One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
—2 Corinthians 5:17
Who was that person I used to be?
What were my thoughts
In my old identity?
How did I reason that I’d be fine
Not trusting in God’s ways
But counting on mine?
Imprisoned with guilt, confusion and shame
My heart was filled with hurt and blame
Jesus came and filled my heart
His gift to me—a brand new start
Who was that person I used to be?
It matters not
Because today I am free!
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Who are those that are lonely?
The ones in need so deeply inside
They’re mixed in crowds
yet still, they hide
Who are those that are afflicted?
The ones so burdened with pain
They blend in around us
But the hurt continues to remain
It is not known to their hurting hearts
That God would take them in
Who are those that could tell them?
It’s you and I, my friend
I am the vine;
you are the branches.
If you remain in Me
and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from Me
you can do nothing.
I can never, ever make this statement without it being false:
“I can bear fruit in God’s kingdom apart from Jesus.”
It’s not a true statement for me.
It’s not a true statement for you, either.
The branches must stay connected to the vine.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek His will in all you do,
and He will show you which path to take.
I see the sunset as it meets the ocean
A seam of water and sky
Blended with blurred reflection
I hurry beside the fence
Intent on finding a clearer view
The blazing light before me
Fills my thoughts and fuels my steps
Drawn to what I see
The path is laid before me
The only direction I need
For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.
I saw Him sitting on a plant in our front flower garden area.
A leaf hopper perched out in the open, fully camouflaged.
His wings were like green leaves, even with dead and brown looking edges and spots.
With legs that mimicked tiny branches, he was well disguised.
I marvel at creatures like this.
There might be those that say that his kind evolved in such a way as to look at their surroundings and match them in their appearance in order to evade would-be attackers.
For me, I can only conclude that God, the Creator, made this magnificent insect to look like the environment around him for protection.
He created everything.
I listened to a sermon this evening about Jesus calming the wind and waves.
Recently, I heard a song that spoke of how the wind and waves “still know His Name.”
Jesus can control every storm.
Nothing is too difficult for Him.
Dangerous is a word that applies to what could harm us.
There is nothing dangerous to Jesus…
One day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out. As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.
The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm. Then He asked them, “Where is your faith?”
The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When He gives a command, even the wind and waves obey Him!”
Make music to praise the LORD, you faithful people who belong to Him. Remember His holiness by giving thanks.
I saw him among the branches of the tree in my front yard.
The sun wasn’t far from setting and the blue jay was perched high.
Wanting just to be quiet and calm while enjoying a few moments outside, I listened to the various birds sing and tweet as they prepared for nighttime to fall.
When the birds sing, they make music.
They are able to do so because God gives them that ability.
With each chirp and call, they testify to the greatness of their Creator.
I want to praise God with my voice and with instruments as I make music, giving thanks.
That is possible because He gave me a voice and the ability to play instruments.
Thank You, God, for all that You have done for me. All praise belongs to You.
How much better to get wisdom than gold,to get insight rather than silver!
It was a small thing, really.
I wanted to wash dishes so I began running the water and squirting dishwashing liquid into the water.
Something wasn’t right, though.
The sink wasn’t filling up with water.
Checking further, I found that I had neglected to put the stopper in the drain.
The water and the detergent were simply flowing down the drain, missing my purpose for them entirely.
I know I need wisdom.
Being a wise person surely means more than having money.
Sometimes, I can imagine that my efforts–though good intentionally–are flowing down the drain.
If that’s happening, I’ve probably not remembered something—I need to pray about those efforts and see if I have forgotten to ask God if that’s what He wants for me right then.
I know every bird on the mountains,
and all the animals of the field are Mine.
When I arrived at work, the tree by the parking lot was filled with birds.
I could hear them speaking with their chirping and tweeting.
As I watched, some flew away and others came to rest on the branches of the tree.
I am sitting now in the hospital room of a family member.
Is God still in control?
Yes, He is.
God knows every bird in the tree I was looking at.
