My Hands Have Made

This is what the Lord says:
“Heaven is My throne,

    and the earth is My footstool.

Could you build Me a temple as good as that?

    Could you build Me such a resting place?

My hands have made both heaven and earth;

    they and everything in them are mine.

    I, the Lord, have spoken!

“I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts,

    who tremble at My word.

—Isaiah 66:1-2

Walking along the beach, I am struck many times by the magnificence of the patterns in the sand created by the tide. 

As the water approaches and then recedes, it forms a mathematical pattern of its own atop the sculpted sand. 

Contemplating its beauty and perfection, I am drawn to watch its continuous rhythm. 

God has made Heaven and Earth. He made the water and commanded it to create waves. He made the sand and commanded it to rest in patterns. 

Our God is an awesome God!

He Had a Dream

While visiting a city about an hour and a half away from my home, I needed to walk in an area that was unfamiliar to me in order to get to my parked car.

As I strolled on the sidewalk, I suddenly noticed a stone that had been placed in a lovely shaded landscaped area near a tree.

It read, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.”

In the Old Testament, there is an account of Jacob:

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

–Genesis 28:10-16

The presence of the Lord was certainly with Jacob.

We may not have had a dream like his, but God’s presence is in the hearts of His children.

He comforts, teaches, guides and corrects.

He loves us with an everlasting love.

Surely, the presence of the Lord is in our hearts.

dream

Freed Me From My Chains

Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    You have freed me from my chains.

—Psalm 116:16

 

Being a mother, the second part of this verse stands out to me–

as my mother did;

What faith have I modeled for my children?

Have they known me as a servant of the Lord?

Have they watched me serve Him and chosen to do the same?

The last part of the verse speaks of freedom.

So many things in life can be likened to chains.

Chains that bind and constrict.

Chains that keep us from moving forward.

There are no situations or circumstances that are greater than God’s power to control them.

God can set us free.

In that freedom, we are loosed to serve Him in love and gratitude.

As we do this, we are creating a legacy for our children.

 

 

 

chains two

The Dawn and the Sunset

They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
—Psalm 65:8

As the sun was going down behind me, bold rays were streaking across the sky above the ocean in front. 

Soft pink and cream sunbeams traveled across a velvet blue sky, silently shouting their magnificence to the world below. 

It is God who created this evening’s masterpiece of beauty. 

Reflect the Integrity

And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. 
—Tirus 2:7

I wear a hematite bracelet on my left arm. 

I do not wear it because it is pretty. 

I do not wear it because of the uniformity of its pieces. 

I do not wear it because of its shape or color. 

Why, then, do I place it on my left wrist?

I have a bone spur in my hand, which causes pain. 

There are those who suggest that wearing magnetic bands or jewelry near a painful area of the body will help with pain relief. 

Wearing magnetic bracelets do seem to help me, so I continue to wear them. 

I keep them close because of their magnetic properties. 

As followers of Jesus, we need to show those around us what our “properties” are.  

People will be drawn to us on a very real level not because we are pretty.  

Not because of our clothing. 

Not because of our outward appearance at all. 

They will be drawn to who we are and the Christ-like character we reveal in our day to day lives. 

By doing so, we will be encouraging and healing, loving and giving. 

Others will come to know that we are serious about our faith as they see our caring actions. 

Blessed to Give

“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how

He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
—Acts 20:35

Today, I took part in a car wash event to help raise funds to purchase medicine and other needs for a severely impoverished group of people. 

As the volunteer washers diligently cleaned cars in a busy parking lot, people were donating generously to the cause. 

Working together, all those involved were indeed helping the weak, giving of themselves as they felt Jesus would have them to. 

It was a great privilege to be a part of helping others in need—one car at a time. 

Your Light

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
—Matthew 5:16

As I walked on the beach the sun’s light was reflecting on grains of sand, probably numbering in the billions. 

One light—yet the wet sand reflected its  likeness. 

As we reflect God’s love, faithfulness, mercy and forgiveness, we let the light He has given us shine for others. 

In seeing this, they may praise God. 

Cheerful

A cheerful giver.  What does that look like?

What kinds of things to cheerful givers give?

If it were not for God’s provision, we would have nothing to give. 

The blessings that we have are ours to give, whether tangible or not. 

We may cheerfully give money to someone in need or we may cheerfully give of our time to care for our families, our friends and even strangers. 

We may cheerfully give of our own material resources to help another. 

The Bible says,

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

–2 Corinthians 9:7-8

If we desire to have a giving attitude, God will help us to be that way. 

Was there a time when someone gave cheerfully to you?

How did it make you feel?

Plans

My husband has been building a table for our living room the past few days. 

After studying the plans and thinking of all that he would need, he went to the store and bought the lumber and other supplies required to make the table. 

There will be a day when it will sit under the mirror we have on the wall and it will be sanded and stained to a dark brown hue. 

