Keep Your Mind

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Does it matter what you allow into your life?

Does it matter who you choose as your closest friends?

Does it matter what you choose to watch on television or at the movie theater?

Does it matter what you choose to read?

Does it matter what organizations you choose to be affiliated with?

Does it matter who you choose to date?

Does it matter who you choose to marry?

Does it matter if you choose to go to church?

Does it matter if you pray?

Does it matter if you choose to be obedient to God?

Does it matter if you choose to seek God’s will each day?

Will any of these choices really have an affect on you?

Where I live, white ibis birds frequently come to my yard to search for food.

Today, I saw a scarlet ibis.

It looked exactly like the white ones, except it was a bright orange-red color.

In doing some research, I found that the diet of the bird causes the color to be orange.

It eats a lot of red crustaceans.

A long time ago, there used to be a popular saying: “You are what you eat.”

Well, in this case, this bird looked like what it had been habitually eating.

What we choose to do in our lives may not actually change our outward appearance, although it could.

What we choose to do or not to do in our lives will certainly change our attitudes, our outlook, our behavior and —-in the end—-our final destination.

If we choose to allow what God wants for us in our lives, we are going to be changed accordingly.

If we choose to allow things in our lives that He would not choose, we are still going to be changed—but to our detriment.

Colossians 3:2 reads, “Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things.”

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worldly

His Love Among Us

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Waterfalls capture my attention whenever I am near.

Something about the flowing water and the cascading patterns of rock and foam intrigue me as they quietly bid me to come closer.

Constantly moving, yet ever the same, the water is still as glass before the descent begins, reflecting the surroundings like an elegant mirror beneath the sky.

There is a popular Christian song that compares God’s love to a waterfall.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Running wild and free
You hear my heart when I call, when I call
Deep calls to deep
Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Raining down on me

Waterfall, waterfall

Oh God, my God I seek You
In this dry and desert land
You lead me to streams of mercy
Once again

(Chris Tomlin, “Waterfall”)

1 John 4:9 reads,This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

God’s love is like a waterfall.

When we believe in His Son, we have life that flows over us, sealed forever by His love and forgiveness.

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His love frame

As a Garden

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As the earth lets its new plants grow, and as a garden causes the things planted in it to grow, in the same way, the Lord God will cause what is right and good and words of praise to grow up in front of all the nations.

—Isaiah 61:11

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Sit Down on the Grass

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What would it be like if Jesus was on Earth today?

What if He came up on a canoe to the shore near a housing development and started healing sick people as crowds began to gather?

What would it be like if He took a little boy’s lunchbox and His disciples started feeding the entire crowd from what was in it?

What would it be like if Jesus was in your neighborhood?

Would you believe?

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When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

 “Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.  They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

—–Matthew 14:14-20

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Peacemakers

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Do you know someone who seems to bring an atmosphere of peace and calm when they enter a room?

When they leave the room, do the seeds of peacefulness sprout and grow, even in their absence?

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A harvest that has God’s approval comes from the peace planted by peacemakers.

—James 3:18

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Their Leaves Shall Never Wither

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Oh, the joys of those who do not follow evil men’s advice, who do not hang around with sinners, scoffing at the things of God.  But they delight in doing everything God wants them to, and day and night are always meditating on his laws and thinking about ways to follow him more closely.

 They are like trees along a riverbank bearing luscious fruit each season without fail. Their leaves shall never wither, and all they do shall prosper.

—-Psalm 1:1-3

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never wither

You Are There

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This past Sunday morning on my way to church, I saw a hot air balloon in the distance.

I quickly got my camera out and began to photograph this simple marvel of flight, floating along above the lake.

When I came home from church, I looked online at a social media site.

There, I read that the parents of one of my son’s good friends were celebrating their anniversary by taking a hot air balloon ride.

As it turns out, I actually knew who was in the basket under the balloon!

Although I am not sure where they traveled, I do know one thing—God was with them.

In fact, no matter where they could’ve gone, He would have been there.

We cannot ever leave His presence.

Psalm 139:7-10 reads,

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.

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Heavens

To Save Completely

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It’s a small area, really.

I have a bookshelf topped with a wooden box my husband made for me, a model ship that I purchased for him and some ceramic lighthouses.

Above the shelf on the wall, I have three framed photographs of lighthouses and a ceramic hanging of three life preservers.

