Hidden

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.

—Hebrew 4:12-13

 

Looking out across the water to a small island, I could see something in the wildflowers growing there.

An Anhinga bird was behind them.

Looking at my photograph later, it almost looks as if he is hiding.

He does blend in with a certain amount of camouflage, yet upon closer inspection, he’s hard to miss.

I’ll never know if he was truly intending to hide that afternoon, but I can certainly identify with him if he was.

At times in my life–even as a child–I wanted to just hide away and be alone, in what I felt was a safe place.

There are many reasons, however, to hide.

Shame.

Guilt.

Fear.

Failure.

Sadness.

Depression.

Grief.

The list is long.

We may hide from people and flee from circumstances, but we cannot hide from God.

He sees us wherever we are, in whatever condition we are in.

Our emotions may urge us to hide, yet His great love beckons us back into the open–in the light of His comfort and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

hidden

The Same

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

—Hebrews 13:8

 

 

There is a metal cross placed in my yard.

It was a gift from a friend.

Whenever someone visits me and notices the cross, there is no mistaking what it represents.

Jesus loved us when He gave Himself for us on the cross.

He loves us today and He will always love us.

 

today and forever

Grow Tall Like the Cedars

There are times when I am stuck in traffic driving home from work along a rural highway. 

The movement of vehicles can come to a slow crawl or even stop all together. 

In these moments, I can choose to look at the scenery around me in a more concentrated way than when I am just driving past. 

The trees are tall and healthy. 

The green grass carpets the ground in vivid color. 

The land has been well cared for. 

People who are in right standing with God—those who have sincerely chosen to seek His guidance as they journey through life—grow tall in the faith and flourish in the midst of His forgiveness and love. 

Righteous people flourish like palm trees and grow tall like the cedars in Lebanon.

Psalm 92:12

Proclaimed in His Name

As I was driving home today, I saw a church that had the word COFFEE on their sign outside.

Underneath COFFEE, it read, “Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere.”

I had not seen this before.

Sometimes, little illustrations can lead to very significant conversations.

Thousands upon thousands of people drink coffee every day, many of them while in the company of others—at work, school or in a restaurant.

How simple it would be to just relay those six very important words linked to the letters in “coffee” to someone who does not know about Jesus and what He has done for all of us.

I know that it is something I want to remember as a way to share about God’s plan of salvation.

After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His disciples.

In part of one account, we find these words:

Then He said to them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,  and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,  and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of My Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

—Luke 24:44-49

 

to all nations

 


I Would Fly

Oh, for wings like a dove, to fly away and rest!  I would fly to the far-off deserts and stay there.  I would flee to some refuge from all this storm.

—Psalm 55:6-8

 

God is our refuge.

He protects us from the storm of sin.

He gives us new life and a new beginning.

 

Iwould

So Ready to Forgive

O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help.

—Psalm 86:5

 

How do you think most people react when they know they have done wrong?

How do you react?

Would you think a small child hiding behind the couch after they have broken a vase in a room they were told not to be in would be a normal response?

If you feel that most people have the urge to hide, I would agree with you.

Hiding doesn’t always look like hiding, however.

If we know that we are not living the way God would have us to, we may firmly decline any invitation of a friend to go to church.

That would be hiding.

If we know that we’ve done something we shouldn’t have, we may not pick up the Bible to read it.

We might feel unworthy.

That would be hiding.

Just because our natural tendency might be to hide, the behavior needed is exactly the opposite.

Instead of hiding, we need to run to God with our failure.

Psalm 86:5 reads,

“O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for Your help.

When we fail, we can go to God.

He is good.

He is ready to forgive.

He is full of unfailing love.

Hiding?

It doesn’t help at all.

Only asking for and receiving forgiveness and comfort from our heavenly Father will bring the peace we long for.

 

ready final

We Are Made Right

Driving along the highway, I approached a drawbridge that was raised.