He knows me and every member of my family, too.
He has not forgotten us.
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask Me, and I would give you living water.”
So many people do not know the gift God has for them.
They do not know the love God has for them.
They do not know that they can be forgiven of their sins.
They do not know they can live forever in eternity.
Do you know?
What does it look like to love others?
To love people the way God wants us to love them?
It’s easy to love those who love us.
But what about the ones who don’t?
Or what about the people of the world we have never met?
Or those that we come in contact with that are homeless or jobless?
What does it look like to love others who may be dirty from living on the street?
Or the ones who dress differently than we do and act differently than we do?
What does loving them look like?
Years ago, our children had a game that was intended for car trips.
It was a set of long cards on a ring, as I remember it.
One person would ask the other player a question that was listed on a particular card.
I can’t recall all the the details of the game, but there was a colored plastic sheet that could go on top of a card.
If the plastic sheet was on top of the card, the answer could be read.
Otherwise, it was hard to see the letters–maybe they couldn’t be seen at all.
Loving people the way God wants us to love them has to start with understanding that God loves them.
If we don’t understand that, they are like letters and words that we cannot see on a card.
We don’t feel the need to love them because we have not noticed that they need love.
We have not recognized them as being precious to God and loved by Him.
Once the “colored plastic” of this truth is placed over our view of them, we see clearly what we had not before.
When that happens, God will allow us to see just what loving that other person means right then.
And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
—1 John 4:21
My reaction was immediate–and I’m sad to say that it wasn’t a good one.
Arriving early for work, I had planned to do some reading at my desk just prior to moving to an assigned area.
Only having a short amount of time for the reading, I sat down at my desk and looked at the clock.
Before I could even get started, someone who would be working part of the day in the next room stopped by just to have a friendly conversation with me.
There was a sudden thought of selfishness racing across my mind.
I was truly disappointed that I would not be able to do what I had planned in those short moments, because of the interruption of another worker.
Realizing very quickly that this was not the attitude that God would want me to have, I spent the next few moments listening to my visitor and making comments, deciding that talking with them was more important than what I had planned.
Quickly, it was time for us both to change areas and say goodbye.
Arriving at my new assigned area for that specific time, I was once again alone.
Within a few moments another coworker happened to be walking by me, having just arrived at work.
Instead of only saying, “Good morning,” to me and moving on, this person stopped and asked how things were going, since they knew that I had been dealing with some concerns in my family.
They stood there, patiently, as I spoke of recent issues dear to my heart.
With caring compassion, they encouraged me with sincere words and then walked on.
I had been so focused on what I wanted to do moments earlier that I was inwardly disappointed to see someone walk into the room while I was at my desk.
Now, in complete contrast, a coworker took the time out of their busy day to stop and check on me and how I was doing, freely giving up their moments to show their concern.
What attitude was pleasing to God?
Clearly, not my initial one.
Just as clearly, my coworker’s attitude was the right one to have.
Romans 12:10 reads, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.“
There are times that I need to put my own personal agenda aside and honor someone else above myself.
What does it mean to depend on God?
For those who say that they do not depend on Him, what is it that they are doing instead?
If we make our own decisions without consulting Him, are we depending on Him?
If we try to handle the tasks of the day–and, ultimately, the tasks of our life–on our own strength, are we depending on Him?
To go our own way–our own direction–without His guidance and permission, is to choose disappointment and adversity.
It may not seem to be the path that we are on at first, but in the end, we will find that our independence has been our undoing.
God is well aware of our need for dependence on Him.
He welcomes us to come before Him in prayer on any matter.
He offers forgiveness and guidance to every seeking heart.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You.
I could see the boat coming down the river at a fairly good speed.
It’s not uncommon at all to see boats travel up and down the river, but this was a little bit different.
There, on the front deck of the boat, was a dog.
A very happy dog, I would assume.
More than likely, it was his owner driving the vessel behind him.
I don’t know what the dog was thinking, but he must have been very trusting to sit right at the front with no one beside him as the trees passed, the water parted and the wind blew strongly through his fur!
