Fresh as the Morning

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The Lord‘s unfailing love and mercy still continue,
    Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

—Lamentations 3:22-23

As I walked past the roses planted in the church yard, I stopped to photograph them.

The shower was now over and the water droplets were adorning the leaves and petals like transparent jewels.

Fresh after the rain, the life giving water would reach down into the soil, sustaining the beauty for another day.

God’s unfailing love and mercy toward us is ever present.

It reaches down into our lives, sustaining us each and every day.

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The Lord’s House

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Standing on the lawn of my church, the clouds were forming a beautiful backdrop.

I have spent many hours in this church, learning about God, and listening for His voice.

Through the years, it has been a meeting place for those who trust in Him.

People have come and gone with the decades, each having been part of a fellowship of believers who strengthened one another in the Lord.

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I was glad when they said to me,
    “Let us go to the Lord‘s house.”

—Psalm 122:1

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i as glad

Name Was Not Found

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If you’ve ever tried to get a visa on your passport in order to enter a particular country, then you know it can be a complicated matter.

It’s likely that you’ll have to answer a lot of questions on a form.

Maybe more than one form, even.

Some of the questions might turn out to be pretty hard to answer.

Questions about your job.

Your parents.

Your grandparents.

Your driver’s license.

Where you were born.

The list goes on and on….

Even after you send in the information, it is always possible that your request may be denied.

You’re not allowed in.

No particular reason.

Just, “No.”

But what about getting into Heaven?

There aren’t any forms to be filled out.

Your job status doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter who your parents were.

It doesn’t matter who your grandparents were, either.

Really, it doesn’t even matter when you were born.

The only thing that matters is if you have believed in Jesus and repented of your sins, asking for forgiveness.

Look at these verses:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

—Ephesians 2:8-9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9

That leaves us with a question.

So, what if you don’t believe and repent?

It’s not a popular topic and it can certainly cause some divisive arguments.

In the book of Revelation, the Bible speaks of the book of life:

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

–Revelation 20:11-15

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Not many people want to talk about the “So, what if you don’t” question.

Not many people want to talk about the passage above from Revelation.

It’s frightening.

I believe that my name is written in the book of life because I have believed in Jesus and repented of my sins.

Still, I am frightened for those who have not.

If you feel that your name would not be there, why not change that right now.

God is ready to hear your prayer.

It’s not too late…..

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book of life

He Knows

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The storm was coming.

An advisory had been issued by the weather service.

Not far from my neighborhood, there is a place where I can look out and see a nearby lake just beyond the trees and houses.

It was the perfect place to watch the dark clouds as they approached.

When the rain finally arrived, I had to enjoy the scene from inside my car.

If I hadn’t had any shelter–such as my car–I wouldn’t have been enjoying the scene at all.

I would’ve been sopping wet, exposed to wind and lightning and the dangers that come with them.

There are times in our lives when we can see the storms coming.

These storms have names of their own.

Illness.

Divorce.

Abandonment.

Grief.

These are just some of the storms that can come our way.

Do we have to just stand there, without any shelter at all when they appear?

Thankfully, we don’t.

God is our shelter.

Nahum 1:7 reads,

The LORD is good,
    a stronghold in the day of trouble;
He knows those who take refuge in Him.

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When troubles come, God will be our stronghold.

He knows who is trusting in Him.

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By Prayer and Petition

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After recently watching a movie that was centered on the power of prayer, I made a decision.

In the film, the main character wrote prayers down on paper and attached them to the wall of her closet.

It was there that she prayed for many concerns.

Considering what the greatest burdens of my heart are, I have begun to write down specific prayers and tape them to a wooden wardrobe in my closet.

When each prayer has been answered, I will be able to write that answer on the small pieces of paper that are posted there.

In just writing down my most heartfelt longings, I realize that my intercessory concerns are too big for me to handle.

I can’t change someone’s attitude.

I can’t give someone else the gift of wisdom.

I can’t heal someone from disease.

I can’t choose the perfect job for someone else.

I can’t.

But God can.

Coming to Him in prayer about anything and everything, is the best possible action.

