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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come down

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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The One Who is Wise Saves Lives

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Planning to go get dinner and run an errand to the grocery store, I headed down the highway about an hour before sunset.

As I drove down my lane, I suddenly noticed a group of sand hill cranes on the right side of the road.

There were five of them together!

I rarely see this many cranes at one time.

Being about three to four feet tall with beautiful red bands around their necks, they are one of my very favorite birds.

Pulling over into the closest parking lot I could find, I turned around at a cell phone store.

As I was about to try to pull out onto the highway to go back and take some photos of the birds, there seemed to be a traffic jam.

Right away, I wondered if the traffic had stopped because of the birds.

Moving my car as close as possible to the exit of the parking lot, I could see them.

Inside, I am smiling now, just remembering it—

The five stately birds were calmly walking across the four lane road to get to a farm area on the other side.

Cars moving both directions all stopped to allow their safe passage.

Never mind being late for an appointment.

Never mind not arriving at home just a minute or two late.

There was time to stop.

Time to preserve the lives of five birds.

The drivers in the cars showed kindness.

Think of the reverse—if they had just ignored the birds and hit them, driving on—wouldn’t you think they were heartless and cruel?

At the very, very least, unkind?

I believe, in my own heart, that a driver who stops to allow a bird to live is the type of person who would also show kindness and care for a neighbor, a friend or a stranger in need.

Proverbs 11:30 tells us,

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    and the one who is wise saves lives.

I watched some very kind people decide to save lives today.

Lives of five sand hill cranes, but lives, none the less.

How can we show kindness so that others will be blessed?

God will bring us the opportunities.

We need only to respond in the way that He would have us to.

After all, wouldn’t Jesus stop to let five of His birds walk by?

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saves lives

Seek the Lord

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I am really glad we have lenses that allow us to see things that we otherwise could not.

We have eyeglasses to help us to see around us.

We have magnifying glasses and microscopes to help us view what is tiny.

We have binoculars and telescopes to help us see what is far away.

Because of these finely crafted pieces of glass, we have found great wonders.

But how does one search for God?

By looking at what He has made, we see His power and creativity.

Seeking God, longing to know more of Him, wanting to be closer to Him, cannot be aided by glass alone.

As we pray with open hearts, we find Him there.

As we read His word, we learn of His presence and love throughout the ages and into our very present lives.

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Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!

—1 Chronicles 16:11

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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

The Desires of Your Heart

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The sun was setting as I went for a walk in the neighborhood.

I consciously thought of enjoying the time, taking in the reality of the moments I was being blessed with.

The sunlight was still falling on the trees in the orange grove beside my house, giving them a warm glow as they nestled in the thick green grass that had succumbed to the shadows.

Turning around, I noticed the flowering Crepe Myrtle trees in my yard, towering high with bundles of color.

A dog barked in the distance.

Gopher turtles had dug holes in the ground to shelter themselves in many places I walked.

The pink, fluffy clouds to the south looked like a lovely painting.

If I had decorated a room especially for someone, I wonder how I would feel if they entered it, but failed to notice or appreciate the decorations?

Day after day, God creates unspeakable beauty in our surroundings.

He gives it especially to us, to appreciate and enjoy.

Instead of hurrying through the hours and moments I am given, failing to notice and appreciate the creative works of His hands, I should take the time to enjoy what He has prepared with a thankful and grateful heart.

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Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

—Psalm 34:7

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delight

What Is the Price?

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Jesus said,

“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins?

Yet God does not forget a single one of them.

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.

So don’t be afraid;

you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

—Luke 12:6-7

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sparrow final

Present Your Requests

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While visiting my son’s lakeside apartment, I suggested that we take a walk in the park across the street.

As we began our stroll, we noticed some heavy equipment parked near the fishing dock.

Neither of us could tell what work was about to be done, but it obviously looked as though some serious digging was planned.

On the way back from our walk, I decided to photograph the machines.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have only a spoon with which to dig in order to complete a task like the one probably planned near the dock?

Diligent work for weeks and months—perhaps years—might still not be enough to tackle the need.

There are many times in our lives when God provides a spoon for us to complete a work because a spoon is all that is needed.

At other times, situations loom before us as we feel helpless and defeated with our lack of resources or ability.

God knows our limitations.

Sometimes, He is the only One who can take care of a situation.

In an instant, He can heal, provide, change, forgive and encourage.

Even so, we can forget that He is available to help us.

With spoon in hand, we tackle those things never meant to be faced alone.

Philippians 4:6 says,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

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anxious

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

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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work

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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wedding clothes

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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Sing Among the Branches

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He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
    it flows between the mountains.
 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
    they sing among the branches.

