New Creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

—2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Who was that person I used to be?

What were my thoughts

In my old identity?

How did I reason that I’d be fine

Not trusting in God’s ways

But counting on mine?

Imprisoned with guilt, confusion and shame

My heart was filled with hurt and blame

Jesus came and filled my heart

His gift to me—a brand new start

Who was that person I used to be?

It matters not

Because today I am free!

 

new creation 2

For I Am Lonely

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

—Psalm 25:16

 

 

 

Who are those that are lonely?

The ones in need so deeply inside

They’re mixed in crowds

yet still, they hide

 

Who are those that are afflicted?

The ones so burdened with pain

They blend in around us

But the hurt continues to remain

 

It is not known to their hurting hearts

That God would take them in

Who are those that could tell them?

It’s you and I, my friend

 

turn to me

 

 

 

 

Innermost Being

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

—John 7:38

 

It seems that I have been noticing birds a lot lately.

This afternoon, my husband was watering a section of our yard that had very little grass.

Having recently planted grass seed in that area, he wanted to make sure it had enough irrigation to grow.

I watched a mocking bird fly up into a tree just past the water that was shooting up in streams from the hose on the ground.

As he sat there looking at the water, I was able to get a few photos of him.

As believers of Jesus, rivers of living water flow from us.

Our lives are different.

Other people are watching us.

At work they see us, talk to us, notice how we respond to everyday situations.

At school, at the store, at a ballgame, in church, on a train, in a grocery store line.

Our families watch us at home–at the dinner table, at the family reunion, when we are tired, when we are energetic, when we are happy, when we are sad.

Are they seeing the rivers of living water?

Through everything that happens–as believers of Jesus, we have the opportunity to show that living water is flowing from our lives.

 

 

 

innermost

Make Music

Make music to praise the LORD, you faithful people who belong to Him. Remember His holiness by giving thanks.

—Psalm 30:4

I saw him among the branches of the tree in my front yard.

The sun wasn’t far from setting and the blue jay was perched high.

Wanting just to be quiet and calm while enjoying a few moments outside, I listened to the various birds sing and tweet as they prepared for nighttime to fall.

When the birds sing, they make music.

They are able to do so because God gives them that ability.

With each chirp and call, they testify to the greatness of their Creator.

I want to praise God with my voice and with instruments as I make music, giving thanks.

That is possible because He gave me a voice and the ability to play instruments.

Thank You, God, for all that You have done for me. All praise belongs to You.

make music

Every Bird

I know every bird on the mountains,

and all the animals of the field are Mine. 

—Psalm 50:11
When I arrived at work, the tree by the parking lot was filled with birds. 

I could hear them speaking with their chirping and tweeting. 

As I watched, some flew away and others came to rest on the branches of the tree. 

I am sitting now in the hospital room of a family member. 

Is God still in control?

Yes, He is. 

God knows every bird in the tree I was looking at. 

He knows me and every member of my family, too. 

He has not forgotten us. 

Hidden

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes, and He is the one to whom we are accountable.

—Hebrew 4:12-13

 

Looking out across the water to a small island, I could see something in the wildflowers growing there.

An Anhinga bird was behind them.

Looking at my photograph later, it almost looks as if he is hiding.

He does blend in with a certain amount of camouflage, yet upon closer inspection, he’s hard to miss.

I’ll never know if he was truly intending to hide that afternoon, but I can certainly identify with him if he was.

At times in my life–even as a child–I wanted to just hide away and be alone, in what I felt was a safe place.

There are many reasons, however, to hide.

Shame.

Guilt.

Fear.

Failure.

Sadness.

Depression.

Grief.

The list is long.

We may hide from people and flee from circumstances, but we cannot hide from God.

He sees us wherever we are, in whatever condition we are in.

Our emotions may urge us to hide, yet His great love beckons us back into the open–in the light of His comfort and forgiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

hidden

He Gives

He gives food to every living creature;
    His love is eternal.

—Psalm 136:25

I could hear a distinct bird voice outside.

Looking through my bay window, I could see a group of birds visiting the rock fountain in the yard.

They were enjoying the flowing water and flitting from one place to another.

God provides food and drink for all His creatures.

When I am blessed to see some of His creatures as I did by my fountain, it creates a joyful excitement within me as I witness the beauty of what He has made.

creature

Your Creatures

I photographed the most magnificent bird today.

The mix of colors displayed in his sleek feathers was captivating.

God has made such beauty in our world!

 

How many are Your works, LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures.

—Psalm 104:24

 

 

Your creatures

 

In Every Situation

 

 

 

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you His peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

—2 Thessalonians 3:16

 

What can we do when bad news arrives?

Last week, we found out that the young son of someone we know has leukemia.

About the same time, some new friends of ours had a baby very prematurely and the baby died.

What could be said at times like these?

I am not a doctor, so I would not have been able to advise either couple on medical issues, even though I really do care.