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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.

—Philippians 4:6

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For the Lord Himself Will Come Down

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Sunday afternoon, the train cars were parked, awaiting their next journey as they sat quiet and still along the rails.

Something about trains makes me want to photograph them almost every time I see them.

Maybe it’s the thought of travel and moving on to a different place that intrigues me.

For a believer in Jesus, there is always the faith that a different place awaits us in Heaven.

Many songs about our eternal home have been written using a train as a metaphor regarding our way of passage.

One that I have been familiar with for a long time is, “This Train.”

This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory, this train,
This train is bound for glory,
Don’t ride nothin’ but the righteous and holy
This train is bound for glory, this train.

Another song is “The Gospel Train.”

The gospel train is coming,
I hear it just at hand,
I hear the car wheels moving,
And rumbling thro’ the land.

Get on board, children,
Get on board, children,
Get on board, children,
For there’s room for many a more.

Still another is “The Warning.”

The Gospel train’s at hand,

Be in time, be in time!

The Gospel train’s at hand,

Be in time,

Behold your station there, JESUS has paid your fare; Let’s all engage in prayer:

Be in time, be in time!

Let’s all engage in prayer:

Be in time!

The lyrics to “The Gospel Railroad” encourage others toward salvation:

Come, sinner! join the Gospel-train
Would you the Holy City gain;
That you the journey may begin—
The train is waiting—O step in!

The lyrics of all these songs point to one, very important thing:

There is just one passage to Heaven.

That passage is through Jesus; He is our “train.”

We can hear Him in our land right now.

Only those who have believed in Him for salvation may go with Him.

He has paid the fare for any sinner to come and there is room for every person that wants to go.

Here’s the big question:

Are YOU on board?

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For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.

—1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

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The Benefits of Freedom

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Christ has freed us

so that we may enjoy

the benefits of freedom.

Therefore, be firm in this freedom,

and don’t become slaves again.

—-Galatians 5:1

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What does it mean to be free?

The dictionary says,

“to make free; set at liberty; release from bondage, imprisonment, or restraint.”
In the verse above, what if we thought of it this way?
“Christ has made us free, set us at liberty, released us from bondage, released us from imprisonment, and released us from restraint.”
Butterflies are a perfect picture of a creature released from bondage.
As a caterpillar, they cannot fly.
Trapped within the chrysalis, they cannot even move along the ground.
But then, freedom comes!
As they emerge from the the darkness around them, they are suddenly flooded with light and with wings made for flight, they soar into the air, free to fly!
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benefits of freedom

In Whatever Situation

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Not here.

Not at that job.

Not in this neighborhood.

Not in that family…..

Where I work, there is a covered walkway leading out to the parking lot.

One day last week, I noticed a plant hanging down from the metal roof above me.

The next day, I noticed it again.

It had grown quite a bit more.

Growing plants are not unusual; plants that grow on a metal roof are.

Thinking about this occurrence, I supposed that a bird must have been carrying a seed and dropped it on the metal walkway covering.

Even though I couldn’t see it, there must have been some dirt or sand that had collected up there, too.

Somehow, against all odds, this plant was thriving.

We may question our own circumstances sometimes.

We may even feel that we cannot be of any use to God where we are.

We may decide that we can’t grow in our faith as long as we are where we are.

Maybe.

Maybe not….

God may have us placed in just the situation that He wants for His purposes and His will.

With our human eyes, we look at the rich soil across the road and think, “Now, that’s the place to grow!”

Yet, God may look at us, planted in rocky terrain, seeing our future as a strong, healthy plant rising up around the stones.

I honestly would not have thought the beautiful cascade of green leaves could have thrived at all being rooted on a flat metal platform.

Even so, it’s there for all to see.

It’s true that God may lead us to another job, another neighborhood, another circumstance.

But if He isn’t moving us just yet, we can trust that He is with us—-

wherever He has us planted.

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Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.

—1 Corinthians 7:17

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called them

To All People

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We were driving home from the hospital yesterday.

My husband and I had just taken a family member there, about an hour’s trip from our home.

