His Everlasting Arms

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. . . Deuteronomy 33: 27 

Have you ever had to accept that you have been in complete denial about something really important? I have come to that place in the last few days and it’s been painful to face the truth. In looking back, I suppose I knew all along. The heart sometimes seems to know what the mind can’t accept.

Denial can be a good thing – for a while anyway. It can keep us from being anxious or distressed over a situation, and it can give our minds time to slowly adjust to a certain reality. But eventually, we have to face the painful truth and find a way to move forward.

For the past two years, my niece has been telling me that she was seeing some changes in my dear, older sister, Ruth, and eventually, the diagnosis of early stages of Alzheimer’s was made. I was told the news, but I wanted to believe that perhaps it was just some aging dementia or memory loss.

At my age, I too, have trouble remembering things, I lose objects, and sometimes I can’t “pull down” a word I am trying to say. I searched for any signs I could find that she was truly changing mentally, but all I could see was the very same strong, independent, intelligent, happy, and loving sister she has always been – at least during the times she was with me.

I know her so well. We  have talked almost every day for years and we see each other fairly often since she lives only an hour away. We have always shared everything and relied on the other for strength and comfort. We have been a constant presence in each other’s lives – through all the happy times and the sad.

And even with this diagnosis, I just kept thinking that if this truly was happening to her, I would have been one of the first to notice it, to understand that she was not herself, and to have been the first person she would have talked to about it. I convinced myself that I would somehow know, and since I didn’t, I wouldn’t accept it. Recently, it became something I couldn’t deny any longer.

Almost 18 years older than me, Ruth has been my second mom, the most loving sister, and my best friend, my cheerleader, my encourager, my comforter, and my biggest fan. She has loved my family as her own, and I have loved hers. I was there for her when her husband passed away of lung cancer when she was in her mid 30’s, when her only child went away to college and she was left alone once again, and when her precious granddaughter was born.

And what love and support she has given me through the years. We have mourned and comforted each other during the passing of our dad when I was 13, and during the loss of our two brothers, a sister, and our mom since the year 2000. I watched her retire from a successful career, receive recognition for all her volunteer work in the community and in her church, and be the most amazing, loving, kind, and selfless mother and grandmother I know. Even in the last few months at 82, she has seemed so vibrant, happy, independent, and self-assured.

But then there’s this other thing – this change that is going on inside her mind. How confused she must be at what is happening. She knows the diagnosis, and we have talked about it, but yet she just refers to it as some memory loss she has.

In my mind, she’s still the same wonderful person she has always been. I have been around individuals with Alzheimer’s – perhaps more in the later stages – but I suppose I just didn’t want to accept that you can be so normal while losing bits of yourself more and more.

Just a few days ago, I watched a 3 minute video called “Everything you ever needed to know about Alzheimer’s”, and I understood what I had tried so hard not to see. There will be no more denial. Acceptance is hard. And it saddens me to know the struggles that my niece, her daughter, and her husband are going through as they try to figure out the best way to meet her needs and fill her days with simple joys. I am sure many of you understand because you too have family members or friends who have been affected by this disease. You understand the pain and despair involved much too well.

I am beginning to understand. I listened as my niece told me how much worse her mom is getting. I have never seen her during the times when her thinking has become so irrational and she gets so easily agitated, angered, and in despair over the simplest things, such as the loss of objects that she can’t find, and the obsession with the thoughts that someone is stealing everything she has. These times are coming more frequently and with more fierceness, and she is living in a constant state of anxiety.

The last few days have been filled with tears as she begs her daughter for help. Yet, when I call her each day, we talk about our adorable grandchildren and laugh at each other’s stories about them. We pretend that all is well. Ruth has never told me about these anxious times, and that in itself, breaks my heart.

But I finally realized that this is one thing she can’t share with me. It’s a place I can’t go with her. It’s something we can’t talk about and solve together. As much as I want to travel this journey with her and try to make it easier for her, I can’t. She has to go it alone – with God holding her in His everlasting arms. I am holding on to His promise to do so.

Some horrible things can happen in this life and we don’t understand why. This relentless, incurable disease with its slow progression that leads to death is certainly one of them. I know my sister has had a long and wonderful life, and I am so grateful for it, but it is difficult to watch her slowly decline and lose herself.

But yet, she is still with us. She has much faith and I know she is trusting in Him. I am counting on those loving arms to hold her close to Him until He carries her home. I am trusting in His mercy and grace.

Prayer

Dear God, you understand the heartache that we feel as we watch our loved ones go through difficult times. We ask that your mercy and grace be upon them and that you hold them in your everlasting arms. May we feel your strength and peace as we go through the uncertainties of life and hold on to your promise of eternal life with you. Amen

God Wants Our Best

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10

The last 6 days have been busy ones – quite different from our normal routine of getting up “a little later” and moving slowly before starting our day! Our little guys, Miles and Cole, have been visiting, but now they’re gone, and our house is much too quiet. I must admit that it’s really in disarray, there is much laundry to do, much has been left undone, and we both are exhausted. We went the “extra mile” to play, entertain, and make sure they had fun, and I can’t remember fixing so many meals in one day, baking so many goodies, and cleaning up so many dishes! There is definitely not a dull or quiet moment when they are around!

But it was a joy, a gift, and their presence remains – with many smiles and reminders of their sweet spirits! It’s always nice to have them one at a time and to be able to give them all our attention. They had planned the visits very carefully and wanted to make sure they were carried out in the most fair manner – with each one having the same amount of time – 2 nights and 3 days to be exact – almost to the hour.

Each day began early – anywhere from 5:40 to 6:00 am and they were ready for pancakes and muffins as soon as their feet hit the floor! And when I say they began early, they began with much enthusiasm, laughter, and conversation. For a couple of old folks who aren’t exactly charming in the morning and usually don’t speak much the first hour or two, it was a change.

But we didn’t complain. In fact, they seemed to “rub off” on us and we began each day with a smile and a fresh, new attitude! It was such a joy to wake up to those happy, excited voices! They were always so eager to get the day started and to see what it would bring! With what anticipation they face each one and how they take advantage of each hour of the day!

If only we adults could have their enthusiasm for life, their insight and wisdom. How much joy and contentment we miss by not embracing each and every day and looking for all the goodness it can bring. Do you ever wonder if we are truly taking advantage of each one, looking for its blessings and for the blessing we can be to others?

How like wise Solomon, who is believed to be the author of Ecclesiastes, to just “lay it out there” and say it like it is. In essence, in this verse, he is saying, “If you are alive, you have the opportunity to do something special with your life each and every day. After you are gone, your chances are over.”

Every day should be seen as a blessing from God. Even Scripture tells us that we have no guarantees for tomorrow. All we have is this moment, this time. If we could only remember to make a conscious effort to give it our all and not miss out on the possibilities that lay before us. If we could just have the enthusiasm of a child, life could and would be so much sweeter.

So many of us look to the past and others only long for the future. Too often we miss the moment that is now. We go through the motions of living and just muddle through – getting through the day, checking off the list, and living a monotonous existence without feeling any real joy or accomplishment. We deserve better. God wants better for us.

He wants to give us time filled with His best. We are his wonderful creation and He sees wonderful possibilities for us in each day. Each one is a new opportunity for sharing love, kindness, and joy with each other. May we embrace each one, and whatever we do, do it with all our heart and with all our being, but especially may we do it with enthusiasm and gratitude. For today is a gift filled with His goodness and grace!

 Prayer

Dear God, how often we take each day for granted and just go through the motions of living. Help us to see all the possibilities you lay before us and to take advantage of each one. Help us to smile, to feel joy, to offer love and kindness to others, and to always remember to give you the honor and praise for the blessings of life. Amen

God Has Made It Clear

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1: 19 – 21

Sometimes when I look around and see the beauty and mystery of creation, the goodness that exists in many hearts, and the powerful, glorious, loving nature of God, I am just amazed that there are so many people who can’t or won’t acknowledge His existence.

Or even if they think He might exist, they refuse to give Him the reverence He so deserves. Sadly, they have little time for, or interest in Him. They seldom think of Him, speak of Him, or worship Him. It’s as if they have blinders on, and they refuse to recognize the obvious signs of His presence in the world or in their lives. Even if they believe He might have created and sustained them, they fail to acknowledge His blessings or give Him praise.

It is almost as if they are saying, “God, I will put you aside for now, and maybe someday if I need you, or when I have a more convenient time, I might call on you; or when it is a better time for me to openly accept you without judgment from others, or a season when I don’t have to give up too much time and energy to you, I might seek you. But for now, I am just too busy and life is just too full of other demanding, more important things.”

How much our God is dishonored, neglected, His Son ignored and ridiculed, His blessings forgotten, and His loving Spirit resisted. Yet, there are so many who seem to always be searching for something to fill the void in their lives – some aspiration, pleasure, material thing, or some particular person they feel can make their lives happier and more fulfilling. And, they never find who or what they are looking for.

