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!

 

tendergrass

Then It’s Gone

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.–James 4:14

 

I live very close to one of the most visited cities in the world.

What brings so many visitors?

There is a very large and famous theme park there.

Various tickets are available to those who want to enjoy all the park has to offer.

One day admission tickets are available, as well as several days.

If I were planning a trip to this theme park for just one day, I would want to see and do all that I could, since my time there would be over quickly.

There would be rides to ride, shows to see and many things to experience on my list of priorities.

I would want to plan out the day, making sure that what was important to me would not be missed.

Our lives are  a lot like that, aren’t they?

Some people, though rare, live past one hundred years.

Many people live into their eighties.

But no one lives on this earth forever.

We are here a short time.

We have a one-life “ticket” and then we must move on–to eternity.

Understanding that, we should plan for what is most important.

While we are here on earth, having a relationship with God is more important than anything.

We’re like morning fog–we’re here for only a little while.

Then, we’re gone.

 

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It Determines the Course

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

—Proverbs 4:23

Fences.

They keep things in.

They keep things out.

They protect.

They guard.

At the very existence of a fence, it is reasonable to recognize that something or someone needed protection.

No one can really see a fence around our hearts.

It could be a harmful fence, keeping God out.

It could be a helpful fence, keeping sin and temptation at bay.

It could be a harmful fence, keeping sin and temptations close inside.

It could be a helpful fence, keeping God close inside.

As followers of Jesus, we need to guard our hearts from the lure and the harm of evil.

Our hearts will determine the course of our lives.

guard

The Breath

The Spirit of God has made me,
    and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

–Job 33:4

 

As I walked over the wooden bridge, I paused to watch a small turtle surfacing in the water below me.

With his little neck stretched up into the air, he was sustaining his life as he took a breath.

It pleased God to make turtles, as it pleased Him to make all His creatures.

He designed this particular type to have the need to come up for air every now and then.

Air gives us life, as well.

If we cease to breathe, we cease to live.

Yet, if we did not have God’s breath in us, we would never have existed.

It is God who gives and sustains our lives.

 

breath

The Road That Leads

Jesus said:

 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

–Matthew 7:13-14

On any given day, we can see hundreds of vehicles pass us as we travel to and from work.

How many of those cars, trucks and vans would there be transporting people who know Jesus and are destined for Heaven when they die?

How many vehicles would be transporting people who are lost without Him?

I am afraid that there would be many more people traveling by who do not know Jesus as they Savior than those who do.

Is there someone you know that you could invite to church this week?

Is there someone you work with that you could talk to about your faith?

destruction

Shadow

Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.
Psalm 144:4
On the radio today, I heard some announcements. 

Evidently, the station must encourage listeners to inform them of people who are 100 years old or more. The announcers were wishing a few centenarians a happy birthday. 

Living to be a hundred years is quite a long time. 

So many changes would take place in such a long span of time. 

People do not usually live very many years past one hundred. 

God has placed a boundary of time in our earthly existence. 

He gives us life, although it is brief. 

It is up to us whether we live the life we have been given in a way that honors God—or not. 

  

Control Your Mind

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.  For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.  That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

—Romans 8:5-8

What do I want to be controlled by?

Dominated by?

Do I want death or do I want life and peace?

Each of us must make that choice.

 

 

 

sinful

Vapor

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Our lives are important.

What we do every day is important.

Every minute.

Every hour.

God has given us time to spend.

May we have the wisdom to spend it wisely….

 

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Yet

you do not know

what your life

will be like

tomorrow.

You are

just a vapor

that appears

for a little while

and then

vanishes away.

—James 4:14

 

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vapor

Life is in the Way

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Life is in the way of those who are right with God, and in its path there is no death.

 –Proverbs 12:28

Because of Jesus.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me.

Because of Jesus and what He did for me by paying the penalty for my sins.

Because of Jesus, I am right with God.

What path is before me?

Everlasting life.

No death.

Because of Jesus.

Do you know Him today?

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life is in

The Life

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It was huge….

As I was walking to my office at work today, I found that an intricately beautiful moth was very near my door on the brick.

With a closed wing length of probably 3 1/2 inches, he could hardly be missed.

Every detail of his appearance was amazing.

With wings that looked like a finely crafted rug and feathery antennae perfectly aligned and proportioned, it was truly a marvel to behold.

Everything that God has made is wondrous!

Job 12:10 tells us,

“In His hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind.”

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breath

Imperishable

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So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.