It’s the only area in the house that’s decorated with a nautical theme.

Lighthouses and life preservers have something in common.

They are both there to save.

When a ship is nearing land, it can see the lighthouse shining its beacon, silently calling out the way to safety.

If someone has been shipwrecked and they are thrashing in the deep water, a life preserver can be thrown to them to keep them afloat.

I have never heard stories of complaints about lighthouses from ship’s captains.

Nor have I heard of drowning men wanting to debate about a life preserver being thrown to them.

Jesus has given His life on the cross to save us.

We were doomed to perish on the rocks of sin in the darkness, yet His light came stretching forth to guide us to safety.

We were drowning in the deep waters, lost without His forgiveness—so He purchased our salvation with His death.

He is our life preserver, but we must reach out and grasp onto Him.

There are times when I hear complaints and debate, however.

Sentiments like, “I would like to be saved, but first I want to know why God doesn’t………..”

“I would like to believe that Jesus could save me, but why didn’t He………………”

All the while, not following the light ahead or reaching out to grasp the life preserver.

I surely had many unanswered questions about God when I accepted Jesus as my Savior many years ago.

I have many unanswered questions still today.

There is one extremely important question that has been answered for me, however.

In fact, it is the most important question of my life—-

Where will I be spending eternity?

In Heaven, with Jesus, who preserved my life.

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But Jesus lives forever and continues to be a Priest so that no one else is needed.  He is able to save completely all who come to God through Him. Since He will live forever, He will always be there to remind God that He has paid for their sins with His blood.

—Hebrews 7:24-25

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save completely final

My Safe and Strong Place

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I’ve gone there on early Sunday mornings many times before.

Yesterday, I found the lake to be as I had expected it.

Quiet, yet alive with creatures in and around it.

Tall trees with birds’ nests, flowering plants shooting out from the water’s edge.

Not far from the shore, someone had placed a simple wooden bird house.

Just a box with a circular hole for an entrance.

Suspended well above the water, it affords a safe place for a bird to take shelter.

There was a stately bird standing on the top of the house, looking over the lake as I walked along.

The house had been provided for him and for any other bird that needed it.

A person constructed the house–not a bird.

In fact, there is no way possible that a bird of any kind could’ve built that house.

God provides protection for us, as humans.

Invisible, yet tangible to the heart, we are aware of His protection.

There is no way possible that we could provide this protection for ourselves.

God Himself is our safe place.

His strength is there to protect.

We can trust in His provision of shelter.

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I will say to the Lord, “You are my safe and strong place, my God, in Whom I trust.”

—Psalm 91:2

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On Track

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How much have I trusted God today?

Have I tried to figure out situations on my own without consulting Him?

Did I listen to God’s voice in everything I did today?

Everywhere I went?

Was I really on track, traveling the road He wants me to travel?

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Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

—Proverbs 3:5-6 The Message

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on track final

Ask The Lord

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Do we look for blessings in the wrong places?

When there are needs, we should ask the Lord to provide for us.

He is the only one who can.

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Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime, and he will answer with lightning and showers. Every field will become a lush pasture.  How foolish to ask the idols for anything like that! Fortune-tellers’ predictions are all a bunch of silly lies; what comfort is there in promises that don’t come true? Judah and Israel have been led astray and wander like lost sheep; everyone attacks them, for they have no shepherd to protect them.

—Zechariah 10:1-2

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Then God Said

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The cormorants were congregating on the lake.

They had successfully harnessed my attention.

Some would fly effortlessly above the water while others floated just as easily on its surface.

On the water.

Above the water.

They were adept at either location.

While I was watching, a sea plane approached.

Skimming at a fairly quick rate of speed on the water once it made contact from the air, it began to steer to its destination.

Many of the birds chose to just stay in the lake and watch the giant man-made bird as it joined them for a swim.

Others flew around it or above it.

People have longed for generations to fly like the birds and swim to the depths of the sea.

It is only in current history that we have been able to do so by mechanical means.

God created creatures to fly and creatures to swim.

He gave them that ability.

From birth, they were designed to do so.

We are only in the process of discovering the wonders that God has set into place.

With each new endeavor to achieve, we find that each discovery brings us back to the awesomeness of God.

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Then God said, “Let the waters teem with fish and other life, and let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.”

 —Genesis 1:20
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teem

Only What is Helpful

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It was quiet as I walked by the small grove.