Although it doesn’t look like that yet, I know that it will be. 

My husband could see from the plans what the table was going to look like. 

God had a plan for His people at a specific time in the Old Testament as these words spoke of:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

—Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, too. 

Right now. 

Today. 

He wants to give all who will turn to Him a future and a hope. 

He wants to offer us forgiveness. 

He wants to have us with Him for eternity. 

The plans He has for those who love Him are good. 

God can see that His plan is best. 

He knows what we are going to be when that plan is complete in us. 

Established With Integrity

Take away the impurities from the silver,
    and a good smith can create something of value;
 Take away the wicked from among the king’s advisors,
    and his reign will be established with integrity.

–Proverbs 25:4-5

While reading this passage in The Voice translation the other night, I began to ponder what the words might mean if I put others in the place of the king.

Others, meaning you or me.

If I were to “take away the wicked from among [my] advisors”, what would be the result?

Kings had formal advisors to converse with about important things.

Not considering my friends to be formal advisors, they are, however, a very real influence.

Now, what about that word, wicked?

I can honestly say I don’t have any wicked friends.

Being curious about it, I looked up some words that mean the same thing:

Wayward.

Degenerate.

Mischievous.

Immoral.

Unethical.

No. My friends don’t fall into this category.

So, what is the result?

My reign will be established in integrity.

Not being a king (or queen),  I don’t have a reign.

I do, nonetheless, have influence.

Influence on my family.

Influence on the people I work with.

Influence on the people I see at church.

Influence on the very friends that I am influenced by.

Applying this scripture to myself, I can come to the conclusion that if I choose only wise and God honoring people to be my advisors/friends, then my own influence will be one of integrity.

And how important is that to me?

Extremely important.

How important is that to you?

integrity

Before All the Nations

For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,

And as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up,

So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise

To spring up before all the nations.

—Isaiah 61:11

Imagine it—

Righteousness springing up before all the nations and peoples of the world.

Imagine it—Praise to God springing up before all the nations and peoples of the world.

Someday, God will bring this about.

In His perfect timing.

 

before all

Give Thanks

Give thanks to Him who made the heavenly lights–His faithful love endures forever.

—Psalm 136:7

 

 

Being thankful.

Being grateful.

Being appreciative.

Having a heart full of praise.

Having a heart full of devotion.

To recognize God’s faithfulness.

To know of God’s love deeply within your soul.

All praise belongs to God!

 

givethanks

Your Creatures

I photographed the most magnificent bird today.

The mix of colors displayed in his sleek feathers was captivating.

God has made such beauty in our world!

 

How many are Your works, LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.

—Psalm 104:24

 

 

Your creatures

 

My Hope is in You

Glancing out my window, I could see that the clouds had given way to a brilliant sunset.

Hurrying out the door with my camera, I walked quickly to the farmland near my house.

Cows no longer roamed and grazed as they used to there, but it was still a quiet and serene place–especially as the day drew to an end.

As the sun lowered deeper into the horizon, its muted tones of light created a fleeting nuance of beauty not possible in the earlier hours.

Wild berries had grown along the barbed wire fence closest to the road.

Thinking thoughts without words, I was still basking in the wonderful beauty of the day I had just experienced.

Traveling to see family in a different city, a trail ride on a bicycle, a visit to a park.

It had all been so very wonderful.

Arriving home, I just wanted to pray and thank God.

And then, to have had this peaceful and resplendent sunset–

Every day, my hope begins and ends in God.

 

 

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.

–Psalm 39:7

 

my hope 2

He Is

A rainbow.

I knew there just had to be one.

My husband had gone into a store and I had chosen to wait in the car for him.

Thunder began to crack and lightning was nearby.

Looking out the front of the car, it was sunny.

Looking out the back window, it was a dark gray.

As it started to rain, I tried to peer behind me to see if a rainbow had formed.

Because of the lightning, I wasn’t going to venture out of the car, however.

When my husband returned, umbrella in hand, we began driving off the parking lot. As we made a turn, I saw it.

A vibrant rainbow!

Trying to photograph a rainbow with my car window down and the rain coming in was a feat for the persistent….

I have since pondered rainbows in a little different way than I have in the past.

We tend to think of troublesome times in our lives as “storms.”

We apply the word “storm” to a great many situations.

A stormy relationship.

A physical challenge.

An onslaught of something bad.

For a rainbow to form in all its dazzling brilliance, there must be rain.

As the dark clouds are depositing each drop to the ground, the light of the sun streaks across the atmosphere, creating a vision of vividly colored transparency.

While the storm is still going on—and even as it has just passed–the light shines into the darkness with a promise.

When we have those troubling times–those challenging situations and heartbreaking events–God’s light is still shining on it all.

If we turn to look, we can trust that somewhere—somewhere—He is forming a rainbow.

