Today, I was reading some comments from one of my previous posts on running. The comments were from readers of various posts. One reader had some nice things to say. I began to think what an appropriate post for January 1, 2018. Running for the Prize. OK, OK, yeah, I will be using an old post for a new post, again. The Blog Post Etiquette Police can advise me after the fact.
Let me start with saying I AM SO GLAD 2017 IS OVER! It has been a trying year, to say the least! I feel like I have been running and running and running all year. My family has gone through a great personal loss and my health has taken hit after hit after hit. I just know 2018 will be better.
Running for Self or Spirituality
I do feel, from time to time, that I am “Running for the Prize”. Sometimes it seems a spiritual prize and at other times, it’s just running for the prize to just finish the day and to get home to my quiet house with my father and my Zuckie (my standard dachshund). My home – my Solace .
If you know me at all, you know that I do love my home. I love to be at home and I love my family. So, with that said, I will tell you that I do long for the time when I finish this race that we call “life”. When that occurs for me, I will be home where my heart has always been. In the presence of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But until that day, I will continue to run this race on earth. Striving to make the most of each moment in this race for the prize. Striving to forget the past and pressing on towards the future because that is where the prize is.
Philippians 3:13-15English Standard Version (ESV)
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
So, with that said… I will continue with this old post made new, once again.
Running for a squeaky ball
Have you ever seen a dachshund race? Oh My Goodness! It is the funniest thing I have ever seen! I follow a little dachshund on Facebook and he is quite the celebrity! His name is Crusoe and he is from Canada. He was in a “wiener dog race” and he finished 3rd and the prize was a squeaky ball! (see it here and if you still want more see his blog… here) It is so much fun and the funniest thing to watch! If you know me at all you know I L-O-V-E love dachshunds and everything about them! These races are so funny because these little guys are so excited at the starting line. They are so wound up to get going on that race and for what? To get a squeaky ball!? Not much of a prize as far as you and I are concerned… (or Zuckie – one of my dachshunds – for that matter. He does not like anything that squeaks! He doesn’t like noise… loud trucks, loud anything and especially sirens).
Running with Vim and Vigor
But let’s focus on how the dachshunds begin the race. These little guys are so excited and so ready to get going! Excitement, anticipation and readiness are the traits you see in them! They are full of joy and life! You know we run a race too! Every day! And we run the race for a far greater prize than any squeaky ball. We are running for the prize of an imperishable crown
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
We should be running for the prize daily! So shouldn’t we begin our daily race the way these little dachshunds begin their race? With excitement, anticipation and readiness? We as Christians, in our walk with the Lord, should be filled with excitement, anticipation and readiness. If we meet every day with that frame of mind we cannot loose!
Jesus left us a Helper which is the Holy Spirit, our closest friend! That means He can help us throughout each day! I have a friend at work that when she gets there and walks to her desk we speak the “Good Mornings”. Then we ask one another the usual “how are you doing?” We usually say…”Blessed and Highly Favored!” and yesterday I added “…because I am a child of the King!” If we truly believe this we can meet each day with an attitude of excitement for what God will do in our lives that day, anticipation of how it will change us or someone around us and readiness to be used for the Kingdom of Christ.
Daily Running Challenge
Try it out! When you first wake up in the morning, focus your mind on God and how He has blessed you by giving you another day to tell someone about Him. I love this scripture:
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
He has blessed you with another day to breathe the air of freedom we have here in America – and that is so precious and hard to come by to others throughout the world.
Therefore, thank Him for all the blessings you have whether it be a little heartbeat at your feet (human or animal) or a job, or a vehicle to drive, or a nice soft (or firm) bed to sleep in, or food on your table or any number of things! You choose! Focus on what blessings God has bestowed on you in your life and not the worries, problems and trials you face each day and THANK HIM FOR THOSE BLESSINGS! I know… I KNOW if you do this you will feel better and you will be ready to run the race for the day!
I have never suffered from Writer’s Block! But I think I have had it lately… well, in the last 6 months or so. Writer’s Block. Who Me? Why am I having such a hard time with writing again? There has been so much happen in the past several months I just don’t know where to start. There have been many times when God has pointed something out to me that spoke to my heart. I was going to write about it that evening and it just never would feel right.
I am one that has to feel it before I write one word. I have to feel God speak to my heart to say “This is something…” and then when I sit down to write, I pray the entire time I am writing and searching for scripture. Why? So I can make sure it’s His message and not mine. Writer’s Block. Who Me?
By the time there is quiet time, it seems I am so tired and all I can think to do is to play a stupid game or read a few pages and close my eyes. I remember when I would stay up until midnight writing and researching scripture and commentaries to complete my post. It doesn’t seem that there is time for that any longer. Why? I want to know why!? Writer’s Block. Who Me?
When I was so prolific in my writing I was working in a call center. I had a mindless job and when I got home I didn’t really have a lot on my mind. There wasn’t really any stress in that job… well, there was some, but not like when I was a Trainer or Project Manager. Anyway, it seemed so easy to write at night then. I had an outlet for my energy that I had built up all day. Many times I would write during the day and then type it at night. There were times between calls that allowed the writing and then sometimes it was constant phone ringing. Nonetheless, I wrote almost every day. I got a lot of good stuff written too! I reread some of my posts and ask myself… did I really write this? Then I remember… ahhhh… well, God and I did.
I just looked back and saw that the last post was exactly one month ago, July 7th. That was about a friend’s new website that I helped him with. The post is here – Hello Baseball Fans. This was not my normal post. It was one to introduce you to his new website. I had fun helping with that and it did consume a lot of my time and energy. It was an experience for both him and me. I was so glad to have been able to help. Check it out… especially if you are a baseball fan! You will love it!
So, one month ago I was talking about baseball. This post will be about something much different. Something that most of you, if not all, can relate to and understand. Let me explain.
Tonight I was not feeling very well. I have begun to feel a little sick, like I felt in January and February when I had pneumonia. It is not something that ever want to relive or wish on my worst enemy. Anyway, my dad invited me to watch a church service with them. I used to watch it with them years ago and enjoyed it then. I wasn’t doing anything particularly so I sat down and watched. The music that this church sang was always good. Mostly old hymns. I really love the old foundational hymns. Some folks simply don’t like the old hymns and only go for the new Contemporary worship. I enjoy that too. I just like a mix.
Then the pastor began to give his sermon. It was quite interesting. It was on Jonah. If you don’t know anything about Jonah you can read it here. It is a rather short book. Only four chapters in all. The general gist of the story, as the pastor told it, is Jonah was called by God to go to a city to preach against their evil ways. Jonah didn’t want to go so he fled as far as he could go. The Bible states Jonah went to Joppa and boarded a ship there to go to Tarshish which would have been about 2,000 miles from where he was. But he didn’t quite make it to Tarshish.
1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.
The preacher pointed out that Tarshish was about 2,000 miles from where Jonah was. He really wanted to get away from God. No telling how much it cost him to travel to Tarshish by ship. Well, it really did cost him a lot more than the money he had on his person. It cost him spiritually, too.
Jonah was trying to run from God, but I think we all know that is impossible. God is everywhere. I cannot imagine what Jonah was thinking. Jonah was a prophet of God in those days. He had seen what God could do! He knew God and walked with Him regularly… all the time. He was a prophet!
Well, one thing about it though… he was human. Ahhh yes, human! The human factor seems to always raise its not so pretty head in the thick of things. Well, Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because Nineveh was not liked. Where Jonah lived was being controlled by the Assyrians. Nineveh was Assyrian territory.