Nor am I able to heal a broken heart, even though I hope for that healing.

Jesus is the Lord of peace, however, and He can carry any of us through any and every situation—even illness and death.

How does He do that?

I don’t know.

I just know that He knows all things and He is able to do all things.

Even when it seems impossible, He can comfort and heal.

His peace

 

Wonderfully

When I saw the bird with it’s long flowing head feathers, I immediately began to photograph him.

How beautiful he was!

Ruby colored eyes and a long, sleek beak.

He was tall, with black feathers closely hugging his neck.

When I look at creatures God has made, I marvel at His works and I am blessed by the privilege of seeing them.

I was thinking today about people.

So often, we look at ourselves in a negative way.

We don’t feel as if we are worth much.

We think of ourselves as unattractive and unimportant.

What if—just for consideration—birds were the most intelligent beings on the planet with minds like people and all people had the minds of birds?

Just think of how the birds would look at us!

They might take a photograph and say,

“Look at that human! He’s beautiful! He has clear, brown eyes and sleek black hair. He has such a kind looking face.”

“Look at that human! She’s perfect! Red hair and eyes of blue. Look! I think she’s smiling at us!”

We forget that God has made us in a wonderful way.

Just look at us!

We stand tall.

We have fingers that do fine motor skills.

We run and jump.

We speak and sing.

We have hair!

And beautiful eyes!

We smile!

We love….

If another creature had a mind like ours, they would see us as wonderful creations of God.

Why don’t we see ourselves that way?

 

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

–Psalm 139:14

 

fearfully correct

Afraid

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What was the bird in my yard really thinking?

Was he afraid?

Was he curious?

Was he hungry?

I can look at the photograph I took of him and imagine any one of these feelings as I look at his face.

At some point in our lives, we are all afraid.

When that happens, God is there.

He is there to comfort and to calm us.

We must trust in Him in those moments.

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When I am afraid,

I put my trust

in

You.

–Psalm 56:3

 

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afraid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sing

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Birds sing to the Lord.

When lions roar, they are singing, too.

As the dolphin jumps for a moment from the water with elegance and grace, it is “singing” to the Lord.

The golden butterfly sings as it flutters from bloom to bloom.

All the creatures of the earth sing to the Lord, their Maker.

Shouldn’t we, as well?

 

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Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
 Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
 Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples.

—Psalm 96:1-3

 

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sing

 

 

 

 

 

Puzzling Reflections

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In my journey of faith, there are many things that I do not understand.

Yet, even in my lack of understanding, I must trust God.

He sees things perfectly.

His knowledge is complete.

His love for me is great.

Like a little child trusting in her father as she grasps his hand while crossing a busy street, I must put my faith in God’s wisdom and guidance as I walk through this life with Him at my side.

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Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

—1 Corinthians 13:12

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reflections

Amazing Things Happen

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Purple Gallinules are very common where I live.

Even though they are common, they are not commonly colored.

In fact, they are arrayed in a most beautiful mix of emerald, turquoise, indigo, red and yellow.

The Purple Gallinule is an amazingly adorned bird, decorated exactly the way God planned.

In the book of Job, God’s voice is spoken about in reference to thunder.

In a different way, I think God’s voice speaks through His visual creations.

Job 37:5 reads,

“At God’s command amazing things happen,
    wonderful things that we can’t understand.”

Amazing things happen every day.

Things like Purple Gallinules walking past us or a glorious sunset lighting up the western sky.

Amazing things happen, because God is amazing…..

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command

They Sing Praises

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The lyrics to an old hymn mention birds singing to God:

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

(Maltbie D. Babcock)

Birds calling.

Flowers blooming.

The light of sunrise.

They are all praising God!

All the earth worships You
    and sings praises to You;
    they sing praises to Your Name. Selah

—Psalm 66:4

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all the earth

Job Description

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The pair of birds sat in the top of the tree, not minding my inquisitive presence.

Looking this way and that, the golden light from the setting sun gave a soft glow to their feathery bodies.

There is food for them to eat.

There is water nearby, as well.

God is providing for them in every way that is needed.

God can provide for us in every way that is needed, also, and we are worth more to Him than birds…

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“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to Him than birds.”

—Matthew 6:25-26 The Message

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job description final

A Season

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The birds were lined up in a row on both rungs of a street light.

A single bird was flying off in the distance.

Had he just left the crowd?

Decided to go on to better things?

Perhaps.

If he did leave the rest behind, it might’ve taken quite a bit of bravery on his part to do so.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Bible study at the home of a dear, older woman.

Listening to her comments and to the comments of others as we contemplated a chapter in the book of Proverbs, this woman made a wise statement that went straight to my heart.

I made sure that I wrote it down, word for word, because of its great significance:

“When a season is over and you know it, you have to be brave enough to dismiss yourself from it.”

Hearing this declaration made everything stop for a moment inside my mind, forcing me to consider its significance.

For me, it seems that I get comfortable in a place or situation and to leave it for a new beginning somehow threatens to make me feel like a “quitter.”

