Wilderness

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

—Isaiah 43:19

The bridge above the water provides a safe crossing over the dangers below.

Although the water looks peaceful enough, I have photographed a swimming alligator there before….

God continues to make a way for us, every day.

Each of us has a wilderness to cross at specific points in our lives.

Deserts may be on the horizon.

Yet, in all things, God is faithful.

He will make a way.

wilderness

Be Thankful

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

–1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

I’ve really been pondering a lot of things lately.

Things concerning faith in God.

Being a Christian, all of my life actually concerns faith.

Lately, though, I have been really contemplating matters of blessing, disobedience, and thankfulness.

Those three may seem random, yet those are some of the things I have been reading about and praying about.

My focus has been on thankfulness the last couple of days.

I really am very grateful for so many blessings in my life.

My relationship with Jesus, my health, my job, my family, the provisions I have of food and shelter.

The radiant sunrise I photographed this morning on the way to work.

Why, I could write a list that would never be finished!

What I’ve been thinking about lately are the things that I have considered to be bad.

Sicknesses, poor choices, accidents—things like that.

Not just in my own life, but in the lives of others.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads,

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

All circumstances.

All.

Thanking God for the loss of a job?

I know He can work good from that and also provide a different job.

Thanking God for the situations arising from a poor choice?

I know He can work good from poor choices as we learn of our dependence on Him and the need for His guidance.

With every “bad” circumstance that I can think of, I have to acknowledge that God has not left me or others.

Having a thankful heart in the midst of trouble– and not just when everything is good–seems to be what verse 18 is saying.

Since circumstances change day by day and moment to moment, our thankfulness should be renewed with each situation.

A heart of thankfulness.

I’m going to continue to think about that….

thankful

 

Trust In You

Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You.

—Psalm 9:10

 

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.

 

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God Has Been Making It Grow

In 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, Paul addresses what some had been saying.

Some people were saying, “I follow Paul.”

Other people were saying, “I follow Apollos.”

Both Paul and Apollos were men who were serving God and through their witness, the people believed in Jesus.

He wanted them to understand what was most important, and what was most important wasn’t Paul or Apollos.

Paul speaks to them in this chapter using the example of seed:

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

—1 Corinthians 3:6

As we look back in our own lives, there have been faithful people who have invested the truth of the gospel in us at various times.

Believing parents and grandparents.

A Sunday School teacher.

A youth director.

A Christian camp counselor.

A pastor.

A close friend.

As time passes and our situations and locations change, God can still take the seed that has been planted earlier and cause it to be watered by others through their investment in us.

All the while, it is only God who is making this seed of salvation and faith grow.

It is by His power and love that this takes place.

It is a beautiful circle of life.

Someone invests in us and we, then, invest in others.

And all the while, it is God who makes us grow….

watered

Divine Power to Demolish

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!

strongholds

Plant Seeds of Peace

And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

—James 3:18

 

 

I really liked the flowers I had purchased.

Placing them at the end of my front walkway in a nice little pot, they were there to greet me each day as I left for work and returned.

When this winter is over, I am hopeful that the flowers with return, as they produced many seeds during their tenure in the warmer months.

I am quite ready to see the new beautiful blooms that emerge from the tender plants that push up through the soil.

We can be like those flowers, too.

What would it be like if we lived our days as peacemakers, planting seeds of peace wherever we happened to be?

 

harvest

I Will Help You

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?

Being trusting?

Being calm?

Being relaxed?

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.

—Isaiah 41:13

 

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The Lord’s Servant

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. 

Perfect Clarity

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
—1 Corinthians 13:12
The reflection I saw near the lake was like a painting.
Subtle colors, mirroring themselves in the still, quiet water.
Ripples bending the shapes into patterns of light and shadows.
The reflection wasn’t far from the true image of the plants growing close to the water’s edge.
We are not far from seeing our lives in perfect clarity, either.
When we enter Heaven, we will know everything completely, just as God now knows us completely.
clarity

Strengthens

 

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.

—Philippians 4:13

 

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The Day is Almost Here

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.

—Romans 13:11-14

 

Wake up.

Put aside.

Put on the armor.

Behave decently.

Clothe yourselves.

The day is almost here…….