Here is an excerpt from a document I found on the internet. The website is Entrusting the Word and the document is here. The document is actually a PowerPoint presentation. I will say I have not researched everything on this website and I may or may not believe what they believe. I just wanted to share the link so you could do a little checking for yourself – if you wish. I also liked the information presented about Jonah and the map.
“Israel in the Reign of Jeroboam II
Jeroboam II (c. 793-753 B.C.) was king of Israel. “He was, in fact, the greatest and longest-reigning of all the kings who reigned over the northern kingdom. In a moral and religious sense there was little to choose between him and his evil predecessors on the throne, but in military prowess, he remarkably excelled. His recaptured and newly annexed territories reached up as far as Hamath, over 200 miles north of Samaria, so that his domain became almost as extensive as David’s has been! – and all this is plainly said to have been the fulfillment of a prophecy by ‘Jonah, the son of Ammitai, the prophet which was of Gathhepher.’… Gathhepher is now identified with a village name El Meshed some miles north of Nazareth, in Zebulon, where, according to a firm tradition dating back to Jerome’s time, the tomb of Jonah is pointed out even to this day.
“Incidentally, the reference to 2 Kings fixes the time of Jonah’s ministry. It was during the later years of Joash, and (presumably) the earlier years of Jeroboam II. He would probably be one of the leaders among the ‘school of prophets’ when Elisha was nearing the end of his remarkable ministry” (Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book, p. 148). Since the days of King Omri (c. 885-874 B.C.) the northern kingdom had been attacked by Syria and Assyria.
The Israelites particularly hated and feared Assyria because its growth as an empire threatened their national security. In the midst of that tension, God called Jonah to go to the capital of Assyria: “The word of the Lord came unto Jonah, the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2). We know little about Jonah, but his name means “dove,” symbolic of a messenger of peace.”
Back to Jonah and his … “running” from God. I can say that I have done this. In my past for sure and in the not so distant past, also. I know logically that this is a silly thing to do. It simply makes no sense to do so. Because God is everywhere! He is with us when we sleep. He is with us when we are in the shower. He is with us when we are driving, eating, working, playing, etc. He is everywhere! He is Spirit! (John 4:24 – “God Is Spirit…”) So He can be everywhere all at the same time! I am so grateful for that too! We never have to wait for our turn in the Que or never have to take a number to get an audience with God. He loves to talk to us and loves to hear us call His name. He is waiting now to hear from you. Just call out to Him. He will answer.
One thing He does not like is for us to ignore Him or not be obedient to His call. I know I have heard God tell me to do something and I have not done it. For example, writing a blog post. I have heard so many times in the last six months… “Leah, this is a good thing to write about.” It seems that I have had writer’s block. I used to immediately make a note so I could write about it as soon as I got home or to a place to write. Now, the note is taken, but it gets put in a stack just like the rest of them. I can’t seem to actually sit down and write about any of the notes I have taken. I have NEVER had “writer’s block” to where I couldn’t find something to write about. I am very seldom without words. Writer’s Block. Who Me?
So… tonight when I heard that sermon on doing what God has called us to do, I felt very convicted. I know God has called me to write. I don’t write about the usual things that you would expect a devotional blog to be about. I write about every day things that coincide with my walk with God. I write just like I speak. I try to not be too “churchy” with my writing, either. I love to tell others about Jesus and what He has done for me with my writing. He has changed my life and I know when I hear that familiar, still, small voice, I am to respond with “Here I am, Lord” and follow through. Unlike Jonah that tried to run as far as he could. Writer’s Block. Who Me? Let me start tonight!
You know, Jonah never made it to Tarshish. I am sure you know the story of Johan and the whale. I loved what the preacher said tonight about the whale swallowing Jonah. Jonah was thrown overboard by the fellas on the ship (read the story – it’s quite interesting – Jonah 1). He said that the Lord provided a safe place for Jonah (albeit in the belly of that whale) until he came to his senses. So after Jonah prayed a prayer to God, the whale got rid of him out of his belly.
2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
So, yes, Jonah got swallowed by a whale, but God provided that whale to protect him from drowning. Isn’t that just like God! He provides a safe place (it may not be the most comfortable but safe) for us until we come to our senses and say… “OK, OK, Lord. You win!” Maybe not in those words, but you get the picture.
So the question is this. Have you heard from God and are you trying to either pretend that you really didn’t hear that still, small voice in your heart or are you running as far away as you can from God? Are you avoiding doing what God has called you to do? If He has called you to it, He has equipped you for it.
I can tell you that if you step in that direction, He will guide you the whole way. He will provide you with whatever it is you need to do the job He has asked you to do. Mine is writing and telling others about my walk with my Savior Jesus and how God in His infinite wisdom and grace, provided His one and only Son to save me from myself and my sins.
Jesus can save you also. He wants to walk with you daily and help you through any problems and doubts you may have. If you click this website name here – Bible.org you can read about what it means to be a Christ follower. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message. If I don’t know the answer, I will be happy to find out and get the answer for you.
God loves you so much! After all, He calls you His beloved!
Listen to Charles Billingsley sing “For God So Loved the World”. It’s a wonderful song!
The Grace and Mercy of God. What a topic. To think of what Grace actually is blows my mind. This is a long post but stick with it til the end. It has a great ending! Here’s the actual Definition of both Grace and Mercy:
Grace. The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
I also found a blog (“Better Than I Deserve”) that describes it as this: (this is what I have always heard)
“Maybe you’ve heard this definition of grace before. Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”
“Perhaps you have heard this definition of mercy before and I think its spot on. Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”
I think that is pretty incredible. Grace. The Grace of God is far beyond my comprehension. Really. He gives us His Grace instead of His judgment. However, there is a catch. Ah Ha, you say…. Yes, there is always a catch. God will only impart His Grace to us … IF … we believe on His Son Jesus Christ and believe that His Son’s death on the cross was for the remission of our sins. Yes, Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins. Then He rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He did all of that so we could be with Him forever. So, Grace… Grace is what He gives us instead of the judgment that we deserve.
God Is God And We Are Not
You see, if God didn’t give us His Grace, we would have to pay the penalty for our sins and we could never be “good enough” to measure up to God’s Holiness. You say… “But I am a good person. I don’t cheat, steal, lie or kill. So, I am good enough. I don’t sin.” Well, God doesn’t look at it that way. He is the creator of everything. He set the standard of “sin” and “holiness” and we DO NOT measure up to His standard. We may think we don’t sin but we do. There are many things that happen or that we do or dwell on thoughts during the day that God may consider “not holy”. Remember… God is God and we are not! He set the standard. Not man!
He knew we could never measure up to His standard because He created us. You see, to be able to be forgiven for your sins, you have to offer a spotless sacrifice. The Bible has a lot of examples of what sacrifice is acceptable for what sin. In the beginning, people would sacrifice a bull, goat, lamb or even a dove or pigeon, without defect – spotless. There were many ways and reasons people would bring these animals to be sacrificed. However, all were required to be without defect. This link will explain why humans must or had to bring sacrifices to God. The title of the article is “Why did God require animal sacrifices in the Old Testament?“
We, as humans, needed a spotless, perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from our sins – or to have our sins forgiven. Jesus came to earth to be that spotless sacrifice. Jesus agreed to be the spotless lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He left Heaven and became a tiny baby. Lived among the common man and lived perfectly, never sinning. Then He died on that cross, I mentioned earlier, for us.
The Grace He bestowed towards us at the Cross of Calvary is so beyond my comprehension. I guess I don’t have to be able to comprehend it to accept it. Good thing. I do accept God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ for my sins. If I accept that grace through Jesus Christ then I need to live like it. I want to live like it. I want to live every second knowing that because of God’s Grace I will see His face and live in His wonderful presence forever in Heaven.
