From the Storm and Rain

In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel.  Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire. Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

—Isaiah 4:2-6

The Flower Fades

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.

–Isaiah 40:8

 

While visiting a large city, I was driving through a residential area.

One home, in particular, caught my eye.

Spring blossoms, ablaze in color, were bursting forth on bushes planted by a fence.

An opening near a gate separated two colors as the bushes seemed to beckon an onlooker into the back yard.

With this much beauty on the outside, could their be a gorgeous flower garden on the inside?

As stunning as they were, the flowers on the bushes would soon wither and fade.

There for only a season—–

God is not just with us for a time and then gone.

He is with us always.

His word stands forever!

 

 

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That the Hawk Soars

Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,

Stretching his wings toward the south?

—Job 39:26

 

Today, I looked out my back window and saw a red shouldered hawk in the misty rain.

Taking my camera out into the back yard, I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible as I sought to photograph him.

I have come to recognize their call, as it is distinct and loud.

Beautifully marked with an array of patterned colors in their feathers, they seem to project a stateliness as they perch.

God has made thousands of creatures, both great and small.

Each one is to His perfect liking.

I watched the hawk fly down to the ground and back up again.

The rain was increasing, so I finally left him to welcome the evening without me.

God tells the hawks what to do–where they should fly, how to build a nest.

It’s not by my understanding.

There are times when I don’t understand how God is working in my life or the lives of others, but I know that His ways are not my ways.

I am limited.

He is limitless….

 

 

 

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But I Am Trusting You

But I am trusting You, O Lord,
    saying, “You are my God!”

—Psalm 31:14

 

There are trustworthy people in this world.

But people can fail.

You can.

I can.

We may expect the best of others, rarely being disappointed.

Yet, we know deep down that no one is perfect.

God, however, is perfect.

If we trust Him, He cannot fail.

He is our God.

 

 

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Great Is the LORD!

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only
(Great Are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters)
This song has become so meaningful to me this past year, especially the last couple of weeks.
I went to a conference with my daughter-in-law a few months ago and this was the theme song of the gathering.
It was sung at every worship service.
It was the first time I had ever heard it.
As I see God at work in several aspects of my life and in the lives of those I love, my heart has been filling with praise.
God does give hope.
God does restore.
God does bring light to the darkness in our lives.
God is love and He gives us our life.
The breath we breathe?
We only have it because He gives it to us.
God is truly great.
Our praise belongs to Him only.
Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness.
—Psalm 145:3
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Love His Brother Also

What does it look like to love others?

To love people the way God wants us to love them?

It’s easy to love those who love us.

But what about the ones who don’t?

Or what about the people of the world we have never met?

Or those that we come in contact with that are homeless or jobless?

What does it look like to love others who may be dirty from living on the street?

Or the ones who dress differently than we do and act differently than we do?

What does loving them look like?

Years ago, our children had a game that was intended for car trips.

It was a set of long cards on a ring, as I remember it.

One person would ask the other player a question that was listed on a particular card.

I can’t recall all the the details of the game, but there was a colored plastic sheet that could go on top of a card.

If the plastic sheet was on top of the card, the answer could be read.

Otherwise, it was hard to see the letters–maybe they couldn’t be seen at all.

Loving people the way God wants us to love them has to start with understanding that God loves them.

If we don’t understand that, they are like letters and words that we cannot see on a card.

We don’t feel the need to love them because we have not noticed that they need love.

We have not recognized them as being precious to God and loved by Him.

Once the “colored plastic” of this truth is placed over our view of them, we see clearly what we had not before.

When that happens, God will allow us to see just what loving that other person means right then.

 

 

 

And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

—1 John 4:21

 

 

 

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Heavenly Lights

It’s easy to get used to things.

I live in a subtropical area, with palm trees, warm weather most of the year and an incredible amount of wildlife roaming about at any hour of the day.

People come from all over the world to vacation in this area.