Looking up, I saw a mockingbird sitting silently in the branch of an orange tree.

For some reason, he wasn’t in the mood for talking.

It seems like when I notice them most is when they are.

Since they “mock” other birds’ calls, it’s a little bit hard for me to recognize that I am hearing a mockingbird.

They will repeat what one bird might say for a few seconds, then switch to the voice of another completely different bird.

I wonder if a mockingbird has a call that is all its own, other than just saying what it has heard?

As humans, we each have a voice.

We can choose to use it wisely…..or not.

We can choose to use it to be kind.

To be encouraging.

To be helpful.

To build worth in other people.

We can also choose to just say things we’ve heard others say, without giving attention to what effect our words may have on those who hear them.

We each have a voice—a voice God has given us.

How does He want us to use it?

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Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

—Ephesians 4:29

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Now Faith Is

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There are dandelions in my neighborhood.

Walking not far from my house, I could see several of them glowing in the sunlight.

Looking closely, it’s easy to see all the seeds, ready to go flying away.

They will someday, and when they do, there is the hope of a new creation.

A bright yellow dandelion, bursting with color, born from the tiny seed that landed on fertile soil.

Every dandelion graced with seeds silently speaks of a yellow-blossomed meadow to come.

The writer of Hebrews tells us,

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

(Hebrews 11:1)

When we see dandelion seeds ready to fly, we hope for the day when the new plants will appear, even though we do not see them now.

We have faith that they will come.

Spiritually, we have faith that one day we will exchange our earthly bodies for our heavenly ones.

What is mortal will become immortal.

What is temporary will become eternal.

What can succumb to illness will be forever well.

We have that assurance.

We have that hope….

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faith

He Who Watches Over You

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It’s late and I’m thinking of going to sleep soon.

In about seven hours it will be time to get out of bed and start a new day.

During those seven hours, my mind will be lost in dreams as I rest and recuperate.

While I am resting, God will be awake—all night.

He will not be sleeping or lost in dreams, unavailable to care for me.

With a continual, unending attention to all that He has created, God never slumbers.

He watches over me when I am awake AND when I am asleep.

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My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

 He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
 indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

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

 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

—Psalm 121:2-8

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slumber

Who Believes

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When I got up this morning, I was planning to go to a funeral later in the day.

The sister of a dear friend of mine had passed away after battling cancer.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call with the news that my cousin, who was also battling cancer, had died.

Both my friend’s sister and my cousin were Christians.

I know they are both with Jesus now and that is a comfort to me and to their families.

After leaving the funeral this afternoon, I drove to the cemetery.

As I was leaving the grounds, I noticed some beautiful red flowers blooming at the entrance by a brick wall.

Flowers so vibrant and full of life!

For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we will live for eternity with Him.

Vibrant and full of life, as well.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the conversation between Jesus and Martha when her brother, Lazarus, had died, just before He raised Him to life.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

—John 11:23-27

My cousin and my friend’s sister believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Do you?

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even though

Evident to All

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What does it mean to be gentle?

The dictionary I checked described it in these words:

Kind.

Tender.

Sympathetic.

Considerate.

Understanding.

Compassionate.

Benevolent.

Good-natured.

Humane.

Lenient.

Merciful.

Clement.

Mild.

Placid.

Serene.

Sweet-tempered.

The scripture passage below encourages me to let my gentleness be evident to all.

If I insert the words in the list above into that sentence, replacing gentleness, would anyone who knows me describe me in that way?

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Rejoice in the Lord always.

I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:4-7

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Again Like an Eagle

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He forgives.

He heals.

He rescues.

He crowns.

He fills.

He is worthy of our praise!

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Praise the Lord, my soul,
and never forget all the good he has done:
He is the one who forgives all your sins,
the one who heals all your diseases,
the one who rescues your life from the pit,
the one who crowns you with mercy and compassion,
the one who fills your life with blessings
so that you become young again like an eagle.

