also chose another item in the same area that was less expensive.

The package didn’t advertise popularity for the past 27 years.

It didn’t say how many people had purchased it.

Instead, it had a shiny, silver bar of color with white letters at the top of the packaging.

The letters read, “NEW.”

New.

New?

Maybe this product would be better than the rest.

It might out perform others that were more expensive.

Maybe…..but I wouldn’t know unless I purchased it to see for myself if it was of good quality or not.

The word new gives a hint of hope in advertising.

What are the possibilities?

Perhaps something better has arrived.

When considering spiritual matters, it’s important not to be drawn by popularity or the hope of the next new thing.

It doesn’t matter if 40 million people share a personal belief when it comes to what you choose to believe.

Always looking for the latest religion to come about won’t be what you need, either.

In the book of Acts, we find a passage about the Jews in a place called Berea.

Paul and Silas told them about Jesus.

As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.  Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.  As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

Acts 17:10-12

The Bereans examined the Scriptures every day.

They wanted to be sure.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered to them if Paul had said that thousands had believed his message if they had found that it contradicted the Scriptures.

They didn’t just believe because it was a “new” message, either.

They listened and sought God’s word.

In today’s world, the wisdom of the Bereans holds fast.

What about you and God?

What does the Bible actually say?

What does it say about Jesus?

About salvation?

About what your eternity holds?

It’s a very good idea, no matter where we may be on our spiritual journey with God, to listen….

and examine the Scriptures daily.

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Bereans

A Voice of One Calling

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In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—  during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.  He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
    make straight paths for him.
 Every valley shall be filled in,
    every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
    the rough ways smooth.
 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”

—Luke 3:1-6

Have you made a straight path for Jesus in your life?

Have you seen God’s salvation?

You are the only one who can make the decision to follow Jesus.

It is up to you to ask for forgiveness and be repentant.

Jesus has purchased a place in Heaven for you.

The question is, will you accept His gift of life everlasting?

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a voice

Get Some Rest

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On the way to the group meeting, I listened to the radio in the car.

It was a familiar drive to my friend’s home, so being in a sort of “auto pilot” mode, I caught glances of the early evening sky and sang along in my mind with the music.

After arriving at my destination, I enjoyed some finger foods and light conversation.

The next hours were composed of considering our individual hearts and what might be keeping us from living wholehearted lives.

Embedded in those hours was a thirty minute time frame of complete quiet and reflection before God.

As I considered what was coming to my mind, I wrote some thoughts on paper.

Thirty minutes went by at an incredibly quick pace.

Not only was I quiet, but I was basically still, as well, with only movements confined to the couch I was on.

Rest.
Reflection.

Quietness.

Stillness.

Honestly, that’s not a place I find myself in most of the time.

It is, however, a place that I think God would want me to occupy more often.

A time to hear His words.

A time to remove the rambling clutter of the daily routine to just…..listen.

Consider this passage:

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

–Mark 6:30-32

There are times when—-

We all need to rest.

We all need a quiet place.

We all need to come to Jesus by ourselves.

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quiet place