I’m used to the beauty of it all, so there are times that I fail to appreciate it.

Tonight, I was looking at the moon while standing in my back yard.

It was a clear evening, and the moon was bright and almost directly overhead.

Photographing the moon is something I have enjoyed for awhile.

It is easy to just get used to the moon being there, without really thinking about it.

If I do think about the fact that something so incredibly large is right out there so close to earth, orbiting and yet always staying right where it should be, it’s almost a little frightening.

Just that initial thought of how small I am and how big the moon is—that moon that’s right above me.

I trust that God will keep it in its place, so I don’t really concern myself with it.

The fact that God is keeping it there brings me to consider His great power.

He is holding the moon in place and He is holding my life in place.

Even though I may feel overwhelmed at times, I know I can trust Him.

The moon above is a reminder that He is in control.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.

 Give thanks to Him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to Him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to Him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to Him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.
 the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.
 and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.

—Psalm 136:3-9

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And Yet

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”

—Matthew 6:26

 

 

The bird was perched on top of the feeder, looking down as I photographed him.

I wonder what birds think about the feeders that people put out for them.

Do they understand that an actual person somehow gets all that seed and is placing it out where they can have it?

Do they wonder with amazement how an entire container of just seed happens to be near them?

Or do they just accept that it is simply there and never ponder how or why?

God provides for the birds by natural means and also by enabling humans to gather seed and generously present it in various types of feeders.

God provides for the birds.

We are worth much more than they are.

God will provide for us, too, in whatever way we need.

And when He does, do we understand and acknowledge that it is God who is providing for us?

 

 

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Trust In You

Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek You.

—Psalm 9:10

 

I could see the boat coming down the river at a fairly good speed.

It’s not uncommon at all to see boats travel up and down the river, but this was a little bit different.

There, on the front deck of the boat, was a dog.

A very happy dog, I would assume.

More than likely, it was his owner driving the vessel behind him.

I don’t know what the dog was thinking, but he must have been very trusting to sit right at the front with no one beside him as the trees passed, the water parted and the wind blew strongly through his fur!

Of course, there would have been no possible way for the owner to have explained to the dog how the boat was powered or steered, how he would make the proper decisions about speed and location or even how long the ride would be.

A dog cannot comprehend that level of thinking.

Still, the dog had the opportunity to trust the owner and enjoy the ride.

We cannot understand what is happening in our lives sometimes.

When God is steering the “boat” we can only accept His invitation to go where He wants us to go.

We cannot always comprehend the “what and why” of God’s plan.

The dog didn’t ask his owner, “Where are we going?”

“When will we come home?”

“How fast will we go?”

“What will I see?”

No. He just hopped on the boat and away they went.

As believers, we must trust God for the journey.

He will never forsake us.

 

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Become Like Little Children

God knows all about my life.

Even when it is too difficult for me to grasp–all the issues and illnesses within my family, what my hopes and dreams are, how I am feeling from moment to moment.

He knows it all.

Even though I cannot understand how, I have to trust that He does.

Just like a small child sitting happily and calmly in their own house, quietly playing with toys in the floor.

They trust that their loving parent will prepare food for them.

They trust that they will be told when to go to sleep and rest.

If they pinch their finger on the wheel of a toy car, they trust that a simply cry of “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” will bring them to their presence immediately.

They don’t worry about water bills.

They don’t spend time concerning themselves about car payments.

Yet, they drink water freely and ride in a car when their parents tell them to get in.

Jesus says that we need to be like little children:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

(Matthew 18:1-5)

Every day I need to become like a little child as far as my trust and belief in God are concerned.

Even though I do not fully understand, I must fully trust.

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Gentle Showers

“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak!
    Hear, O earth, the words that I say!
 Let My teaching fall on you like rain;
    let my speech settle like dew.
Let my words fall like rain on tender grass,
    like gentle showers on young plants.
 I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
    how glorious is our God!
 He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect.
    Everything He does is just and fair.
He is a faithful God who does no wrong;
    how just and upright He is!”