—Psalm 103:2-5

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like an eagle

 

Will Not Walk in the Darkness

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I stood on the dock tonight, looking out over the water and watching the beam from the lighthouse circle around, over and over, with a steady pulse that never stopped.
When the light pointed my way for only an instant at a time, the water would light up, too, in a glowing streak.
Many years ago, I went with a group of friends to a forest.
We were there at night and there must have been no moon that evening.
I remember trying to take steps and not being able to see where my feet were going.
It was such a dark darkness.
If I am remembering correctly, I think I was afraid.
The uncertainty of where we were, the absence of light and the dread of the unknown were joining forces to create my fear.
We don’t have to be hiking in the woods to encounter this type of challenge.
Life can get to a place where we find ourselves in spiritual darkness.
We may not know where to place our next step, all the while feeling fear and anxiety.
It need not be so—-
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
—John 8:12

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Jesus has told us that if we follow Him we will not walk in darkness.

Instead, we will have Him and He is the Light.

He is the Light of life.

If we follow Him, we can trust that He knows the way.

Do you know Him today?

Is Jesus your light?

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Light

Those Who Cling

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There is a tree in my front yard that is locally known as a “popcorn tree.”

Each year, the berries on the tree produce white balls that resemble pieces of popcorn.

Right now, the berries are just small brown balls hanging on leafless branches.

The other day, a bird was clinging onto a twig, determined to get to eat a berry.

The tiny branch was bending with its weight, to the point that the bird was upside down.

The bird could’ve chosen not to try for those berries.

Instead, he clung to the twig and got what he was after.

In the last few days, I have been seeking guidance from God about a certain issue.

I know I need God’s wisdom to make decisions concerning this matter.

Proceeding without God’s guidance would not be good.

The writer of Proverbs 3 tells us,

“Wisdom is a tree of life for those who take firm hold of it. Those who cling to it are blessed.”

—Proverbs 3:18

In the days ahead, I know I will need to cling to the wisdom that God grants to me, taking a firm hold.

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Raging Wind

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Do you ever just feel small?

While eating dinner out this evening, I received a weather alert on my phone.

A severe thunderstorm was in the vicinity and lightning, high winds and hail could be expected.

After I left the restaurant and a few miles down the road, I noticed the sky above a parking lot.

The clouds were moving in, along with the rain.

A deep orange haze was beginning to tint the darkening sky.

I wasn’t afraid, even though the clouds seemed so large and threatening above me.

I knew I had shelter and that I would be home soon.

If I hadn’t had shelter, I would certainly have been wishing for it.

In the Bible, King David wrote about the pain he felt when a friend had turned against him:

I said, “If only I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and find rest.
How far away I would flee;
I would stay in the wilderness.Selah

I would hurry to my shelter
from the raging wind and the storm.”

—Psalm 55:6-8

We can see other kinds of storms in our lives.

Not the wind and rain storms, but storms of illness or broken relationships or perhaps a job loss.

Sometimes life can seem to loom above us like threatening clouds.

The only true shelter is God.

When we realize how small we truly are in the face of adversity, we must hurry to God.

He will be our protection from the raging wind and storm.

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Afresh Each Morning

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It was very foggy.

As I was driving down the road, I noticed how the mist was thick in a large forested area.

Deciding to move off the road to take some photographs, I pulled into the driveway of a church that happened to be at the edge of the woods.

After capturing the surreal surroundings, I left the trees behind, standing tall in the early morning hours.

Often, I will wake up to an alarm, urging me to get out of bed and start my day.

Almost as often, I set a timer for ten more minutes.

Just after sunrise, it seemed like the forest had been awakened by the first light of the sun creeping in from the horizon, only to have pulled the cover of fog around itself to enjoy just a few more moments of the quiet and still serenity of the night.

The sun would have to come.

It was a new day with the promise of a new beginning.

We have a new beginning with God every day.

The Bible says,

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
 Great is His faithfulness;
    His mercies begin afresh each morning.
 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in Him!””

—Lamentations 3:22-24

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afresh

So That We Can

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Driving home from work today, I passed a residential area.

For some reason, I thought about a senior citizen couple that lives there.

I haven’t seen them in quite a while.

Still, I remember their kindness from almost fifteen years ago.

My family and I were experiencing some very difficult circumstances.

This couple hosted a weekly prayer gathering at their home in a nearby town.

Someone who attended their gathering asked for prayer for us.

Just praying for our family would have been a wonderful thing.

This couple, however, went the extra mile.

Actually, it was the equivalent of several miles.

First, we received a phone call from them, inviting us to a service at their church.

After church, they wanted to buy lunch for our entire family of six at a nice restaurant.

When we arrived at the church, they were waiting outside the door, truly excited to meet us.

It was like we were long lost relatives that they had finally found!

