Be On Guard

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.

—1 Corinthians 16:13

 

The Eastern Bluebird stood on the apex of my neighbor’s roof.

Looking.

Being aware.

 

Sometimes we have to get to the very top of our circumstances–above them all–and look at things from an eternal perspective.

We have to be on guard, for temptations and difficulties surround us.

No matter what, we know we can stand firm in our faith.

God is in control.

Because He is and we are not, we can be courageous.

Our strength comes from Him.

 

 

 

 

 

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He Gives Strength

If I accidentally spilled a bag of dry beans on my kitchen floor, it would be hard to clean up, but I could do it.

With a broom and dust pan in hand,  I could gather them all up in a few moments.

If I worked for a food outlet and I accidentally knocked over a pallet of dry beans in the warehouse while driving a fork lift, tearing several large bags open on the floor, it would be hard to clean up, but I could do it.

It would, however, take a while.

If I worked for a farming company and 2,000 pounds of dry beans going through a broken silo chute were accidentally spilled onto the ground, it would be tremendously hard to clean up, and I don’t think I could do it.

Not by myself.

In reality, I couldn’t do any of these things without God’s help.

It is God who would give me health enough to bend over and clean a kitchen floor.

It is God who would give me strength enough to clean up a warehouse floor.

All the things I have ever thought that I was handling by myself were actually being taken care of by me, with God right there with me.

Feeling self-sufficient and not feeling the need for God is not a choice that will ever serve any of us well.

As we encounter things in life that we can’t handle–things much more important than a silo of spilled beans–we realize that we need God.

We have always needed God, but we may not have always known that we needed Him.

When we do realize our need for God, we are drawn closer to Him.

We see more of ourselves as we truly are and more of God as He truly is.

We begin to admit our weaknesses as we being to declare His strengths.

 

 

 

 

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

–Isaiah 40:29

 

 

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Look to the Lord

Look to the Lord and His strength;
    seek His face always.

—1 Chronicles 16:11

 

 

What should we do when we pray and then we don’t understand what happens next?

What if situations in our lives seem confusing, even though we have prayed about them?

God’s thoughts are not ours and His timing is not our timing.

His understanding of every human heart is beyond our comprehension.

No matter what happens to us, we are to look to God and His strength.

We need to always be seeking Him.

He knows what is best.

 

 

 

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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

 

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Seek

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually!

—1 Chronicles 16:11

 

 

We cannot separate our journey into a spiritual life and a secular life.

Who were are on Sunday at church should be who we are on Monday through Saturday.

God is always with us.

Throughout every day of the week, He is there.

We must look for Him and what He is doing.

We must look to Him for our strength.

We must seek His presence.

Every day.

Not just Sunday.

 

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New Strength

Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

—Isaiah 40:31

 

Are you tired today?

Weary?

Ready to give up?

The LORD can give you new strength.

New energy.

A new vision for the future….

 

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The Rock

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As for God, His way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    He shields all who take refuge in Him.
 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

—Psalm 18:30-32

the rock

Seek the Lord

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I am really glad we have lenses that allow us to see things that we otherwise could not.

We have eyeglasses to help us to see around us.

We have magnifying glasses and microscopes to help us view what is tiny.

We have binoculars and telescopes to help us see what is far away.

Because of these finely crafted pieces of glass, we have found great wonders.

But how does one search for God?

By looking at what He has made, we see His power and creativity.

Seeking God, longing to know more of Him, wanting to be closer to Him, cannot be aided by glass alone.

As we pray with open hearts, we find Him there.

As we read His word, we learn of His presence and love throughout the ages and into our very present lives.

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Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His presence continually!

—1 Chronicles 16:11

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seek

And With My Song

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The melodic sound of the cardinal rang out all through the yard.

He had found his way to the very top of one of the tallest trees.

There, for all to hear, he sang….

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The Lord is my strength and my shield;

my heart trusts in Him,

and He helps me.

My heart leaps for joy,

and with my song

I praise Him.

—Psalm 28:7

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my song

On Wings Like Eagles

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Do you feel weary today?

Are you weak?

Are you tired?

Are you stumbling, feeling like you’ve fallen too far to get back up?

There is hope for you, for me and for all of us.

That hope is in the Lord.

I photographed an eagle yesterday.

The wingspan was wide and powerful looking.

If we hope in the Lord, the Bible tells us we will renew our strength and we will soar on wings like eagles.

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Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

—Isaiah 40:28-31

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eagles frame

Whose Own Strength

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God describes a ruthless people known as the Chaldeans in the Old Testament book of Habakkuk.

As I was reading the description, a line stood out to me–

“Then they sweep past like the wind and go on– guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

–Habakkuk 1:11

They were a people who were feared because they would go out in war and conquer other nations.

Becoming so powerful, I suppose their ability to achieve and maintain this reputation might have been the thing they were most proud of.

Their own strength being their god?

They must have been consumed with their own importance and presumed greatness.

I heard someone reading the other day.

They read, “God helps those who help themselves.”

In pondering those words this afternoon, I thought how this is not correct.

