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

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

Exchange

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Walking over to the train station, I crossed the tracks with my camera in hand.

Train tracks have always caught my interest, maybe because I grew up with a freight train crossing just about four houses away from mine.

As a young child, I walked over the tracks twice a day going to school.

My friends and I would put pennies on the tracks and wait for the train to come.

When the heavy weight of the engine and cargo had passed, I recall only seeing the image of Lincoln faintly in the railing—no penny left at all.

Looking at the the photo I took near the train station the other day, I thought first of the two converging tracks as they became one, allowing a train on either track to go to the same destination.

This evening, I thought of the rails another way.

What about a train that was leaving the station and coming toward me?

A choice would have to be made as to which direction to follow.

Should it travel to the right or to the left?

We all have to make such a choice about our destinations.

Jesus had this conversation with His disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

—John 14:1-7

For all of us, there comes a time when the tracks in front of us split into two different directions.

We can choose to follow Jesus or we can go our own way without Him.

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the Way

 

 

 


Whatever You Are Doing

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Yesterday, I heard a very interesting story.

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

She was a widow and she had no car.

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

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

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

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

On the way the child asked the man a question.

“Are you God?” he asked.

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

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

There was yet another question to be asked.

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

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

I heard this story while in church yesterday.

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

Colossians 3:23 reads,

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

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

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

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

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

As Christian believers, do we work for ourselves?

Or, do we work for God?

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He Will Keep

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Walking along the water’s edge, I came upon a sailboat.

Lodged securely in the sand, it gave a silent testimony to trips gone by.

To gentle winds that had given it flight across the lake.

To moments of solitude.

To a calmness that comes from leaving the shore behind…

There is a peace that can come only from God.

A perfect peace.

A peace born in fellowship with Him.

He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!

—Isaiah 26:3

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perfect peace

Hold Me Fast

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In our day and age, travel is so common. There are many, many people today who have journeyed thousands of miles away from home–not once, but several times. I have a friend who will be flying to the opposite side of the world tomorrow morning. I can’t keep him safe, but God can. There is no place that we can venture where God is not. And wherever we are, His power and presence will hold us tightly–safely–in the grip of His love.

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If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

—Psalm 139:9-10

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Struggling Hard

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It was time for an oil change in my car.

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

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

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

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

You know them, don’t you?

Those people who are tired and lonely.

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

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

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

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

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

And the cost?

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

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

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give you rest

The Path of Life Known

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The traffic was called to stop as the guard arms came down into place by the railroad.

Red lights flashed.

In the near distance, I could hear the sound of a train whistle.

Seconds later, a train came, crossing in front of me.

Where was it going?

I will never know, but the conductor of the train knew just exactly where it was going.

He also knew that the train would get there on the rails.

Not on the paved highway where I was.

Not by traveling on vast fields.

Not on dirt roads.

It would get there on a train track that had been laid out to take them there.

That was really the only way possible.

If we want to live forever in Heaven, there is just one way.

Not on the paved highway of good works.

Not by traveling on vast fields of humanism.

Not on dirt roads of self-sufficiency.

We will have to go on a path that has been laid out to take us there.

This path can only be traveled by those whose passage has been secured by faith in Jesus.

Psalm 16:11 reads,

“You make the path of life known to me. Complete joy is in your presence. Pleasures are by your side forever.”

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Carefree Before God

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Carefree.

I decided to look the definition up in the dictionary.

What did I find?

“Free from anxiety and responsibility.”

I Peter 5:7 in The Message reads,

“Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.”

Living a life free of anxiety sounds good.

But, do we live lives without responsibilities?

When we think about it, we are responsible for making the decision to allow God into our hearts and lives.

Then, we are responsible for how we obey His leading.

We are totally free, however, from some other responsibilities.

God is responsible for those.

The verse above as written in the Living Bible reads,

“Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.”

God gave us our lives and He is sustaining them.

The world and the universe are held by His power.

He is aware of absolutely everything in our lives.

God loves us, and because of that, we can trust Him with all of those responsibilities we could not possibly handle.

He is “most careful” with me and with you.