—Deuteronomy 32:1-4

 

 

 

The leaves on the bushes by my front door often catch my eye when raindrops have found their place on each individual one.

The water is life-giving to the plants.

Without it, they would die.

Like rain falling on us, the truths of God give us life in Him.

He is glorious!

He is the Rock!

His deeds are perfect!

He is just!

He is fair!

He is faithful!

He does no wrong!

He is just!

He is upright!

 

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All Things

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable His judgments,

and His paths beyond tracing out!

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been His counselor?”

“Who has ever given to God,

that God should repay them?”

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

—Romans 11:33-36

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God knows everything.

He knows all about us and what is happening in our lives.

That seems too difficult for us to imagine, yet He is holding all the stars in the universe in place, He is keeping all the cells in our bodies alive, and He has formed and created each individual thing on earth.

A magnificent flower, blooming in mathematical perfection draws itself upward to the sun as the earth follows a path around it prescribed by God Himself.

God knows everything.

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Everlasting Rock

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.

–Isaiah 26:4

If we trust in ourselves for guidance without God, who are we to have the answers?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

When we try to do things our way instead of His way, who are we to know what is best?

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

If we trust in God all of our lives, we are putting our confidence in an everlasting rock.

We are feeble.

We are human.

He is God.

We are to be thankful….

 

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He Will Not Leave You

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

—Deuteronomy 31:8

 

There’s a hurricane coming to my area.

It is forecast to be here in a matter of hours.

God had a plan for Joshua to lead His people after Moses.

Moses encouraged Joshua with these words:

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

—Deuteronomy 31:8

God will not leave His children.

Not in a hurricane.

Or an earthquake.

Not in a tornado.

Or a tsunami.

Not in a time of drought.

Or in a flood.

God will not leave His children or forsake them.

 

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Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

—John 14:27

A troubled heart can be calmed.

A restless mind can be quieted.

A sleepless night can be changed to one of healing rest.

A broken life can be made whole again.

Jesus gives us peace….

peace

For God is Love

 Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know Him better. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love.

—1 John 4:7-8

How can I practice loving someone else?

In what ways can I be loving and kind?

By what actions and words can I show that I am a child of God?

How will those who are around me tell that I am getting to know God better?

How can my life show others that God is love?

Your Wisdom

Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom

and spread its wings toward the south?

—Job 39:26

This morning as my husband and I were driving on a rural area of highway, I began thinking about how God places people in the lives of others.

I shared a few of my thoughts with him.

God is holding everything together–all life, all the universe.

He sustains all things.

Yet, I truly feel that He knows about us individually in a complete way.

I believe that He orchestrates things to happen, people to meet and opportunities to be in community with each other.

As for my understanding, things don’t just “happen” to us.

God is very personal to us, and at the same time, He has a sovereign plan for all of His creation.

In the book of Job, God asks many questions that lead to the answer that He is in control.

We are not in control, but we can be in fellowship with the One who is.

hawk take

The Dawn and the Sunset

They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
—Psalm 65:8

As the sun was going down behind me, bold rays were streaking across the sky above the ocean in front. 

Soft pink and cream sunbeams traveled across a velvet blue sky, silently shouting their magnificence to the world below. 

It is God who created this evening’s masterpiece of beauty. 

Plans

My husband has been building a table for our living room the past few days. 

After studying the plans and thinking of all that he would need, he went to the store and bought the lumber and other supplies required to make the table. 

There will be a day when it will sit under the mirror we have on the wall and it will be sanded and stained to a dark brown hue. 

Although it doesn’t look like that yet, I know that it will be. 

My husband could see from the plans what the table was going to look like. 

God had a plan for His people at a specific time in the Old Testament as these words spoke of:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

—Jeremiah 29:11

God has a plan for us, too. 

Right now. 

Today. 

