And the End

A day or so ago, one of my son’s came up with something interesting.

He began thinking about what people think of God.

More exactly, he was thinking of who people think God is.

He posted this question on a social media site:

“I want to invite ALL my friends to write a VERY SHORT definition of “God” from your point of view. Whatever YOU think “God” is. Weather you believe in God or not.”

He received a long list of comments.

The question actually sparked quite a conversation between the two of us.

Now, I am thinking about what other people may define who God is.

In Revelation 22:13, we can read these words:

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

Whether you believe in God or not, would you please comment on this post and site your definition of God?

This will no doubt help the conversation between me and my son to continue.

Thank you so very much.

 

 

Alpha

 

 

Make the Tree Good

Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit.

—Matthew 12:33

 

When your name is mentioned, what things come to mind for those that know you?

What things come to mind for those that know me?

It is not our responsibility to please others primarily.

It is more important to please God in our actions and words.

In doing so, we will become known for our choices.

Does God consider us to be bearers of good fruit or bad fruit?

 

tree fruit

Control Your Mind

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

—Romans 8:5-8

What do I want to be controlled by?

Dominated by?

Do I want death or do I want life and peace?

Each of us must make that choice.

 

 

 

sinful

The Lord Looks

Our Basset hound was not feeling at all well this morning.

Having had a very uncomfortable night, as well, I knew I had to take her to the veterinarian.

After waiting only a short time, we were called back to the exam room.

There, I noticed an x-ray illuminator on the wall.

I began to think….

It was there so that the doctor could clip an x-ray film on it and the light from it would make the images visible for inspection.

What if who we really are—our thoughts, emotions and memories—could be placed on a screen and made visible for inspection?

What would they look like?

Others look at us the same way we look at them–seeing the outward appearance.

At times, we are well acquainted with someone else and we have some idea of their true nature, yet we cannot really see all that they are.

God knows each of us, totally.

All our experiences.

All our feelings and emotions.

All our thoughts.

He doesn’t need a bright light in order to reveal our souls.

When God was instructing Samuel to go and anoint a new king from among the sons of a man named Jesse, Samuel looked at one of them and thought surely he was the one to be king– but God told him otherwise.

1 Samuel 16:7 says,

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

God knew the heart’s of each of Jesse’s sons, and He had selected one of them to be king.

God has not changed.

He knows our hearts, as well.

Your heart.

My heart….

 

the heart

 

 

 

 

Living in the Light

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But if we are living in the light,

as God is in the light,

then we have fellowship

with each other,

and the blood of Jesus, his Son,

cleanses us from all sin.

—1 John 1:7

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fellowship

 

 

 

 

 

Through a Glass

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Walking along the ocean side is one of my favorite things.

The gentle, yet powerful, roar of the waves as they break onto the shore.

The sound of the seagulls squawking above me.

The feel of the wet sand on my feet.

And, of course, the sea spray…

The mist created by the vast expanse of water causes a haze to hang like an opaque backdrop, removing clarity from everything in its path.

Buildings lose their distinctiveness as they succumb to the white, concealing moisture all about them.

As I walked along the water’s edge, I photographed the scene in front of me.

Children playing.

Couples strolling.

Birds flying.

Sand castles being constructed.

All within the mist.

The Bible reads in 1 Corinthians 13:12,

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

We are all living “in the mist” at this time.
Playing.
Strolling.
Building—
All with limited vision.
There will be a day when that will change.
Are you ready for that day?
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glass darkly

Vapor

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Our lives are important.

What we do every day is important.

Every minute.

Every hour.

God has given us time to spend.

May we have the wisdom to spend it wisely….

 

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Yet

you do not know

what your life

will be like

tomorrow.

You are

just a vapor

that appears

for a little while

and then

vanishes away.

—James 4:14

 

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vapor

I’m Slipping, Lord!

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I will forever be thankful that God saved me years ago.

Since that time, have I had doubts fill my mind about one thing or another?

Yes.

Has my heart ever been in turmoil?

Many times.

Who then, can quiet me and give me renewed hope?

Only God….

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I would have died unless the Lord had helped me.  I screamed, “I’m slipping, Lord!” and he was kind and saved me. Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.—Psalm 94:17-19

 

 

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slipping

A Clean Heart

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I want to let go when I am supposed to let go.

I want to hang on when I am supposed to hang on.

I want to stay when I am supposed to stay.

I want to move when I am supposed to move.

I want to speak when I am supposed to speak.

I want to love when I am supposed to love.

And I want to do it all with a clean heart—a renewed heart.

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Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

—Psalm 51:10

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clean heart

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

Get Rid of All

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I had just walked out the door.