We know that there is only One who can fill that space and He stands ready and willing to do so, but their hearts reject Him, and they continue to search for some earthly answer. What peace, contentment, assurance, and love they miss without His presence.

How can they not see and believe that He is the one true God of the universe who cares for us and will provide for our needs? For we see Him in everything – in the unity and perfection of how the world was created and in how He sustains life through His sovereign love and power. No randomness in nature could create such total perfection and beauty. No accidental force could create loving hearts and minds full of wisdom and knowledge. The miraculous and glorious things of life could not happen by circumstance on their own. They occur because of a loving God who blesses us with His goodness and grace. His revelations have been made known and His presence is everywhere – if we will only open our hearts to see.

 Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we often wonder how anyone could look around at the earth, sky, and all of your creations without seeing your hand in everything. We thank you for the gifts of life, for loving family and friends, for all your many wonderful blessings, and for your saving grace. May the hearts and minds of those who don’t know you be opened to the possibilities of life with your loving presence. Amen

O Lord, You Know Me

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139: 1 – 4; 6

Do you ever feel as if you know someone so well that you even know what they are thinking, or what their next words will be? Isn’t it almost inconceivable to think that God knows this about each one of us? Isn’t it humbling to think that He knows absolutely everything about us – our thoughts, our words before we speak, all our ways, what lies deep in our hearts, and even when we rise and when we sleep?

Of all the 150 Psalms, this is the one that best describes God’s personal relationship with us. It gives us the assurance of knowing that He is not far away and will always be near when we need Him most. It can bring strength, comfort, and peace to know that He understands our struggles, our pain, our insecurities, and our loneliness during certain situations, but it can also bring shame and guilt when we realize He knows our deepest thoughts, even the ones we don’t like acknowledging to ourselves. But it also means that He has the ability to encourage us, help us, and love us through any circumstances we are going through – in our minds and in our hearts. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

How can we even begin to understand the concept of God being present everywhere in the universe at the same time? Yet His omnipresence is part of His being. He constantly sees our hearts, searches our motives, knows our anxious thoughts and worries, and will lead us in the right direction if we seek His guidance. He is constantly thinking about us, He wants His best for us, and He blesses us with His goodness and love.

What a reminder that we need to live lives of integrity and honor because our God sees and He knows. He knows it all!

 Prayer

Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you that you are always with us and that you know us better than we know ourselves. Thank you for your loving thoughts toward us, your guidance, your comfort, and the assurance we can have in your love and grace. Amen

Living Water

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

I love that Miles has my interest in history, and recently, we were talking about the early explorers. He is fascinated by their journeys and discoveries. He loved the story I told him about Juan Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer, who came to America, looking for new lands, riches, and the fountain of youth.

Ponce de Leon explored Florida, the area in which the Indians had told him that there was a spring whose waters could make the old young again if he drank of it. Obviously, he never found it, but if he had, can you only imagine how the news would have spread!

Things haven’t changed much in the 500 years since, have they? We’re still searching for that magical water, lotion, creme, or fruit that will make us young again!

I thought of the biblical story of theWoman at the Well” and the “living water” that Jesus offered her. It sounds like a much better offer than the fountain of youth or any other miracle potion for our old age! It makes you wonder why more aren’t out searching for it! This beautiful story in John 4 is a good reminder of Christ’s love for us and the richness of life He desires to give us.

Traveling from Jerusalem to Galilee, Jesus became very tired and thirsty, so he sat by Jacob’s Well, while His disciples went to a village close by to buy food. It was about noon, the hottest part of the day, when a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well and Jesus asked her for a drink. She hesitated and asked how he could ask such a thing. She recognized that Jesus was a Jew and traditionally, they did not associate with Samaritans.

Then “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’ ’’ Confused, she asks how she can obtain this gift. Jesus is referring to the only thing that can satisfy her or our soul’s desire, and that is the gift of His love and grace, but even more, it is His promise of eternal life.

At first, the Samaritan woman did not fully understand His meaning, but she soon recognized Him for who He was. Although they had never met, Jesus revealed that He knew she had had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband. As they continued to talk, she voiced her faith that the Messiah was coming. Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am he.”

As the woman began to grasp the reality of her encounter with Jesus, the disciples returned. They were equally shocked to find Him speaking to a woman, but Jesus reminded them of their mission.

Leaving her water jar behind, the woman returned to town, inviting her people to “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.”  Excited by what they had heard, they came and Jesus stayed with them for 2 days, teaching them about the Kingdom of God.

After He left, they told the woman, “. . . we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

In His encounter with the woman at the well, Jesus broke 3 Jewish customs: first, He spoke to a woman; second, she was a Samaritan – a group the Jews traditionally despised because of their cultural mixing; and third, in asking for water, he would have made himself ceremonially unclean by using her cup. Even more, this woman was being shunned and rejected by others in the area for her immorality. But Jesus knew her history and accepted her and ministered to her.

By reaching out to her and her people, Jesus showed His mission was to the entire earth, not just to the Jews. He revealed His desire and God’s plan to offer all people the gift He has to give that is available only through believing in Him and recognizing Him as our Savior – the gift of eternal life.

We often forget this gift we have been given and how Jesus has taught us to share it with others. What a good reminder to do so and also of how we should treat others, with love and compassion – even those we think are lost causes or who have moral values different from our own.

Jesus loved and accepted them. He did not condone or disregard their behavior, but He lovingly reminded them of what could be theirs – a more fulfilling life transformed by His love and grace. May we use the opportunities we have with others to share the gift of His “living water” and the promise of eternal life.

 Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the stories from your Word that teach us more about you, but especially we thank you for your Son and His saving grace. May we share your love and the life we can have in you with others. Amen

Honoring Those Who Gave Their Lives

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15: 13

When I was teaching, we would occasionally come across a story about men, women and children from all over the world who dreamed of coming to this country to live. How blessed we have been to live in the United States of America.

I am so grateful for the freedoms that we have – that we take for granted each and every day of our lives. I love the history of our nation and so appreciate the brave men and women who have fought and died for our liberty and the rights we have as citizens of this great land.

Today on this Memorial Day, may it be a time to pause, honor, and remember the courageous men and women who have served and died for our country. Men and women who have unselfishly left their families, the comforts of home, the everyday pleasures and joys we take for granted, and their entire way of life to serve this nation.

For many it has meant leaving and going to a strange, foreign, and dangerous country. And for many, it has meant never returning home to their loved ones. How can we forget that this freedom that we so freely enjoy comes with a price, and that price is often the loss of sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends. And for many of those, who have been fortunate enough to return to their families, their lives will never be the same. What a sacrifice that we seldom consider in our everyday lives.

Memorial Day is not only a patriotic celebration in which we remember the wars fought and the freedoms won so that we might live in a free nation, but it is also a time to pay tribute to those who are defending our liberties around the world. Today, there will be heartwarming speeches made, many parades throughout the cities, the display and waving of many red, white and blue star spangled flags, and the most solemn ceremony of all, the placing of a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier located in the Arlington National Cemetery. But what little gratitude, recognition, and praise these brave men and women seem to receive on all other days for their service to our country. May we remember their sacrifice and show our honor and appreciation.

Today is also a time to thank God for those who have given their lives for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

What great love these veterans had for their country and for their countrymen. As we thank God for these brave men and women, may we also pause and reflect on what God has done for our country. Our Founding Fathers consistently spoke of His sovereignty and our Christian values in defining and preserving this great nation.

Our Constitution ends with “in the year of our Lord”.  Our nation’s motto is “In God We Trust”, and in our pledge of allegiance, we recite the words, “One nation under God.” God has blessed our nation with abundance and much wealth, but we have often failed to give him the honor and glory He deserves for giving us this land of opportunity and liberty. May we remember to do so always, and pray that our children and grandchildren will be able to live in the future with the same privileges and freedoms we have known throughout our lifetimes.

 Prayer

Dear God, today we honor those who have fought and died for our country and for those who continue to serve this great nation. Lord, we often take the freedom and privileges that we have for granted, but we thank you on this day for the many blessings you have given us as Americans. We give you all honor, praise, and glory. Amen

Praise His Holy Name

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Psalm 103: 1

Today is a day for worshiping and giving God praise, and I have reason to give Him much praise. Miles is with us for a couple of days, we will take him home, and then Cole will join us for a few days. It’s always so fun to have them here, but especially sweet when we get the rare opportunity to have them separately and can give each one all of our undivided love and attention! We are enjoying every special moment of this time!

How blessed our family is to have the lives we do. I am often filled with overwhelming gratitude at God’s goodness to us and then at other times, I know I take it for granted and don’t even acknowledge all He gives. Our God keeps us in His loving care, He extends His grace to us in so many ways, and He satisfies our desires with good things. How He deserves our heartfelt gratitude, but how often we fail to honor Him with our praise.

