But let all who take refuge inYou
rejoice; let them ever sing for joy,
and spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may exult in You.
The yellow house was lovely, located on a quiet street.
It was easy just to look down in front of me and see the next intersection with the stop sign and the pale blue Volkswagen.
There was a straight path ahead, with no turns or corners.
When we acknowledge God in everything that we are doing, we will see clearly what we need to see.
Situations that are difficult are made less so, when we acknowledge Him.
Decisions are made with His guidance.
The turns and corners of confusion, worry and doubt are replaced with a straight path.
The journey is much more enjoyable….
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
Unless the Lord builds a house,
the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
guarding it with sentries will do no good.
The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.
God’s love is truthful.
It is steadfast.
It is upright.
It is constant.
God’s love is faithful.
God’s mercies never come to an end.
They never, ever stop.
What will Heaven be like?
I think it will be so different from anything we can imagine.
God allows us to see a glimpse of what it will be like as it is described in the book of Revelation.
We can envision an emerald rainbow glowing around the throne of God with flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder.
Can you picture in your mind what it would be like to stand in the presence of God in Heaven?
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 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.
I will praise You, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify Your name forever.
You rule the swelling of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.
As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
Many people gathered around Jesus when He was teaching.
Different places, different people.
Yet, they gathered around Him.
There were, of course, a great number of people who agreed with the things He said.
Surely there were some that didn’t.
Even so, people came to hear what He was saying.
There was a day when Jesus sat in a boat on water and the crowd gathered on land just to hear Him.
They were interested in hearing His thoughts.
The subjects He spoke about during His time on Earth are recorded in the scriptures.
We can read in our own language what Jesus had to say.
Are we gathered around the Bible each day to see what He has to say to us?
Again He began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land.
Walking by the ruins of an old hotel, I photographed a section of the wall that had cracked.
It had once been strong, but the damage to it was too great for it to stand.
What had been a structure of height was now reduced to only a few feet tall.
Anyone could simply climb over.
The book of Proverbs mentions broken walls–
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
Many cities of antiquity had walls surrounding them to protect its inhabitants from those who would seek to enter and destroy.
If the walls were broken, anyone or anything could enter–a harmless herd of goats or an invading army.
When people behave without self-control, things can come into their lives without being restrained or inhibited.
The end result is often disastrous…
Walking through a quaint downtown area of a nearby city for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I came up to a store with several chairs on the sidewalk.
A black one.
A teal one.
A pink one.
A red one.
A green one.
They were all chairs, but they were all different.
Thinking about that, I am reminded of another recent experience.
I attended a church service in a large city whose members were all from a specific country other than my own.
Their language was one I could not speak.
Being prepared for visitors that were not of their background, they had an interpreter and a glass sound booth that he sat in.
I was given a little electronic box with headphones.
As the pastor was speaking in his language to the congregation, I was hearing an English translation for every sentence by the man in the booth.
So, in thinking of different chairs, I am also reminded of different people.
People who look differently than I do.
People who speak a language that I cannot understand.
People from all different nations in the world.
God’s offer of salvation through Jesus is given to every person He has created.
It doesn’t matter what they look like or how they speak.
It doesn’t matter how old they are or their level of education.
God loves us all the same.
Jesus died for everyone.
Someday, as the book of Revelation states, there will be people from all tribes and languages standing before God.
How happy I am to know that this is true!
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles.
The Passion Flowers growing near the fence by the parking lot were so colorful and bright.
Each bloom was so intricately designed and formed in perfection.
God creates beautiful flowers every day.
And not just beautiful flowers.
And not just all these—
He creates a beautiful heart inside each of us who is willing, every day.
Isn’t that a miracle?
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In His hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.”
I truly do want to praise the LORD throughout my life.
Because He has given me the ability to do so, I want to make music to praise Him.
My hope every day is in God.
He has always been faithful to me.
Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, my soul!
I want to praise the LORD throughout my life. I want to make music to praise my God as long as I live.