I found a quote when I was perusing my files that stopped me in my tracks. I had to read and re-read it and ask myself. “Self, do you really want to be established in God’s Grace? Do you want it to manifest itself in your character? Do you want it to be your habit and regular life?” Here is the quote:
“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”
The Taste of Grace
To me that says this. We taste the Grace of God when we first accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We feel almost like we are walking on a cloud. It is a high that is indescribable. If you truly take Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will experience a feeling that is unlike any other you have ever or will ever experience. You may go for a while and live off of this first excitement of a new life. However, I have learned that human nature (me – I am) is like this… we begin to slip back into “the way we were” before me met Jesus – to a point. As we walk through our daily life we realize one day that we really aren’t living as Christ. We have just tasted the Grace of God but are not really “living” the Grace of God. That is … like the quote says … “to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life…”
To Be Established
So, what does it really mean to be established in God’s Grace and manifest God’s Grace in character, habit and regular life? Well, let me see if I can explain it the way God showed me.
If you read my blog at all you will see that I don’t usually sound “preachy” or pushy. I use every day things that relate to my walk with God and relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. So, this one is not any different. As I am sitting here in my chair and look up at the reflection in the glass of a picture on the wall of my beautiful Shumard Oak tree in the back yard, I hear that ever so familiar voice. “How is your oak tree established?” I begin to immediately think back about this time seven years ago – when we moved in to our home in May of 2009.
The Shumard Oak Tree
We moved in to our home on May 2, 2009. After a few little things that had to be done in the back yard, I was making my rounds and I found a little scrawny oak tree up next to the house in a flower bed. It was about a foot from the house and about a foot tall. I knew that I had to either dig it up and get rid of it or transplant it. If it had stayed that close to the house it would never be the oak tree that it was meant to be. It also would have messed up the house and the foundation of the house with its root system. So, before I uprooted this little tree I had to find the “perfect” spot for it. We have quite a large back yard and it is a hot one in the summer time because there was no tree to shade most of the yard in the hot afternoons. There is the neighbor’s tree on the East side – that didn’t help the afternoon sun at all though. There was a wide open spot between the house and dad’s shed that was in the direct sun and would be perfect for a shade tree.
Transplanting the Oak
Although this little tree was barely big enough to cast a shadow, I knew that someday it would be a nice, proud Oak tree with abundant shade. So, I took my sharp shooter (shovel) and dug a hole and then went to the little tree and carefully dug around
it being careful not to damage any of the roots it may have produced in its small state. I remembered there is a tap root, I thought, that I really had to be careful not to snap. A Tap Root is the main root that goes down from the middle of the tree and stabilizes it and the root system branches off of that. So, I carefully dug and dug and loosened and dug and loosened. Finally I had it loose and only broke the very tip of the Tap Root off.
I prayed that it would not affect the little tree. I took it to the new location that I had prepared with some good dirt – which I call Cow Poop Dirt – that is a very good, rich in nutrition dirt for a newly planted tree or anything else for that matter. This stuff will make hair grow on a bowling ball! It is good stuff.
Anyway, I planted it and waited. That Fall it was still alive and seemed to be thriving in its new location. There were about 5 leaves on the tree and they turned a beautiful red, orange and yellow. I was so excited because if it is that pretty as a youngster how much more beautiful is it going to be as it grows and gets bigger?
Well, God has certainly blessed me with the growth of that little, scrawny tree. It is now about 25’ – 30’ tall (in 7 years) and throws a beautiful shade. Zuckie (my dachshund) and I sit in the grass in the shade of the Oak tree, on a warm evening and are very comfortable. One because of the shade and two because of the lovely, thick St. Augustine grass that is beneath our feet. The tree shade and the grass seem to work in harmony to produce a beautiful place to relax. Needless to say, the Oak tree LOVES the location I chose.
OK, let’s just think a minute about how this parallels with my walk with God. Or anyone’s walk with God for that matter. Let’s also revisit that quote above.
“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”
The little, scrawny tree, growing up next to the house was tasting life – the Grace of God. But it was not ever going to be able to be established in good soil and a good location to be able to grow and thrive at its present location. It would be stunted because it was too close to the house. It would never be able to spread its limbs and soak up the warm sunshine and produce a beautiful shade for us to enjoy. It would be cramped and uncomfortable. Its limbs, if they ever grew, would be rubbing the brick on the house and never have the freedom to sway in the breeze. If the tree ever grew tall enough, it would run right into the eave of the house and be stunted. It may grow around the eave but then it would be crooked and possibly break because of the crookedness of the limbs. Not to mention the root system. It would run into the house foundation and cause all sorts of problems for the house and the tree itself.
A Broad Space
So, let’s face it. It was a horrible place for the little tree. Then I came along and took that little, scrawny tree from its place where it had begun its life. I moved it to a place with a broad space where it could grow and stretch its limbs and grow its roots deep and wide without being encumbered by anything. It could grow tall and taller and taller and display its beautiful colors in the Fall and the beautiful fresh green leaves in the Spring. It can now throw a shade that is quite nice. The shape of the tree is perfect too. Broad at the base of the limbs and gradually narrows to the peak of the tallest leaf that reaches for the sky. It is one of my pride and joys in my yard. I love to look at the stately Oak. It is only 7 years old now but in years to come it will grow taller and fuller and its roots will go deeper and wider, making it more and more established in the soil beneath its leaves and limbs.
Me and God’s Grace
So you may have forgotten that I was talking about the Grace and Mercy of God. Well, I believe the Grace and Mercy of God is displayed – in a way – in my Oak tree. Let’s revisit those definitions:
“…Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”
“… Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”
Let me compare my Oak tree to myself and my walk with God. I was in a place that was not a good place for me to be in. I was too close to things that would keep me from growing (spiritually) – spreading my branches. I was in a place that would stunt my growth (spiritually) and cause me to grow very crooked and unable to thrive – as God had intended for me (as He does for every one of His children). My root system was growing into hard places and being redirected to a path that was not good for stability and to be firmly established in Him. Everything was simply a mess beneath the surface. If left to my own devices, I would have kept going down a path that was not what God had intended and it was not how it should have been.
God in His infinite Grace and Mercy, picked me up and moved me to a place He chose so I could become established in Him. Sending my roots down deep into the nutrient rich soil of His Mercy. Allowing me to learn to spread my branches and display the beautiful colors of His love in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong. Please DO NOT THINK THAT I AM SAYING that I have “arrived”! As Paul says in Romans 6, “By no means.” Please understand that I know this is all a process. I have been moved, yes, but the establishing and sending my roots down and spreading my branches… that is a day by day and sometime minute by minute process. But I am growing. I have been growing more in the last three or four years than I think I have in my lifetime. I want to grow so others can see Jesus in me without having to go on a search and find mission. I want Jesus to be honored and glorified in my daily life. I can tell you that sometimes… more times than not, He is not. I try, but I am human and He knows it. That is where the wonderful Grace and Mercy comes in again.
Thank You Lord
Thank You Lord, for the Grace and Mercy that You have bestowed upon me in my lifetime. Thank You for giving me what I don’t deserve and not giving me what I do deserve. I don’t understand it but I accept it.
You know you can experience this Grace and Mercy too! Jesus wants to give you the opportunity to grow and spread your branches and be established in Him. Here is a link to a website that will explain how that can happen and what it means to become a Christ follower.
He loves you so much. After all, He calls you His beloved.
If you would like to comment on this post, please scroll all the way until you see “Comment”. Otherwise you can contact me on the form immediately following this text. Thank you for reading my post and I pray that you were blessed.
This is Easter and He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!
What a wonderful time for Christians to remember why we have eternal life with God and Christ. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, then today, Easter Sunday, is a most special day. It is the day that Jesus rose from the grave and defeated death forever!