Of course, there would have been no possible way for the owner to have explained to the dog how the boat was powered or steered, how he would make the proper decisions about speed and location or even how long the ride would be.
A dog cannot comprehend that level of thinking.
Still, the dog had the opportunity to trust the owner and enjoy the ride.
We cannot understand what is happening in our lives sometimes.
When God is steering the “boat” we can only accept His invitation to go where He wants us to go.
We cannot always comprehend the “what and why” of God’s plan.
The dog didn’t ask his owner, “Where are we going?”
“When will we come home?”
“How fast will we go?”
“What will I see?”
No. He just hopped on the boat and away they went.
As believers, we must trust God for the journey.
He will never forsake us.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
—2 Corinthians 10:3-4
When discouragement comes my way, I cannot pick up a big stick and hit it.
If regret comes prowling around my heart, I cannot shut a door and keep it out.
When failure threatens to tear down success, I cannot push it away with strong arms.
The wiles of the enemy must be conquered through prayer and the power of God.
As I see strongholds of many kinds tightly binding those I love, I grieve for their condition and I long to help.
By myself, I can do nothing.
With God as my heavenly Father, I can pray and ask for His victorious divine power to break the chains that hold them captive.
God is our healer.
He is the One who restores.
He makes things new.
He frees us from the ravages of the enemy.
He delivers us from evil.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Look to the Lord and His strength;
seek His face always.
—1 Chronicles 16:11
What should we do when we pray and then we don’t understand what happens next?
What if situations in our lives seem confusing, even though we have prayed about them?
God’s thoughts are not ours and His timing is not our timing.
His understanding of every human heart is beyond our comprehension.
No matter what happens to us, we are to look to God and His strength.
We need to always be seeking Him.
He knows what is best.
There’s a popular song out now that I hear on the radio a lot.
It’s “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns.
Here are part of the lyrics:
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
I was recently privileged to hold a three month old goat.
It was cold outside and the little thing simply allowed me to hold him in my arms and rock him side to side for about twenty minutes.
I think he just about went to sleep, even though there were a lot of people walking around us.
He was trusting.
He was calm.
He was relaxed.
He wasn’t struggling to get away.
In fact, he seemed content and happy—just being held.
Can you just picture yourself as a little child, resting in Jesus’s arms?
Just allowing Him to rock you side to side as you drift to sleep, even though there are a lot of things happening all around you?
Can you picture yourself there?
Not struggling to get away?
Content and happy–-just being held?
So, when we are on our knees in prayer, or in our car in prayer or at work in prayer, and answers seem so far away, can we trust that we are not alone?
Can we trust that Jesus is at work and that things in our lives are falling into place?
Can we understand that God is on His throne and He is in control–not us?
Can we stop struggling and just be held?
For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient…
—2 Timothy 2:24
What does it mean to quarrel?
To have an angry argument seems like the best definition.
So, a servant of the Lord must not have angry arguments.
I truly desire to be a servant of the Lord, but I have definitely been a part of some angry arguments…
I should also be gentle to all.
At my workplace, there is an overarching motto that is put out to the employees:
“All means all.”
If there is a directive for a group of people at work, it is for all of them. No one should be left out.
If I am to be gentle to all, well, all means all.
I can’t pick one person to be mean or harsh with and pick another to be gentle to.
As a servant, I should be able to teach.
I should be able to teach others through my words and actions about God’s love and faithfulness.
I should also be patient…
Not quickly frustrated with others, it would seem.
Are these easy character traits and attitudes to have?
Sometimes, the answer would be, “no.”
Still, if I have the desire to do what God wants, He will strengthen me.
I have read that some ducks can fly at speeds of 50 miles per hour or greater for a sustained length of time.
Ducks can also fly for hours.
It makes me think of people who run marathons….
There are times in our lives where we feel like we are in situations in which we are running “marathons” or trying to have the strength to “fly” long distances.