Do not trust influential people, mortals who cannot help you.
When they breathe their last breath, they return to the ground. On that day their plans come to an end.
Blessed are those who receive help from the God of Jacob. Their hope rests on the LORD their God,
who made heaven, earth, the sea, and everything in them. The LORD remains faithful forever.
Driving along the highway, I approached a drawbridge that was raised.
The red stop lights were on, so any car that approached had to come to a halt.
Some type of boat was surely making a safe passage under the raised bridge.
Unless the obstruction of steel and concrete could be moved, the boat would not be able to pass to the other side.
Jesus did something for us when He died on the cross.
He made it possible for the obstruction of sin to be removed.
Our sin created a barrier between us and a safe passage to Heaven when we die.
The Bible says that all have sinned.
When Jesus took on that sin for us, He then lifted the penalty for it.
With the penalty of sin taken away, there is now an open passage for those who accept Him as their Savior.
But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
I watched as the juvenile heron walked on the edge of the water.
He was so small—at least when compared to what he would someday be.
You see, he’s not just any heron.
He’s a Great Blue Heron.
There will come a day when he will be large and graceful with flowing feathers off the top of his head.
That day has not come yet, but God has made it so that it will.
We have an internal map made by God, as well.
We are babies and children for a few short years, then we become adults.
When we are “born again” as a new Christian, we begin a growth process, also.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are “new” Christians.
We are young in our faith, but we are on a pathway of change as we learn to trust God more and more.
It is okay to be new.
We will be different one day.
God has made it so that we will.
As I stood in the backyard of a friend’s house, I admired the calm scene of water as it reflected the cloudy sky and the surrounding trees.
The afternoon visit was a contemplative one.
My friend and her husband had suffered a great loss.
Their infant son—only a few days old—passed away while in the hospital recently.
I am hoping that I will be able to comfort them in the coming weeks and months.
God has comforted me during times of loss, as well.
My husband and I lost a child through miscarriage and another child in an accident.
How can I help my friends?
The Bible says,
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4
Is there someone you could comfort and encourage today?
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
—1 Peter 5:7
Yesterday, there was a terrible tragedy about an hour’s drive from my home.
People all over the world are talking about it.
Because of our technological capabilities, people all over the world can learn of breaking news in moments.
While being informed is a good thing, it can sometimes be overwhelming, as well.
When I check the news headlines, I get an overview of all the major occurrences across the globe.
Politics, science, war.
Health, sports, natural disasters.
Weather, entertainment, economics.
When horrific things happen–like yesterday’s tragedy–it’s too great to comprehend.
There is so much to take in.
It’s overwhelming for me.
And what about those who are directly affected?
I can only imagine their consuming emotion.
What is there to do?
1 Peter 5:7 reads, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.“
God is greater than anything we could ever envision.
When we are anxious and troubled, distraught and undone, we can cast our emotions on Him and look to Him to comfort and to heal.
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
The old garage door near the church was surrounded by smooth, nicely painted walls.
Looking at the photograph I took of it, I wonder—why hadn’t the door been painted nicely and repaired?
It looked tattered and worn out—like many desperate people in this world.
They feel dirty and guilty, used up and torn up, stripped and faded, hopeless and lost.
With an outlook tinted with shame, they see what looks like a clean, smooth surface on others’ lives.
No one could accept them in their broken condition, they think.
Certainly God couldn’t.
After all, they’ve messed things up.
There’s nowhere left to go to escape the mirror of accusation that hangs on every wall they encounter…
In the last two weeks, I have learned of two people I know—both in very different walks of life—who have taken their own lives.
They lived hundreds of miles from one another, but they both shared hopelessness.
For a crucial moment, they failed to look at God’s unlimited power and grace and instead, looked at their own lack of ability to repair and restore.
God can accept anyone in any condition.
Friends may not accept us.
Family may not.
He is ALWAYS ready to heal and to forgive!
To CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness!