What exactly does that mean? Well, if you believe and follow Jesus then when you die or if Jesus comes back before you die then you will go to Heaven with Him and live with Him in Eternity forever. Some folks say… “Won’t that be mighty boring to live in Heaven and just live forever?” Well, my answer is a resounding NO! Why? Because we were created, in the first place, to worship Him! Yes, we were created by God to be His companions and to worship and serve Him. So living in Heaven for eternity will be wonderful. Now, I don’t believe we will sit around and play harps on a cloud and just have nothing to do. I am not sure what it will be but I know I will like it.
I was watching TV this afternoon and heard one of those street interviewers asking people if they knew what Easter was. There were some answers that were doozies. One of the saddest ones is a lady said that it was when Jesus was born. WHAT!????!!! When Jesus was born? Really? Oh My Goodness! I wonder what she thinks Christmas is… when Santa was born? This world is a sad place. So many people have NO CLUE about who Jesus is and then for sure what He has done for them! If they only knew. Yes, He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!
As I was looking for pictures for this post, I ran across this one that is most interesting to me. I have never seen a picture of what it must have been like when Jesus rose from the dead. I know the face linen or napkin was supposedly laid separately from the other cloths that Jesus was wrapped in. It is told that the face napkin was folded nice and neat at the head of the stone where he had been laying. I have read that, in Jewish tradition, when you leave the table and plan to come back, you were supposed to fold your napkin and lay it at your place on the table when you get up. The folded napkin signified that you would be back and the servants would not take the plate away. However, to be honest, here is a website I really like for questions. GotQuestions.org and it talks about the supposed myth surrounding that tale. Click here to read what GodQuestions.org has to say about this tale.
Anyway around it… this picture below is quite interesting to me and could have been this way.
The rest of the linen that He was wrapped in supposedly lay on the stone but I don’t think it is told how it was … so this picture could very well be how Jesus burst forth from the grave! I mean, after all… He had been to Hell and back – literally – and NOW HE IS RISEN! Thank God, He Is Risen Indeed!
I think this picture is a pretty good depiction of how He felt, for sure.
No one really knows and this is just my opinion, but it could have been. Thank you God for what you did by giving Your only Son to die for our sins and then raised Him from the dead to live with You in Eternity! I believe He is awaiting the time when You say, “Son, go get My children.” Those words will be so wonderful to Him and His appearing in the sky will be so wonderful for us Christians. Thank you, God!
You know God loves you so much! He has given His only Son to die for yours and my sins. Now Jesus is in Heaven awaiting you to accept Him as your Savior so you can live in Eternity with Him. There is a way to live with God and Jesus in Eternity and this website (click the link) will help you understand what it means to be a Jesus Christ follower. Remember, God loves you so much! After all, He calls you His beloved.
Hello everyone. It has been so long since I have been able to just sit down for a couple of hours… maybe three… and just write what God has laid on my heart. I have had a lot laid on my heart lately but not things to share with the world – at least not yet. Just stuff that has happened to me in my personal life that has been … well, let’s just say not your normal, run of the mill stuff.
The title of this post is BEING FED BY OTHERS because I truly have been. Whether it is through my church and Sunday School – Life Groups is what they call it now… I have trouble not saying Sunday School though. I have called it that for many, many years… anyway, I digress. So, whether it has been through church, or friends or family. It has been a wonderful time of learning… and let me add work has provided some of that feeding as well.
Work is awesome but consuming and my manager is more awesome and so gracious and forgiving. She is one special lady. Now, don’t get me wrong. You walk on the wrong side and disrupt the good flow of things, she will let you know it. She has it in her to say things that cut to the core. However, that is … that it “cuts to the core” because it’s true and you know it. On the other hand, she is the most gracious and merciful manager I have ever encountered and, well, that is pretty awesome to me. So there are some things at work that have happened that have been less than perfect and then there have been things that have been perfect. I know… sounds contradictory. It is but it’s all good! I am learning and trying to be the biggest sponge you have ever seen. My limits are being stretched every day and I like that.. sometimes… I Love that! Then there are days that I just want to scream! But I keep going because I don’t like to quit. I like to learn and I like doing what I do. You see I am an Applications Instructor. That means that I learn EVERY DAY! Yep, I have to “know it” but I also learn it.. meaning “stuff” … over and over again. From my students, from myself and others. It’s a pretty cool thing. However, that is not what I wanted to write about, necessarily.
I wanted to say how much I have experienced grace, mercy and kindness. Today it was from a wonderful bunch of students in my class that kinda had some technical issues. Now usually when there are tech issues, the scores that the students give are usually low. Today, not so. They totally surprised me! I think this is the first time that I have experienced, since being at my current job, that the scores were up there even with MAJOR tech issues. I think it was a combination of things… but I don’t want to analyze it too deep right now. That will come later with my manager… which will be a good thing. However, I do want to acknowledge that the students in this class (10 of them) were a very interactive and happy class. They enjoyed learning and were most forgiving of the circumstances that we encountered today! Yep, it was a refreshing outcome… and one that I am so appreciative of. Gracious and merciful students. Nice!
The other thing I want to recognize is actually from a pastor in San Antonio. I received a message from my website the other day. It was from this pastor in San Antonio and he was asking about one of the pictures I used some time back on a post. He was just asking if he could use the picture for their “new” church’s logo. The picture is just one I got off of the internet when I Googled a topic. The post was ENCOUNTERING GOD ALMIGHTY. The picture is quite good and he believes it would be a perfect logo for the new church that he is wanting to start on October 24, 2015. Of course I told him I had just Googled it also, same as him, and he could certainly use it and I attached it to the email.
One of the things I wanted to do with this post is include one of his posts. You see he writes a blog also. He has held this blog for 12 years, he says, and it is quite good. Please give him the graciousness to read his blog post on THE BLESSING OF MERCY.
I mainly wanted to introduce you to him and ask you to read his post on The Blessing of Mercy. It is truly a blessing to encounter Mercy from any source. The best is the Mercy that our Savior gave us. Please read on and comment, if you want, on any encounters with mercy and grace you have had lately or ever. Here is his post:
God morning, beloved. It is written. "It is more blessed to give than to receive." (Acts 20:35) Jesus lived and died by that truth. He "gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age." (Galatians 1:4). "In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope." (1 Peter 1:3).
Mercy is love expressed. When Christians practice mercy, they place the needs of others above their own, in much the same way that Jesus placed our need for forgiveness and salvation first, allowing Himself to be insulted, abused, and finally crucified in order to procure that salvation for us. God so loved that He gave. Calvary is the proof of God's mercy.
To be merciful is to act out of love and compassion for others, to try to see with their eyes, think with their minds, and feel with their hearts. God's Son did just that when he took on human flesh and blood to experience life's struggles just as we do, though without sin. He offered His life in our place as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
As we display mercy in Christ's name, we become more like our Lord. By His grace we will obtain the ultimate mercy: entrance into God's heavenly sanctuary, to abide with Him forever. Amen.
Worship with me. Lord Have Mercy.
Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.<a href="https://youtu.be/eDpp_YdXnqs" target="_blank">
Remember to be in prayer for Encountering GOD church…We launch this church plant on Saturday October 24th 2015. You are invited to our home for a night of worship and hear what God and Jesus have to say about His church. Email me for more details or send me a Facebook message. oxox
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing
Pastor Eric Hughes
Lead Pastor Encountering GOD Church &
Behavioral Health Specialist
A Behavioral Health Specialist is a person that covers the needs of individuals, couples and families dealing with challenges in their everyday lives. I work with people of all ages to find productive solutions for their problems.
