He Can Be Depended On

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Do you know what it is like not to be forgiven?

Do you know how it feels to truly be sorry about something and yet your most heartfelt words are not received?

Although I would hope not, I am afraid that there are many people in this world who have experienced these feelings time and again.

God, however, will never cease to forgive when we ask.

When we are truly sorry about something, our most heartfelt words are received by our heavenly Father.

Not only are they received, but they are placed beside the truth that Jesus has already paid the penalty for the transgressions we are speaking about.

With the penalty being paid, He is faithful to forgive.

Not once, but always.

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If we say that we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth.  But if we confess our sins to Him, He can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins.

–1 John 1:8-9

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What Lies Behind

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I could hear the screech of the hawk as I was about to get into my car.

Flying toward the tall tree, it came to rest in the branches that were already thinning as colder weather approached.

Changing my schedule for a few moments, I took the opportunity to photograph the stately bird.

In one of the photos, his body was facing forward in the direction he was headed when I first saw him.

His head, however, was turned around—looking back from where he had flown from.

As believers in Jesus, we must look ahead at our new life in Him.

We can forget the old way of life that we had, with no need to look back.

We must keep looking forward.

We must trust in Him.

All things are new.

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Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 3:8-14

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forgetting

Unless the LORD Builds

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Unless the LORD builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

–Psalm 127:1

Who is building your life?

Is it God, or is it you?

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builds

The Rock

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As for God, His way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    He shields all who take refuge in Him.
 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

—Psalm 18:30-32

the rock

Overcome Evil

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The barbed wire fence in my neighborhood is there to keep some things in–and some things out.

Either way, the sharp points on the twisted metal are harmful if contact is made with them.

I noticed that a vine had grown, making its way on the horizontal fence, gently moving past the painfully pointed ends.

The delicate and persistent vine had overcome the danger of the protruding barbs.

There are many “fences” encountered in life.

The Bible has this to say in Romans 12:21:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

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with good

But Rejoicing Comes

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Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
 For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

—Psalm 30:4-5

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weeping

I Am Doing a New Thing!

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On my way to church this morning, I noticed a group of purple flowers on the side of the road.

They were growing in an arch out among tall grass and weeds.

I made a mental note to stop and photograph them when I returned toward home later in the day.

Having lived in the same neighborhood for several years, I am surprised that I had not noticed these wildflowers before.

Could it be possible that this is the first year they have bloomed in this area?

Upon closer inspection, I am guessing that the winding plant with purple flowers is a type of climbing wild potato vine.

I didn’t plant it there.

In fact, I’m not sure anyone did.

However the seed was planted, it is God that has been making it grow.

Before the purple blooms appeared, I had not noticed what God was bringing about at all.

The vine was there, though, growing steadily each day.

There are so many concerns that I am praying about.

Could it be that God is answering my prayers—even now—yet I am not noticing it yet?

Could it be that God is at work changing and bringing something to life that will bloom in the beauty of His divine purpose very soon?

My heart swells with joy when I think about the moments I will perceive His answers to prayer, decorating my journey of faith with vibrant assurance of His presence and love.

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See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up;

do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

—Isaiah 43:19

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new thing

For Everything

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On my way home from the grocery store, traffic came to a halt on the highway.

Every now and then, the vehicles in front of me would move forward—a little.

I didn’t know what the cause was, but I went into flexibility mode and began to sing along with my car stereo.

I repeated the song several times because I was still really wanting to sing it.

As I sang, I got my camera and started taking pictures of my surroundings.

Not always having the time to just stop and take in the beauty along the side of the road, this was an unforeseen delight.

Tall pine trees lined most of the road.

Wildflowers and grapevines, fence posts and wire—it was all so quiet.

As I sang the lyrics that dealt with trying and failing, realizing we’re not who we think we are sometimes and wanting to just be centered on God and held by His Spirit, I enjoyed the blessing of seeing some of the beauty He had created up close.

As it turned out, I think I was out on that stretch of highway for maybe 30-45 minutes, creeping forward a little at a time.

Coming to the end of it, roadwork and only a one lane opening was probably the main cause of the delay.

When I left the store, I didn’t know that I would be given the opportunity for reflection and solitude.

A gift from God on a sunny, late afternoon….

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Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,  always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

–from Ephesians 5:19-20

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giving thanks

Be Strong in the Faith

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As I walked along the lake, I felt impressed to photograph the scene before me.

All was calm and serene.

Strong trees growing near the edge, laced with plants growing right out of the water.

Like those trees, I want to have my “roots” connected to Jesus, so that my life will thrive as I go about each day.

I want my life to be built on Him, being strong in faith.

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As you received Christ Jesus the Lord,

so continue to live in Him.

Keep your roots deep in Him

and have your lives built on Him.

Be strong in the faith,

just as you were taught,

and always be thankful.

—Colossians 2:6-7

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be strong

Let Your Hope Keep You

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How should I love?

What should I hate?

What should I hold on to?

How should I love someone?

How should I show respect?

How should I work?

How should I serve the Lord?

What can keep me joyful?

How should I respond during times of trouble?

When should I pray?

Should I share my belongings?

Should I open my home to people I don’t know?

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Love must be completely sincere.

Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good.

Love one another warmly as Christians,

and be eager to show respect for one another.

Work hard and do not be lazy.

Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion. 

Let your hope keep you joyful,

be patient in your troubles,

and pray at all times.

Share your belongings with your needy fellow Christians,

and open your homes to strangers.

–Romans 12:9-13

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