I Am The Vine

I am the vine;

you are the branches.

If you remain in Me

and I in you,

you will bear much fruit;

apart from Me

you can do nothing.

—John 15:5

 

I can never, ever make this statement without it being false:

“I can bear fruit in God’s kingdom apart from Jesus.”

It’s not a true statement for me.

It’s not a true statement for you, either.

The branches must stay connected to the vine.

 

 

vine correct

The World

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

—John 3:16

 

I went to a party recently.

On the table, I saw a large bowl of many colored jelly beans……….

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When I was a child, I learned a song about the love of God.

Specifically, how He loves children.

All children.

The song speaks of various ethnic groups, but it applies to the differences in each of us, no matter what they are.

“Jesus loves the little children.

All the children of the world.

Red and yellow, black and white,

they are precious in His sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

All the children and everyone else, too.

Hair color, eye color, skin color.

Man or woman.

From this country or that country.

With this name or that name.

He creates each of us uniquely.

We are one of a kind, different from everyone else.

It doesn’t matter who we are— Jesus died for us.

God gave His one and only Son so that we might not perish but have eternal life with Him.

Right now—today—know this:

You are precious in His sight.

 

 

the world

 

 

Wind and Waves

I listened to a sermon this evening about Jesus calming the wind and waves.

Recently, I heard a song that spoke of how the wind and waves “still know His Name.”

Jesus can control every storm.

Nothing is too difficult for Him.

Dangerous is a word that applies to what could harm us.

There is nothing dangerous to Jesus…

 

One day Jesus said to His disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and started out.  As they sailed across, Jesus settled down for a nap. But soon a fierce storm came down on the lake. The boat was filling with water, and they were in real danger.

 The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

When Jesus woke up, He rebuked the wind and the raging waves. Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.  Then He asked them, “Where is your faith?”

The disciples were terrified and amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “When He gives a command, even the wind and waves obey Him!”

—Luke 8:22-25

 

 

 

wind waves

He Was Wounded

But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.

—Isaiah 53:5

Michael W. Smith wrote a song titled, “Above All.”

“Crucified

Laid behind the stone

You lived to die

Rejected and alone

Like a rose trampled on the ground

You took the fall

And thought of me

Above all”

Jesus died for me. 

Jesus died for you. 

But With God

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

—Matthew 19:26

 

“That will never happen.”

“They will never change.”

“That marriage is over.”

“I will never get that job.”

“I can’t go to college.”

“No one will ever love me.”

“There’s no cure for this.”

How many times during the day do we limit what God can do with our words and thoughts?

It is so very important to pray about everything that concerns us.

With God, all things are possible….

 

 

possible

He Is Not Here

He is not here; He has risen!

From Luke 24:6
As I got up from the pew to exit the church, I noticed a banner displayed in a corner to my right. 

Victory. 

An empty tomb. 

A stone rolled away. 

A dazzling light. 

Jesus is alive!

He is victorious over death. 

He is victorious over all evil. 

What does that mean for us?

If Jesus is standing with us, what power is there that can defeat us?

In every moment–when trouble comes–Jesus is standing with us. 

We must remember: Jesus is victorious!

Your Light Has Come

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.

See, darkness covers the earth

and thick darkness is over the peoples,

but the Lord rises upon you

and His glory appears over you.

Nations will come to your light,

and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

—Isaiah 60:1-3

As for me, many years ago, a light came into my heart as I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

Darkness covered me–a thick darkness that separated me from His forgiveness.

A darkness of unwillingness to give my life to Him.

A darkness of doubt mixed with fear and shame.

Yet, the love of Jesus rose up in my heart one day and the brightness of salvation came to me.

In asking for forgiveness, I received it from Him.

In desiring His divine guidance for my life, He gave it.

By asking Him to be my Lord, He became just that.

Do you know Jesus today?

your light

 

With Your Counsel

What does it mean to depend on God?

For those who say that they do not depend on Him, what is it that they are doing instead?