Isaiah 61:1 – The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Thank you for reading my blog and his too. May God richly bless and keep each of you in His tender care. God loves you so much, after all, He calls you His beloved!
Hello all. It has been quite a while since I have written anything. Today, I received the email below and the Spirit strongly encouraged me to share with you today. This is from the website Reasonable Faith and it is the Question of the Week. The author of the answer is Dr. Craig and he welcomes any questions you may have about Christianity, etc. Below the answer I have included a link to his website and the link to submit a question.
What about the Sincere Seeker?
I have read a big deal of your work and I am really inspired by you and your work.
But there is this one question that greatly troubles me; I always had it in mind since I was very young but having solved a lot of questions, I am concerned about this simple question that I am not able to solve or find a satisfactory answer from a scholar.
I need your views on why God will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs. A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion and fails to identify the right Religion, why is he to be punished? A person arrogantly denying the right Religion while knowing the truth might deserve to be punished somehow but what about the one trying his best but failing.
You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.
How would you respond to a hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing?
The problem with your question is that it assumes a purely humanistic, and perhaps even naturalistic, point of view with respect to finding the knowledge of God. It takes for granted that it’s basically up to us to figure out which religion is true. But whatever other religions may teach, this is not the point of view of Christianity. If God were to abandon us to our own intelligence and ingenuity to work out whether or not He exists, He would be a very cruel God indeed. As one of the students in my Defenders class remarked, getting into heaven should not be like getting into Harvard! But God has not abandoned us. The Bible teaches that God loves us and so by His Holy Spirit seeks to draw people to Himself. The self-authenticating witness of God’s Spirit will enable, not only believers, but also sincere seekers to come to a knowledge of God.
Therefore, if a person ultimately fails to come to faith in Christ, it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties with the faith. At root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Holy Spirit on his heart. Now this convicting power and drawing of the Holy Spirit may take time. It may take years in order for the unbeliever to finally come to Christ. Nevertheless, no one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments or evidence; he fails to become a Christian because he rejects God. But anyone who does respond to the drawing of God’s Spirit with an open mind and an open heart can know with assurance that Christianity is true, because God’s Spirit will convict him that it is true.
Look at the words of Jesus in John 7:16-17:
My teaching is not mine, but His who sent me; if any man’s will is to do His will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
Here Jesus says that if anyone is truly seeking God, if his will is to do God’s will, then he will know that Jesus’ teaching is from God rather than just his personal opinion. Jesus is affirming here that if anyone truly wants God’s will – is truly seeking God – then he will come to know that Jesus’ teaching truly is from God.
So in answer to your questions: “A person who sincerely researches on Religion and Theology trying to find if a God exists and if so, what Religion” will come to find the true God and the right religion, just as Jesus promised, because the Holy Spirit of God will guide his search and draw him to Himself. Only the person who resists the convicting power of the Holy Spirit will remain in unbelief. Such a person willfully thrusts the grace of God from him and so separates himself from God. It’s not that God “will send people to hell on the basis of their Religious beliefs.” Their false beliefs are, rather, symptomatic of their estrangement from God. God wants to save them and tries to draw them to repentance and faith, but they refuse to come and so find themselves wandering in error. So I deny your “hypothetical condition of a person sincerely failing.” If Christianity is true, then there is no ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief.
You respond, “You might say that its natural for one to find the right Religion if pursued honestly … but there need to be stronger arguments supporting this idea; because it doesn’t sound like all the people moving away from Religion were dishonest.” You seem to be saying that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, and so one needs stronger arguments to support the truth of Christianity.
Now I don’t think we’re in a good position to say with any confidence that there is ultimate (lifelong), nonculpable unbelief, Muhammad. First, as I say, God’s drawing of a person may take time, years even, so that we can’t say of someone who is moving away from God that that’s where he’ll end up. (Read the many testimonials we receive from ex-unbelievers who for many years were moving away from God.) It is particularly the case that many Muslims go through a phase of atheism after shedding Islam before they come to Christ.
Moreover, we’re not really in a position to read a person’s heart or deepest motivations. Sin is incredibly deceitful, and we have an amazing ability to rationalize things so as to justify our behavior. Read C. S. Lewis’ provocative The Great Divorce about the self-justifying rationalizations of people in hell. If we can convince ourselves that our obstacles to faith are intellectual rather than moral or emotional that makes our unbelief respectable in our own eyes and in the eyes of others. How do you know what lies in the heart of a person who resists the drawing and conviction of the Holy Spirit until the end of his life?
Furthermore, I do think that we have good reasons for supposing that Christianity is true. First, there is the witness of the Holy Spirit. It can be an intrinsic defeater of the defeaters brought against it. Second, there are good evidences for the truth of Christianity, particularly for the historicity of the radical personal claims and resurrection of Jesus, whereby God vindicated those claims.
You did not disclose, Muhammad, whether you are one of these sincere seekers after the true faith. If you are, then here’s what I would encourage you to do. Begin to read the Gospels and ask yourself whether Jesus of Nazareth could really be who he claimed to be. In your prayers, ask God, whoever He is, to show you the truth about Jesus, whether he spoke the truth from God or was just giving his own opinion. Look at the work of Christian philosophers and biblical scholars, such as you will find at this website. Watch on YouTube some of the debates which I have had with both Muslim scholars and unbelievers and ask yourself which way the evidence points. If you are truly seeking God, then I believe you will come to know the truth.
Have a Question for Dr. Craig? Submit it here.
To read more questions / answers, visit the Q & A Archive.
May God Richly bless and keep you all in His tender care. After all, He does call you His beloved!
The Song – God So Loved The World – Charles Billingsley
Have you ever been asked to “Prove It”. I am sure you have in some way or another. There have been a few instances in my recent past that I have run across, that I have or I have read about those who were expected to prove it in some way. Read on…
I have a fairly new job and was asked to provide a transcript of my high school since I did not attend college. I only have previous technical certifications so my new employer wanted proof – for me to prove – that I actually attended a school where I had a diploma of some sort.
I requested this document about 2-3 weeks ago and finally received this yesterday. I was not sure what I was going to find when I opened the envelope. I guess I had never seen a “transcript” from a high school before. So, I opened the envelope to find two pages of what looked like a copy from a microfiche. It was a very poor copy and it wasn’t until I took a picture of it with my phone and then enlarged it that I could read it clearly enough to see what it said. Not to mention that my eyes are not the greatest. Anyway, I received it and it proves that I did, in fact, graduate and from that school and how many credits I had when I did graduate. It was a very nostalgic feeling. It has been several, no many, years since then and I remember the time there. It is a good memory and it brought back memories that I miss. Nonetheless, this post is not about memories or even nostalgic feelings. It is about proving you have done something or are something so, let me continue down this road that God has whispered to my heart to share with you all.
The other instance that has been brought to my attention about this topic of “Prove It” is in a newsletter from a relative of mine that is a missionary. He and his family are missionaries to Peru and Chile. They go and “plant” churches, which is simply starting churches and building them up to function on their own. Then they move to the next place that God guides them to and do the same thing. This is a labor of love for sure. They absolutely love working for the Lord and seeing others come to Christ. In his newsletter, he mentioned that they have had 12 people come regularly (and that is a crowd) and every Sunday they have had at least one visitor and sometimes more. This is an exciting thing for a missionary to see. He also shared a prayer request for 5-6 people. He said that these people had said that they were Christians and had accepted the Lord. However, he also told how some of these folks had shown no “proof” of being a Christian. You see, as you know… if you are a Christian, when you know the Lord Jesus Christ, your life is different, or at least it should be. If you walk with Jesus every day and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in your daily walk, it WILL be different. So, for someone to say they are a “Christian” and they do not show any “proof” of it, you begin to wonder if they have truly had a life changing experience with the Savior, Jesus Christ. So we will pray for those folks for sure to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and have Him change their lives.