It was early morning and I was on my way to work.

As I approached my car in the driveway, I saw the piles of fresh dirt by the concrete.

Ants.

Probably hundreds of them, even though only a few were out and about where I could see them.

Where I live, it is quite common to be bitten by ants.

They set up shop almost anywhere and you don’t really know where they are hidden until they decide to show themselves.

The mounds of dirt that seem to appear so quickly are just the final testimony of what’s been going on all along.

Under the surface of the ground, the ants have been multiplying and building their forces, silently and without any fanfare.

Then, without warning, one day they come out of hiding for all to see.

There are some issues in our lives that behave just like that.

Anger.

Jealousy.

Bitterness.

No one really wants to think about these, but they are often there.

Hidden deep inside us, these emotions multiply like ants, building their forces, silently—without letting anyone else know about it.

Hidden behind smiles and appropriate behavior, their presence may go unnoticed, perhaps for years.

Then, for whatever reason, feelings of anger, fear, jealousy, bitterness, guilt, regret or anxiety suddenly seem to surface for all to see.

It may seem sudden to onlookers at the time, but the problems have perhaps had quite a long history behind them.

So, what can be done?

Anything at all?

If I’d had access to a large enough shovel and the time to devote to it, I might have been able to dig up the ant nests.

I could have purchased a product designed to rid them from my yard.

What can be done for the human heart that suffers from detrimental feelings?

God can remove them all.

Fear?

Anger?

It doesn’t matter what the problem is.

He can rid them from your heart.

If any of these things are troubling you, why not ask God to take them away?

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Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

—Ephesians 4:31

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bitterness

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

*
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

Life is in the Way

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Life is in the way of those who are right with God, and in its path there is no death.

 –Proverbs 12:28

Because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me by paying the penalty for my sins.

Because of Jesus, I am right with God.

What path is before me?

Everlasting life.

No death.

Because of Jesus.

Do you know Him today?

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life is in

Come and Talk With Me

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My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with Me.”
    And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”

—Psalm 27:8

The rose bush growing by the walkway to my front door has always delighted me.

I don’t believe it has ever had more than eight roses at once.

Most of the time, it has only one or two crimson red blooms.

As I come home from work or leave the house in the morning, often I am greeted with a new bloom.

When I notice a new rose, I am always pleased inside.

The part of me that reaches out to grasp the newness of the moment, night or day, responds to the blessing of the beautiful sight and smell sent to me on a thorny stalk of green.

It’s as though the roses say, “Come and see me.”

When I awaken in the morning, when I am falling asleep at night and at any moment throughout the time in between, God’s voice may bloom in front of me, saying, “Come and talk with Me.”

I want my heart to always respond, “LORD, I am coming,” reaching out to grasp the newness of that moment with God, night or day.

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my heart

Go Everywhere

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Standing by the boats on the water, everything was so quiet and calm.

There is something about seeing a boat that makes me want to go somewhere on it.

Somehow there is a silent invitation to an unknown adventure just by being in its vicinity.

Actually, every day brings with it an invitation as a believer of Jesus.

Mark 16:15 reads,

Jesus said to His followers, “Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone.”

If you and I are followers of Jesus, wherever we go–down the street or around the globe–we will be witnesses of what He has done for us.

Our transformed lives will speak in our actions and our words to those around us.

We have an invitation every day.

Will we go wherever Jesus has planned for us in the upcoming hours, showing others His love through each situation we encounter?

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ships final

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

Roar and Foam

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The water crashed against the large rocks over and over.

White foam accompanied each surge.

The ocean reminds me of God’s power.

The vastness of the sea and the unrelenting motion of the waves.

No matter what happens in our lives, as His children, the Lord Almighty is with us.

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God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

—Psalm 46:1-7

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roar and foam

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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seek

No One Can Boast

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While visiting a gym this past weekend, I noticed a scoreboard on a platform.

Of course, scoreboards are used to keep track of points earned and to display who is the best.

They proclaim who is the winner.

Do you ever try to “measure up” to other people?

It’s easy to consider that someone you know is kinder, smarter or more talented.

You might even think other people are more spiritual or closer to God.

Does your response lead you to try harder to be acceptable?

There is nothing wrong with desiring to be more like Christ.

We can hope to be kinder to those around us, showing them His love.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be closer to God.

But if we think that we must reach a certain level of acceptability to finally achieve God’s approval, we are missing an important truth.

Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.

We should want to live our lives the way that He would have us to out of gratitude for what He has done for us, not in order to gain our salvation.

There is no heavenly scoreboard that keeps track of our works, finally declaring one day that we have “won” our  redemption for ourselves.

We are free from that kind of burden.