Extended illnesses, military deployments, relationship struggles—plus countless other circumstances that require personal strength to get through—compel us to look to Jesus for help.
He is with us.
Do you believe?
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
And do this, understanding the present time:
The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.
So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness,
not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ,
and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Put on the armor.
The day is almost here…….
The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
Even though we may feel alone, we are not.
Even though we may doubt, Jesus remains the same.
Even though the end of the age may come, Jesus will be with us, always…
A new life here on earth.
The gift of eternal life in Heaven.
I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.
I watched a compelling movie last night.
In one scene, the screenwriters skilfully send a pang of familiarity to the audience.
As the main character is asked if he is afraid, a flash back occurs in his mind of an incident in his childhood.
There he is, on the playground, holding a single flower in his hands. As he approaches a little girl to present the flower to, he is met by the intimidating voices of other children making fun of him. As they shun him, they all run away, leaving him alone, holding his flower without ever having the chance to offer it.
The character in the movie then (after the flashback) replies that he is not afraid, yet the viewers understand that couldn’t be farther from the truth. He still feels the weight of the childhood intimidation even now as an adult.
Feeling unsure of himself, he does not want to endure rejection again.
I researched the word, “intimidation.”
I found a couple of definitions to be very interesting. One definition states, “inducing a sense of inferiority into another.”
The next descriptive definition is, “implies a reduction to a state where the spirit is broken.”
When I think of the movie scene–one that I think most anyone can identify with–these definitions are spot on.
This morning, I read from a devotional book that I have been using in my Bible study time. Today’s topic was on several scriptures concerning the words we say to each other.
Encouraging words or discouraging words.
Each of us gets to decide what words we say.
We all know what it feels like to hear hurtful words.
We also know what it’s like to hear encouraging and kind words.
I get to decide what I want to say.
So do you.
Whoever puts down another is not wise, but one who knows better keeps quiet.
As I drove away from work, I had only been in my car perhaps three minutes when the dark gray clouds above me sent a great flash of lightning and the sound of thunder so great and consuming that I instinctively crouched down in the driver’s seat, clinging to the steering wheel.
It was like a heralding trumpet, announcing the great storm to come….
Driving only a small distance on the highway, the torrential rain began.
It was difficult to see the lane markings as I crept along at a slow speed with my tires throwing up waves of water from the pavement beneath me.
Once, a vehicle passed by and the deluge of water from their tires arriving on my windshield stole all vision of the road from me.
As I made my way down the six lane highway, the radio announcer related weather warnings completely accurate to my situation.
The thought occurred to me that for so people, everyday life is a struggle, like trying to drive through a storm.
People who do not know Jesus have an obscured view of life.
As troubling situations arise, the road ahead is difficult to navigate alone.
It’s hard to navigate through each day when they’re experiencing the storms without God’s guidance and direction.
The psalmist said, “I would hurry to find shelter from the raging wind and storm.”
That man you see, that woman you see—that grandmother or grandfather–that child—that person who doesn’t know Jesus as their Savior—they are stuck in a storm.
They want to hurry and find a way out, but they don’t know how to begin.
We can help.
Talking to them about God and His Son, Jesus.
They don’t have to remain on a stormy, six lane highway with their hands gripping the steering wheel.
It can all change—the moment they believe.
Who can you talk to today that’s struggling in the storm?
Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
This morning as I walked out to my car to drive to work, the sun had not yet come up.
The day was bright with the sun’s approach, however.
As I started to get into the car, I could see a giant cloud, blazing with glorious hues of orange, yellow and pink in the western sky.
Putting my things in the car, I photographed the cloud with my phone.
Even though I couldn’t see the sun directly, I could see it’s illuminating effect on the billowing mass of water vapor that rose so high in the distance.
It was a testimony of what was soon to come into view.
I have been praying about many concerns lately.
God knows about them all.
Even though I may not see how God is working in a particular moment, there are times when I can see His light shining on a situation.
It is a testimony of His faithfulness and answered prayers to come.