The blessings that we have were especially brought to mind this past week when we received a letter from our 8 year old sponsor child, Kobby, who lives in Ghana. (I wrote about him in an earlier post, “Nothing Can Separate Us From the Love of God” on February 9th.) He has been a part of our lives for the past 4 years and has such a special place in our hearts. These letters are rare – maybe 6 or 7 a year, but we are always so thankful to receive them and hear from him and his family.

In each one, he includes a picture he has drawn for us, he tells us about what he is learning at the Development Center, about his hopes and dreams for the future, and about playing soccer with his friends at school. I often send him a Scripture passage to encourage him, but in this letter he sent us one – Psalm 103:1: “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.” 

This precious child who lives in such poverty and need remembers to praise our most gracious God with all his heart and soul, and he sent us a reminder to do the same for all the many blessings we have received. How amazing is that!

Kobby has only known Him a short time. Through Compassion International and our sponsorship, he is able to attend school, get medical care, food and needed supplies, and learn about our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. What a blessing and what hope this Savior has given him and his family. In his letters, he never asks for anything beyond our prayers and is always so grateful for our sponsorship, our small gifts, and letters.

In this one, he simply asked that we pray that he and and family be kept safe and healthy, that he will do well in school so he can have a better future, and that he can continue to learn about God’s love. Such simple things he desires, but they are the most important things. Everything else is just not necessary. And as for his prayers for us, he said that he asks God to bless us and that He will grant us our hearts’ desires.

Our hearts’ desires. I can assure you that those words brought a few tears and they deeply humbled us. This child who has so little prays for us to have much. If he only knew how many of those blessings we already have. If only our prayers and our hearts’ desires could be as beautiful and simple as his. And he longs to give Him praise. So should we.

Prayer 

Our most gracious and loving God, thank you for the blessings of life and for your presence in it. May we be reminded even more on this day of what is truly important in life through the words of this little boy. Please continue to be with him and his family and keep them in your loving care. Amen

By God’s Grace I Am What I Am

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:10

You may have heard the expression “I am what I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.” But these words from the pages of Scripture say it much more beautifully: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

We, as believers in Jesus Christ, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if there is anything good in us, anything commendable or virtuous, that God put it there Himself. We are not capable of doing so, for by nature, we are selfish, flawed beings. We have become who we are by the loving grace of God and not by our own doing. The good things in us are given to us by our Creator, not because of something good He foresaw in us and not because He thought us worthy or deserving. Nothing in our personality or character could have moved His heart to make us into who we are. He gave us this divine favor through His grace and mercy because He loves us – with a deep abiding and unconditional love.

Some of us may not like who we are, and others may think of themselves with too much arrogance and greatness. We often compare ourselves to others – envy their appearance, intelligence, talents, or success, and either seek to be like them, or accept that we never will be. There are so many voices we hear that tell us who we are – some in our own heads, some from those around us telling us what we aren’t, and some from God telling us who we truly are and who we can become.

Scripture even tells us that Satan has the potential to plant a few ideas in our minds and hearts, as well, telling us how wonderful we are and how we don’t need God because we can do anything with our own strength and wisdom. Or he might lead us to believe how very insignificant we are, how we don’t matter, how we are on our own, and how God doesn’t care about us. He may even convince us that we are not worthy of being called a child of God.

Yet, our loving Father tells us a quite different story. He wants us to understand and believe that each one of us is a unique, beautiful, and magnificent being made by His loving hand and divine grace. He desires that we let His Spirit within us fill our minds and hearts with confidence in the individuals He made us to be.

It dishonors Him for us to focus on our inabilities, flaws, failures, or insecurities. In the same manner, it also dishonors God when we believe that we have achieved some level of greatness because of our own perseverance, intellect, hard work, or superior goodness. Only He deserves the glory and praise. He may still have work to do to make us into the beings He would have us be, but by His grace we will be.

 Prayer

Lord, we thank you for your grace in making us into the individuals we are. We thank you for the changes you have brought about in our lives and in our hearts, and for the ones yet to come. May we always give you all honor and praise. Amen

Be Merciful

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7: 1- 2

Isn’t it so easy for us to criticize others – whether it’s how a person is dressed, how they act, how they live, or even their opinions and beliefs. We do it with such ease and haste without even considering how judgmental we are being. Instead of looking with such critical “eyes”, shouldn’t we see each other with more loving and merciful ones? Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”  

We all find fault in others, and this is one of those verses that can make us feel really uncomfortable. It makes us look more closely at ourselves and we recognize our own participation in such an unloving act. We know that on occasion, we can be quick to form opinions in which we look harshly or unfavorably upon someone, and we aren’t hesitant to share those feelings with others.

Yet, God commands us to love and accept each other graciously. We are not to condemn or be critical of someone’s appearance, character, personality, opinions, or actions. We should not sit in judgment of or condemn people for who they are. Sometimes it is as if we hold others to a higher standard than we do ourselves, and we are often guilty of the same faults with which we accuse others. God wants us to love and accept others just as we expect them to accept us and not have a judgmental or critical temperament.

But isn’t it difficult to do, especially after the pattern of judgmental attitudes we have adopted for so long? We may even try to give individuals ample opportunity to redeem those qualities we perceive to be unacceptable. It is as if we truly do want to look upon them with a more favorable light and try to see the good in them, but first they must conform to our image of who they should be.

How unfair or unjust is it that we just want them to fit our criteria for acceptance? As Christians, we sometimes struggle with this, but we can remember that God is the Justice Maker – we are not – and He will judge all of us. Only He can judge our hearts and lives to see if they line up with His truths.

This Scripture passage is part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount taken from Matthew 5 -7 in which He gives guidelines to His followers on how to live the good Christian life. We are told not to assume authority over others by judging their words or actions. We are not to look for the worst in others, but to look for the best in them.

Only God can judge another’s heart or his intentions. If we do presume to judge others with pride and superiority, then we may expect to be ourselves judged with the same severity. “The measure of mercy we show others, is the same measure God will show us.”

What a humbling thought! One biblical scholar said it this way: “What would become of us if God should be as exact and severe in judging us as we are in judging others if He should weigh us with the same balance?”  

Prayer

Dear God, we are often so judgmental and unmerciful of others. May we see these individuals with the same loving eyes as you do and accept them with love and grace. Help us to search our own hearts and find compassion for others. For we know that we will be judged by you in the same measure we judge others. Amen 

Making a Vow to God

When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. . . Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God. Ecclesiastes 5: 4 – 5, 7 

Have you ever made a promise to God in a moment of uncertainty, fear, or danger? Or was it made during a moment of deep desire for something or out of deep gratitude? Did you say to yourself or even out loud, “Dear God, if you’ll do this one thing, I promise I will do such and such.”

We might promise to be faithful, to go to church, to serve Him with our lives, or to be a better husband, wife, parent, daughter, or son. We’ve all probably said these words at one time or another in our lives, but amazingly, we don’t have to promise God anything in order to receive a blessing from Him. He gives His abundant goodness out of His abiding love for us.

This verse from Ecclesiastes is filled with much wisdom as it reminds us that our words can be so meaningless and foolish when we make promises to God in our weakest moments and then forget we made them, or we make them when we really had no intentions of fulfilling them.

But if we do make such promises, He expects us to mean them and to keep them – not just for those moments, but throughout our day to day living. We are also reminded that if we have no plans of following through, we shouldn’t make them at all. God takes our promises to Him very seriously and we should never make one causally or lightly.

When individuals join a church, when couples exchange marriage vows, or when parents vow to raise their children in a Christian home, these are solemn promises to God that we should feel committed to keep. Any vow we make to Him or to anyone else should be taken with the same spirit. Fulfilling a promise is a matter of integrity and honor. Failing to do so is a sign of insincerity and disrespect to God.

God keeps His promises to us and He expects us to do the same. There were many covenants God made with His people in the Old Testament, but with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ, the old went to the wayside and the new appeared. With the gift of His Son, there was no need for the legality of laws for righteous living. We had a Savior who could give us eternal life for believing in Him. There were far greater blessings in the new covenant, and we can choose to either accept or reject them.

God in His infinite wisdom has made a promise to us – an eternal covenant through which we can forever live in His presence, He will be our God, and we will be His people trusting in His love and grace. May we stand in awe of His greatness, His power, His glory, and His love for us. What  a promise for all eternity!

Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we are so grateful for your love, the promises you have made to us, and the many blessings of life. May we be faithful in our vows to you as you have been to us, but when we’re not, we thank you for your loving grace to cover us. Amen

Giving Jesus Our Best

“Leave her alone”, Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save the perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”  John 12:  7 – 8

Father’s Day is coming soon, and it’s time to be thinking of the gifts we want to give those men in our lives who mean so much to us. A tie? Golf clubs? A book? What would be worthy of the loving person he is!