If this has been a concern for you, consider these words form Ephesians 2:8-9:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Faith.

Not works.

A plan of love from God to us.

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boast

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

Full of Unfailing Love

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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

I don’t know how to glide over the waves on a surf board.

For some reason, when I see someone gracefully traveling along with a giant wall of water, I want to watch.

They must not be afraid to venture out far from the shore or they wouldn’t keep at it time and again.

The life guard is there, sitting atop the tall stand, ready to rescue.

That must surely be a comfort.

Even when they are just sitting on the board or swimming along beside it, there is certainly some trust of available help, should they need it.

There is a popular Christian song that speaks of such a situation, yet in a spiritual sense.

Here is a portion of the lyrics:

And when the oceans rage
I don’t have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me

Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep
But I’m not alone in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

Your Love Never Fails by Jesus Culture

Even when we are out in the “open seas” of life, caught in strong wind and deep water, God is with us.

We are never alone.

God’s love is unfailing.

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unfailing final

Go to Your Room

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When you pray,

go to your room

and close the door.

Pray privately to your

Father who is with you.

Your Father sees

what you do in private.

He will reward you.

—-Matthew 6:6

Quiet moments.

Time spent seeking God’s guidance.

Listening with our hearts for our heavenly Father’s words to gently, yet clearly, speak to us.

There is no communication more precious and priceless…

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close the door

Your Worries

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Walking along the dock tonight, it was peaceful and calm.

My heart was fairly peaceful and calm, as well.

The sun had long been gone, but a hint of orange still remained in the gray sky of dusk above me.

It was raining and the lights reflected in the soaking wood beneath my feet.

In the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve had many issues to bring before the Lord in prayer.

Already, there have been answers to some.

If I just stop to consider, I have so many blessings to be thankful for.

Despite the issues that seem difficult and overwhelming, there are so many things that are right and good.

Things that are just as they should be, or actually, even better.

1 Peter 5:7 reads,

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

God loves us.

He doesn’t want us to be sick with worry and concern over things that are in His control.

He wants us to come to Him with our concerns.

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worries

Going or Coming

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My help comes from the Lord,
    the maker of heaven and earth.
 God won’t let your foot slip.
    Your protector won’t fall asleep on the job.
 No! Israel’s protector
    never sleeps or rests!
 The Lord is your protector;
    the Lord is your shade right beside you.
 The sun won’t strike you during the day;
    neither will the moon at night.
 The Lord will protect you from all evil;
    God will protect your very life.
 The Lord will protect you on your journeys—
    whether going or coming—
    from now until forever from now.

—Psalm 121:2-8

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protect final

What Some of You Were

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Have you ever known someone who was:

addicted to drugs?

an alcoholic?

addicted to pornography?

a compulsive gambler?

aggressively angry?

a thief?

habitually dishonest?

disloyal to their spouse?

a negligent parent?

untrustworthy?

If you are like me, I can look back over my life and probably think of someone in every category.

The 6th chapter in 1 Corinthians speaks of a lot of things that are sinful, meaning they are displeasing to God.

Though perhaps not directly mentioned in the scriptures, the common issues listed above could certainly be in the category of being displeasing to God.

Then, again, the list above could be lengthened a great deal just by considering the ways that you or I might have displeased God, even during a short period.

The fact is, we are all human and we fail.

We fall short of what God wants for us, time and again.

Going back to 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 11 reads,

“And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Whatever we could come up with to label ourselves or others by our sinfulness, those labels do not have to continue to apply.

Those labels are about what we were.

Now, we can be washed.

Sanctified.

Justified.

Because of Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins.

Let me ask you:

Have you ever known someone who was:

forgiven?

*

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you were

Through the Valley

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When I drive, I sing.

A lot.

At different times, the lyrics that I am singing resonate in my heart in a significant way.

Today, I experienced just that.

One of my favorite songs is based on the twenty-third Psalm in the Old Testament.

As I was singing along with the music in my car, these words came alive in my heart:

IF I LET MY HEART BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING, I CAN SEE BEYOND THE VALLEY TO THE MOUNTAIN OF MY DREAMS.*

Of course, I have known the words from the psalm that say, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil….”

Strangely, I have never considered what it might be like to look beyond the valley I’m in toward the mountain.

That higher place in my journey with God.

The truth is, there have been, and will be, many valleys to go through.

There will also be many mountains.

Mountains of my dreams.

Mountains where the desires of my heart meet the will of God in a perfect union.

If I let my heart believe that God can do anything—-

even when things don’t look very promising,

then I can let my heart believe that He can bring me through any valley I might be traveling in.

*

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

—Psalm 23:4

*Manwell Reyes

*
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