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carefree

Stride Freely

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Sailboats fascinate me.

Something about them catches my interest every single time I see one out on the water.

This time, it was a rather large boat on the ocean.

Drifting along with sails spread out, the wind above the sea carrying them along on a bright and sunny day.

I took several photographs of the boat, capturing its journey in still snippets of time.

Describing the scene would be easy.

Free.

Unhurried.

Sure.

The definition itself draws me in.

Psalm 119:43-48 from The Message reads,

Don’t ever deprive me of truth, not ever – your commandments are what I depend on.  Oh, I’ll guard with my life what you’ve revealed to me, guard it now, guard it ever;  And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom;  Then I’ll tell the world what I find, speak out boldly in public, unembarrassed.  I cherish your commandments – oh, how I love them! –  relishing every fragment of your counsel.

What if I didn’t have God’s truth deep within my heart?

What if I didn’t know how He wanted me to act?

What if He had never revealed anything to me?

I would be lost and desperate.

Bound by confusion.

Uncertain.

Thankfully, I am not without God’s truth and direction.

I can “stride freely through wide open spaces” as I grow closer to Him, like a sailing vessel out on the open seas.

As I find more truth and more wisdom on my journey, I am changed—day by day—into the person God wants me to be.

Free.

Unhurried.

Sure…..

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stride

Point Me Down Your Highway, God

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I went to a restaurant today.

Not really knowing the way, I relied on a friend to take me there.

I was never in the driver’s seat.

After getting out of the car, we met other friends who had driven there, as well.

After parking the vehicles, we had to walk quite a bit to get to the particular restaurant we were going to.

One person I was with had been there before, so he led the way.

The walkways were crowded, but we were able to follow him through all the turns–past this building and that building.

In fact, it took about twenty minutes to finally arrive at our destination.

There wasn’t a single moment that I was concerned.

Trusting that he knew just where to walk, I simply followed and enjoyed friendly conversation along the way.

After lunch, when it was time to go home, I still had no idea which way led back to the cars.

Trusting my friend once again, I simply followed.

When I got into the car, I had no idea how to get back to the highway and go home.

That wasn’t a problem at all.

I wasn’t driving, but another friend was.

She knew the way home.

There wasn’t a single moment when I was concerned about not knowing the way back.

I trusted her.

As we drove away, there was a long curve in front of us.

Beautiful trees stood in the median, creating a peaceful scene before us.

Sometimes we find ourselves not knowing which way to go in life.

We have to rely on God to take us there.

We aren’t in the driver’s seat.

Since God is the only one who knows where He wants us to go, we have to follow Him.

We are able to follow Him through all the turns–past this situation and that situation.

In fact, it’s going to take us the rest of our lives to reach all the destinations He has planned for us.

As His children, there is no cause for concern.

There may be a long curve in front of us sometimes, but looking to God will bring a peaceful calm.

We can trust Him to know the way.

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Not From Christ

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I like streetcars and trolleys.

Though it has been years since I have ridden one, I still find them interesting and nostalgic.

When I saw the streetcar painted mostly a bright red crossing in front of me, it was time for a quick photograph.

I didn’t know where the passengers were going.

I did know that they were going wherever the streetcar was going.

It’s safe to say that the people on the streetcar believed that they were headed to their desired destination.

Honestly—who would get on not being sure of where they would have to get off?

Most people would make sure before they ever took the first step through the streetcar door.

Spiritually, there are a great many men and women who haven’t done this.

Following the crowd, they have recklessly stumbled on a streetcar of deception, traveling away from God and an abundant life.

Colossians 2:8 tells us,

“Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ.”

Three words stand out to me in that passage of scripture:

…not from Christ.

I don’t want to get on a spiritual streetcar that is not from Christ.

It’s not going to go where I need to go.

With a flashy red paint job and fancy lettering on the sides, it may look good at first, but those who are wise will check the destination.

Since streetcars run every day, bustling this direction and that, we have to make choices every day about which ones to board and which ones we allow to pass us by.

An every day question for every day direction would be:

Is this offering the way of Christ?

Is this way offering what is not of Christ?

Every day.

It’s our choice……

What do you think?

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