The red stop lights were on, so any car that approached had to come to a halt.

Some type of boat was surely making a safe passage under the raised bridge.

Unless the obstruction of steel and concrete could be moved, the boat would not be able to pass to the other side.

Jesus did something for us when He died on the cross.

He made it possible for the obstruction of sin to be removed.

Our sin created a barrier between us and a safe passage to Heaven when we die.

The Bible says that all have sinned.

When Jesus took on that sin for us, He then lifted the penalty for it.

With the penalty of sin taken away, there is now an open passage for those who accept Him as their Savior.

Romans 3:21-24

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when He freed us from the penalty for our sins.

made right

Cleanse Us

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

The old garage door near the church was surrounded by smooth, nicely painted walls.

Looking at the photograph I took of it, I wonder—why hadn’t the door been painted nicely and repaired?

It looked tattered and worn out—like many desperate people in this world.

They feel dirty and guilty, used up and torn up, stripped and faded, hopeless and lost.

With an outlook tinted with shame, they see what looks like a clean, smooth surface on others’ lives.

No one could accept them in their broken condition, they think.

Family couldn’t.

Friends couldn’t.

Certainly God couldn’t.

After all, they’ve messed things up.

There’s nowhere left to go to escape the mirror of accusation that hangs on every wall they encounter…

In the last two weeks, I have learned of two people I know—both in very different walks of life—who have taken their own lives.

They lived hundreds of miles from one another, but they both shared hopelessness.

For a crucial moment, they failed to look at God’s unlimited power and grace and instead, looked at their own lack of ability to repair and restore.

God can accept anyone in any condition.

Broken.

Dirty.

Guilty.

Used up.

Torn up.

Stripped.

Faded.

Hopeless.

Lost.

Friends may not accept us.

Family may not.

But, God?

He is ALWAYS ready to heal and to forgive!

To CLEANSE us from ALL unrighteousness!

If we cry out to God from our brokenness, confessing our sin and our mistakes, we will be forgiven.

We can start over.

We can begin again.

It’s not too late for any of us, ever.

 

confess

 

 

 

Save the Lost

I really don’t know how he got there, exactly.

While at work today, I went into a restroom located in a fairly large building, quite a ways from any exterior entrances.

I noticed a caterpillar on the gray tile floor.

Why would he venture from his home in the great outdoors to come into a place where he would surely die from lack of nourishment?

Crawling through a door or window into the out-of-this-world (his anyway) carpeted wonderland may have looked like a dream come true, but instead, that choice turned out to be one to regret.

Without water and green leaves to munch on, life was going to be drawing to a close.

The caterpillar was probably confused at his circumstances, all the while desperately searching for a way out.

It’s likely you know someone like this caterpillar.

For some reason, they have ventured from their good lifestyle into a place where they will surely suffer from lack of spiritual guidance, positive encouragement and the support of faithful friends.

It’s as if they crawled through a doorway into what looked great at the time–the hope of popularity, acceptance, and even love–only to find themselves involved in substance abuse, destructive habits and self-deprecation.

It’s a choice they have come to regret as confusion and hopelessness gain a tighter grip on their day to day existence.

Although they may try to hide it, they are desperately searching for a way out–a way back home where they can be at peace.

I knew what I had to do with the caterpillar today.

Getting a small tissue, I picked him up, bundled and safe, and took him outside.

There, I placed him in the grass where he could begin his “rescued” life out in the open.

That’s a great ending for the caterpillar, but what about people?

We can’t just pick them up and transport them to safety and prosperous living.

Only God can do that.

He can restore and heal.

He can lead the way back.

Back to the place where people can be at peace with God and with themselves.

 

 

save the lost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mansions

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Jesus said,

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  (John 14:2)

I don’t know if there will be numbers on each mansion in Heaven or if there will be any identification or distinction between any of them at all.

I do know that Jesus spoke of them and of preparing a place for those who believe in Him.