He wants to give all who will turn to Him a future and a hope. 

He wants to offer us forgiveness. 

He wants to have us with Him for eternity. 

The plans He has for those who love Him are good. 

God can see that His plan is best. 

He knows what we are going to be when that plan is complete in us. 

He Is

A rainbow.

I knew there just had to be one.

My husband had gone into a store and I had chosen to wait in the car for him.

Thunder began to crack and lightning was nearby.

Looking out the front of the car, it was sunny.

Looking out the back window, it was a dark gray.

As it started to rain, I tried to peer behind me to see if a rainbow had formed.

Because of the lightning, I wasn’t going to venture out of the car, however.

When my husband returned, umbrella in hand, we began driving off the parking lot. As we made a turn, I saw it.

A vibrant rainbow!

Trying to photograph a rainbow with my car window down and the rain coming in was a feat for the persistent….

I have since pondered rainbows in a little different way than I have in the past.

We tend to think of troublesome times in our lives as “storms.”

We apply the word “storm” to a great many situations.

A stormy relationship.

A physical challenge.

An onslaught of something bad.

For a rainbow to form in all its dazzling brilliance, there must be rain.

As the dark clouds are depositing each drop to the ground, the light of the sun streaks across the atmosphere, creating a vision of vividly colored transparency.

While the storm is still going on—and even as it has just passed–the light shines into the darkness with a promise.

When we have those troubling times–those challenging situations and heartbreaking events–God’s light is still shining on it all.

If we turn to look, we can trust that somewhere—somewhere—He is forming a rainbow.

 

He is

 

Like an Emerald

What will Heaven be like?

I think it will be so different from anything we can imagine.

God allows us to see a glimpse of what it will be like as it is described in the book of Revelation.

We can envision an emerald rainbow glowing around the throne of God with flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder.

Can you picture in your mind what it would be like to stand in the presence of God in Heaven?

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After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

—Revelation 4:1-6a

 

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Able to Give

 

As I stood in the backyard of a friend’s house, I admired the calm scene of water as it reflected the cloudy sky and the surrounding trees.

The afternoon visit was a contemplative one.

My friend and her husband had suffered a great loss.

Their infant son—only a few days old—passed away while in the hospital recently.

I am hoping that I will be able to comfort them in the coming weeks and months.

God has comforted me during times of loss, as well.

My husband and I lost a child through miscarriage and another child in an accident.

How can I help my friends?

The Bible says,

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

2 Corinthians 1:4

Is there someone you could comfort and encourage today?

 

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Cast All

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

—1 Peter 5:7

 

Yesterday, there was a terrible tragedy about an hour’s drive from my home.

People all over the world are talking about it.

Because of our technological capabilities, people all over the world can learn of breaking news in moments.

While being informed is a good thing, it can sometimes be overwhelming, as well.

When I check the news headlines, I get an overview of all the major occurrences across the globe.

Politics, science, war.

Health, sports, natural disasters.

Weather, entertainment, economics.

When horrific things happen–like yesterday’s tragedy–it’s too great to comprehend.

There is so much to take in.

It’s overwhelming for me.

And what about those who are directly affected?

I can only imagine their consuming emotion.

What is there to do?

1 Peter 5:7 reads, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

God is greater than anything we could ever envision.

When we are anxious and troubled, distraught and undone, we can cast our emotions on Him and look to Him to comfort and to heal.

cast all

 

This Is The Way

Far from home and visiting another country, I was finally getting off the night train and walking into the station. There were specific places to go and paths to get into the proper areas of the station.

Although I did not know where I was supposed to go, there were others that did and I followed their direction.

Last night, as I was reading the Bible, a particular verse from the book of Isaiah stood out to me:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

—Chapter 30, verse 21

We do not really know the best way in any area of our lives apart from the directions given to us by God.

The verse above was concerning the people in Jerusalem, yet I feel that God gives us direction and guidance, telling us the way we should “walk.”

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