If we make our own decisions without consulting Him, are we depending on Him?

If we try to handle the tasks of the day–and, ultimately, the tasks of our life–on our own strength, are we depending on Him?

To go our own way–our own direction–without His guidance and permission, is to choose disappointment and adversity.

It may not seem to be the path that we are on at first, but in the end, we will find that our independence has been our undoing.

God is well aware of our need for dependence on Him.

He welcomes us to come before Him in prayer on any matter.

He offers forgiveness and guidance to every seeking heart.

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.

With Your counsel You will guide me, And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?

And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

—Psalm 73:23-25

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

counsel

Bright Light

The people who lived in darkness have seen a bright light. A light has risen for those who live in a land overshadowed by death.

—–Matthew 4:16

The trees at my friend’s house had branches filled with green leaves.

While sitting outside and enjoying the late afternoon, I noticed that the sun had set just close enough to the horizon that its powerful light was shining almost straight on the trees.

The branches, with their green leaves, along with the bark on the trunk, did not just simply become more visible.

They began to glow with an intensely amber color.

I quickly photographed the scene before the sun was completely gone.

Theses trees were totally transformed in color because of the light.

Some of the branches were just out of the sun’s penetrating rays.

They remained green.

The tree closest to me appeared dark and untouched by the bathing yellow radiance.

When Jesus came, those who lived in darkness could now be bathed in His great light.

His light of love and salvation.

His light of forgiveness and hope.

His light of eternal life.

When He came, everything changed.

Do you know of His love?

Do you know of His forgiveness and hope?

He is waiting for you today to call out to Him in prayer.

It’s not too late…..

bright-light

Your Needs

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.

–Philippians 4:19

 

It wasn’t what I had planned at all.

I wanted to have a peaceful, wonderful day.

Actually, it turned out to be that way, but I wasn’t feeling well.

Having developed a fever and sore throat the day before, I wasn’t up to doing everything I had hoped to.

Still, the morning was beautiful, so I decided to step out into the yard and take a few photos in the early mist.

A squirrel was playfully moving about on a tree.

He was having a good day.

By watching him, I began to experience a certain happiness.

It’s like that for me.

As I look at my surroundings and notice the beauty of what God has created, I begin to feel a happy calmness.

As the verse above speaks of the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus, it seems to me that God will provide our needs, whatever they are.

Spiritual needs.

Physical needs.

Relational needs.

All our needs.

Even as He was healing my body of a sore throat and fever, He was giving me calm through the morning mist and the company of a scampering little squirrel.

 

your-needs

For God So Loved

After leaving a friend’s house tonight, I was driving home. 

Listening to the radio as I went down the highway, a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a while. 

I had been praying for someone who feels that God doesn’t love them. 

Suddenly, part of the lyrics just struck me:

This is what I’m sure of, I can only show love

When I really know how loved I am

(Steven Curtis Chapman)
The person I’d been praying for needs to know deep within their heart that God loves them. 

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16


Born to You

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. 

—Luke 2:11
This morning, after the Christmas Day church service was over, I paused as I was walking out by a  stained glass window. 

It was depicting Jesus, our Savior. 

His arms were outstretched and welcoming. 

On a night in Bethlehem, Jesus was born. 

When that happened, everything changed. 

Everything changed for all people everywhere. 

Death forever because of sin with no redemption would now be only for those who choose not to believe in Jesus. 

When Jesus was born, so was the only way to escape the punishment we deserved. 

Jesus would one day pay the penalty for our sin, offering us eternity with Him. 

A Savior—One who could save us—had come to the earth as a baby. 

Take the word, “you” out of the following scripture and insert your own name:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to _______; He is the Messiah, the Lord. 

Born to Tom. 

Born to Robert. 

Born to Jason.

Born to Kayla. 

Born to Liz. 

Born to Kathy. 

Every name of every person on earth could be placed in that scripture and it would still be true. 