— 1 Corinthians 15:42-48

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perishable

The Light of Life

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The grass would not have been alive without having the sunlight.

Trees growing at the edge of the sloping field would not have had leafy branches.

Growing vibrantly green, both had been nurtured by the life-giving light.

Jesus is our light.

We are alive because of Him.

He is the light of life.

Do you know Him today?

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When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

—John 8:12

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follows Me

And Narrow the Road

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It was a new place for me.

I had never hiked there before.

A path was split, with a fence bordering only one.

Which was the best way to go?

Did each path lead to the same place or to quite different destinations?

Jesus said,

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

—Matthew 7:13-14

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gate

His Love Among Us

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Waterfalls capture my attention whenever I am near.

Something about the flowing water and the cascading patterns of rock and foam intrigue me as they quietly bid me to come closer.

Constantly moving, yet ever the same, the water is still as glass before the descent begins, reflecting the surroundings like an elegant mirror beneath the sky.

There is a popular Christian song that compares God’s love to a waterfall.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Running wild and free
You hear my heart when I call, when I call
Deep calls to deep
Your love is like a waterfall, waterfall
Raining down on me

Waterfall, waterfall

Oh God, my God I seek You
In this dry and desert land
You lead me to streams of mercy
Once again

(Chris Tomlin, “Waterfall”)

1 John 4:9 reads,This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him.

God’s love is like a waterfall.

When we believe in His Son, we have life that flows over us, sealed forever by His love and forgiveness.

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His love frame

Who Believes

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When I got up this morning, I was planning to go to a funeral later in the day.

The sister of a dear friend of mine had passed away after battling cancer.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call with the news that my cousin, who was also battling cancer, had died.

Both my friend’s sister and my cousin were Christians.

I know they are both with Jesus now and that is a comfort to me and to their families.

After leaving the funeral this afternoon, I drove to the cemetery.

As I was leaving the grounds, I noticed some beautiful red flowers blooming at the entrance by a brick wall.

Flowers so vibrant and full of life!

For those of us who know Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we will live for eternity with Him.

Vibrant and full of life, as well.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in the conversation between Jesus and Martha when her brother, Lazarus, had died, just before He raised Him to life.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

—John 11:23-27

My cousin and my friend’s sister believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.

Do you?

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even though

Even Though They Die

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He had many friends and he invested his life in others tirelessly.

A friend and mentor to one of my sons, died at this time of year awhile back.

His widow recently purchased flowers for the church sanctuary in his memory.

I received a call from the church secretary, telling me that she had asked that I take the flowers home after the Sunday services.

Feeling honored, I did just that.

The arrangement was a beautiful addition to my home for many days.

When some of the flowers began to wilt, I removed the lively ones and placed them into two different vases.

There, they continued to brighten my kitchen for quite some time.

Today was a cloudy day, with soft white light filtered from the sun.

Deciding to take one of the bouquets outside for a photograph, I placed them on the walkway leading to my front door.

My friend’s husband loved the Lord and he loved other people.

I believe he is alive today with Jesus.

How can I know that?

In the Gospel of John, there is the account of a man named Lazarus from a town called Bethany who had two sisters named Mary and Martha.

Jesus was close to all three.

Lazarus became ill and died, so Jesus traveled to their home to see them.

Here are a few verses from that account:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

—John 11:20-26

As the passage continues, Jesus tells someone to move the stone from the opening of the tomb.

He then calls to Lazarus to come out.

Very much alive again, Lazarus obeys!

My friend believed in Jesus.

Even though he died, he lives.

In fact, it’s as though he never really died, because he went immediately from life here to life in Heaven with Jesus.

I believe this.

Do you believe this?

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live again final

He Sees the Wolf Coming

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It was a very captivating nature movie, showcasing the lives of a mother bear and her two cubs.

To be honest, I didn’t want to miss a thing as I looked intently at each scene.

Drawing a deeper meaning than what was actually on the screen, a particular part of the movie really made an impression.

The movie was narrated, but the “acting” wasn’t acting at all, since it was just the filming of bears in the wild.

The narrator simply explained some of what was happening, adding comments of interest.

At one point, the mother bear and two very small cubs were walking together.

The narrator points out that a predator has come onto the scene.

A stealthy wolf is walking slowing with a determined gait, his eyes locked onto the cubs.

He means them total harm, without apology.

The camera zooms in on his cold, hard gaze as he continues to move forward with undaunted resolve.

Zooming out, the viewers see the mother bear and cubs walking along, unaware of the danger immediately behind them.