If our earthly fathers were to build a new home for us, they would do so from a loving heart along with their financial capabilities.

If our earthly father owned a lucrative business and sustained a large bank account, we would rightly feel that a home built for us would reflect that wealth.

Our Heavenly Father owns the universe.

The most dazzling constellation is but a necklace in His hand.

The brightest, most colorful nebula is just one work of art in His gallery of creation.

Our new home in Heaven will convey His great love for us and the beauty and glory of His presence will forever surround us.

Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the price for my sins and offering me forgiveness and salvation. Thank you for my home in Heaven that awaits me and all those who love You.   ~Amen

 

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mansions

Mercy

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What does mercy mean to you?

The Merrriam-Webster dictionary defines it this way:

Kind or forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.

It also offers a second explanation:

Kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation.

Because of sin, we deserve harsh treatment.

Because of God’s love, we are offered kind and forgiving treatment.

Because of sin, we were all in a very bad and desperate situation.

Because of God’s love, we can be redeemed from that situation.

God’s mercy endures forever!

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Psalm 136:1 reads,

“Give thanks to the LORD because He is good, because His mercy endures forever.”

 

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mercy

Release to the Captives

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While visiting family for a Christmas meal earlier today, I noticed a ceramic statue in the living room.

This work of art seemed to speak of freedom as the open hands were releasing a bird to the sky.

We may know freedom, as well.

Freedom that only Jesus can give.

Freedom to everyone who is downtrodden.

Luke 4:14-19 reads:

And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district. And He began teaching in their synagogues and was praised by all.

     And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,

     “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME,
            BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR.
            HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES,
            AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND,
            TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN,

     TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”

 

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release

Now is the Time

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If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, today could be the day you change that.

If you do not know what would happen to you if you were to die, today could be the day that know for sure.

If you do not know that God is ready and willing to forgive you, accept you and save you, today is the day you can be confident that He does.

Ask Him for forgiveness.

Tell Him you believe.

Commit your life to Him.

Today…..

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As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.  For he says,

“In the time of my favor I heard you,
    and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:1-2

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favor

Now Faith

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What does wind look like?

I could tell you the effects of wind.

I could tell you what wind feels like as it brushes against my face.

I could even describe how I think wind moves.

But tell you what it looks like?

I can’t do it.

Even so, I know it is there.

I have faith in knowing that wind exists.

I am sure of it.

I believe in God.

I believe that He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins.

I can’t tell you exactly what Jesus looks like.

I can’t tell you a place where you could go and “see” God.

I can tell you what effect God has had on me.

I can tell you how He forgave me.

I can tell you what it feels like to know that forgiveness down in my heart.

I can tell you what it’s like to experience God moving in my life.

I have faith in God…..

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Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

—Hebrews 11:1

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faith

 

 

 

Bitter Root

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Since I was off work today, I decided to do some weeding in the yard.

At one side of my house, I have some nice plants in a rectangular bed.

Sadly, I have neglected it and many weeds have grown up.

While removing some of them today, I reached down to pull an unwanted weed.

To my surprise, when I pulled it from the ground, it was actually spread out for quite a way to either side of the root.

What looked like a lot of plants was actually only one weed that had grown and spread its tendrils over an impressive area of soil.

Almost immediately as I looked at the mass of greenery hanging from my gloved hand, I thought of how that applies to life.

I hung the removed mass of stems and leaves up and took a photograph of them.

Pondering further, I think there are many spiritual problems that can threaten to overtake someone.

I wonder if those vast number of issues could actually be stemming from an initial one–

Bitterness?

Greed?

Anger?

If so, how can a person be delivered from a life plagued with the wages of sin?

Only God can deliver us from our plight.

When He removes, forgives and redeems, everything is taken out.

We can be healed from our transgressions and have a renewed mind—a mind devoted to Him.

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See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

—Hebrews 12:15

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root