 

 

the-day

 

 

 

With You

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.”

—Matthew 28:16-20

 

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…

 

 

with-you

I Will Give Thanks

Salvation.

Redemption.

A new life here on earth.

The gift of eternal life in Heaven.

Forgiveness.

Unfailing love.

Guidance.

Assurance.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

I will give thanks to You, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds.

—Psalm 9:1

 

thanks

Do You Want to Get Well?

Driving home this evening, the sun was on the horizon as dusk was fast approaching.

Another day would soon be past.

How many sunsets have I seen in my life?

God has blessed me with the beauty and grandeur of more than I remember.

Year after year, He has been faithful to me, whether I understood it at the time, or not.

Year after year, He has known the longings of my heart.

He has answered prayers, given me guidance, and restored me from illnesses both great and small.

God has also protected me from dangers that I recognized and from those that I was never even aware of.

He knows the deep desires of my heart for the salvation of those I love and the restoration of broken relationships.

While reading tonight about the healing of a man by Jesus, His question to the man went straight to my heart–“Do you want to get well?”

The man had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.

Thirty-eight years…

Then, suddenly, he was healed.

Walking.

Completely whole.

Only the evening before, the sun had set as it had for thousands of times in his life, finding him to be unable to walk.

But not on this day–

This was the day of freedom.

The day of answered prayer for healing.

The day of salvation.

The day of restoration.

What have you been longing for?

Has it been thirty-eight years?

Twenty years?

Ten?

God is able to answer your deepest cries in prayer.

Do you want to get well?

Do you want others to get well?

Continue praying for them.

Tomorrow may yet be the day of healing…

 

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Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

—John 5:2-8

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Cause to Grow

He waters the mountains from the upper rooms of His palace; the earth is full of the fruit You cause to grow.

 

—Psalm 104:13

 

I purchased some flowers a few months ago and placed them in a pot at the end of my front walkway.

For the longest of time, they were at a fairly consistent height and low to the soil.

Not even remembering what type of flower I had selected, I thought they would stay at the height they were.

Recently, the flowers began a growth spurt.

Some of them look like they may have actually doubled in stature.

God knew all along how tall these plants would get.

I just didn’t.

In fact, they may even grow taller still.

Have you ever thought that things were just going to remain the way there were without changing?

Have you ever thought that certain people would never change?

Have you ever thought that it would be impossible for you to change?

God is in control.

God sees who we can become with His strength and guidance.

It doesn’t matter if we expect it or not, God is still at work.

 

 

 

earth-is-full

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

With Your Favor

Surely, Lord, You bless the righteous;
    You surround them with Your favor as with a shield.

—Psalm 5:12

A friend brought flowers to me.

She blessed me with the beautiful blooms that God had created.

The Lord blesses us every day.

He surrounds us with blessings and His favor.

 

shield b

Worries

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

—1 Peter 5:7

 

Worry is a powerful force.

Worry can occupy your mind, stealing the space of wisdom and productive thought.

Worry can drive you to the corner and sit you there, removing you from meaningful activities.

Worry can stress your body, slowly robbing you of good health and fitness.

Worry can influence your attitude, coloring your choices with counterfeit hues.

Worry, in short, can take over your life–

if your let it.

What can battle such a controlling influence?

Not us.

Only God.

The difficult circumstances that worry hopes to feed upon must be brought to Him.

God cares for us and He is willing to give us His peace, exchanging worry for calm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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worries

Promises

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For all of

God’s promises

have been fulfilled

in Christ

with a resounding “Yes!”

And through Christ,

our “Amen”

(which means “Yes”)

ascends to

God for His glory.

–2 Corinthians 1:20

 

 

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promises

Prayer

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The garden area I saw was lush and inviting, with blooms of many colors.

An arch of vines formed a canopy over the brick walkway.

I am reminded of the lyrics of an old hymn:

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

 

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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 4:6-7

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What a Person Has Built

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I had a wonderful time!

The lighting was fantastic and I was taking the most beautiful photos of water droplets on a fence.

Crystal looking orbs of water glowing with the morning sun.

Excited to see the images I had collected, I was ready to upload them to my computer.

Something was wrong, however.

I was getting an error message.