Should I always be a member of the same club or organization?

Should I always have the same job?

Should I always take part in the same ministries or charities?

Should I always spend my time with the exact same group of friends?

It’s hard to break away from the crowd, especially when you’re comfortable on the same street light with everyone else.

But if God is leading me to a new season, I need to recognize it and fly away.

Wouldn’t you agree?

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There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens…

—Ecclesiastes 3:1

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season

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

The Insects

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There is a specific bush in my yard that seems to attract green and yellow flies that almost look metallic.

Sleek and futuristic looking, I can imagine a fancy sports car or racing motorcycle styled from its design.

After doing some research, I found that this insect is called simply, “Long-legged Fly.”

I have read that there are approximately nine hundred thousand different kinds of insects in the world that we know about.

Nine hundred thousand!

There are many more yet to be discovered.

Psalm 50:11 reads,

I know every bird in the mountains,
    and the insects in the fields are Mine.

It wouldn’t matter if there were thirty million insects.

God would know every one.

God knows each one of us, too.

We can trust that we are always in His sight and He is divinely focused on every person, all the time…

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the insects

The Truth

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Walking along beside the water, I noticed them in a distance.

Today was the first time I had ever visited the park, so I was unfamiliar with the surroundings.

Two beautiful birds were swimming in the pond near some water lilies.

With my camera in hand, I walked a little closer to photograph them.

I was soon to be disappointed.

The birds that I thought were so lovely were—–plastic.

Fake.

Just simulated reproductions of the real thing.

One had been fabricated with it’s neck down, as though it was drinking or getting something out of the water.

The other had its neck up.

I had been fooled.

Although the artificial birds provided some aesthetic appeal to the otherwise very natural scene, I was personally let down.

Many of us have never encountered plastic ducks in the water, but we’ve come face to face with something we thought was true that wasn’t.

Spiritually speaking, it is quite common to hear that there are many ways to Heaven.

Doing this.

Doing that.

Following a certain tradition…

We find these words in the New Testament:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

—John 14:6

Jesus is the way.

He is truth.

He is life.

Life for us.

No one can come to God the Father except through Him.

Coming into a believing relationship with Him, we find this truth.

Have you experienced this truth for yourself?

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the way

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

Not of Fear

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It was mid-morning when I was about to begin photographing an event.

As I waited for it to begin, I was noticing the surroundings, as I often do.

A bright blue bird caught my eye as he came to rest on a fence in the distance.

He would stay there only a moment or so, then fly down to the ground and back up again onto the fence.

Not recognizing what type of bird I was seeing, I asked someone about it.

It was an Eastern Bluebird.

I certainly don’t know the habits of such a bird, but I was able to observe one for just a little while.

When he flew to the fence, he would come to rest near twisted wires poking out to the top.

With great accuracy, he didn’t allow his little feet or his delicate body to be hurt by the sharp metal points.

He was close to them, but he avoided true contact, seemingly with confidence.

Am I like that bird?

I don’t know.

If I know I should be on the fence, do I worry and focus on the spiky wires, wasting time just gazing at them?

Or do I just go right up to the safe place on the fence and commit to avoid the wires?

2 Timothy 1:7 reads,

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

What fences might God be asking me to stand on today?

Which ones might He be asking you to stand on?

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self control three

With Peace

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As the sun was setting, the birds began their chorus.

Heralding the approach of the night, you could hear the different calls from various trees in the neighborhood. Hoping to get some photographs while there was still enough light to see them, I took my camera outside.

A male cardinal came to rest on my fence.

A velvety crimson color, he stood out against the white panels of the fence and the green of the trees in the background.

I walked around my home, over to the orange grove across the street and into the field behind my house.

All was calm and quiet with gentle chirps and songs around me.

Peace.

What a blessing from God….

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The Lord gives strength to his people;
    the Lord blesses his people with peace.

 —Psalm 29:11

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peace

My Safe and Strong Place

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I’ve gone there on early Sunday mornings many times before.

Yesterday, I found the lake to be as I had expected it.

Quiet, yet alive with creatures in and around it.

Tall trees with birds’ nests, flowering plants shooting out from the water’s edge.

Not far from the shore, someone had placed a simple wooden bird house.

Just a box with a circular hole for an entrance.

Suspended well above the water, it affords a safe place for a bird to take shelter.

There was a stately bird standing on the top of the house, looking over the lake as I walked along.

The house had been provided for him and for any other bird that needed it.

A person constructed the house–not a bird.

In fact, there is no way possible that a bird of any kind could’ve built that house.

God provides protection for us, as humans.

Invisible, yet tangible to the heart, we are aware of His protection.

There is no way possible that we could provide this protection for ourselves.

God Himself is our safe place.

His strength is there to protect.

We can trust in His provision of shelter.

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I will say to the Lord, “You are my safe and strong place, my God, in Whom I trust.”

—Psalm 91:2

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