The other instance of this particular topic of “Prove It” came to me when I was listening to my Bible on the way to work. Oh, and by the way, you may not have heard me say this in a long time… but The You Version Bible is awesome. I love listening to God’s Word! It is so powerful to hear the Word of God. Anyway, I was listening to my Bible and it was in Nehemiah 7:61. This talked about the time Nehemiah had gone back to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall … well, here is the scripture. I will let It speak for Itself.
7 Then it was, when the wall was built and I had hung the doors, when the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, 2 that I gave the charge of Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the leader of the citadel, for he was a faithful man and feared God more than many.
3 And I said to them, “Do not let the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot; and while they stand guard, let them shut and bar the doors; and appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, one at his watch station and another in front of his own house.”
4 Now the city was large and spacious, but the people in it were few, and the houses were not rebuilt. 5 Then my God put it into my heart to gather the nobles, the rulers, and the people, that they might be registered by genealogy. And I found a register of the genealogy of those who had come up in the first return, and found written in it:
6 These[a] are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city.
7 Those who came with Zerubbabel were Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispereth,[b] Bigvai, Nehum, and Baanah.
Now this is the beginning of this chapter and story. The main thing I wanted to share was verse 61 – 64 but I wanted to give you a little background first. Now Nehemiah, while tasked with taking a census – so-to-speak – had some folks come up and say they were of the House of Israel but could not “prove it”. Here is the scripture:
61 And these were the ones who came up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addon,[p] and Immer, but they could not identify their father’s house nor their lineage, whether they were of Israel:62 the sons of Delaiah,
the sons of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called by their name.
64 These sought their listing among those who were registered by genealogy, but it was not found; therefore they were excluded from the priesthood as defiled. 65 And the governor[r] said to them that they should not eat of the most holy things till a priest could consult with the Urim and Thummim.
So, here is a group of folks, more than 600 folks, came up and said that they were to be counted among Israel. However, they had no way of proving that they truly belonged there or their ancestors were from the Israelites. So, without being able to prove it, Nehemiah turned them away.
Jesus told His disciples this very simple, but powerful statement.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The story in Nehemiah is a foreshadowing, I believe, of what is to come. If you say you are a Christian and are truly not, on the day when Jesus returns to take us home – those of us that are Christians – those of us who have asked Jesus into our hearts and lives and claim Him as our Savior, then if you are not a Christ follower, you will be turned away. If you cannot prove it. Yes, that is a bit harsh, but Jesus died for the entire world. If only a few accept Him as their Lord and Savior, then only a few will live with Him for eternity in Heaven. If many, then many.
So, you see… being able to “prove it” means eternal life or death when it comes to claiming your faith and allegiance to God. Please hear me now… God loves you and wants a relationship with you. He sent His son, Jesus, to be born of a virgin, live for 33 sinless years on this earth as our example and die on the cross for our sins. BUT… the story doesn’t end there! He rose on the 3rd day and ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father awaiting the time when God says “Son, go get My children.” The Angel Gabriel will sound his trumpet and the Lord will descend riding a white horse and He will take us Christ followers home to be with Him forever.
Now that may sound pretty far fetched to you – if you are not a Christ follower. But, if you cannot prove your citizenship into Heaven, you will be turned away just as the 600 plus folks were back in Nehemiah’s time.
If you are interested in knowing more about what it means to become a Christ follower, click this link. It will take you to a website that will explain what it means and explain how Christ died for you and your sins as well. Please know that God loves you so much, after all He calls you His beloved.
“I’m waiting for my instructions”. “Instructions are: You fix it, I will eat it”.
As I sit here and wonder why God spoke to my heart when I overheard my mom and dad recite these words this morning, I think of all the other things that He reminded me of throughout the week. I can just be doing anything and see a butterfly, or hear the wind rustle through the trees or… this time of year, hear he cicadas singing in the trees… I will get to that in a moment… and I think of how wonderful God is and how He cares for us.
First I want to bring your attention back to the conversation I overheard. This phrase, that were lovingly spoken by two people – that had no idea I was paying attention – is but one of many that I overhear these two folks saying. You see, most of you may know, my mom (86) and dad (84) live with me, and have for 6 years, and it has been quite a journey. It has been a blessing to have them share my life and me theirs. They have been married for 67 years. 67 YEARS! That is a long, long time. You just don’t find that kind of commitment these days. Today many folks get married with the thought in mind that “if it don’t work out, I can always get divorced.” That attitude permeates the young and old today. Instant gratification and throw it away when you don’t see any use for it any longer.
My mom and dad have been through so much “life” and have come out on the other side as survivors of it all. Through sickness, personal trials, natural disasters and heart aches, yet there was joy, happiness, peace and love. LOVE… that is what makes it all go around! Love is how they have survived 67 years together. Firstly, love for our Heavenly Father and secondly love for each other. Even though they had some problems, there was always that bond of love. I am so thankful that they taught us kids this. To love our Heavenly Father first! Then each other – family second and I forgot… hard work in a job. That is another thing that some of the young folks – and I guess some of the older ones too – don’t really appreciate, is a job. For me, it is being without a job that brings to mind how important it is to have one. Even a low paying one in a call center – like I had for 2 years and 3 months. So… back to the Love… That is a grand thing to have love in your family. Loving and caring for one another covers a lot of bad. We may not agree on everything in our lives but we do love each other greatly!
So, back to that conversation I overheard. Mom: “I’m waiting for my instructions”. Dad: “Instructions are: You fix it, I will eat it”. No, she doesn’t really have to ask for his instructions on what to fix for breakfast. She doesn’t even have to fix breakfast, but she does because she loves my dad and wants to fix what he would like.
To top that off, my dad is one of the easiest men to please when it comes to eating. He can be happy with a bologna sandwich and chips or a steak and baked potato. He can eat just about anything. Even Liver and Onions! We all three love that! Mom and I kid around about how we have to clean the refrigerator out pretty regularly because, we say, he would eat things in there that had mold on them even! YIKES!!! He just scrapes it off and eats what’s underneath… well, that may be stretching it a little bit, but he is very easy to please.
Also, my mother… she is one wonderful lady. She is a very easily pleased lady, as well. She is a quiet, unassuming and very loving and caring lady … really both of my parents are very loving and caring. Mom is a survivor for sure, too! She has been through the ringer at least 2-3 times in her 86 years and she keeps bouncing back, or God keeps giving us more time with her and we are ever so grateful!
The two people that had that wonderful little dialogue are so very special to me and many, many others. They have touched lives as they have traveled along theirs. The lives are really too many to count. From Vacation Bible School to Sermons on the Good Shepherd, leading the Youth Group from church to witnessing at the jail for 10 years and so much more. These two people have placed God in the center of their life and marriage and it has flourished – their love for God and each other and for their fellow man.
I just want to say thank you, mom and dad, for all you have done and I don’t think I say it enough. You two are my rock! You are my wonderful parents and I love overhearing all of the little conversations in our home, each and every one of them. It makes our home a home. A loving, warm and welcoming place for others to come and join us in life. We may not have a big, fancy house, but the one we have is a home full of love. We keep the Main thing the Main thing – Love God, Love People. That is the main thing. God will bless and even allow you to experience miracles in your life if you do this.
Another way to look at this phrase … at least the first part… or put it all together and change it up just a bit… and let’s tell God that… “I am waiting on my instructions, God. You say it and I will do it.” Wouldn’t that be a wonderful conversation to have with God? God loves us so much that He would delight in that opening sentence to a conversation with Him.
