Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Give Thanks Every Day!


Give thanks to the LORD, 
for He is good;
For His lovingkindness 
is everlasting.
~Psalm 118:1, NASB


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Look for the Beauty and the Blessings


With camera in hand, I walked through the gate to my neighbor's garden. "I doubt you’ll find anything to photograph here,” she said apologetically. 

I smiled, having already spotted several things that I wanted to photograph.

She enjoys her garden most when it’s at its peak--when it’s filled with soft pastels on her hydrangeas and vibrant colors on her geraniums and roses. Indeed, it is a delight at that time; but…I also love her garden in the fall when the blooms and leaves are aging and turning beautiful shades of brown before drifting down to the ground.










Just as I can find unique beauty in the garden every season, I also find beauty in whatever season of life I’m in. Even in late fall and mid-winter, there’s beauty to be found in the garden and in life.  Although I sometimes have to look more closely to find it, it’s there!
Dear Reader, will you take a close look at your life in order to see the beauty that surrounds you? If you don’t see much that delights you in your current season or situation, will you ask God to open your eyes so you can see the blessings that surround you? The beauty and the blessings are there! Look for them! Thank Him for every one you find.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Seemingly Small

I enjoy reading about how God uses seemingly small acts of obedience to accomplish far more than we ever dreamed would happen. The “back story” to the hymn, I’m a Child of the King, proves that.

Harriet Buell wrote the words one Sunday while she was walking home from church. She submitted the song for publication. It was printed in the February 1, 1877, issue of the Northern Christian Advocate.

Six years later, when Peter Bilhorn was doing evangelistic work among the cowboys in the West, he and his traveling companions were traveling up the Missouri River on their way to Bismarck. When they stopped at Blunt one Sunday morning to unload freight, a crowd of men and boys came down to the wharf. Mr. Bilhorn took his little organ and went on the wharf-boat to sing a few songs, including I’m a Child of the King.  

He thought nothing more of it, but that was not the end of the story, as Mr. Bilhorn discovered the day he sang that same song in Rev. Moody’s church in Chicago. Afterward, a man in the back of the house stood up and talked about having heard that same song in Blunt, Dakota, two years ago. Although he was then an unsaved man, the song set him to thinking. He decided to accept Christ and was studying for the ministry.

As I reflected on that back story, I felt amazed at the wonderful ways God had used each person’s obedience. The woman, whose heart was filled with gratitude over being a “child of the King,” felt compelled to express her thoughts and to submit them to an editor who chose to publish them. Mr. Bilhorn somehow discovered the song and chose to sing it to the crowd of men and boys. At least one of them chose to believe the Good News that was shared in the simple, yet profound, words penned by Ms. Buell, words  that had finally reached him after having been passed along from person to person.


Dear Reader, since we never know how God will use us to help spread the Good News to those who do not yet know there is a God who loves them and wants to forgive them of their sins and to bring them into His family, may we eagerly do everything, even the seemingly small things, that the Holy Spirit of God prompts us to do. God will take our little and make it much!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

JOY

After reading the text of the online obituary for a 66-year-old woman I'd never met, I watched the video tribute created from photos provided by her family. I noticed how her face radiated joy in each of the photos, even in those I assumed were taken during her two-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. Whether at the beach or other vacation spot or at home or attending the birth of a grandchild or interacting with her six grandchildren…, she seemed to radiate joy and love for others and for life itself. That made me wish I had had the pleasure of knowing her.

Along about the time I read her obituary, my daily Bible readings brought me to several passages about joy. For example, Galatians 5:22 says that joy is produced by the Holy Spirit within those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Joy, along with eight other “fruit” (love, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity (faithfulness), tolerance, and self-control), will be as evident in the life of a believer as apples on a tree.

Reflecting on that prompted me to ask myself these questions, which you, Dear Reader, may want to ask yourself:
  • As others look at my life, what “fruit” (evidence, proof) is there that the Holy Spirit of Christ lives within me?
  • Is His “fruit” so evident that even those who don’t know me personally can see it and sense His presence?
  • Can they/Do they see there is a distinct (and desirable!) difference in my life than in unbelievers whose lives are controlled by their “lower nature,” which leads them to “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5: 20-21)?


I had fun coloring this card a friend gave me.






Monday, September 12, 2016

God's Inexorable Love

As always when I read books by Elisabeth Elliot, I learn so much about what it means to be a Christian and how to live like one. Currently, I'm reading her book, God's Guidance: A Slow and Certain Light, published by Revel in 1997.
While writing about the importance of obeying God, she summarizes how God's chosen people (the Israelites) failed to trust Him and how they disobeyed Him time and time again. Even so, "In countless ways he bore with them, corrected them, punished them, goaded them, and brought them to the promised land. His love for them was inexorable" (p.45).
Note: I had to look up the pronunciation and definition of the word “inexorable,” whereupon I discovered that in’ eks(uh)r(uh)b(uh)l is an adjective that means “impossible to stop or prevent.” Synonyms are: relentless, unstoppable, inescapable, inevitable, unavoidable, irrevocable, unalterable...
That brought tears to my eyes, since I know His love for me (and for you, Dear Reader) is inexorable. As I reflected on that mind-boggling truth, I recalled the passage of Scripture our minister read and explained the Sunday morning many years ago when I re-committed my life to Christ.
In that passage, the Apostle Paul is praying that the Christians at Ephesus (and you and I) would know (experience; be fully convinced of) the great love God through Christ has for us. In a portion of that powerful prayer, we find these words: "may [you] have the strength to comprehend...what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:18-19, ESV).
Believing He loves us far more than we can imagine (or hope!) and responding gladly to that love makes ALL the difference. Because He loves us completely and constantly, we want to serve Him, to obey Him, to please Him... That's a far cry from keeping His commandments because we have to!