This began a relationship of love and support as they continually reached out to us.

I remember them even taking our youngest two children out for put-put golf and to an animal petting zoo….

God’s love streamed from them into our family.

We joined their church and became very involved in many of its ministries.

Today, as I thought of how they had reached out to us when they had not yet even met us, a feeling came over me.

It wasn’t words in my mind but more of an encouragement in my heart.

An exhortation to be more like this couple.

A reminder to be more giving.

I will always remember how God loved us in that difficult time in our lives through the generosity and genuine care of those two precious people.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

—2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Ready to Forgive

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Am I gentle?

Ready to forgive?

Do I hold grudges?

Does love guide my life?

Is the peace of Jesus present in my heart?

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Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges.

Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony.

Let the peace of heart that comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body.

And always be thankful.

—Colossians 3:13-15

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Be gentle

Rejoice In All His Faithfulness

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Driving home around sunset, I noticed a break in the gray clouds ahead of me.

Many times, sunsets are a brilliant orange, red and yellow.

Other times, it seems that they take on only a white and gray glow.

Such was today.

The break in the vast silver curtain of clouds was so bright it couldn’t be looked at straight on.

Pulling off the highway, I photographed the scene in the sky above a tree nursery.

I had been listening to a song as I drove.

Part of the lyrics say,

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

The sun shines brightly, no matter what circumstances I may find myself in.

As consistent as the sun is, it will one day cease.

In all my life and for eternity, God will still be God.

Holy.

Faithful.

All powerful.

Sovereign.

I will always have a reason to worship Him.

*

It is good to say thank you to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods.

 Every morning tell him, “Thank you for your kindness,” and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness.  Sing his praises, accompanied by music from the harp and lute and lyre.  You have done so much for me, O Lord. No wonder I am glad! I sing for joy.

 O Lord, what miracles you do! And how deep are your thoughts!

—Psalm 92:1-5

*Desert Song–Brooke Fraser

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Thank you

While They Are Yet Speaking

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God hears every prayer.

Prayers about big issues.

Prayers about small things.

He doesn’t just hear them only; He answers, as well.

This morning, after I had left for work, my husband sent me a text message and photo.

As he was getting ready to leave for the day, he noticed a green lizard in the bathroom.

He took a picture of it as it sat on the top ledge of the mirror.

Not having time to try to catch it and take it outside, he simply informed me of it, shut the door and placed a towel at the bottom so he couldn’t get out.

He knew I would want to catch it and release it when I got home.

If lizards get trapped in a house, they have no water supply and dehydrate.

When I arrived home this afternoon, I got a paper sack and went into the bathroom.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to find the lizard if he was still in there.

After looking around, I concluded that there was no lizard.

Putting the sack away, I began to do some housework as we had invited guests for dinner this evening.

At one point, I decided to take the cloth off our dining table in order to take it outside and give it a shake.

Our cat had jumped up on the cloth.

Pulling the cloth all around, I finally persuaded her to get down.

Bunching the cloth up in a big wad, I took it outside. As I was stepping on the front walkway, I noticed something moving in my bundle.

It was the green anole lizard!

Very carefully, I moved the cloth over to some decorative grass planted near the porch.

The lizard hopped off into the thick, green blades.

Hurrying inside, I picked up my cell phone and took some photos of the now liberated lizard.

I had asked God to let me find him if he was still in the bathroom.

Instead, He allowed me to find him bundled in a cloth in my arms—a cloth that had recently been sat on by our cat.

God delivered the lizard from death by dehydration and death by predator attack!

He also allowed ME to be part of the rescue.

Upon telling this story to my husband, he said that God was at work when we didn’t even know it.

Saving a lizard may seem to be a little thing, but to the lizard, nothing could have meant more.

*
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.

—Isaiah 65:24

*

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yet speaking

Wildlife of the Earth

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Every now and then, a new species of life will be discovered.

A type of fish no one has ever seen, perhaps at great ocean depths.

An insect might be found during a secluded cave exploration that has characteristics far different from anything previously known.

Whatever the discovery, it is only finding what God has known about since the time of its creation.

What is new to us is already known by God.

And what God has made, He knows that it is good….

*

Then God said, “Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

—Genesis 1:24-25

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wildlife

No One Lights a Lamp

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It was a delightful wedding.

Flowers and decorations had been carefully placed.

Guests were happy and cordial and all was well.