We, as Christians, should be willing to say those words to the Creator. The One Whom all things exist from and Who holds it ALL together, knowing He would never ask us to do something that would harm us or be detrimental to us in any way. He loves us so much!
4 Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
Now… for the second topic I wanted to cover in this post… I know it is a strange combination and I thought of doing them as separate posts, but felt led to do them together because of the connection. The miracle of two folks staying together 67 years in spite of all the life things that could have torn them apart and the miracle of the Cicadas. Yep, you heard right… the Cicadas. I told you it was a strange combination. Read on to be awed by yet another wonder of our Great and Mighty God that created this magnificent world of ours.
Now, you hear them every summer. The trees sing with their song of courtship. In the heat of the summer the sound of the Cicada can be very loud and it gets your attention. I have always loved this sound of summer. It reminds me of sitting on the porch at my grandmother and grandfather’s house in Fort Worth. We would sit out there in the early evening and drink a glass of iced tea or coffee and just sit and enjoy each other’s company. Then the singing would begin in the trees. You couldn’t really see what was making the noise but you knew there must be a lot of them to make that loud of a noise.
Also, there was always the brown shell left behind… but what kind of “bug” sheds their shell and climbs up in the trees and makes the wonderful sound? Well, I have always called them katydids but those are a large kind of a grasshopper. The Cicada is different kind of “bug”, if you will. They are a very interesting and diligent little thing. The miracle of these little creatures is so fascinating. I think some of the Cicada’s song is a praise to its Creator. Every being knows their Creator. Jesus said that even the rocks would cry out if no one praised Him, so I believe that every creature has their own way of praising their Creator.
37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:
“ ‘Blessedisthe King who comes in the name of the Lord!’[d] Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
The Cicada waits for just the right time to emerge and go through its ritual of finding a mate, laying eggs and then ending the cycle of its life. It waited, did what it was supposed to do then went the way of everything else on the earth. God is so awesome.
There has to be… as if I didn’t already know… there has to be an Intelligent Being that created all of this. He thought of absolutely everything and His creation is so magnificent that I get overwhelmed at its beauty and its … well, magnificence! God is so good and loves us so much to give us such a beautiful world to live in. As I have said before… He could have given us a black and white world and we would never have known anything different. But He didn’t … because He loves variety and color and … He loves us! So He gave us things like the Cicada to wonder about and to be in wonder of. He calls us His beloved and He shows us in so many ways that He loves us! We just have to take notice and thank Him for them.
Please take the time to watch this short documentary on this wonderful little wonder. You probably have an idea about them, but there is at least one thing in this short documentary that you may not know. Please watch and be in awe of our Creator and how the Plan of life for the Cicada is a wonderful one.
The Video – The Return of the Cicadas
This video is a song by Bryan Doerksen and it depicts the wonderful earth and various wildlife that definitely knows their creator. Enjoy!
I know I haven’t written in a while and I told you here while back that I was going to write about the rowdy and raucous Blue Jays that I have in my back yard. I suppose, by now, you have realized that I love God’s creation and am very fond of my back yard wild birds. Now I have heard them every now and then and I am reminded that I have still not written about them and the message that our Lord wants to convey. So… without further adieu … here is the post about the rowdy ones and the message that goes with it. Enjoy!
I was sitting in the rocker just looking out the window watching the bird feeders. All of a sudden I heard a ruckus in the trees. I couldn’t see anything, just heard the rowdy and raucous Blue Jays carrying on as they do to alert their community of feathered friends. They are the alarm for the community… and not just the Blue Jay community. They help the entire back yard bird world altogether. Blue Jays are known for their aggressive behavior and most folks don’t like them because of it. I like them a lot because of their aggressive behavior plus their family or community behavior. They have always been known as the Alarm for the bird world… at least the back yard bird world. They alert the community when there is anything or something out of kilter or if there is a so-called “intruder” in the area, such as a Cooper’s hawk in the neighborhood. The word “raucous” has a great definition and it describes the Blue Jays alarming calls very well. Here is what Meriam Webster says:
loud and unpleasant to listen to
behaving in a very rough and noisy way
Various Sounds of Blue Jays
Blue Jay imitating a Red Shouldered hawk (which some folks mistake for the Cooper’s hawk – Both are dangerous to dove and other unsuspecting birds). One Blue Jay even taunts a hawk.
The Cooper’s hawk, like the Sharp Shinned and Red Shouldered hawk, is one that preys on dove – usually – at back yard feeders, but will take any unsuspecting fowl that is hanging around and caught unawares. Usually the dove are on the ground and are slow to get going so they are easy prey for the hawks. The Cooper’s hawk is swift and sleek. It swoops in, grabs a dove on the ground and takes off. They aren’t very big but they are powerful. The dove have no chance against the Cooper’s, or usually any other hawk. The Cornell Lab Of Ornithology website says this about the Cooper’s hawk:
Among the bird world’s most skillful fliers, Cooper’s Hawks are common woodland hawks that tear through cluttered tree canopies in high speed pursuit of other birds. You’re most likely to see one prowling above a forest edge or field using just a few stiff wingbeats followed by a glide. With their smaller lookalike, the Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawks make for famously tricky identifications. Both species are sometimes unwanted guests at bird feeders, looking for an easy meal (but not one of sunflower seeds).
Look for Cooper’s Hawks to fly with a flap-flap-glide pattern typical of accipiters. Even when crossing large open areas they rarely flap continuously. Another attack maneuver is to fly fast and low to the ground, then up and over an obstruction to surprise prey on the other side.”
With that said, the dove usually move in groups or flocks. They help each other and watch, at all times, for the swift moving, powerful Cooper’s hawk. They must stay alert to stay alive and to help them do that the Blue Jays carry on until the predatory intruder is out of the area. They help all the bird community because of their raucous behavior. A hawk will prey on any unsuspecting bird, for sure, not just dove.
Now… I bet you know which way I am going with this. You may be right if you think I am going to compare the Cooper’s hawk to the lord of this world… Satan. Now, I love all birds and I do love the Cooper’s hawk, as well. However, I am going to use the Cooper’s hawk for the comparison for this post.
One of the websites I use for research and find answers is GotQuestions.org. It has great Biblical answers and here is what they have to say about this subject – “the lord of this world”.
“Question: “How is Satan god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)?”
Answer: The phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age”) indicates that Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. His influence also encompasses the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. The thoughts, ideas, speculations and false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.”…read more…
The lord of this world knows his time is short and will try anything … absolutely anything, to get your attention away from what is most important and will attack and carry you off to some place that you do not want to be… away from the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. He will try to make you think you are not smart, not good enough or just plain stupid. He holds nothing back! He can trick the most unsuspecting, good Christian into most anything. You must be alert at all times and always look to The Holy Spirit to help guide you through life.
No, God will never leave you or forsake you and no you can never be out of the reach of our loving, merciful Father, as long as you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. However, you can be tempted, distracted and just plain disgusted with life and when that happens and you don’t remember to turn to the One who made you, you can get into trouble. Believe me! Experience talking here… again!
So, there are people that have been placed in your life… and mine… to warn us of impending danger! Just like the robot in Lost In Space… “Danger, Danger, Will Robinson”… there are people and institutions (the church) that spell out the danger that lurks in the shadows for the Christian. Along with warning they can help you with recognizing the ways and means of escape when – not if – it happens. Life is full of turmoil and trouble. Jesus told his closest friends this many, many years ago. He told them that He knew that they would have trouble in the world. But… He has overcome the world! Thank goodness!