If you have not accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life, please don’t delay. 

Pray and tell Him that you believe He died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sin. 

Repent of those things you have done that displeased Him. 

Ask Him to be the Lord of your life, giving you guidance. 

It’s not too late—–you can pray right now. 

A Savior has been born—to you. 

The Set Time

We know how long it takes for a baby to form before it is born.

We know how long it takes for certain crops to mature, ready for harvest.

We know how long it takes for the earth to make its journey around the sun.

Yet, there are so many things that we have no idea how long we will have to wait for.

In fact, we are not even sure that some of the things we are waiting for will ever take place.

God sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth at just the right time.

Jesus was not early in coming, nor was He late.

In our own lives, God is in control of time.

We pray, and God answers in His time frame.

He will never be late with an answered prayer.

He will never be early with an answered prayer.

When the set time has come, He will work in the lives of His children according to His will.

Through faith, we must trust Him completely to care for us as our all-knowing Father.

 

~

 

But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman,

born under the law,  to redeem those under the law,

that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Because you are His sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child;

and since you are His child, God has made you also an heir.

—Galatians 4:4-7

 

set-time

I Will Help You

There’s a popular song out now that I hear on the radio a lot.

It’s “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns.

Here are part of the lyrics:

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

 

I was recently privileged to hold a three month old goat.

It was cold outside and the little thing simply allowed me to hold him in my arms and rock him side to side for about twenty minutes.

I think he just about went to sleep, even though there were a lot of people walking around us.

He was trusting.

He was calm.

He was relaxed.

He wasn’t struggling to get away.

In fact, he seemed content and happy—just being held.

Can you just picture yourself as a little child, resting in Jesus’s arms?

Just allowing Him to rock you side to side as you drift to sleep, even though there are a lot of things happening all around you?

Can you picture yourself there?

Being trusting?

Being calm?

Being relaxed?

Not struggling to get away?

Content and happy–-just being held?

So, when we are on our knees in prayer, or in our car in prayer or at work in prayer, and answers seem so far away, can we trust that we are not alone?

Can we trust that Jesus is at work and that things in our lives are falling into place?

Can we understand that God is on His throne and He is in control–not us?

Can we stop struggling and just be held?

 

~

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

—Isaiah 41:13

 

help-you

Strengthens

 

I have read that some ducks can fly at speeds of 50 miles per hour or greater for a sustained length of time.

Ducks can also fly for hours.

It makes me think of people who run marathons….

There are times in our lives where we feel like we are in situations in which we are running “marathons” or trying to have the strength to “fly” long distances.

Extended illnesses, military deployments, relationship struggles—plus countless other circumstances that require personal strength to get through—compel us to look to Jesus for help.

He is with us.

Do you believe?

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

—Philippians 4:13

 

strengthens.jpg

With You

The eleven disciples went to the hill in Galilee where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him, even though some of them doubted. Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”

—Matthew 28:16-20

 

Even though we may feel alone, we are not.

Even though we may doubt, Jesus remains the same.

Even though the end of the age may come, Jesus will be with us, always…

 

 

with-you

All Your Need

But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:19
Philippians 4:19 was perhaps the first verse I can remember memorizing. 

I was in college, and newly married, I believe. 

It was a very good verse to know, because it is true that God will provide. 

Today I am thankful for the great blessings God has given me. 

They are too many to list. 

Now, at the end of the day, as I sit in a quiet house with my cat lying on the chair with me, I am thoughtful. 

Is there anything that I have ever needed or that I will ever need that God cannot provide according to His riches in glory?

If I need a car, He’s able to provide one. 

If I need a home, He’s able to provide that, too. 

But it’s much more than that. 

He is able to provide salvation for me. 

He is able to provide healing in my relationships. 

He is able to provide guidance and strength. 

He is able to provide a peaceful heart. 

All my need—supplied. 

Through His riches in glory. 

By Christ Jesus. 

The Peace of Christ

It was a different kind of day at work.