We all can relate with trying to find the perfect gift – one that shows our thoughtfulness, love, and appreciation to the person who is receiving it. We want it to be something really special and sometimes even unique. We put a lot of thought and effort into coming up with the perfect choice, and often it seems to fall short of our expectations and the love and appreciation we had hoped to convey.

I have always loved the story of Mary anointing Jesus with the precious nard or oil that she had in her possession.  I have often wondered if she too had put much thought into what she could give this beloved friend who had become so dear to her.  But He was more than just a friend. She had learned to place her devotion, faith, and trust in Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. After all, she had seen Him raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead!

What love, gratitude, and awe she must have had for Him. What gift could possibly be worthy of the Son of God? It had to be the most precious, expensive, unique, important possession she owned and one with the most significance and value to Him.

This third event in which Mary, Martha, and Lazarus appeared in the Gospels with Jesus took place a week before his death. They, like His disciples and followers, realized that Jesus was in grave danger. He has tried to prepare them for what lay ahead, but it seems almost impossible that they could have completely understood what was about to occur and that He would be leaving them.

Their home in Bethany outside of Jerusalem seemed to be a safe place, a refuge of sorts for Him. These friends prepared a meal for Him and those accompanying Him. It was the custom of the day when the guests arrived before eating that the host would give them a refreshing foot bath after they had walked on the dusty roads.

Mary took a container of oil of nard (oil extracted from a balsam tree), broke it, and anointed Jesus’s feet with the expensive perfume. Then she wiped His feet tenderly with her hair. Judas and others objected to the obvious waste of such a valuable commodity, a year’s worth of salary.

Whether the nard was an investment for her family, or a perfume she was keeping for her own wedding, it was a remarkably unselfish and extravagant gift to give. She offered it as a comfort and a reassurance to Jesus for what was to come. Whether Mary fully understood what was about to happen, we cannot know, but we do know that she believed Him to be the Messiah, and she lovingly ministered to Him with the anointing oil.

In this verse from John, Jesus defended and appreciated Mary’s extraordianary gesture of love. He knew what was to come and that she was giving Him the most precious gift she owned and in the most loving way – as she tenderly wiped His feet with her hair. He accepted her most humble offering as an anointment prior to His death, burial, and resurrection, and He reminded those present that His time was near for doing what God had sent Him to do.

Mary’s gift is a reminder that we too should always give Jesus our best, but even more, this story should remind us of His love for us. What could we possibly give Him in return that is worthy of such a gift of His saving grace and the promise of eternal life?

We can give Him what He most desires of us – that we give Him our lives and our hearts in full devotion, trust, and love to Him. We can give Him our obedience, respect, honor, gratitude, love and service to others, kindness, our help to the needy and poor, and our most heartfelt worship and praise. For no one deserves it more! He is truly worthy!

 Prayer

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us the greatest and most loving gift known to mankind – the sacrifice of your life on the cross to ensure our salvation and the promise of eternal life. May we give our lives and loving service to you in return for your magnificent grace. May we honor, glorify, and worship your most holy name always.  Amen

Send Forth Your Light

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 43: 3

I am still attending a weekly art class and am really enjoying it, but I never realized there would be so much to learn! I’m not enthralled with my talent and I don’t think anyone else is very impressed with it either, but that’s ok! I’m learning that it takes patience, some basic instruction, practice, and a desire to express myself in whatever way I like. It doesn’t have to appeal to anyone else but me! I especially like “pushing” myself a bit beyond my comfort zone to see what I can do, and it’s “kinda” nice to try to learn something new at my age! Yet, there are so many principles and techniques that I can’t begin to fully grasp!

The one that I am having the most difficulty with at this point is pinpointing the light source and from which direction it’s coming. I have learned that this is important for your painting to look realistic, and that it is considered one of the most important aspects of art.

If the source is the sun, it’s important to decide before you begin, what the time of day will be and where the sun’s rays will be in relation to the objects on your painting and where shadows will be cast. It’s eye opening to look at something in a totally different light!

Now I find myself looking at trees with new eyes and seeing where the sunlight hits at certain times during the day. It is so amazing to see the light streaming through the leaves, and see the different shades of green. And I had never really noticed the blue sky and light that peers through so many openings in a tree.

One of our teachers reminded us to include them by telling us to think of it as God providing the light and way for the birds to pass through. What a visual image that brings to mind! There is so much I am seeing for the first time! How much of nature we don’t even see and how much beauty we miss!

As I examine more closely and try to learn about this aspect of light on a canvas, I can’t help but think of God’s light and how it comes through to us with such hope and assurance. And I think with sadness at how many never see it, never look for it, or never try to understand it.

In this verse in Psalm 43, I love how David desires, expects, and asks God to continue to “Send forth your light and your truth.”

He has the assurance that God knows of His life and that He will keep His promises. He wants to be guided by His wisdom and truth, His counsel and direction. He understands that He needs to look to God’s light for this journey through life and the uncertainties that lie ahead. He has the genuine desire to be brought into His presence, to be brought near to Him, to the place where He dwells. He recognizes and appreciates the confidence he can have in His love, strength, and comfort every day, but especially during the difficult and painful circumstances of life.

Light is a symbol of hope. It gives life, it inspires, it guides, and it reveals truth. We need the light of the sun, but God’s light is just as significant and essential. We need His boundless love as we let it “stream” through our lives to others. We need Him to shed His light on His Word for us and to help us break through the darkness of this world.

May we see Him with new eyes – in the small, simple, and magnificent ways that He shows Himself to us each and every day. May we marvel at His goodness to us and be grateful for His presence.

Prayer 

Our most loving Father, “send forth your light and your truth” to us. We thank you for the gift of life, for all our many blessings, for your love, your grace, and for the everlasting hope that only you can give. Amen 

If You Believe

 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 

According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, more than 90% of Americans say they believe in God, (a decline from the 50’s and 60’s when 98% responded that they believed.) I am not surprised that when asked, most people will reply that they do believe in a God or a higher power, but if you asked the question in a different manner, such as, “Do you truly BELIEVE God, His Word, and His promises?”, I have no doubt the number would be significantly lower.

While it seems easy for most to admit that there must be some higher power who created us and the world, it seems more difficult for people to truly believe that a loving, caring God is alive, active, and trustworthy. So many who don’t believe seem to have very little knowledge of Scripture and its truths. Belief requires faith and as Christians, we should have much.

The second story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, known to be good friends to Jesus, found in the gospel of John speaks to this belief. Lazarus had become gravely ill, so Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus, asking Him to come, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Jesus received the message, but put off coming for 2 days, for He knew He would show God’s glory by performing a great miracle by doing so. In the meantime, Lazarus died.

When Jesus finally arrived after traveling a distance, Lazarus had already been buried in the tomb for 4 days. As Jesus approached, Martha ran to meet Him on the road. Martha said to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that God will do whatever you ask.”

Jesus replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

Martha replied, Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 

Martha had a deep understanding and knowledge of who Jesus was. Her belief and faith in Him was strong. After speaking with Him, she went inside to get Mary and told her Jesus was asking for her. Mary ran to Jesus, weeping with heartwrenching grief. Jesus was deeply moved by the sight of her pain, and He wept.

Jesus then went to the tomb and had the stone removed. Martha questioned Jesus and told him that it had been 4 days and her brother was surely dead. Then Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

He prayed and called to Lazarus. Lazarus then rose up and appeared to Jesus and the others with Him, alive and well. And then Jesus prayed to His Father and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 

And John records that after this, many Jews began to believe in Jesus after witnessing this amazing event. “I do this so others might believe.” Jesus knew that those people, like us, had such doubting hearts.

We have never seen Jesus resurrect someone from the dead, but we see amazing miracles all around us each and every day, and yet many refuse to believe in His name. How many times do we miss out on God’s glory because we fail to believe?

Martha believed that Jesus was the Son of God and her faith was strong and evident. Jesus knew she believed in Him, and through the raising of Lazarus, He showed the disciples and the world that they could believe in Him too. And more importantly, he showed the world and us that He has power over death.

We too can believe in His resurrection of  the dead, for this is the promise God has made to us for all eternity.  For one day, we too will be resurrected to new life with Him. We can believe in His power, His glory, His love, and His promises to us. And if we do, we too will see the glory of God!

 Prayer

Dear God, so many don’t know you or believe in you. Help us that we might be better servants and make your glory known to others. What gifts they miss out on in life because they don’t know the power that can be found in your presence, love, and grace. May we always give you the honor and praise you deserve. Amen

Living With Grace While We Wait

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2: 11 – 13

There is nothing more beautiful than a Sunday morning in spring! There is just a different feeling on this day more than any other – knowing that it is a day set aside for worshiping God and giving Him praise for the blessings of life. And in spring, it just seems as if we have even more to be grateful for!