Suddenly, my husband said that something was wrong.

A young man in a a truck was honking at us.

He pulled up beside our car and told us that our brake lights were not functioning.

He had been behind us and noticed.

Even though it was difficult, he got our attention and alerted us to a potentially dangerous situation.

If drivers in other cars were not able to tell we were braking, we could easily have an accident.

Later on in the day, we found an auto parts store and purchased the necessary replacement bulbs.

This young man could have just driven around us, never thinking about our safety or about helping us.

Instead, he was good to us, even though we were strangers, likely never to meet again.

The Bible tells us that we should be like this.

Consider these words:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

—Galatians 6:10

When we have the opportunity to do something good, something kind, or something considerate, we should do those things for all people–even strangers on the road.

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do good

Those Who Led You

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Doing some sightseeing with a visiting relative this past week, we drove by a church in another town.

Looking high above the trees, we could see the cross on top of a bell tower.

As far as I can tell, I don’t know anyone who attends that church, but I know there are those that do.

And—-there are those who have attended in the past.

Probably many, many people.

People who have come there to worship.

People who have come there to teach others.

People who have led each other as they spoke God’s word.

Think back—-

Who has invested their life into your spiritual journey?

A parent?

A friend?

A teacher?

A pastor or priest?

Do you remember them?

Do you remember their faith in God?

Are you investing your life into the spiritual journey of those God has brought into your scope of influence?

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Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.
—Hebrews 13:7
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led you

Those In Need

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We have a family member that is ill.

They have been in the hospital for quite some time and their condition has been a matter of prayer through these past days and weeks.

When an illness strikes, it can be overwhelming.

What about treatment?

What about medications?

Which hospital is best?

What doctor should be chosen?

Yesterday and today were especially trying with a lot of details as our family member is being transferred to another hospital.

As I was driving down the highway just before sunset, I suddenly saw a rainbow in front of me.

I stopped the car at a local business and got out to take some photos of the glowing arc in the sky.

Driving a little further, I stopped again—this time at a service station near a lake.

Because it was so beautiful, I just had to have more pictures!

While I was looking at the rainbow, “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin came on the radio.

I started singing along, agreeing in my heart that God truly is the everlasting God.

He comforts those in need.

Our family is in need right now.

I am reminded that God will meet our needs as our hope is in Him.

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You are the everlasting God,
The everlasting God,
You do not faint, You won’t grow weary

You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need,
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord…

—Chris Tomlin

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He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

—Isaiah 40:29-31

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weary

Not Perish

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As I walked into the room, I saw him.

An anole lizard was sitting on the leg of my husband’s weight bench.

This surely meant death.

Not because I would bring about his demise, but because once a lizard gets into a building, away from life sustaining water, they lose the battle, dehydrate, and die.

Being someone who cares about the creatures of the wild, I set about to rescue him.

Getting a plastic cup and lid, I approached him and attempted to lure him into the cup.

He had other ideas….

Jumping and running this way and that, (him, not me…) he ran underneath a tall wooden wardrobe.

I couldn’t reach him now.

Giving up the quest for a few moments, I set about to do other things.

Walking back into the room a bit later, there he was again.

Continuing my unsuccessful cup trapping method, he stubbornly avoided me.

I prayed and asked God to allow me to save him.

The little brown miniature version of a dinosaur ran over to a bookshelf near the door to the back yard.

I carefully opened the door, and with some encouraging movements on my part, he glimpsed the sunlight and caught the smell of freedom.

He made a good decision and bolted for the threshold, continuing on to the concrete patio.

I realized that God had answered my prayer, as my little friend was now going to be all right.

I had intended to rescue him in the cup and take him to safety.

Instead, I merely opened the door and it was his choice to go through.

How I long to just rescue people who do not know Jesus!

If I could just scoop them up in my arms and take them to eternal safefy—–

but I can’t.

They have to believe and ask for forgiveness of sin themselves.

I can’t do it for them.

Sure, I can open the door—

Talk to them about God and His plan of salvation.

Show them verses in the Bible.

Live the way God would have me to and be a light that points to life in Him.

