Courage

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Courage.

The dictionary defines courage as, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”

Psalm 3:3-4 reads,

“But, Lord, You are my shield.
    You are my wonderful God who gives me courage.
 I will pray to the Lord.
    And He will answer me from His holy mountain.”

If I were to take the modern definition of courage and consider it in this verse it would be,

“You are my wonderful God who gives me the quality of mind or spirit to enable me to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear. You are my wonderful God who gives me bravery.”

As I stood on the grass by the lake as the sun was setting tonight, I photographed the clouds towering in the sky, reflecting on the calm water below.

I prayed.

God knows that I am in need of some courage.

His courage.

He also knows all the other things I need, too, even though I haven’t realized it yet.

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courage

When I Am Afraid

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I’ve been afraid before.

Afraid as a child.

Afraid as a teenager.

Afraid as an adult.

Fear causes an inner turmoil that grips us, whether we are in a dentist’s chair or waking from a troubling dream.

Whatever the situation may be that causes the response of fear, we are never alone in it.

God does not abandon us when circumstances in life become frightening.

When we are afraid, we can put our trust in God.

We never, ever walk alone….

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When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.

—Psalm 56:3

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afraid

If You Have

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It was lunchtime, so I stopped at a familiar grocery store that sells pre-made salads in their produce section.

When I began to peruse the selections, I was disappointed.

There is a particular salad from there that I prefer.

Walnuts, raisins, apples and blueberries on a bed of fresh spinach leaves.

Looking carefully at the display of salads, I didn’t see my favorite.

A man was working behind me in the produce area.

I explained that I wasn’t finding what I wanted and I asked if he could look “in the back” to see if there were any that had not been put out for sale.

He looked, and none could be found.

He stopped what he was doing, went behind the counter and began making a salad to my specifications.

He even went out into the store and got a box of raisins and a package of walnuts when he realized he didn’t have any.

While I was waiting—at two separate times—someone who worked at the store saw me and asked if I needed any help.

Also, as I watched him making the salad, I overheard him interact with two other employees who were apparently under his authority, in a very kind and considerate manner.

After quite a bit of trouble on his part, he happily handed me my salad in a clear plastic container.

To top things off, he apologized to me for the wait….

When I got home, I was pleased to see that I not only had walnuts, apples, raisins and blueberries, but I had strawberries and raspberries, too!

This man not only represented his employer well, he represented himself well.

What would it be like if we represented Jesus to others?

When someone asks us for help, what if we were to stop what we were doing in order to see to their needs?

What would happen if we went out of our way to do what was best, even if it took longer?

What if we showed Christ-like character in our interactions with others while we were helping?

What if, while we were helping, two other Christians came by and offered their assistance?

I went away from the store marveling at the attitude and character of the man who made my salad.

The whole experience makes me look forward to visiting that store again.

If there are those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior who are within our scope of care and influence at any time, would their experience with you and me make them look forward to seeing us again?

Would they want to know more about becoming a Christian after realizing that we were?

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By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

—John 13:35

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My disciples

The Streams of God

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You care for the land and water it;
    You enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so You have ordained it.

You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    You soften it with showers and bless its crops.
 You crown the year with your bounty,
    and Your carts overflow with abundance.

—Psalm 65:9-11

You crown the year with Your bounty….

2015.

A new year.

The first month of the new year.

What will we see in the coming days and weeks?

I have faith that we will see the bounty of God.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bounty this way:

“good things that are given or provided freely and in large amounts”

Everywhere we look, even in difficult situations, there are blessings from God.

Things given.

Things provided.

Things that are bestowed willingly to us.

Things from the loving heart of God.

2015.

A new year.

The first month of the new year.

What do you think you will see in the coming days and weeks?

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streams

To the Throne of Grace

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Below are some of the lyrics to a popular Christian song:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(from “Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher)

Lately, the words, “And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You” have gone to a special place in my heart.

How precious to even consider that during our greatest weakness, God is there for us to fall on.
In recent weeks, several people that I know have faced extreme circumstances.
In fact, some of them are still facing these trials today.
This song, when changed to an intercessory prayer, is a comfort to me concerning them:

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Lord, they come, they confess
Bowing there, they find their rest
Without You they would fall apart
You’re the One that guides their heart
Lord, they need You, oh, they need You
Every hour they need You
Their one defense, their righteousness
Oh God, how they need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, they are free
Holiness is Christ in them
Teach their song to rise to You
When temptation comes their way
And when they cannot stand let them fall on You
Jesus, You’re their hope and stay
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My heart is solemn as I yearn for healing of every situation in the lives of my each of my friends who are facing troubles.
God is the only One who can take care of each of the needs.
What a precious privilege to have the gift of prayer.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.—Hebrews 4:16

 

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Throne of Grace

Troubled, Neither Let It Be

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Jesus said,

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

—John 14:27

Jesus is able to to give me peace, even when those I love are ill.

My cousin is in ICU tonight.

Jesus is able to give me peace, even as I realize that I am not in control of others’ lives.

Those I love must make decisions for themselves.

Jesus is able to give me peace, even when I realize that I cannot know the future.

God alone knows the future and the past in its entirety.

In the passage above, Jesus told His disciples not to have troubled hearts or to let their hearts be afraid.

Instead, He wanted them to have peace.

I think this is what He wants now, for me and for you.

Does your heart need His peace tonight?

Are you troubled and afraid?

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peace

More Than Anything Else

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Why should we guard our hearts?

Proverbs 4:23 tells us why.

There are several translations of this verse, each giving us insight into the wisdom of this statement.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.


Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.


Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.


Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.


Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.


Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life.


Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.


Keep your heart with all caution because from it is the outgoing of life.


Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.

If our hearts need guarding, it must be that there is something to protect them from.

If anything can draw our hearts and minds away from God in any measure, we must put up our guard against it.

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guard your heart final

A New Heart

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A changed heart.

A changed attitude.

What does that look like?

How does it occur?

You may have prayed, as I have, for someone’s heart to change.

It could be that they were unforgiving and angry.

You hoped for acceptance and calm.

They may have been cold and uninterested in matters of faith.

You longed to see their hearts tender and warm toward God.

People actually do change.

But how?

God can work in anyone’s life in any manner that He chooses.

Sometimes, I think that there can be a series of events that build upon one another, culminating in what seems to be an instantaneous shift in attitude.

I have heard the story of a famous author who was not a Christian.

After some believing friends had spoken to him many times about their faith, he suddenly came to believe in Christ himself.

Think of it this way—-

Imagine a wall–a high, brick wall.

On the other side of that wall, a beautiful scene of rolling hills and farmlands is visable.

A stone is placed at its base.

The next day, another stone is set upon it.

Day after day, other stones are positioned in front of the wall, some on top of others.

You decide the climb the stones.

Still, you cannot see over the wall and you are unaware of what lies beyond it.

Climbing back down, you go on your way.

As time goes by, more stones are placed in front of the wall.

Finally, they are reaching higher than before.

Deciding to climb again, you scale up the stacked stones until you reach the top.

Looking over the wall, you gaze at the beauty before you, seeing the hills and farmland for yourself.

God places many stones in our lives—

Things that people say to us about faith in God.

Acts of kindness and love from others.

Words from the Bible.

As we are exposed to each “stone” we climb higher and higher until one day, we see the truth for ourselves.

As we pray for others, we need not grow weary in our hope for them.

Each day,  a stone of testimony may be placed in front of those we love.

One on top of the other, they may form a spiritual journey of grace—

ending in a changed heart for God.

 

 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

–from Ezekiel 36:26

 

 

 

 

 

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new heart