On this day, I am feeling especially grateful that we have the opportunity to go to our places of worship so freely without fear or persecution. How often we take for granted with what ease and confidence we can go before His throne of grace – wherever we are! How grateful we can be that we know this Savior and His saving grace! There are so many who don’t know Him or realize what He has to give.

Recently, we heard a wonderful sermon about the need to pray for those who don’t know Christ. The pastor spoke of the barriers and walls that individuals sometimes put up to keep this loving Savior out of their lives and the prayers we need to offer on their behalf – for their hearts to be opened to His grace. So many are kept from the life they could have with Him through their sense of indifference or because of the worldly distractions that keep getting in the way.

As I listened, I thought of the grace of His love and salvation and how grateful I am that I and my family know Him as we do. I know you feel the same. Yet, there are still challenges that lay before all of us as we try to live reverent, righteous lives “in this present age” – lives that line up with what God desires and requires of us. We strive to follow Him, but yet, we know there is a constant war being waged around us for our attention that can often pull us away from our focus on Him.

This present time seems even more difficult than any other before us, but Scripture tells us it will be, as the time approaches “for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Perhaps God is preparing our hearts and our lives to be ready for Him when He does – if not in this generation or the next, but maybe in the hearts of the generations that will come after us, and after our children and our grandchildren.

We all have our stories about the places God has taken us and the things He has done in our lives. Many of our experiences have been difficult and painful, but we know each one was beneficial and necessary to build our faith and trust in Him. Others were joyous and full of blessings and we are grateful.

Even with this knowledge, we sometimes struggle on this journey of faith. But hopefully, we will keep learning and growing along the way. If we look to Him, He will give us the strength, love, and grace to become who He would have us be. And just think of the gift we can give to those who come after us as we pass on the knowledge of His love and grace.

Prayer

Dear God, how much we take your love and grace for granted and how often we fail to share it with others. We pray for those who don’t know you and pray their hearts will be open to you. You know the challenges of this world as we try to live righteous lives, but yet, you are patient with us and continue to guide us with your loving presence. We give you all honor, praise, and glory. Amen.  

Don’t Become “Too” Lazy

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Hebrew 6: 12.

Don’t you just love a lazy day or at least a few hours of laziness? We all need time to actually catch our breaths, slow down, relax a bit, enjoy the beauty in nature, and spend time with our families or friends – or even better, to have a few minutes of quiet time with God! We need these times to reinvigorate and refresh our minds and bodies, and we know that God desires that we have rest. But maybe we shouldn’t let it extend quite as long as some of us would like!

I am constantly being amazed by the lessons and little tidbits of advice on good living we can find in Scripture. For a book written so long ago, it seems to apply to us as much today as it did thousands of years ago.

God knew it would be our human nature to avoid labor – physical, emotional, and spiritual, and that we could become quite sedentary and lazy if given the chance. He designed our minds and bodies in such a way that He knew we would need rest, but He didn’t give us the resources He did – our abilities, skills, intelligence, wisdom, and life itself – to sit around doing nothing, squandering away our time and talents. When idleness becomes a way of life, it can certainly take away from His purpose for us. This quote says it well:  “A lazy person’s lifestyle is so busy doing nothing that he has no time to do anything else!”

It becomes clear how God feels about laziness when you read the many Scripture passages that refer to idleness, being slothful, or lazy. From His perspective, lazy people have no value; they make no progress and no results are ever seen. They only take from others and never give of themselves.

He expects us to be active, energetic, and productive, especially for Him. He shows his disdain for “this extended state of rest and inactivity” known as “laziness” in these verses in Proverbs: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep?” (Ever watched ants at work?  Now there’s an example to follow, and who wants to be referred to as a “sluggard” anyway!)

Our Creator made us with talents and skills for a useful life – to provide for our families, to help others, to be good stewards of our homes, churches, communities, and our world, and to serve Him. Work can be as beneficial to our minds and bodies as much as rest can. We know from experience that it can bring us satisfaction, feelings of accomplishment and pride, and it can provide blessings for others.

God does not expect us to live as idle beings in this world, with no purpose or meaning. And He especially expects us to create loving relationships and show a genuine devotion to those He has placed in our lives. He expects the same zeal in our relationship with Him. It’s easy to become complacent in our worship, in our personal time with Him, and in sharing our blessings with others.

Love takes much effort and time – with each other and with Him. We need to seek ways to show our genuine love, kindness, and grace to those around us and to serve Him with willing hearts. May our lives be active and full of meaning and service to others as we use the abilities and talents He has given us.

 Prayer

Dear God, help us to use the resources you have given us to lead busy, productive lives that are pleasing to you. Help us not to become lazy and complacent in our relationships with each other, in our work and home environments, and especially in our spiritual lives with you. May we honor and serve you with love, enthusiasm, and grace. Amen

God Will Help Us Fight Our Battles

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. 2 Chronicles 32: 7 – 8

Do you ever feel as if you are totally alone and that no one truly understands the things you are going through, or have been through? Do you ever feel as if you are just “fighting a battle” to make it from one day to the next?

So many do, and it is heartbreaking to think of their loneliness and despair. There are so many who don’t know that our loving God can help them carry those burdens. If only they knew – how their hearts could be lifted, what hope they could feel, and how different life could be. And yet, there are many who do call upon His name, but they find it so difficult to believe in His Word, in His promises, and in His love.

I recently read this statement, “It is a sad reality, but in truth, it often takes a Christian most of his/her life to learn that God really can be trusted.” What time we waste trying to do things on our own and how alone that makes us feel. Yet, we have His promise that His presence is with us and that we are never alone. Our loving Father is always with us and will help us “fight our battles”.  

What a comfort to know that He understands what we are going through. He will give us strength and courage to face whatever comes our way and He will always be with us to carry us through. There is so much we can’t understand about our amazing God, but we can know that there is power in His love and wisdom. He can do things through us that we could never do alone. And we have His promise that He will take our circumstances, the painful things in our lives, and use them in some way for our good. We have His assurance that it may not be in the way we desire, or in our timing, but we have His Word that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” (Romans 8: 28)

Life is full of so many problems, all types of struggles and difficulties, and some are much more painful than others, but they can be so much easier to bear if we will only believe, trust in Him, and depend on His divine care.

Scripture gives us many examples, and this particular verse comes from the Old Testament and is the story of Hezekiah, King of Judah, who depended on God’s divine strength and power. He is remembered for doing what was good and right and faithful in God’s eyes.

When he was faced with assault on his city by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, he didn’t stand by passively. He responded with preparation and prayer. The people began to panic and doubt Hezekiah’s leadership and even God’s ability to deliver them. But Hezakiah encouraged the people and urged them on with the above words, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. . . In him and his vast army, there is only the arm of flesh, but with us, is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”

Hezekiah relied on God’s promises and His divine sovereignty and strength, and the Lord saved him and the people of Jerusalem from the Assyrian king.

Doubt and lack of trust can sometimes be our worst enemy. If we begin to doubt ourselves or those we depend on for love and support, we become insecure and fearful, but when we know God and begin to doubt His ability to help us during difficult times, we feel even more frightened, alone, and hopeless. We can trust Him for He has proven Himself to be faithful and trustworthy. We can believe in His infinite love and care.

 Prayer

Dear God, how grateful we are that we can place our lives in your most loving and capable hands. Help us to be bold in our faith and trust in you. Be with us in difficult times and grant us your strength, comfort, and peace. Amen

Living With His Mercy and Grace

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 

Last night before I slept, I thought I would glance briefly at my email and Facebook page, and I saw a blog story someone had posted called “Pray for Ben” which caught my eye, and I began reading. I never expected that I would continue until almost dawn, nor did I have any idea when I began, that it was a story that would touch my heart so deeply and teach me so much about trusting in God’s mercy and grace.

I was so humbled by this young mother’s words. I have tried to write each day about the goodness and love of God while I have been living in the midst of a season of pure joy – quietly and simply enjoying life with my family and loved ones. How easy it is for me to do so, but this young mother has written with such heartfelt honesty about the struggles of living with a dying child, and amazingly, she has been able to beautifully express God’s goodness in the midst of her family’s pain and sorrow in a way that few of us could. Before I began reading, nothing could have prepared me for the sadness and grief I would experience, and never did I ever imagine the hope, faith, encouragement, inspiration, and praise for our loving God that I would find in her story.

I hope you will go to  http://bensauer.blogspot.com/ and read the story of this family’s journey of faith. Look at the pictures of this precious little boy and  his family. Read Mindy’s story as she writes about how her family has dealt with the devastating diagnosis of a brain tumor in her son, Ben, at the age of 4. It is heartbreaking to read of her pain at the thought of him being separated in death from his twin, Jack, their 2 year old daughter, Megan, and their family. She writes of the grief she and her husband, Andy, have felt as they have watched their son deteriorate over the last three months, even as she experiences new life growing inside her.

