If you look up, you can see the sky and the clouds, the sun, moon and stars. God made all of them. If you look down, you can see the grass, flowers, trees all of the living creatures. God made all of them. How can anyone deny the existence of God when everything around us shows us His loving care? Even the rain that can be a nuisance when you have planned a beach trip is from God’s loving providence. The rain that annoys you makes the food in the fields grow. I am ever grateful for God’s creation and the way He has set an order to everything. I have only to look around me to see the proof of God’s loving kindness and tender care.
From the Holy Bible
Some Thoughts about Light
“Be the light!” the preacher proclaims from the pulpit. “Shine in the darkness,” says the Sunday school teacher. All good advice, but the practicality sometimes escapes us as we hurry away from the darkness and try to stay near the light ourselves. We are missing the point that we are the light and in our haste to move away from darkness, we are missing opportunities to shine His light on a dark world.
We try to stay insulated in our protected group of Christians who all believe as we do when what we are supposed to do is go into the world and shine the light that we have on the people who don’t yet know that they need Jesus. When we are doing what we should be doing, we are going to naturally attract others and need to have an answer for the hope that is in us. Be ready at all times to tell others how Jesus has made a difference in your life! Like a moth is attracted to a flame or any kind of light, so people in darkness need to know that there is a light that they can turn to. At the most unexpected times and from some of the most unexpected sources, you may have people seeking answers from you because they have seen your light and want to know more about what makes you different. Be ready to be that light!
The light that is in us comes from the Lord Jesus. When darkness is all around, we can continue to shine and attract others to the beauty of salvation and the peace and hope that it offers.
Are you a fan of lots of blankets? Snuggling down into the warm comfort and resting securely? One of my children used to have a “security blanket” that he carried everywhere. Ragged and threadbare from so much laundering, it was barely a blanket, yet still he carried it, holding it up to his nose and wrapping it around his little neck. I don’t recall when he finally gave up “Blankie” but I do remember being sad at the passing of an innocent age when he thought that the blanket he carried and wore would surround him with security.
We can all have that security today if we just accept that God promises it. It’s not a totem we carry around or wear. It’s not a Bible verse that we memorize and cite each time we need God’s presence (although that is certainly helpful). It is just an awareness of how much God loves you and the feeling that He has His arms wrapped around you.
I had a scary incident happen last week. I was sitting in my recliner getting ready to read when the vision in my right eye went all wonky. It was blurry and wavy, and at the same time I got a tremendous sense of vertigo. I called for my husband, but he couldn’t hear me, so I carefully made my way to the bedroom, told him what was happening, and we prayed. I then proceeded to go to bed. I lay there in the dark for quite a while, with the room spinning around me and my vision in that one eye blurry. I fell asleep for a few hours and when I awakened and got up to go to the bathroom, I was still dizzy and my vision was still weirdly unfocused. So, back to bed I went and prayed and praised God as I drifted back to sleep. The next morning, I seemed fine. On Monday, I called my retina eye specialist, whom I had just seen the day before the incident. The triage team called me back, asked me a lot of questions and told me that if it happens again, I should call the on-call doctor and go to the ER. I also let my cardiologist know, in case there was some kind of reaction to my medication. And, finally, I alerted my neurologist in case the whole thing was a brain glitch. The neurologist called me a few days later and said he is concerned about my blood vessels in my brain so he wants me to have an MRA. I had already had an MRI, CT Scan, EEG and EMG, but apparently an MRA looks at only the blood vessels to see if there is something going on that shouldn’t be. The test is all scheduled now and I think the doctor must have put in an urgent request because it’s on June 12th, only a few weeks away. (I waited months for some of the other tests to be done.) Anyway, I wrote all of that so that you know that I know that I am covered. Is it scary each morning when I awaken and I don’t know whether my eyes will be focused and my head will be spinning? I would be lying if I said it isn’t a little tense for me. But I awaken each day as always, praising God that I slept and woke up again and I go through my day with the praise on my lips that God is taking care of me, regardless of what happens. Am I thrilled to undergo another test and have an unknown possibly happening in my brain? No, of course not! But I know that I cannot learn trust by having everything be nice and smooth in my life, so a few bumps are to be expected as I press in closer to God.
God is sheltering me and He has already provided my protection in His Word. I have to stand on it and believe that He is working it all out for His glory. So, I am covered, not with a security blanket that I can hold in my hands but with one that I hold close to my heart.
I really dislike when I am in a public place and someone starts berating another person, giving them a hard time loudly enough that those around them cannot help but overhear. I would like to think that the person berating the other one apologizes later and the rift that occurred gets healed. I’m not sure that is always the case though, and that saddens me. A heart was hurt that could have been encouraged. In teaching high school students for many years, it was a common sight to see the kids “dis” each other. When I would say something about it, the reply was inevitably that they were just jokin’ or kiddin’ around. I generally tried to remind them that the heart is not something that is easily mended but it is easily broken. Some were open and either did not criticize their peers in front of me or they dropped the habit. I would like to hope for the latter.