Once the door is opened though, and they see the offer of complete forgiveness and a home in Heaven, it is their choice–not mine–that will send them across the threshold.

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For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

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The Bread of Life

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As my friends and I settled down in the crowded restaurant, we were given complimentary loaves of bread.

It was the custom of the restaurant to give each patron bread before the ordered meal was presented.

If we do not have food and water for a long period of time, we will die.

The food and water we ingest and the air we breathe sustains us.

If we do not have Jesus, we will die a spiritual death for all eternity.

It is Jesus, who is the bread of life, that sustains our souls.

The restaurant was offering bread that would satisfy physical hunger, but only for a time.

Jesus is offering Himself as the means of our salvation, satisfying our spiritual hunger forever.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

—John 6:35-40

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JJ

JJ

Free, You Will Be

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There was just something about watching the kite in the distance that made me want to photograph it.

Even then, I thought of freedom.

Kites are free to flow in the breeze, to glide wistfully in the invisible currents of air above.

Yet, they are held securely by a tether.

Attached to the string, they will not be lost.

John 8:31-36 reads,

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

True freedom is found only in Jesus.

It may seem strange to consider that being held securely by His love and power brings us freedom, but it does.

Tethered to His mercy and grace, forgiven and free—we are free indeed.

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free indeed correct

Fear, But Of Power

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Walking through the park with a friend, we came upon a squirrel.

When I see these creatures in my own yard, they are quite shy and usually run away if I come close.

This was not the case with our little park friend.

Instead, he was very comfortable approaching us, hoping to be fed, no doubt.

He had come to trust other visitors and he felt safe with us.

Fear is a very strong emotion.

As Christians, we are not to live fearful lives.

2 Timothy 1:7 reads,

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

We are to experience life with power.

Life with love.

Life with a sound mind.

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fear

Wisdom

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Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom.

Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

—Proverbs 9:10

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Some people don’t fear God.

They may not even believe in Him.

At the end of their lives, no matter what they were known for, will they be considered wise?

And what of those that do have fear and reverence for God, believing in His Son?

They will find at the end of their lives that doing so was the wisest decision they ever made.

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Whatever You Are Doing

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Yesterday, I heard a very interesting story.

It seems that once there was a woman who had several children.

She was a widow and she had no car.

One of her young children needed to go to a doctor appointment out of town.

Speaking with her pastor, she told him of the need.

The pastor contacted a man in the church and asked him if he would take the young boy to the doctor.

After getting some time off work approved, the man came to take the child to the appointment.

On the way the child asked the man a question.

“Are you God?” he asked.

“No. Why would you think that?” the man replied.

“My mother prayed that God would send someone to take me to the doctor and no one came except you,” was the boy’s explanation.

There was yet another question to be asked.

“Well, if you’re not God, do you work for Him?” asked the boy.

The man thought and replied, “Yes….. Yes I do.”

I heard this story while in church yesterday.

The sermon for the morning was about doing all our work—everything that we do—-for God.

Colossians 3:23 reads,

“Whatever you are doing, let your hearts be in your work, as a thing done for the Lord and not for men.”

If I am to be a living sacrifice to God, I will be doing things that He wants me to do.

It may not be taking a child to the doctor, but it could be.

It might be checking on a neighbor, listening to someone cry as they are grieving, or giving a gift to a friend.

It also could be doing a good job at the many tasks I have at work and at home.

As Christian believers, do we work for ourselves?

Or, do we work for God?

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He Prunes

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I am not a very experienced gardener, by any means.

The flowers and plants that I do have are all somewhat low maintenance.

More times than I would like to remember, I have unintentionally been the cause of a plant’s demise.

When our family moved into our house sixteen years ago, there was a single rose bush in the front garden area.

Since I knew very little about rose bushes, I left it alone most of the time, hoping it would be all right.

A few weeks ago, I decided to face my fear of possibly destroying the bush and actually do some pruning.

Major pruning.

The bush only had two fairly large canes coming up from the ground.

I decided to cut them off at about two feet high.

Taking the cut branches that had once been my five foot tall rose bush, I placed them in water and later planted them.