—Psalm 104:10-12

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What provisions has God made for you and your family lately?

How has He made blessings pour into your lives?

How have those blessings flowed between the mountains of the problems you are facing?

How have those blessings provided for each of you, meeting individual needs?

Tell me: Are you rejoicing in those blessings?

Are you “singing among the branches” today?

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nest light

We See Light

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Indeed, the fountain of life is with You.
    In Your light we see light.

—Psalm 36:9

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The picture below is actually three pictures.

They are identical, except for the size and lighting.

The light reveals so much.

In the larger photo, some parts of the arrangement are shrouded in the shadows.

The mid-sized photo has a greater amount of light.

More detail and beauty are evident.

The smallest picture shows the most light of all.

We, as believers, have the light of God in our lives, filling us— illuminating us.

Without His light, we would be in darkness, shrouded with shadows, as well.

If you could possibly imagine removing God from your life, think of what that darkness would really feel like to you.

It’s almost too painful a thought to even entertain.

Once in His light, we want to remain there.

Everything that is good and right and all that sustains us every day flows from Him–

and it is with His light that we see light.

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we see

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

Commit Your Way

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Psalm 37:3-5

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in Him, and He will act.

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What can I do?

Trust.

Do good.

Dwell.

Befriend.

Delight.

Commit.

What will God do?

He will give.

He will act.

On this day that I call today, the future is unknown.

Unknown to me, yet known to God.

On this day that I call today, I must commit my way to Him.

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commit

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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On a Thousand Hills

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True thanks.

Kept promises.

Trust.

Praise…….

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O my people, listen!

For I am your God. Listen!

Here are my charges against you:

 I have no complaint about the sacrifices you bring to my altar, for you bring them regularly. 

But it isn’t sacrificial bullocks and goats that I really want from you.

 For all the animals of field and forest are mine!

The cattle on a thousand hills!

And all the birds upon the mountains! 

If I were hungry, I would not mention it to you—for all the world is mine and everything in it. 

No, I don’t need your sacrifices of flesh and blood.

What I want from you is your true thanks;

I want your promises fulfilled.

I want you to trust me in your times of trouble, so I can rescue you and you can give me glory.

—Psalm 50:7-15

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The Lord is Good

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What does it mean to depend on God?

To trust Him in every area of my life?

What does it mean to trust His goodness?

How can I search for Him throughout all of my day?

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The Lord is good to those who depend on Him,
    to those who search for Him.

—Lamentations 3:25

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The Purpose of the Lord

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It was a quiet morning, warm and inviting.

Stepping out onto the boardwalk at the park, the scenery was familiar.

How many times had I visited this place, looking out over the lake, taking in all the beauty of my surroundings?

Within the first moment of my arrival, I noticed a graceful, white heron posing effortlessly among the plants growing by the water’s edge.

I had often seen birds like this before, but today was different.

God had, in the past several days, been revealing a new direction for me.

There are times when God speaks to each of us to lead us to something new.

He may confirm in our hearts whom we should marry or what career to pursue.

He may reveal to us a new ministry opportunity or He may direct us to begin or end our involvement in a certain area.

Today was just like the other days I had visited the park—-except that it wasn’t.

God had been speaking to my heart about a specific direction for my life, and I was listening.

Proverbs 19:21 says,

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

The plans that are in my mind will ultimately be aligned with God’s purpose, if I am willing to listen and heed His voice.

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purpose

Flowers Will Bloom

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A wasteland.

Right after a natural disaster, that’s exactly what things look like.

Nothing in place.

Most everything is broken.

What could thrive there?

A wasteland.

A vast area of dry, rocky land with no vegetation.

What could thrive there?

You might not have experienced a natural disaster or ever even seen land devoid of plant life and water, but I’ll bet you’ve known a different kind of wasteland.

Spiritual wasteland.

Relational wasteland.

Financial wasteland.

These wastelands are real, all right.

What can thrive there?

Only the rocky, dusty soil of guilt, regret, and defeat.

It’s no place to be, yet once there, it’s hard to imagine circumstances getting better.

It’s hard for us, but not for God.

When He sees the desert, He knows He can bring the rain.

He can see the flowers bursting forth from the ground before a seed has even been covered.

When God sees our wastelands, He knows it can change.

He knows there can be spiritual healing, if we want it.

He knows that relationships can be healed.

He knows that He can provide for us when we trust Him.

He sees what we cannot see.

If you’re living in a wasteland right now, talk to God.

Pray and open your heart.

Ask Him to restore what is dry and barren.

Pray for the flowers……..