 

He is

 

Scurries and Swarms

Several weeks ago, I visited an aquarium area with many types of sea creatures on display.

Finding almost everything I looked at to be fascinating, I took several pictures.

One creature, in particular, was so incredible!

It was the Leafy Sea Dragon, a marine fish that looks like a floating plant.

It looks so much like the vegetation around it, becoming camouflaged in the midst.

For me, I can see God’s work in this.

A beautiful fish swimming around looking amazingly like the surrounding plants.

I don’t believe that it just “developed on its own” a likeness to its surroundings.

Gazing at this marvelous creature only increases my faith in God’s perfect creation of all things.

What about you?

 

So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird–each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good.

–Genesis 1:21

 

swarms

I Will Dwell

I went to a funeral today.

As I sat in the church listening to the pastor speak about my elderly friend, the words landed on my heart in agreement with what I already knew.

This man had lived his life for God and in service to the people around him.

A constant flow of care from God to him and from him to others, was evident.

Always encouraging, he spoke to me personally many times in appreciation of my efforts.

Speaking regularly in front of the congregation on Sundays, he would inspire those in the pews before him to gather together to help feed the needy in the community.

He gave of his own resources to equip other people as they heard God’s call to service.

As a loving husband, he cared for his ailing wife at home.

Listening to the pastor speak this morning, I learned that even as he was very ill and in the hospital, he was still showing paramount concern for other people.

The tone of the hour was reflective and loving as each person remembered their own experiences with this Christ-like gentleman.

There were tears and, at times, laughter, as his humor was recalled.

A sense of peace and joy could be felt as we sang the lyrics to “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art.”

Psalm 23 was printed in the order of service for everyone to read.

Our dear friend had lived his life in a close relationship with God.

That relationship did not end with his death; it simply continued on in a seamless passage from this earth to Heaven, where His Savior was waiting.

Knowing this brings great comfort when it is time to say goodbye…

 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

–Psalm 23:6

 

surely goodness

 

 

Sacrifices

Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.
—Hebrews 13:16

My heart is full tonight.

Quite unexpectedly, I was given a gift as an expression of love. 

The gift was selfless and caring, and I knew that it took many, many hours of work to earn its purchase. 

So, what did I do when I received it? 

I cried. 

I hugged. 

I said, “I love you!”

The passage above from the book of Hebrews tells us to do good things for others and to share what we have with them. 

It also states that these are the kinds of sacrifices that please God. 

God Himself continues to do good things for us every day. 

He shares all of His creation with us. 

He gives us unconditional love and offers us forgiveness. 

He sent His Son, Jesus, to die as a sacrifice for our sins, so that all who believe could spend eternity with Him. 

Since God has done so much for me, I want to please Him and show my gratefulness and gratitude. 

I was shown love tonight. 

I think God was pleased with that act of love. 

God wants me to show love to others. 

This is just one way that I can please Him. 

Promised

God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?

–Numbers 23:19

Today, I received a weather warning on my cell phone. 

Looking further at the forecast, I read that the current condition was sunny, but that a thunderstorm would begin in three minutes. 

Three minutes?

That would’ve been quite an abrupt change in a short amount of time. 

To give credit to the weather service, the rain did start very soon. 

Sometimes it is hard to believe that change is coming, either good or bad. 

If things are going well, we may not believe that troubling circumstances are near. 

The opposite is also true–when things are going badly, we may not believe that relief is even in sight. 

God knows the future, however, and He knows when change will occur. 

When God makes a promise, He will carry it through. 

Even if the skies are dark, they will be sunny again, if God says says they will. 

We can trust Gid, for He is faithful. 

Turn Away

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

Proverbs 3:7

 

 

How quickly should be turn away from evil?

Just how fast should we run from temptation?

If we picture ourselves just walking away, we are still close enough, perhaps, to be ensnared by it.

If we imagine ourselves running away from evil, or even getting on a motorcycle and speeding away from evil, that seems better.

We need to get far, far away from evil, and instead, draw closer to God.

 

turn away final

Hold Fast

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
—Hebrews 10:23

Looking out the bedroom window, I see the plants and bushes as they flourish another year. 

Season after season, God is faithful to renew the plants that grow from the soil. 

God is also faithful to us in every way. 

Great are the Works

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.—Psalm 111:2

Every weekend, vendors come to a local venue near my home to sell items to the general public. 

One of my favorite areas is populated by several people selling a great variety of potted plants, bushes and small trees. 

While walking in that section this morning, I came upon a flowering plant that I did not recognize with vibrant pink blooms. 

Stopping to look at it more closely, I decided to photograph my new discovery. 

Somehow, I think Heaven will be just a bit like this. 

At every turn we will see a marvelous masterpiece of God’s design, new to our eternal eyes. 

Until then, He has given us an entire world to enjoy, as we ponder each of His glorious creations with awe and wonder.