Two weeks before Ben was diagnosed, they received the news that she was pregnant with their 4th child, one they were so looking forward to that would make their family complete with 2 boys and 2 girls. She writes that God clearly had another plan in mind and with His mercy and grace, they are trusting in Him and have found many simple joys along the way. These are some of her own words which have inspired thousands with her story of faith:

“Having God living inside of and all around you makes you think differently. God changes everything. Absolutely everything. Quite honestly, I can’t say that I won’t continue to plead with God to change His mind. To spare Ben’s life and continue his life of ministry here on earth for many many more years. I am still human, and a mom who selfishly wants her healthy four year old back. But I am so much closer to coming to terms with God’s sovereignty than I was before. God is God. He is good. He knows the bigger picture. And He loves us – and Ben – so much more than we can imagine. Having God changes everything. Absolutely everything. Including me.”   

“Ben is not mine. He is not Andy’s. He belongs to the Lord. I don’t understand – nor do I think that I will ever understand – why God is allowing us to walk this road. Oh, how I wish we didn’t have to. I’ve prayed time and time again for God to take this cup from us. Nonetheless, here we are.”

“And so we will continue to move forward. We will treasure any amount of time God allows us to have with Benjamin, a little boy who has truly changed our family. And a little boy who I know God will use for big things in the future. No matter which side of heaven he is on.

“Perspective is also the thing that allows me to realize Ben’s circumstance for what it truly is. It is not a death sentence, a punishment for sinful living or something that God gave us just because He enjoys fooling with the faithful. It is an opportunity to see our lives as fleeting, to appreciate all of God’s blessings and soak in His goodness. Because He really has been so good to us.”

“It is by God’s grace I am able to stand and go forward.”

 Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, our hearts are broken by the story of this young family and their grief. We ask that you continue to be a loving presence in their lives and give them your mercy, grace, and strength to carry them through. Comfort them in the days ahead and fill their hearts with your peace and love. And we know there are many other families who are also suffering through difficult circumstances, and we pray that they will seek your presence, as well. May many hearts be opened to you through the story of their trust and faith in you. Amen

 

Only One Thing is Needed

Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10: 41

Life can be so busy and hectic, can’t it? It is so difficult sometimes to prioritize what should be done and what can be put aside! Sometimes we get so caught up in the busyness that we don’t even realize that we are missing out on the most important things in life. This story is a good reminder that there is “only one thing that is needed” most of all!

There are many stories about women of faith in Scripture who can teach us about loving and serving God. One of the most well-known is the one about two sisters, Mary and Martha, who were loyal and devoted friends of Jesus, as was their brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus later raised from the dead. There are 3 events in which we are told of the relationship Jesus had with these 3 close friends. The first account occurred when Jesus and some of His followers were going from town to town, teaching the Gospel, and Martha graciously opened her home to them. As we read the 5 short verses in Luke in which this story is recorded, we may find ourselves asking the question, “Am I more like Mary, or do I tend to be more like Martha?”

I love visualizing this scene, as the sisters were obviously overjoyed to have Jesus, whom they believed to be their Savior and Lord, in their midst. He and His followers traveled from town to town and would stop and teach wherever they were invited – for a meal and even a night’s rest. Near Jerusalem, they stopped in the village of Bethany, where Martha invited them in. She was probably the oldest of the siblings and felt much responsibility for the preparations. She immediately became distracted by all she needed to do to properly prepare a feast for such a honored guest. If Jesus had all 12 disciples with Him and others who supported His ministry, fixing the meal would have been a major undertaking. Mary, on the other hand could not pull herself away from sitting at Jesus’s feet and listening to His teachings, and could not even think about helping her sister in the preparations.

I can just imagine her sitting before Him, mesmerized by His words and longing to hear more, as Martha becomes more and more agitated at having to do all the work. I can picture Martha, rushing around until she had had all she could take, and she went to them and asked, Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me.” Jesus immediately tried to comfort and soothe her frustrations, and I can see Him gently reaching for her hand to come sit with them, as He responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” And that one thing was spending time with Him.

I think most of us can identify with both sisters. Poor Martha always seems to get the “bad rap”. I can only imagine if I were her, how stressed I would have been trying to prepare a meal for such important guests, but then I can also understand how Mary must have felt. Wouldn’t we all long to sit at our Lord’s feet and hear His loving, comforting words if we had the opportunity? Martha was doing what she thought was expected of her and she thought Mary should adhere to her role.

In fact, it was highly unusual that Jesus would even permit Mary to spend this time with Him at all, for women had their assigned roles and sitting in on men’s discussions or worshiping with them was not one of them. But Jesus was ignoring the traditional way and encouraged Mary to sit, listen, think, and learn. She was the reflective one, interested in learning and seemed to be more loving and calm. Martha, on the other hand, was practical, a doer, and very capable, and although caring, she could be impulsive. In her service to her Lord, she became so occupied with her busyness that she became overly impatient and frustrated with those she loved. If we find ourselves doing the same,  perhaps we too need to examine our hearts, see where our priorities lie, and do as Mary did.

It is significant to note that Jesus gently admonished Martha for being worried and upset, but not for serving others. He understood the task that was before her, but He also knew His words and message to them at that time was more important. Service is a good thing, and we need to be involved in our churches and communities, and take care of our families, but not to the point that we become so busy that we don’t have time to spend with Him. Some of us tend to be more like Mary in our Christian walk, while others resemble Martha. Hopefully, we have qualities of both. God wants us to serve others with love and kindness, but we must not forget what He considers most important and that is doing what Mary did – spending time in His loving presence – reading His Word, praying, listening for His still, quiet voice, and reflecting on His love and goodness to us.

Through this story, we can see that even good things can fill up our lives to the point where we neglect our souls, and if we are not taking the time with Him, we won’t receive the goodness He desires to give us. May we seek His loving presence.

 Prayer

Dear Lord, help us to not get so wrapped up in our lives that we forget what is truly most important. May we serve you and others with love and grace, but may our first priority always be spending time with you. Amen

God Gives Us a Spirit of Power

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

When we’re visiting the boys, our days are always busy! On Friday, we planted a garden, and on Saturday we had 2 soccer games! We loved watching the boys play and we cheered on their teams and encouraged them to do well. They both have come so far from being those shy little guys who use to just kinda run along behind, watch the action, and try to kick the ball if it came right to them. As they grow and change, I love to see how they are also growing in confidence of who they are and what they can do! I pray they will always know that same assurance!

Miles, especially, has become quite the little soccer player, and we couldn’t help but cheer him on loudly! After the game, one of the parents came up to me and said, “I love to watch Miles play! He plays with such heart!” I kept  thinking about her comment and what she meant, and it made me even more proud of him. For one thing, he gives it his all – his heart and his soul. He plays hard. He hustles after the ball and is all over the place! And it’s not even about winning or about how many goals he can make. He had 2 today, and when the parents, coaches, and other kids came up to him to congratulate him, he just shrugged it off. It really isn’t a big deal to him! He plays to have fun and to be a valuable part of the team, but he also wants the other players to feel important too. He unselfishly gives up the ball, kicks great passes to a teammate so he/she can score, and I even heard him tell several players, “Great play!” He’s  a competitive, little guy and only 7, but yet, he plays with such confidence, self-control, and enthusiasm.

After the game, I asked him if Granddad and I embarrassed him by yelling for him so much and he smiled sheepishly, and said, “No, but I heard you guys”. He paused and then said, “And it helped. Thanks, Nan!” That’s our Miles! Like every grandparent I know, we are pretty proud of him and Cole!

We all need encouragement and love to help us through this journey of life – from each other, but especially from the Spirit of God living within us. For who cares more about us and cheers us on more enthusiastically than He does. The circumstances in our lives can be intimidating, even frightening at times, and all of us can feel inadequate to handle whatever might come our way. But God does not want us to live in fear or to live with a timid heart, being unsure of who we are and what we can accomplish. He desires that we feel value and worth because of who He made us to be and He wants us to feel the power of His love through His Spirit. Fear or lack of confidence renders us powerless and saps our strength. It makes us think emotionally and not logically. It causes us to doubt ourselves and our own abilities, but through His Spirit in us, we can feel the power of His love and will have the self-discipline to do things we never thought possible. We can believe His Spirit is mighty and strong for we have His promise: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

His Spirit within us can empower us to be able to move beyond our fears and feelings of inadequacies. God wants to embolden us with His strength to be firm in our faith and to look to Him for whatever we might need. He can help us to move from our insecurities and fears to confidence and grace. We need not be timid, or shy, or fearful because we can trust and have confidence in the One who loves us and will be with us always.

 Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the power of your Spirit that lives in us and helps us do things we couldn’t possibly do on our own. Thank you for your love and grace to handle any and all situations we may face. May we trust in you always. Amen

God Gives Us Food

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.“ Genesis 1:29 

This past weekend, I did something I haven’t done since I was a child! I helped to plant a garden! Cole, our little guy who is almost 5, decided months ago that he had the perfect spot for a vegetable garden, and he wanted to do chores to raise the money for all the supplies and seeds he would need. Kel and I knew it was going to be up to us to make it happen, and we watched May approach with a little apprehension. I think we both were hoping he might possibly forget or change his mind, but no way! And how could we not do it, when he had planned it for so long and it meant so much to him!

After spending much time on the phone with my brother, his Uncle Ralph, the garden expert, we got some great tips and he helped us make a list of what we would need. Kel and Cole proudly went shopping, and we were finally ready to plant! Cole was so excited and wanted to do most of the work himself, even the digging, raking, and shoveling of the potting soil. I was hot and stressed about doing it properly and making it look like one of those in a magazine, and Kel worked patiently with both of us! But we did it! And when it was done, I had to admit that it was really fun for the 3 of us to do together – with Granddad supervising. Now comes the wait – the anticipation of seeing those little “shoots” of plants as they rise above the ground and of hearing each day’s report as Cole checks on their growth, waters them, and eagerly waits for the veggies to be big enough to pick! (I pray they come!)

As Cole carefully placed those tiny seeds in the ground, I just thought of how in awe of our Creator I am – once again! It made me realize how much we take for granted, and how miraculous it is that we can plant seeds knowing they will germinate and sprout, the vines will grow, blossoms will form, and then tiny vegetables will burst forth and grow into larger ones we can enjoy! He gives the provisions for growth – the soil with the necessary nutrients, abundant rains, and warm sunlight for the plants, not only for us, but for the animals we depend upon. He planned the growing seasons and a wide variety of foods to not only fill our needs, but to bring us pleasure. He planned fruit trees that would provide for generations to come. How amazing is His love and care!

What an abundance of good food He gives– wholesome, healthy fruits and vegetables to nourish our bodies. Our God orchestrated the plan for mankind to have all we would need with the necessary nutrients necessary for life and growth. How could anyone doubt our loving God? No randomness in nature could provide such providential care! Once in a lifetime would be miraculous enough, but to think that it happens regularly, year after year, providing what we need to sustain life, should give us pause to be grateful. What an incredibly complex and efficient world He designed and created. In Genesis 8:22, we see that one of God’s loving promises to us was that “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  What wisdom and power He has and what goodness He gives.

I can just picture Kelly and Scott many years ago, when each was a small child, walking through the rows of my mom’s garden, dragging a small bucket behind them as they made their way through the vines. They loved picking the vegetables and filling theirs up to the top! How time comes full circle. How she would smile knowing that I am trying to give Miles and Cole the joy of doing the same. I can just imagine the pride these little boys will have when they pick their own! How grateful I am that they understand that God gives us these blessings of life. How grateful we can all be that God cares for us in such a loving way. May we give Him praise for all He provides!

Prayer

Dear God, how often we fail to recognize and appreciate all the ways you lovingly provide for us. Thank you for the sunlight and rains to make our plants grow and for giving us the food we need to sustain our bodies. Thank you for the blessings of life and may we remember to share them with others. Amen  

Her Children Call Her Blessed

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her; many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Proverbs 31: 27 – 31

Happy Mother’s Day  to all you mothers and to those of you who have “mothered” us, our children, our grandchildren, and all the other children who are, or have been, blessed by your presence in their lives!

What an influence we mothers can have. When looking for cards, I saw this quote: “Mothers are the first impression of God’s love we will ever have.”

What a blessing, responsibility, and privilege to hold such a title. It is still the sweetest sound and most wonderful gift to hear Kelly and Scott call me “MOM”. Each and every day with them has brought special memories and much love, and I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to be their mom. And with the joys of being a grandparent, my years have been even more blessed. Kelly, I celebrate you today for the wonderful mother you are to our adorable grandsons and for the love you give to all of us.

This day not only brings to mind the joys of being a mother and grandmother and remembering so many cherished memories, but it also reminds us of so many other loving women in our lives. I celebrate my own precious mother whom I dearly loved and deeply miss. Recently, I heard the song, “If  I could hear my mother pray again,” and I was moved to tears as I thought of her loving presence in my life and her deep faith in God. I am so grateful for all she taught me about His love, strength, and grace.

I celebrate my mother-in-law, who has been a loving mother to Bob and me, and a loving grandmother to our children. Her enthusiasm for life, her positive attitude, and her trusting faith in God have taught all of us how to live with more contentment and gratitude.

I celebrate my dear sister Ruth, who has always been there when I needed her. Eighteen years older than me, she has been my other mom and a wonderful sister, but even more, she has been a faithful and loving friend. So many tears and so much joy we have shared through the years!

I honor the memory of my much loved sister, Doris, who taught me so much about persevering and having faith during difficult times. Her love of Scripture will always remind me to appreciate and value the gift of His promises to us.

I celebrate my sweet friend, Betty, who has been such a loving presence for many years, but especially since the passing of my own mother. Her gentle, kind spirit, and abiding faith have been such a blessing.

I celebrate those I call dear friends, who are only a phone call away, and have brought much laughter, strength, comfort, and joy along the way!

These wonderful women, who have been such an important part of my life, have lived truly beloved, respected, productive and honorable lives as they have so unselfishly and lovingly cared for others. They have been dedicated mothers and wives, have provided warm, loving homes for their families, and have done noble and great things in the eyes of God. They are to be celebrated and much praised for their work on this earth.

I know that you too have had, or are blessed presently to have, these amazing women in your life who have meant so much to you. May we remember them today – honor their memory, or, let those around you know how much they are appreciated and loved! Happy Mother’s Day!

 Prayer

Dear God, thank you for the beautiful souls of women who are or have been a part of our lives. Thank you for the love, encouragement, and inspiration they have given us. What lessons they teach us. May we take advantage of the opportunities you give us to love and care for those children who come into our lives. We thank you for the blessings of life. Amen

Divine Order

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

We were so excited to see our little boys! It has been too long since we have seen them, and we missed them so!

They have changed! They have grown in this short amount of time, and they both seemed to be older and more mature. And as Cole and I played, one thing I really noticed was that he wanted everything to be in its place. When I left a book lying on the floor, he reminded me that I needed to put it back on the shelf where it belonged. He told me that his room needed to be kept neat – everything needed to be in order and in its place. And every time we finished with something we were playing, we had to clean it up before going on to something else! He just needed to know that everything was as it should be!

How many times do we feel as if things just aren’t as they should be in our own lives? Outwardly, everything looks great, but inwardly, we seem to be filled with turmoil and discontent. We worry so much about how our lives appear to others and how our outward appearance looks, but often we neglect the inside.

Sometimes we need to put “our house in order” – not so much our domestic affairs, but our “affairs of the heart”. Are our priorities in the right place? Are we looking to God, dependent upon Him and trusting in His love and grace, and not in ourselves? Are we living lives that are filled with contentment, gratitude, and peace that would be pleasing to Him? Do we love others with a sincere and unselfish heart?

This verse reminds us that God expects this same “divine order” for us. From Genesis through Revelation, this principle can be found in God’s Word. Our Creator wants us to have the confidence, direction, and especially peace it can bring.

We can look around us and see the order of things in nature and in everything God has made. We can clearly see that His established order includes purpose and meaning. He does not desire a world of confusion, chaos, disorder, and random living for us. He wants us to live by His truths.

“For God is not a God of disorder,” nor does He want us to have the belief that anything goes. We know what God desires for our lives. This “divine order” is one that should direct our steps and our actions. Our attitude should be one of reverence and respect, one worthy of Him.

What peace to know we don’t have to make difficult decisions in this changing world that we are unsure of. God has given us His divine guidelines for living. What peace and order that can bring to our hearts and to our lives!

 Prayer

Our most loving Creator and Sustainer of Life, thank you for giving us a world of order – where things in nature occur in a structured and organized way. Help us to look to you for the same order in our lives – with truths and guidelines for daily living that can bring security, confidence, and peace. May our hearts always be focused on you and the life you desire for us. Amen.

Helping Those in Need

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to visit you?” The king will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25: 35 – 40

If there is one Scripture verse that can affect me more than any other, it is this one. For I know I have fallen so short of what God would have me do in this area more than any other.

I can always try to rationalize it by thinking that we have ways of helping others that we contribute to regularly, but are they enough? There is such a great need all around us – in our towns, cities, nation, and world. How can we turn away from those needs when this verse is asking us to love others from overflowing, unselfish hearts and to care for those who are in desperate need?

We have friends who are life-long evangelists. They have devoted their lives to being the hands and heart of Christ as they have taken His message and love to various parts of the world. They have given so unselfishly of their time, efforts, and resources to teach; to provide medical care and food; to help build churches, homes, and schools; and to share God’s love and grace in such beautiful ways with their talents.