The desserts at the reception were scrumptious looking, having been carefully made with obvious attention to detail and quality.

At weddings, in particular, I do have one difficulty with a certain type of dessert….

Cake.

Not just any cake, but cake that is frosted—-no, blanketed, in fondant.

Fondant is a sugary, doughy substance that is rolled out like a pizza crust and then placed on a cake.

The result is absolutely perfect looking.

It’s just that the perfect looking fondant, for me, anyway, is almost inedible.

The consistency seems quite like thick, though pliable, plastic.

At this wedding, an exquisitely decorated cake with blue fondant icing was topped with an arrangement of fresh flowers.

If I wanted to taste that cake, I’d have to remove the flowers and the fondant.

The cake was more of a decoration than a dessert.

I totally understand.

It was a wedding, and a flower-topped, fondant blanketed cake was completely appropriate for the occasion.

It would not have been suitable for, say, a picnic at the side of the field after a little league baseball game, however.

A few weeks ago, I heard someone relating a phrase they had heard:

“Are you trying to impress or to bless?”

Hmmm.

The fondant and flowers cake was impressive AND it blessed those in attendance because it was such a special event.

But what about everyday life?

What about me?

When others get to know me, do they think that I am just someone who tries to impress others but has little left to actually bless them?

Would anyone ever feel that my heart was so perfectly covered and blanketed that I could never understand theirs?

Would they find that my personality seemed so thick and plastic that they could never really know what was inside?

That’s not what I want.

I want to be a chocolate cake with gooey fudge on top!

An apple pie with strips of wonderful smelling, buttery crust lacing the fruit.

A plate of oatmeal cookies, with plump, juicy raisins…..

If I am to bless others with my time, my concern and my attention, I’m going to have to be accessible.

Matthew 5:15 reads,

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”

If I am to show God’s love to those He places within my life, I can’t hide under a basket or be protected with fondant.

It’s just going to have to be the real me.

The me that found forgiveness through the mercy of Jesus.

*
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lamp light

Nothing Like Your Thoughts

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How big are your problems?

How big are mine?

I have had some really serious difficulties in my life.

It’s safe to assume that you have, too.

Things can happen that cause such pain and heartache.

Lesser problems may threaten to steal our joy, tempting us to trade worry for trust.

Recently, I drove past a lake and saw several sailboats on the water.

Stopping to photograph them, I captured a number of shots on that sunny day.

Looking at some of the photos tonight, I noticed something about one that I hadn’t before.

It appeared as though a giant bird had flown between two sailboats.

Of course, I had been far off on the boardwalk with my camera, so it only looks like a giant bird.

In reality, the wing span may have been two to three feet across.

I can assure you that I did not photograph a bird whose wings were equal in length to that of two sail boats—even though that’s what it looks like to me.

And there, in those last six words, is something to be considered.

When we experience problems, we know only what it looks like to us.

We can’t know what it looks like to God.

What our problems really are–every aspect of them–are fully known to Him.

God’s words to us as recorded in Isaiah 55:8-9 are these:

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

We may see our problems as big as a giant bird the size of two boats, but God knows its true proportions.

In reality, whatever the size, God is able to handle it.

He is in control.

How big are our problems?

Smaller—-so much smaller—-than our God.

*

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imagine

Pasture on Every Barren Hill

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Up the hill behind my house stands a tree.

Right now, it looks barren and forlorn.

I’m not concerned for it, though, even in its current state.

Why?

I know about its future.

Spring is coming, and I have faith that what looks barren and dry now will soon be filling out with green leaves on every branch.

I can’t see springtime before it comes.

I can’t hear springtime before it comes.

I just know that it will come.

It’s like a promise from God.

He has set the seasons in motion and they happen every year.

Our future is also set.

When God tells us something is going to happen, it is going to happen.

The prophet Isaiah speaks about restoration:

This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favor I will answer you,
    and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
    and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

“They will feed beside the roads
    and find pasture on every barren hill.
 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
    nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
    and lead them beside springs of water.
 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
    and my highways will be raised up.
 See, they will come from afar—
    some from the north, some from the west,
    some from the region of Aswan.”

 Shout for joy, you heavens;
    rejoice, you earth;
    burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

—Isaiah 49:8-13

There are times in our lives when things may look barren.

With God, even a barren hill can one day become a green pasture.

*

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feed beside