In this day and age when everyone has an opinion that they want to share with you, it is refreshing to hear kind words. Even when they are not addressed to me, I love to hear them. It stirs something deep within me to hear a wife say that she loves the tie her husband chose or that his new pants fit him well. I enjoy hearing parents tell their children what a good job they did listening and paying attention. I am often sitting quietly in church as I wait for the service to start and it’s heartwarming to see most of the interactions. Kindness is abundant and cheerfulness is apparent. I wish that this attitude would go out the church doors with everyone and into the grocery stores, the restaurants and other public places. Kind words are not just needed in church; they are needed everywhere, at all times. Our words matter and kindness counts, when we least expect it and in ways that we can only imagine. In a busy and hurrying world, take time to be kind and watch faces smile and hearts cheer up!
Receive the Blessings
God showers us with blessings and sometimes in our ignorance of what He is doing, we put up an umbrella or run for shelter. Instead, we need to be in touch with what God’s plan is and accept the kindness, wisdom and understanding that He is giving us. Stand under the shower, don’t run away from it!
Prayer and Peace
Just when I was beginning to think that I was on the mountaintop, looking down into the valleys of all my trials and worries, a new medical test comes along, and boom! There I am, calling out to God for help to get through this one. I awakened a lot during the night, knowing that my EMG is early this morning. Each time, God would bring a praise song to my mind and I would drift back to sleep. It doesn’t help my state of mind that I have had this test before, know that it’s uncomfortable and takes about an hour of pins and electric shocks, simultaneously. Nevertheless, I am trusting God to get me through it without tears of anguish and frustration. The last time I had the test was over eight years ago, after my stroke, so I don’t recall a lot, just the pain and the feeling that it was taking a long time. I think a “long time” is relative when you are in pain that is being dealt out by a machine in the hands of a technician who gently says that it will be slightly uncomfortable. But, just as God has been with me through all the other tests, He will walk with me through this one, too. It reminds me of the wilderness experience of the Israelites. God took them through the wilderness, not around it. So, through this trial I go and I am confident that I will come out the other side, more compassionate for others going through tedious and painful medical procedures.
Fixing my thoughts on God helped me sleep during the night, so I know that fixing my thoughts on Him will help me get through the pain of electricity coursing through my body. Honestly, childbirth does hurt more, so there is that. And I know that my Lamaze breathing helped the last time I had the test done, so I will take deep breaths and with each inhale, I will say a prayer of thanksgiving that I am able to have the test done and a prayer that the test will show what the doctors need to know.
I think that peace comes as a result of prayers, so I am wearing my full armor today, including the shoes on my feet that come from the peace of God’s Good News. As He continues to remind me, nothing will happen to me today that He and I cannot handle together!
Generosity is, of course, associated with giving. And most people then go on to assume that giving has to be money. But that is not an accurate assumption. God has given us many talents and brings them to the forefront when we become Christians. I think the Lord does that because He wants us to use our strengths, our talents if you will, to serve others. I may not (and I don’t) have a lot of money. But what I do have is a love of God to share with others. I have a talent for teaching, so working with children in Children’s Church is a good fit for me. Sometimes, I have to step out of my comfort zone to share something the Lord has shown me to others. But I am called to tell, not to remain silent. So, generosity takes the form of whatever you have to share. For my husband, it is his bountiful harvest of vegetables, especially tomatoes. He also shares his gift of growing things with me as he has planted a gorgeous flower garden outside my window in the den. He takes vegetables to our church group to share and to our children when we visit them. He shares his love for the earth and all it produces when we visit our daughter and he spends long hours tilling, planting and fencing in the garden for her. That is what I mean by active generosity. When the grandchildren look out the window and see Grandpa lying on the ground putting tiny seeds in rows, they are amazed that he spends hours scooting along the ground to plant. Then, many months later, they enjoy the peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes he planted for them. His diligence is rewarded with fruit that he never sees or tastes, but he knows that he has left behind food for a family that we love dearly.
As you think about this Scripture, think about ways you can be generous. What legacy can you leave behind that is not money? We have so many good things that Jesus has given us…let’s share them with others.
God Meets Us
Have you ever had to go on a long trip and the person at the other end generously offered to meet you halfway? I did that when I was a teen and going to visit my aunt in North Carolina. And I am doing it in the present time in order to visit my sister who moved to NC last year. My niece meets me and my husband half way, making the trip less arduous for us.
But, did you know that God meets you right where you are? You don’t even have to go halfway! When the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness, God was right there with them, leading the way in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When they built a tabernacle according to what the Lord told them to do, God inhabited it. When Moses visited God there, his face shone with God’s glory. Then, Solomon built the Temple and God was right there, His presence with His people. So, where is God meeting us today?