Very quickly, the two solitary canes began to grow new branches.

Healthy, vibrant looking ones.

To date, there are four new branches that have doubled the height of what I had left and each branch is making a rose.

In fact, this afternoon, I photographed the first new, red rose to emerge after the pruning!

The old, spindly branches needed to be removed for a long time, but I was afraid.

Afraid of what might happen if the bush “started over.”

I’m not just that way with roses.

There have been times in my life when I have been too afraid to get rid of things in my life that were holding me back.

Things that were in the way of becoming what God wanted me to become.

And it wasn’t only things that I was afraid to allow God to prune, it was attitudes and feelings.

Distractions from what was most important.

Insecurities.

Fears.

God knows what’s best.

Sometimes pruning has to take place if there is to be positive change.

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Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
—John 15:2

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more fruit

Wedding Clothes

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There is an open field behind my house.

Just beyond it, there is a community of homes named, “Eagle’s Landing.”

A few days ago, a red-shouldered hawk decided to perch on the Eagle’s Landing sign.

I was able to take several photographs before he ventured on his way.

It would’ve been quite the sight if the hawk had actually been an eagle!

Still, to see the painted sign with a living hawk together made me pretty happy.

I started thinking about something, though.

What if the area was an “eagles only allowed” community?

I know that’s a silly thought, but suppose it was?

In that case, the hawk would be out of place.

Not welcome.

He’d be forced to leave.

I thought about an example Jesus gave about a similar situation in the parable of the wedding banquet, found in the book of Matthew, in chapter 22.

Jesus spoke about the kingdom of heaven being like a king who was preparing a wedding banquet for his son. The king had sent those who served him out to tell all the people who had been invited to the event to come, but they wouldn’t. So the king sent more servants to tell them about the banquet being ready and that it was time to come.

Here are some of the verses that follow:

“But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.  The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them.  The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.  So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’  So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.”

—Matthew 22:5-11

The king then asks the man how he got into the banquet without wedding clothes.

The man had nothing at all to say, so he is thrown out into the darkness.

So, what does this have to do with hawks and eagles?

None of us can ever enter heaven on our own.

Why?

Because we are all hawks, and only those who are identified as eagles can get in.

How can a hawk become an eagle?

Nothing is impossible with God.

When Jesus died for the payment of our sin, He purchased “eagle clothes” if you will, for everyone who would accept them.

Any hawk found to be without them—-after they have been offered—-will not be able to live forever with God.

Heaven is a real place, just like Eagle’s Landing is a real place.

There, only sinners saved by grace are allowed.

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Everyone Who Calls

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In the book of Acts in the New Testament, Peter is speaking to the crowd on the Day of Pentecost when he says these words, quoting the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days,’ God says,

‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy.

Your young men will see visions,

and your old men will dream dreams.

In those days I will pour out my Spirit

even on my servants—men and women alike—

and they will prophesy.

And I will cause wonders in the heavens above

and signs on the earth below—

blood and fire and clouds of smoke.

The sun will become dark,

and the moon will turn blood red

before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives.

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord

will be saved.’

—Acts 2:17-21

These descriptions sound frightening, don’t they?

A darkened sun?

A moon that’s red like blood?

Fire?

Clouds of smoke?

The last verse in this quote is paramount to all people—

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

We can rest in knowing that whatever happens in this world, this truth will remain.

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moon blood final

It is God’s Power

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It had been rainy and overcast for several hours.

As night was approaching, I remembered that I needed to run a quick errand to the store just down the road.

On my way back home, I passed a familiar sight.

A church that sits quietly on several acres of land by the highway has a very tall cross erected on the property.

Towering above the treeline, it can be seen from miles away.

Looking at the cross as I drove by, I noticed that the white sunset glow was the background behind it.

I decided to turn my car around and go back to photograph it.

The white cross is a reminder of Jesus to those who see it.

For some, it may not have any special meaning.

To others, it is a representation of all that life is, now and for eternity.

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For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved it is God’s power.

—1 Corinthians 1:18

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Wonderful New Bodies

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She sees the entire life cycle.