I decided to charge my camera’s battery and try the upload again.

It didn’t help…

Finally, I decided to look at the memory card.

When I opened the casing to take it out, it wasn’t there.

All the photos that I thought I had taken were never recorded because there was no card to record them to.

I thought my work had amounted to something, but it hadn’t.

I thought I had something, but in fact, I had nothing…

The Bible speaks about things that we have done.

Paul writes these verses in 1 Corinthians:

The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work.  We are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field.

You are God’s building.  As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it.  After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ. People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw.  The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done.  If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward.

–1 Corinthians 3:8-14

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The things that we do may seem important, but if they are not pleasing to God, they really aren’t.

When our life on earth is over, what we have done will be known.

If the things I have done were not pleasing to God, they will not survive.

They will be like pictures that I thought I took, yet have nothing to show for them.

Instead of a beautiful photograph of water droplets on a fence, I had a black screen.

I don’t want to have a “black screen” representing what I have done in life.

I want what I do to be what is pleasing to God.

What matters to Him.

Isn’t that what you want, as well?

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survives

Be Like the Ant

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Walking along early at the park, I suddenly noticed a large ant hill at my feet.

Happily, they weren’t up yet…at least they weren’t out yet.

Because of their bite and the large numbers of them usually together, ants have to be respected and feared.

Beyond that, ants can be respected for something else, as well.

Ants work together and also alone.

Either way, ants work.

They seem to work quite diligently, in fact.

Proverbs 6:6-8 reads,

“Be like the ant and see her ways and learn, for there is no harvest for her,

And there is no ruler over her, neither anyone to drive her.

And she prepares for herself her bread from the summer and she stores her food at harvest.”

What work is it that God has called you to do?

Are you working diligently together with others to accomplish it?

Are you working alone, also, to do the same?

This is something I must ask myself…

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the ant

I Will Watch

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When I got up this morning, the fog was gently draping itself like a blanket just above the dewy ground.

As the sun’s rays came streaming down, they formed a natural spotlight for the grassy stage below.

Quiet.

Undisturbed.

Peaceful.

The start of a new day.

There are many concerns tugging at my heart.

God knows each one.

When I awaken to a new day, often I am reminded of my concerns.

As I pray for God to work in a way that only He can in the lives of those I am interceding for, I must wait.

I must wait and watch for His answer.

*

LORD, in the morning You will hear my voice; in the morning I will pray to You, and I will watch for Your answer.

–Psalm 5:3

 

 

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morning watch

The New is Here!

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It is now 9:58 in the evening.

Still another two hours before the new year, the sound of fireworks in my vicinity has already begun.

Why is it that people celebrate what is new?

A new year?

A new job?

A new baby?

Newness brings with it an open-ended invitation to possibilities.

What we have hoped might become a reality.

We are encouraged as we think of that which is to come as being “better” than what has already been.

For believers in Jesus, we celebrate our new lives.

When we yielded ourselves to God, the transformation was complete.

2 Corinthians 5:17 reads,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

This dramatic change–this rebirth–has made us to be a new creation.

When each of us is transformed in this way, choosing Jesus, there is a celebration of rejoicing in Heaven as well as in our hearts.

The new is here!

 

 

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new

Accept One Another

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Have you ever changed your mind about something or someone?

I can laugh about it now, but many years ago I met someone that I thought I would not like at all, based upon the little knowledge I had of him.

It’s funny because he became one of my most trusted friends.

Laughing at myself and realizing my all-too-quick assessment of another person brings me to understand that I need to contemplate my opinions more slowly and with care.

Just because someone might dress differently, speak differently, eat different kinds of food, or attend a different church than I do, it doesn’t mean that I am somehow “better” than they are.

It also doesn’t mean that we couldn’t be friends.

All believers are on a personal faith journey with Jesus.

There are some who are traveling ahead of us and some who are traveling behind us.

Some are close to our side, while others are quite a distance away.

The most important thing is who we all are—redeemed sinners, children of God.

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Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

—Romans 15:7

 

 

 

 

 

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accept

Grace

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May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave His life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.  All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

–Galatians 1:3-5

He gave.

He planned.

He rescued.

He gives grace.

He gives peace….

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grace