If we cry out to God from our brokenness, confessing our sin and our mistakes, we will be forgiven.
We can start over.
We can begin again.
It’s not too late for any of us, ever.
Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!
—1 Chronicles 16:11
We cannot separate our journey into a spiritual life and a secular life.
Who were are on Sunday at church should be who we are on Monday through Saturday.
God is always with us.
Throughout every day of the week, He is there.
We must look for Him and what He is doing.
We must look to Him for our strength.
We must seek His presence.
Not just Sunday.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
While walking on the beach, I noticed a some kites near the late afternoon sun.
I paused for a moment to take some photographs.
Kites are a magnificently simple mix of light wood, plastic or paper.
They take to the skies with the proper wind to lift them high into the atmosphere.
Flowing gracefully, it’s easy to compare them to being carefree.
Kites aren’t really free, though.
They’re tethered to the ground by a string.
Someone is still in control.
There is freedom to be found in that control, however.
We are free in Christ.
Free from so many burdens and free from the penalty of sin.
Someone is still in control.
We are tethered to the heart of God by our faith in Jesus.
With our lives being redeemed, we are now free to live forgiven lives, guided by God’s love.
Are you free?
It was the first time I had ever seen any message quite like it on a vehicle.
As I was driving down the multi-lane highway, I noticed a pickup truck as it passed me to the right.
The rear window of the cab had a message in large letters that took up most of the glass.
It read, “If you’re not committing a sin, then you’re not having fun!”
As I ponder this statement, several emotions come into play.
I am saddened for this person, as I know they are flaunting the seriousness and danger of sin.
I am affirmed in my own faith, as I am reminded that this statement is simply not true.
If I am enjoying a dinner out with my spouse, I am having fun.
Bouncing my toddler child years ago on my knee was certainly a lot of fun.
Going into a pet store and holding a very tiny puppy with that same child years later was a fun experience–one that I will always remember.
Going to the beach.
Going to the mountains.
Laughing until we cry at the dinner table because of something silly we are talking about—that’s fun, too.
So far, I am not seeing the necessity of sin in any of these situations.
Satan would like us to believe that God wants to keep the “good” things–the “fun” things–away from us while he offers us those things freely.
Of course, this is not the truth.
Those things that would bring us the most happiness and joy–those are the things in life God offers to us.
It doesn’t mean that there will be an absence of trouble.
We live in a fallen and sinful world.
Still, the thrill of what sin offers is short-lived and what we are left with is the consequences.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Every country, every city, every town–they all seem to have a place where “court” is held. A place to determine what is right and what is not.
A place of justice.
A place (hopefully) where fairness–and also mercy –is displayed and wisdom is upheld as a virtue.
As citizens of this world, what exactly is expected of us in God’s eyes?
What should we expect of others in this regard?
The Bible records these words in Micah 6:8:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
—1 Timothy 6:10
What does money mean to you?
It’s a simple question, but one worth pondering.
The eyes of all look to You in hope; You give them their food as they need it. When You open Your hand, You satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
When I realized I was looking at a pair of pelicans as they cared for their young, I was very excited.
As one parent looks lovingly and carefully at his two little ones, his only means to feed them is to give to them what God has already provided.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?
From Mark 6:3
Jesus had gone to His hometown. When He went to the synagogue to teach, people were amazed at His wisdom and learning.
The Bible tells us that the people there took offence at Him.
The really sad thing is that they didn’t recognize Jesus for who He was.
They did not honor Him, and it was a great loss to them.
Do we recognize Him today?
Isn’t He more than just a carpenter’s son?
He is the Savior of the world!
The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17
As I walked outside just after sunset this evening, I noticed that the sky had soft pink clouds adorning its blue palette.
Night was approaching, and the day had almost passed away.
As the verse above reminds us, the world will actually pass away someday.
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!
I recently bought a new guitar.
I will sing and play.
There will be times that I will sing praise songs and play.
It is God that has allowed me to develop the skill to play the guitar.
It is God who gave me a voice.