I have a friend who raises butterflies.

Getting a leaf with only an egg on it, she places it in a netted cage.

Later, a caterpillar becomes the only resident.

The caterpillar will then form a chrysalis, and go into hiding…

At the proper time set by God, a beautiful butterfly emerges!

I had the privilege of being with her one day as she released a butterfly from a netted cage.

At first, it remained on her hand, then it flew out into the big, giant sky in the sunshine.

Caterpillars don’t have very good eyesight.

Butterflies do.

A caterpillar must stay near the ground, creeping along.

A butterfly can soar to the heights!

One day, those who believe in Jesus will have new bodies:

For we know that when this tent we live in now is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forevermore, made for us by God Himself and not by human hands.

—2 Corinthians 5:1

Right now, our eyesight and understanding are so limited.

We are bound here to this earthly life.

There will come a time when we will soar to Jesus in glorious freedom to live forever in Heaven!

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From Those To Whom It Is Due

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What does it mean to give?

In most churches, there are opportunities to give a monetary tithe or gift in order to maintain the building and its ministries.

There is more to giving, however, than placing money in an offering plate or an offering box at the back of a sanctuary.

If I look back over my week, what are some ways that I gave to others?

Did I help anyone who had a need?

Did I call or text a friend who was hurting?

When I saw the troubled countenance of a coworker, did I say a silent prayer for them?

Did I bring a dessert to a neighbor, just to brighten their day?

Did I suggest that the elderly woman behind me in line at the grocery store go ahead of me?

What about the man across the street? When his dog broke from his leash, did I help to find him?

Did I offer to pray with a sick friend?

Did I take the time to talk about Jesus to someone?

When I bring a monetary gift on Sunday, I am giving a portion of my earnings back to God.

When I leave the church on Sunday, am I faithful to give to others in His Name for the rest of the week?

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Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

—Proverbs 3:27

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A Day That Has Just Gone By

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It’s actually quite a distance away.

I have friends that live in a different country from my own.

In order to keep up with exactly what time it is where they are, I have set a world clock on my smart phone to their time zone.

Also, on the same phone page, I have the time zone where I live, on the far eastern side of my country.

That way, I can compare what time it is here to what time it is there at a glance.

By default, the manufacturer of my smart phone placed the time that it would be where their company is located—on the far western side of my country.

While checking the time on my world clock page today, I was struck with a thought as I read the words that went along with my friends’ time zone in another country.

It simply read,

Tomorrow. 9hr 30m ahead.

Tomorrow?

Really?

Although I understand the concept in simple numbers of minutes, seconds and hours, something else came to mind.

Tomorrow—my friends are already experiencing it.

I will be soon, but not yet.

When tomorrow comes for me, God will already be there.

In fact, He’s there now.

He is as much in my future as He is in my present.

God is not constrained by human measurements of existence.

The Bible tells us that,

“A thousand years in Your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.”

—Psalm 90:4

Whatever concerns we may have about the future, we must trust that God will be there with His power, sovereignty and love.

So, how can we compare what time it is here to what time it is with God?

It’s already tomorrow.

Infinitely eternal hours ahead…..

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Among the Reeds

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Miracles are recorded for us in the Bible.

We see God’s sovereign hand in many lives.

God spared the life of Moses, during a time of great treachery in the land.

Not only did He spare the life of Moses, but He miraculously caused Moses’ very own mother to care for him as a baby.

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Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman,  and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months.  But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.  His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

—Exodus 2:1-7

That Hebrew woman was Moses’ own mother.

God was in control then.

God is in control now.

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Struggling Hard

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It was time for an oil change in my car.

I knew where I needed to take it for repairs and maintenance.

Turning into the dealership parking lot, I was just behind a towing truck.

Bringing a car to be repaired in some way, the little red vehicle rolled along with the power of the truck, with no strength of its own engine engaged.

Almost immediately, I began to think of people, not cars and trucks.

You know them, don’t you?

Those people who are tired and lonely.

Their strength is waning and they’re just about to give up hope.