We are His temple, so He is right here with us always. He gives us His Holy Spirit who dwells in us from the moment that we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to be witnesses for the Lord, to face the challenges of daily life and to live a life that honors God. We don’t have to look for God…He is right here inside us. That boggles my mind, and I confess that I don’t totally understand this truth, but I do know that it’s true. I only breathe a prayer about needing comfort or assurance and God is right there. He helps me to help others because I am part of His plan to spread the Good News to mankind. If you are a Christian, you, too, are part of God’s plan and you, too, are His temple on earth until Jesus returns. No more wandering in the wilderness or building huge, fancy buildings. God’s pinnacle of creation was each of us, and we need to do the jobs He left us to do and recognize the power He left for each of us to tap into in order to fulfill His desires for ourselves and others.
When I was small, my grandmother used to complain a lot. I mean, a lot! She was the one that if it was a sunny day, she would look for clouds. Nevertheless, she used to tell me a lot that I should count my blessings. Now, I seldom attended church when I was young. My mom took us on special days like Easter, but otherwise, Sunday was just another day of the week for me until I met my new neighbor Sharon and she started inviting me to go to church with them. I enjoyed the Sunday school classes and the way the church service followed the same pattern week after week. That is the first time I heard about God and I was in my teens. But I still didn’t know what it means to count my blessings as my grandmother had told me to do.
When I went to college, I was busy, overwhelmed really with new things. I was away from home for the first time and got involved in my studies and my campus job. I dated some, but not much because I was really shy. I didn’t attend church, but I was aware that God was around somewhere because my roommate attended church regularly and seemed to like going. Again, I don’t recall counting blessings. I was more likely to count the days until I had an exam or a break at home.
It was after I finished college and started my first job that I began to see how alone I was and was feeling discouraged, even though I had a new fiancé and a new job and my own place to live. When my apartment neighbor introduced me to Jesus, I began to see that He was what I needed all along. Finally, finally, I began to count my blessings! The blessing of being loved by a good man, the blessing of finding a good church and making new friends, the blessing of having a neighbor who befriended me. I was beginning to understand what my grandmother was telling me. Life is hard and throws some real curve balls sometimes, but God is always good and you can always look for the blessings and find them.
Now that I am much older, I see blessings everywhere. I see them in the garden outside my window, in the beautiful sunrise and sunset, in the faces of my children and grandchildren, in my husband’s patience with me. The list goes on and on. There isn’t enough time to enumerate all of my blessings, but God continues to bless me, every day in more ways than I can imagine.
I don’t know why my grandmother complained so much, but I do know that somewhere inside her, she recognized that all the good in her life came from God. She told me to count my blessings and that advice has remained steadfast in my heart for over six decades now. I think of nanny and I smile, knowing that she loved me enough to tell me a truth about life. When you are busy counting your blessings, you don’t have time to complain!
Are We Listening?
I think that God speaks to His people. Perhaps His words are not audible, but His message is. For me, He speaks to my heart when I am sitting quietly, especially when I need comfort or encouragement. He speaks through the words in the Holy Bible and He speaks to me through praise music that I have heard and that is in my heart. He tells me about His love for me and consistently tells me that all will be okay.
I was in the office of my retina eye specialist on Friday, waiting for his diagnosis of how the macular degeneration that started last year is my left eye is progressing. I confess that I was feeling anxious about what he would tell me, so I started to pray and asked for God to be very near me no matter what the diagnosis was. Then, a song came to my mind that I had not sung or heard in a very long time. “Thank you, Lord, for saving me.” From that song, I started singing to myself, “How Great Is Our God.” Those songs calmed my fears and helped me to put everything into God’s very capable hands. He spoke “peace” to my heart through songs from many years ago. I recognized that it was God speaking to me and thanked Him for His love and the calm spirit with which He filled me. When the doctor came in, I was expecting bad news, but the news was good. No change in my eyes at all! The macular is still only a trace in my left eye and nothing in my right eye. Good news, even after all the fear and anxiety that seemed to be preparing me for the worst. God was preparing me for the best news and giving me worship songs to Him before I even had the report from the doctor!
This morning during my worship and devotional time, I was reminded that God used to walk and talk with Adam and Eve. It was a common thing for them before their exile from the Garden. One of the consequences of their sin was separation from God. Jesus gave us the path back to God and a relationship with Him, but because of the fall of mankind, we have to listen carefully to hear God speak and to be ready for Him messages to us.
When Samuel was only a small child, the Lord audibly called to him. His reply should be what our response is to God every day. We have to be ready to listen in order for God to speak to us. Sometimes we are so busy, with lives cluttered with busyness, that we may be vaguely aware that God is saying something to direct us. But we are so focused, so intent on doing what we want to do, that we don’t pay attention and miss the opportunity to hear God’s instructions for us. It would be good for each of us to just sit quietly for a while each day and tell God to speak because we are listening. Not too busy. Not too distracted. Just ready to listen to our Creator and our Father, the One who will guide our steps if we will take time to listen and then follow His words to us.