What was it that I was seeing in all this?

I realized that the bears were like people.

We can be looking ahead, unaware of the danger, as Satan lurks quietly behind us, with a resolute intent to harm.

As the wolf’s lean legs planted each step with purpose, I could picture the Enemy moving forward, silent and vicious, waiting to attack you and me.

We are definitely just tiny cubs in this world.

Yet, we need not fear.

As we walk along, Jesus is with us.

He is aware of the “wolf” following behind.

He warns us of the “wolf’s” presence.

He will not leave our side.

Jesus speaks of us in the Bible as being His sheep.

He is our Shepherd:

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.  I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.  The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

When the Enemy lurks behind us, we are not alone.

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have life

In This House

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As I walked up to the old house, I knew immediately that I wanted to photograph it.

Constructed of wood, the porch was suspended by some large stones on the corner.

The weathered roof was a wavy metal and the windows were plain, yet serviceable.

If we consider our bodies to be like a house that is getting older, we might wish that we could get a new one, except we are accustomed to who we are right now.

God knows we are fragile and wearing.

He has a plan.

One day, those who know Jesus as their Savior will have a new house–a new body–that will not grow old or ill.

This new body will live forever, as death will have been forever swallowed by life…

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For as we are now in this house, we are made to groan by its weight, and we do not want to strip it off, but to put on over it, that its mortality may be swallowed up by life.

–2 Corinthians 5:4

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mortality

Swallowed Up

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People we love and care about pass from this life.

We cannot keep it from happening.

Because Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, we do not have to enter eternity without hope.

If we accept His gift of eternal life and believe in Him, we are promised life after death.

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I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,

nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Behold! I tell you a mystery.

We shall not all sleep,

but we shall all be changed,

in a moment,

in the twinkling of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound,

and the dead will be raised imperishable,

and we shall be changed.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable,

and this mortal body must put on immortality.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable,

and the mortal puts on immortality,

then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
 “O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:50-55

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swallowed

Without Blemish or Defect

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Christmas.

A time to remember that God sent His Son, Jesus, to the world.

He sent Him for us–to redeem us from death and bring us to life.

He was a lamb without blemish or defect.

Our Savior.

Jesus.

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

–1 Peter 1:17-21

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lamb without

Shortcuts to God

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Self-help books.

Besides school texts, self-help books are probably the most numerous species of literature thriving in my in-home shelf habitat.

For some reason, I have had quite an interest in the past years in learning how to make life better.

Do these things and…….this will happen.

Think this way and…….this occurs.

There are so many “you can make big changes on your own if you read this” books out there on the market.

Lose weight.

Gain weight.

Get happy.

Stay happy.

Get rich.

Get simple.

Get more.

Get less.

Wear this.

Don’t wear that.

Whatever you want to improve, there’s probably a written guide somewhere to help you achieve your goal.

These written offerings can be quite insightful.

I have personally learned a lot through the years by purchasing books here and there that have spoken toward my eventual success in some area.

The fact is, I get to choose what to read.

If the words on the page suggest unlikely shortcuts to my goal, a red flag of concern should go up.

I shouldn’t even hope to lose ten pounds in a week or look ten years younger in a month.

Changes like that must take time to be effective and not harmful.

Shortcuts to success are not usually a true way to success at all.

What about shortcuts to God?

John 14:6 reads,

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Think of it this way:

Suppose a 5k race is scheduled on a path around a large lake.

Runners must stay on the path and arrive on the other side at the finish line.

There is one person in charge at the finish line to verify who has crossed by them.

Anyone trying to take a shortcut by running over a bridge to get to the other side of the lake will miss the proper finish line and will be disqualified.

There are so many shortcuts to God that are promoted.

If you are just good enough, you will go to Heaven.

If you give of yourself, volunteering or working for others, you will go to Heaven.

If you achieve a particular goal in life, you will go to Heaven.

The list could go on and on.

The problem with these statements is, none of them says that we must come to God through Jesus.

They are like a bridge that will not lead to the true finish line.

If we want to find our way to God, the Bible tells us how.

Do these things and…….this will happen.

If we put our faith and trust in Jesus as our Savior, repenting and asking for forgiveness, we will live forever in Heaven when we die.

Think this way and…….this occurs.

If we believe that God is faithful and that He has forgiven us, we feel a peace and inner joy knowing that fact.

No shortcuts.

Only the way, the truth and the life.

 

 

Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

–Matthew 7:13-14  The Message

 

 

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shortcuts final