Asking help for their hurting hearts is almost as impossible as a stranded car asking for a mechanic.

Someone who sees the need will have to make the first move.

Carefully and lovingly, they can be brought to the “lot” where a second chance at life exists.

There they will find that God has the repairs all planned out.

And the cost?

It was completely paid for—-by Jesus, Himself.

Are you the “someone” that sees the need in a lonely heart today?

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give you rest

By Grace

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Provenance.

Until about a month ago, I didn’t know the meaning of the word.

After having heard it for the first time, I looked it up in a dictionary.

Provenance, defined, means the origin or source of something or its history of ownership.

I have no conscious memory of being born.

The recollection of the first months of my life seems unattainable.

I have very clear memories of my second year, although they are only a few in number.

By three years old?

I remember a lot.

Of course, my capacity to recollect increased considerably after that.

My origin?

Who really claims ownership over me?

I learned that much later.

God created me and gave me life.

It is He who truly owns me.

There came a point as I matured where I understood more than this.

I understood that I was a sinner—as all are—and I was in need of forgiveness from God.

Jesus died on the cross, paying the penalty for all my sin, so that I could receive this redemption.

Believing this, I repented and asked God to forgive me.

At that very moment, a new point of personal origin came into being.

My new life as a Christian began.

Provenance.

Knowing Jesus gives the word a whole new meaning…

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

–Ephesians 2:8

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His Light in Our Hearts

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For most of my drive home, the rainy sky had been punctuated by a break in the clouds that captured my attention.

The muted gray colors around the break had been completely illuminated by the streams of white light that followed a path to the earth below.

Pulling over by some farmland, I stopped my car and took some photographs as I pondered what was before me.

The light seemed unusually white for the time of day—it was actually after 7:00 in the evening.

No streaks of brilliant orange or hues of blue and yellow.

Just white.

White is associated with purity.

God is pure.

I can imagine the glory of God appearing as a blinding white light.

In the New Testament, we find these words:

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

—2 Corinthians 4:6

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Let Him Ask God

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Do you remember when you were a child?

You wouldn’t just walk away from your home without telling your family and asking permission.

In fact, you probably wouldn’t have made plans to do anything without talking to your parents first.

Virtually all your childhood plans were subject to the thoughts and guidance of your parents or guardians.

When you became an adult, things changed somewhat.

Being mature, many of your decisions could be made independently.

There was no longer any need to ask your parents about everything.

Still, it was a good thing to seek advice and listen to your parents’ opinions.

Parents are only human and, of course, they may not always know what’s best.

In thinking about this today, I was considering how we, as believers, have God as our Heavenly Father.

Even though we are adults, we are His children.

Unlike our earthly parents, God cannot make a mistake.

His judgment is always right and His guidance is perfect.

Knowing that, why is it that we make plans without asking what He thinks about it?

If we feel that we should seek the advice and opinions of our parents, shouldn’t we also ask the same of our Heavenly Father?

Shouldn’t all our plans be subject to the thoughts and guidance of God?

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If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

—James 1:5-6

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A New Mind

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Who do you love?

Do you love someone who needs a hew heart?

A new mind?

Do you know someone who has a stubborn heart?

Once we have found the truth of God through Jesus, we change.

When we change, our hearts are turned toward God.

When our hearts are turned toward God, we begin to desire those that we love to have the same relationship with God as we do.

When those we love do not share in this greatest of blessings, we yearn for them.

We long for them to join us in the most precious relationship of all.

It hurts to watch those we love go about their daily lives so burdened with poor choices and the consequences of those choices.

It tugs at all we are when we know that if they possessed an obedient heart toward God, life could be so much more for them—–and not just now, but for eternity.

If you love someone who even denies that God is real, the weight is heavy as you hope for a new day when they will come to believe.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, God speaks to the exiles, telling them that their hearts will change.

I know that God can change the hearts of those we love, even now.

Pray for those that you love.

Pray for a new mind.

A new heart.

One that is obedient……

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I will give them a new heart and a new mind. I will take away their stubborn heart of stone and will give them an obedient heart.

—Ezekiel 11:19

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