That’s because I really wasn’t at work, exactly.

I spent the day at a community center, taking part in a special training.

Walking into the room, I recognized only two people in the crowd.

Throughout the training seminar, there were times when I was deep in thought, processing all of the new material through my mind.

When the last session was over, people began to exit the building, walking to their cars.

I did that, as well, but looking out in front of the parking lot, there was a railroad track with a large lake beyond it.

It had been a cloudy and overcast day and the misty lake scene drew my interest.

Placing my things into the car, I took my cell phone with me as I walked to the railroad track and beyond.

Standing toward the edge of the lake, I photographed a visual representation of serenity.

Things were tranquil.

Calm.

I probably needed that.

I’m not exactly sure what emotions compelled me to walk toward the water.

Perhaps I needed to pause for a moment and just take in the peaceful, gray surroundings.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

—Colossians 3:15

rule

The Sign of the Covenant

On this day, 11 years ago, our second son was killed in a car accident.

Some time after that, our family was returning home at night after a very emotional day of dealing with matters concerning the incident.

It had been raining, but the clouds were making way for a clear evening.
The rising moon was glowing in the eastern sky as we arrived at our house.

Something strange and unusual, however, was in the western sky.
We had never seen anything like it.
I tried to photograph the scene, but it was too dark outside.

Looking past our roof, there appeared to be a rainbow.
A rainbow in the dark!

Rushing inside, I quickly went to the computer and typed in something like, “rainbows at night.”

To my surprise, it was a phenomenon that was well documented.
We were looking at a moon bow, or by another name, a lunar rainbow.

Being quite rare, none of us had ever seen one.

As far as I know, no one in our family has seen one since.

Now, I know that rainbows have a purpose…

In the Bible, we have the account of the flood that covered the earth.
When the flood was over, God spoke:

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between Me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

This account is found in Genesis 9:8-16.

I think God sent the moon bow to me and my family that night long ago.

It proclaimed God’s work of beauty in the sky in a way previously unknown to us.

At the time, I knew in my heart that this occurrence was very special.
Even now, as I think back to that evening when our hearts were hurting, I see God’s comfort in a mighty way.

Could it be that He was reminding us of a covenant He had made about our eternity?

If you have ever “lost” a child in a store or in a park, you’ve felt that sick, empty fear, wondering desperately where they were.

God promises us that whoever believes in His Son, Jesus, will live forever with Him in Heaven.

In John 11:25-26, Jesus is speaking to a woman named Martha, whose brother had just died:
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

When we found out that our son had died, it was like a giant door weighing tons had just been shut, separating us.

In that first instant, something deep inside my heart as his mother had to cry out silently from within, wondering desperately where he was.

The answer to that cry is found in Jesus’ words above.

Our son had professed his belief in God and in Jesus many years before his death.
I still have the worn Bible that he read from every night.

The lunar rainbow?

Was it God reminding me then— and even now as I recall it— that my son was with His Son, in Heaven?

A covenant of redemption that would not be broken for those who belong to Jesus?

Our son is in Heaven, yet I remain here.

I believe that if he could talk to me now, he would want me to tell others how they could be in Heaven someday, too.

As I think of him tonight, the memories are huge in my heart.

But, I know this:
Our son is alive in Heaven.

I will see him again…

sign-covenant

Who Performs Miracles

Miracles.

They really do happen.

They happen because they are the business of God and God is at work.

A miracle happened just weeks ago when a friend for whom I had been praying for over a ten year period stood in my church with her family, seeking prayer.

A miracle happened today when I had a conversation about Jesus with someone that I have been praying earnestly for.

Both of these precious people are opening up to change and acknowledging their need for God.

I have witnessed and been a part of other miracles, as well.

It is important to pray.

It is not just important, it is of eternal significance.

I praise God for His work in the lives of the two people I just mentioned.

Even when we cannot see when miracles are on the way, they are still on the way.

You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples.

—Psalm 77:14

miracles