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Yes, Jesus has overcome and we still should listen to the gentle folks and the rowdy and raucous folks sometimes. They could be warning of the danger that lies ahead or that is circling us waiting to take us down. Satan has NO MERCY when he strikes. He knows no boundaries … except those that God alone sets. Just like in Job’s case. God allowed Satan to do what he did to Job, but God set a boundary. Do not take his life.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 And the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?”
So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”
8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?”
9 So Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!”
12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Satan has NO power except that which the Lord has given. Remember that! Satan cannot do more than God has allowed. Yes, you may be going through a tough time right now… and it may or may not be Satan working on you. But one thing is for sure… GOD is all knowing, all seeing, all everything! He is the Sustainer, He is the Giver of Life! He hears your every cry! He see your every tear that falls. He can help you through any … ANY … problem you face here on earth! He is waiting for you to listen to the rowdy and raucous noises in your life that are warning you. They are there for a reason. You have to take heed so you can miss all, or most or even some of the problems, or the mounting of problems and with those often come a bad attitude. He can sustain you and help you through. He promises He will be there. Just reach out to Him – the One who created you. The One that knows you best. The One that died for you! He loves you so much! After all, He calls you His beloved!
As I got home from work, I was pretty beat! I just knew that I needed to go check bird feeders, Plum trees and see how many more blackberries the $5.00 Thornless Blackberry bush had ready to pick but I was just gonna let it go tonight. Then dad comes to the back door and hollered, “Leah, you got a little bird caught in the net at your blackberry bush!” I jumped up and flew out the door. You see, I love my wild birds and I would hate for any one of them to get caught and stuck and then get hurt. I put the netting around the bush so the birds would stay away from the top and sides, but I never dreamed one would get up under it and get stuck. So… as I ran… well, walked really fast to help and as I approached the bush, I saw this tiny little female Northern Cardinal fluttering against the netting trying her hardest to get away. As I gently talked to her and said, “It’s gonna’ be alright, little lady…” I reached for her gently and tried to grasp her with my left hand and pull the netting around from the other side, trying very hard not to hurt her in any way. When I did, I must have gotten a tad too close to that large, sturdy beak and she let me have it on the closest thing she could get to – my little finger. She didn’t have any idea that I was trying to help her. She just knew that this “thing” was 1,000 or more times her size and she was gonna give it all she had and she did that. I struggled to keep hold of her so as not to scare her any more… and finally the netting opened up and off she went. She was so pretty and so happy to be loose from that netting. I felt so bad. I told mom and dad I was going to pick the last of the berries off of that bush and take the netting off. Most of the berries had been picked anyway, and we have enough for a second cobbler. I certainly didn’t want that to happen again. I figured she was pecking around on the ground under the bush and looking for low hanging fruit when she got startled with the dogs and dad coming out of the back door and she tried to fly but got caught in the netting because she was too far up under it to miss it – just my guesstimation – I know that is really not a word, but it fits here.
So, the next day, Saturday, I moseyed out to fill the feeders and to take the netting off of the Blackberry bush and to pick Plums and dang-it, if there wasn’t what looked to be the same young female Cardinal caught in the net of one of the Plum trees. Dang, Dang, Dang!! The dogs were just carrying on under her and she couldn’t get anywhere. Seeing her frightened and fluttering like mad, I dropped the bird seed buckets and as I started for the tree, calling the dogs off of her. Before I knew it she found a way out on her own … so I didn’t have to take the chance of getting my finger pecked or pinched again. I was so happy for her and I was so mad at myself. I knew that netting on that tree had some holes underneath. I figure she was pecking around again under the plum tree this time – because of all the plums that some of the birds had gotten to already. She was enjoying the feast on the ground when the dogs hit the back door and made a bee-line for her. She probably jumped up again, trying to fly away and got caught in the netting, yet, one more time. It truly did look like the same tiny, little thing – a young female Cardinal. Man did she fly away when she got free. I bet she will never come close to any kind of netting again and may not even visit my backyard again. Bless her heart. I felt so bad. I was not about to fill those feeders before I tied up and fastened that netting up, in whatever manner I had to, so she nor any other of my feathered friends got caught.
You know… God spoke volumes to me in both of those instances. Yep, I bet you are wondering how, too. Well, when we are just pecking along in life and not really paying attention to how we are doing it and where it’s leading us — after all that “low hanging fruit” surely looked good when we first spotted it — we can get caught off guard and before we know it… we are caught in the net just like that little bird. Although, sometimes, when we get caught in the net, it has far more lasting effects. I know! This is the voice of experience speaking here! I can so relate to that little bird. She was just wanting something tasty and satisfying. Much more than that dry seed that she had to fight the other birds for. She found a treasure trove of low hanging ripe berries and even some on the ground. So, she thought she would just sneak over and get a peck or two. After all, it was just a little bit and then she would be back over there eating that seed before you know it. However, she found herself caught in the net and she could not get loose. I suppose, if dad had not seen her, and I had not freed her, she would have fluttered herself to death. She was caught real good in the Blackberry bush net.
Luckily I got her loose and she lived to fly another day. Although just two days later she found herself in the same predicament only this time two loud barking dogs were nipping at her feathers and she was surely about to die. If my pups could have jumped just a few more inches, they would have had her in their mouths… at least my little red head would have. My Liesel, my little red dapple Dachshund, even caught and killed a squirrel in mid air once. What a sight that was, my dad said. So, I have no doubt that she could have caught that fluttering, scared little bird, given a few more inches on her jump. Good thing she is overweight. She could never get another 3 inches off the ground now, I don’t think – LOL!
You know, God has freed me so many times when I was caught in the net. He, in His gracious, gentle way, has freed me and taken me back into His loving arms. Actually, sometimes, it took more than just a “gentle way”. However, it was Love. His pure Love that kept pursuing me and keeping me on His mind and in His heart until, finally, He got me. Not that I don’t have the ability and sometimes even the desire to wander from time to time. He knows that, though. He made me and knows I am human. I suppose we all do because we are human. Some of us more than others. I know that my loving Father will always take me back and even welcome me back into His arms when I have messed up so bad. I hope to goodness I have gotten over the worst part, though. The key is staying as humble as you can and always looking to Him to help you maneuver through this life. This life is tough. He knows it. He told His closest friends that many years ago.
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
We can count on trouble “in the world” and just expect it to happen to you once in a while – if not more than once in a while. However… MY JESUS HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD! We can rest in the fact that He knows the way Home. He knows how to lead us Home, too. We just have to follow His lead and wait …. WAIT … for His direction in this life. I know that is easier to say – and type – than it actually is to live it … but it is so true. He has given us the power within us – The Holy Spirit – to overcome any temptation or attempt to sneak some “low hanging fruit” that we are really not supposed to have. Even the power to overcome other obstacles too! Not just taboo things, but what about a “new job” with so many new things to learn that you go home with your head spinning and it’s a good thing that you have almost an hour ride home so you can be back down to a normal altitude when you hit the door. He can help with learning and comprehending. He can impart wisdom and knowledge where it is needed. He can because He is God and He KNOWS ME and YOU! HE MADE ME and YOU! Every fiber of your being. He loves you so much.
He can help you through a divorce, death of a loved one, a sickness of yourself or a loved one, an unruly child, spouse, parent, sibling, co-worker, manager, or otherwise… I think I covered them all … maybe. He can help us – each one – through anything this life throws at us. Yes the ruler of “this world” roams about seeking who he can devour …
33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
He has overcome the world! We can have total confidence in Him! The God of the Universe! The Maker of ALL Things! The tiny lady bug to the majestic mountains and even you and me! He loves you so much! Won’t you let Him guide you today!? Don’t get caught in the net of life any more. Let Him help you through this maze of life. Let Him show you how Amazing He is! He is waiting for you to call out to Him. After all, He calls you His beloved.