God helps the helpless.

He helps you.

He helps me.

Our frail strength should never be something we trust in.

Any of our successes are blessings from God.

We need to look to God for all our strength.

We should praise Him for all our successes—always.

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own strength

Look to the LORD

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Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always.

–1 Chronicles 16:11

Where can we find the strength of the LORD?

Do we find it as we see the moon above us, held perfectly in place?

Do we find it as we hear the waves of the ocean crashing onto the shore, remaining within its boundaries?

Do we find it in the mathematical patterns of plants?

Can it be found in the miracle of birth?

Can it be felt as guilt and shame are forgiven?

Can it be perceived in an answered prayer?

Do we seek His face in the midst of joy?

Do we seek His face in the trial of pain?

Do we seek His face in each of our decisions?

In all things, we must look to the LORD.

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look fr

Your Strength

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It wasn’t exactly a tree house, although it was certainly nestled in the trees.

The weathered wood of the simple structure blended in well with the flowering branches surrounding it.

More of a tiny house on stilts, it stood high off the ground.

Spanish moss draped serenely from the trees.

Dried leaves had fallen to the sloping roof, settling down to form a rust colored carpet to match the blooms above it.

Who spends time up there?

What do they do?

Is it a neighborhood clubhouse for children?

An artist’s workshop?

Perhaps a quiet place for reflection and  prayer.

Taking time to listen for God’s direction is very important.

As recorded in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God spoke to the children of Israel:

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.”

—Chapter 30, verse 15

Repentance.

Rest.

Quietness.

Trust.

The words seem to reach out and beckon us to come closer.

Closer to knowing God more fully.

Closer to inner peace.

I may not have a tree house, but I can still find a place to……..

listen.

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quietness

For All Endurance

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They all seemed to come at once.

At the end of my street where it adjoins a highway, suddenly there was a large group of bicyclists approaching at a respectable speed.

Their bodies working hard to propel them on the pavement, they were dressed in various colored biking clothes, wearing helmets for protection.

They were most likely in an organized race; a very common thing in this area.

It takes endurance and strength to do something like that.

Mile after mile, legs pushing, hearts pounding, with eyes alert for cars and any obstacles on the road.

I never hear a dedicated bicyclist complain about hating it.

Just the opposite seems true.

It seems that bicyclists are eager to ride and just as eager to join with others for the experience.

As believers in Jesus, we should be eager to live each day for Him.

He is the one who gives us strength and power in every situation we find ourselves in.

Our endurance and inner joy comes from Him.

Day after day, we have purpose and meaning that is made known in all our encounters, as we speak and act as Jesus would have us to.

Like the bicyclists I saw this morning, we are on the journey together, traveling a roads that He sets before us according to His divine plan.

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,  giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

—Colossians 1:11-14

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strengthened

Ever-Present Help

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It was a day to relax, mostly.

Reclining on the beach with friends, I looked out toward the water.

There was peace.

The steady, yet calm roar of the waves never ceased.

Predictable…..

Consistent…..

Then, I saw it!

What was that?

My friends hadn’t noticed, but I peered more closely toward the water.

Something jumped a couple of feet above the sand and flopped back down.

It did it again!

Could a jellyfish do that?

Ever curious, I got out of my luxury lawn chair, complete with a built in neck pillow, cup holder and supply bag and started walking toward the object in question.

As I grew closer, I realized what it was.

A TREE FROG!

He had his arms tucked under him as he sat still in my presence.

Along with sunglasses and sunscreen, I had decided to bring my camera to the beach.

It was time to take a few photos before embarking on the task of getting the little creature back to a more hospitable environment.

One of my friends had a ball cap on, which came in very handy when trying to catch a hopping frog.

When she had him secured, she walked to the nearest area of palm trees and other foliage to let him go.

The adventure complete, we settled back into our chairs, basking in the sun and the mist of the sea.

Still, I couldn’t help but wonder….how did that frog get to the beach?

After some thought, I decided that he could have hopped into someone’s fishing supplies.

Maybe in a garage miles away, an unsuspecting sportsman picked up a bucket or bag, placed it into their truck and transported it with the tiny, green stowaway on board.

How he got there was not really the important thing, however.

Getting him back to a safe place was.

 

People do this all the time, you know.

Surroundings look interesting and relatively safe, like a bag or bucket with fisherman’s gear.

We crawl in, feeling quite accomplished.

Before we know it, we decide it’s time to hop out, but when we do, things have changed.

Tall, leafy trees and damp, green grass have been replaced by salt water and burning hot sand as far as the eye can see.

In a panic, we jump high into the air, not realizing that doing so alerts predators to our presence in an unforgiving and hostile place.

Even so, God is watching.

He knows where we are when we ourselves do not.

He knows the danger when we venture into the bag.

He watches us as we are filled with fear when we see where our decisions have taken us.

He knows we can’t live in the salty waves.

When we hop frantically on the shore, He can pick us up and take us to a place—

a safe place we can call home.

 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

—Psalm 146:1-3

 

 

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