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The desert will rejoice,
    and flowers will bloom in the wastelands.

—Isaiah 35:1

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Rejoice and Be Glad

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Driving along in the shopping area of a nearby city, my husband noticed a fountain that had been placed in the parking lot.

As we drove past the plumes of pulsing water, he noticed that a duck had found the fountain, as well.

Quickly, I grabbed my camera and got out of the car while my husband found a place to park.

The duck was quite obliging in my quest to photograph him as he was enjoying his moments of refreshment.

His orange feet and toes were being constantly washed with the motion of the water as though he were standing in a Jacuzzi tub.

He was magnificently colored with a bright blue stripe on his side.

God created ducks to joyously live and play in the water.

On a hot day, surrounded by concrete and parked cars, this bird found an unexpected respite.

In the middle of an inhospitable environment, a silent invitation to play, drink, and cool off was answered by a

mottled duck, happy to accept.

Aren’t there times when God provides such things for us?

On a tired afternoon, when weariness weighs heavy, suddenly—–there it is.

An encouraging note from a friend, a surprise birthday party or a roadside park, complete with a bench in the shade.

God knows what we need and He knows what brings us joy.

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

—Psalm 118:24

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My Peace

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Peace.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines peace in one form as “freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.”

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” —John 14:27

Jesus can certainly give us freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

Simply put, we can have freedom from worry, anxiety and fear.

It’s more than that, however.

Jesus’ peace is His peace.

A divine peace that cannot be fully described.

What is worrying you today?

What is causing anxiety to well up inside you?

What is inviting fear into your heart?

Ask Jesus to give you His peace.

Talk to Him about the things that are troubling you.

Jesus is with right there.

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Eager Expectation

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What are you eagerly expecting?

What does having an expectation mean, anyway?

You might have heard sentiments before that speak toward statements like this: Zero expectations = Zero disappointments.

But is that really true?

Is it even possible?

Expectations and anticipations are part of life.

They can’t truly be bundled up in a neat and tidy wad, placed in a box and labeled with only one word.

Expectations are as varied as the relationships they mirror.

We can expect to become ill if we do not treat our bodies with care.

We can expect to be disliked if we are harsh and unloving to others.

We can expect that there will be rain if the sky above us is filled with dark clouds.

We can expect to find joy in giving to others as Jesus would have us to do.

Throughout any of our expectations, hopes and dreams, we may find disappointment in all but one area—

God will never be unfaithful to His promises.

We can expect that God will love us continually.

We can expect that His character will never change.

We can expect that He will hear us when we pray.

We can expect that He will usher His children into His presence when they depart from this earth.

We can expect these things, and more.

We can trust our God in all His ways.

Here is a true statement:

Expectations of God’s fulfilled promises = Zero disapointments

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The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.

—Romans 8:16-19

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The Riches

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Money.

Who has money, really?

We might hold it in our hands or have it deposited into a bank.

But is it ours?

I don’t think so.

Money—and all the things that it can buy—really belong to God.

Is your house that you bought with your money really yours?

Or is it the shelter that God provided for you through your work or some other means?

Is your car that you bought with your money really yours?

Or is it the vehicle that God provided for you through your work or some other means?

If God really owns all that we have, what does that make us?

Stewards.

To be a steward is to be the manager of something that belongs to another.

When God blesses us with anything—we become the caretakers of those blessings.

What happens when we feel that we need more money or something that money can buy?

We must go to God in prayer, asking for His provision of that which is already His and not ours.

Believing that He hears our prayer, we must wait for His answer, trusting that He loves us and knows what is best.

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And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:19

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Love Endures Forever

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After completing a photo session with a client late this afternoon, I stepped over to the side of the road to look at the ornate landscaping.

A rod iron fence was separating the road from the grassy lake area below.

Admiring the lush, red flowers before me, I photographed them up close.

As I looked down the road, I realized that the flowers were not only in front of me, but they lined the pavement as far as I could see.

If I traveled down the road a little farther, I’d still be graced with the beauty of the delicate red petals.

Psalm 136:26 reminds us to–

“Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.”

No matter how long our journey is, God will love us the entire time.

Even though I couldn’t see it, I knew there had to be an end to all those flowers blooming along the road.

At some point, they would cease to adorn it.

God’s love isn’t like that.

It endures.

It endures forever.

It endures forever as far as we can see with our incredibly limited understanding, plus on and on with a divine steadfastness we cannot fully comprehend.

If things are difficult for you right now, why not take a moment to visualize God’s love for you.

It’s right there in front of you, and if you look up, you’ll see that His love will be there to greet you with each new step that you make.

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