Their lives have inspired, humbled, and blessed so many who know of their life work. And I know of so many others who have gone on mission trips from time to time and have done the same. I so admire these individuals and have been blessed by their stories. But with excuses like health issues and age, my mission now seems to be to serve God in other ways. But still, I struggle with how and how much.

Once a week I go to a clinic for allergy shots, and each time I have gone for the last year or so, I have seen this same man and his dog on a street corner nearby. No matter the day of the week, they are always there. Could they possibly be there every day? The middle aged man is holding a sign, with the words, “HOMELESS, PLEASE HELP!”, asking for donations for himself and his dog, a large, husky type breed.

Each time, it tugs at my heart, and I feel guilty, embarrassed, and saddened as I see them standing there so vulnerable and needy. I have gotten so close to rolling down my window and handing him money so many times, but then the light will change, and I move on, and try to forget the scene I just witnessed.

There have been many others on the streets that we have encountered through the years and on several occasions, we have given them money, food, and water, but I am torn between helping or ignoring. Are these individuals truly desperate or are they just taking advantage of others?

I don’t know their stories, but I can always rationalize it by thinking that there are plenty of homeless shelters in the area, much government assistance that would be available to them, many churches, and other benevolence and humanitarian groups that could help. There has to be an easier way than standing on a street corner in 30 degree cold or 95 degree heat to find the help they need. And when they are on a street corner, it doesn’t seem feasible to stop and hear their stories.

Many of us have become so cynical these days, and it has become difficult to trust those we don’t know. Yet, I know in my heart that this could be one of us, or members of our own families, in dire situations! How much we would want and need the help from others. It is so difficult to see these individuals, and knowing whom and when to help seems overwhelming – there is such a need, and how do we choose? How can we make a difference in this world among so many?

I admit that like many others who are more fortunate, I too often want to forget poverty and oppression and pretend it doesn’t exist, but obviously God doesn’t. I found that there are more than 300 verses in Scripture that deal with the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for these individuals.

I have heard it said that God doesn’t expect us to make sweeping changes in a person’s lifestyle, but He does expect us to perform simple acts of love and genuine kindness. By ministering to them with the basics of life, such as food, water, clothing, and shelter, we are serving Jesus Christ.

In these verses from “His Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus explains that how we treat the least of His people represents our treatment and love for Him. He directs us to give to those in desperate need and share the blessings we have been given. The best proof of our love for Him is our love for those who suffer. We have an obligation to do so, not just in material ways, but also in ways that lift them up spiritually – with prayer and love. May my heart, our hearts, be transformed to do so. May we better serve Him and share our blessings with others.

Prayer

Dear God, help us to take advantage of the opportunities we are given to share your love and grace with those who are in need. We often question their motives and our own need for action, but through your Spirit, may we discern when to offer a helping hand. Give us courage that we might better serve you by serving others. Amen

Spending Time With Him

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. Matthew 6: 9 – 13

Wouldn’t it be so amazing if we could just sit and have a long conversation with God, taking all the time we need?

And how incredible would it be, if He would reassure us that He is just where He wants to be, spending time with us? Imagine knowing that He has nowhere else in the world He has to be. He is not in a rush, nor will He have to leave to attend to someone or something else, and neither will He become impatient with us. It would be our own personal time with Him, with no one else around. We would be free to tell Him what is on our hearts and minds, what concerns and issues we have, and how we need His presence with us to help us through whatever painful situation we are facing.

Can you even imagine how we would pour our hearts out to Him – telling Him everything – and how He would listen to us with such love, concern, and assurance? Can you imagine how He would gently soothe our hearts and souls and take away our anxiety, fear, and sadness, as He reminds us of how much He cares and of how He will always be with us?

And what about us, after seeing and understanding how much He loves us, would we not want to praise Him and give Him our love and gratitude in return? Humbled by His love and presence, would we not want to ask for His forgiveness and thank Him for His saving grace? Would we not want to promise Him that from this moment forward, we will forever trust Him with our lives and with those we love?

Even more, can you imagine what peace and comfort we would feel after being with our loving God? Would we not want to worship Him always with all our honor, praise, and glory?

If we could only realize that this is a gift we have each and every day when we spend time with God in prayer, for there is nothing He desires more from us than our love, devotion and time. He is waiting for us to come to Him, and we can have the peace and comfort of knowing that we have been in His presence.

So many individuals seem to struggle with how to pray, what words to say, how to go before Him and open their hearts to Him. We don’t need flowery language or have to be a great speaker to pray – we just need to spend time with Him honestly expressing our thoughts and feelings.

If we need more, Jesus, the Master and Teacher, has provided this model, The Lord’s Prayer, for us in Matthew and Luke. We have these guidelines to use when approaching God’s throne in the manner in which we should, with reverence and humility.

In the 66 words in this beautiful prayer, 24 are devoted to God, and 28 focus on our needs. That should give us insight on how we should pray, and one of the greatest lessons we can take from this prayer is that we should always begin our own with loving recognition of who God is – our loving Father, the Creator, Sustainer of Life, our Lord, and our most Holy and Sovereign God.

We should want to acknowledge His love, grace and goodness to us and always offer thanksgiving for our many blessings. And we know from Scripture that He graciously invites us to ask for love, peace, and healing for ourselves and for those we care about.

God knows our needs even before we ask, but He desires that we seek Him and His presence. If we ask anything according to His will, He will hear us and we can know that He wants His best for us. We should ask for forgiveness and offer our gratitude for the gift of His Son.

And if we need more guidance, we can always use the words from Scripture passages to help us form our prayers. But most importantly, we should always know that we can ask specifically, persistently, and with faith. What a gift of time with Him!

Prayer

Our most loving Father, we thank you for the grace to come before you with confidence and hope, to give you our most heartfelt concerns and all our despair. But most of all, may we always come before you humbly and reverently, with love and gratitude for all your goodness to us. Amen

Seek First His Kingdom

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6: 33 – 34

I have some news for you that might be “food for thought”. Did you know that the average person has 70,000 thoughts a day – more or less depending on how deep a thinker you are? (Are you thinking you have more, or less?)

And the interesting thing about this news is that according to research, the vast majority of our thoughts are useless, pure nonsense, and of little importance. Very few are actually focused on what is truly important or real at the moment.  In fact, some researchers estimate that 70 to 80% of them are negative.

And this is the really interesting part – they believe that 98% of our thoughts are exactly the same as the ones we had the day before. What? 98% are the same ones I had yesterday and probably last week???  (All of this fascinating news is according to the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging and I have no idea how they figured this out or how many people they tested. I’m just taking their word for it! They must have thought it was news we needed to think about!)

If this is true, how much time and energy we waste as we think the same, insignificant thoughts over and over! If we could only let our minds rest in Him and be focused more on the joys of life, on the beautiful creations around us, and on what we can do to love others. But more importantly we could spend time with God and think about what He desires for our lives.

So many thoughts in one day. Shouldn’t our Creator and Sustainer of Life occupy at least some of them? How sad to think that He gives us life and all the blessings it entails, and some never give Him a thought – ever.  Can you imagine?

All this information makes us reflect on what we spend our days thinking about and what seems most important to us, doesn’t it?

But there’s more from all this research. Perhaps we could call it the good news and the bad. The good news is that some scientists feel that we have the potential to transform the person that we are “by changing the habitual thoughts of the mind”. They believe we can train our brains to think differently, but the bad news is that it will take much time and effort with professionals to do so.  Hhmmm!

But I think we know even better news – there’s a much better way! We know the One who can change us and transform our minds, and it doesn’t take an expert working with us. Our amazing God can! He can change our hearts and help us to become grateful individuals who focus on Him, His blessings to us, and how we can share those blessings with others.

This verse from Matthew was spoken by the expert of the heart and mind, Jesus Christ Himself. He reminds us that all our concerns will be met if we seek God first and His kingdom. We don’t have to worry or be anxious about tomorrow.

In fact, He told the early believers in verse 25 not to worry about their lives, and in verse 27, He tells them not to worry about time. In other words, before we put our efforts and energies into anything else, we should seek to know God’s love, mercy, and grace.

We can give Him our concerns and trust in Him. If we make our Creator of the universe our first and foremost priority, then everything else will take care of itself and fall into place. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. “ Peace and contentment can be ours.

 Prayer

Dear God, help us to make you the center of our lives – to seek you, know you, and love you. May we give you our cares and trust in your love for us. Thank you for the peace, comfort, strength and hope only you can give.  Amen

Let Us Continually Offer Praise

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13: 15

“Precious Memories, how they linger. How they ever flood my soul!” Remember those words from the beautiful old hymn?

Last night, I was reminded of some of those precious memories. Scott had called on his way home from the eye doctor. He had been for one of his weekly treatments to help train his eyes and improve his eyesight. Those memories of years ago came rushing back – a time when deep sadness turned to gratitude and joy.

I thought about all the happiness that surrounded his birth, and then all the other different emotions that soon followed. It has been quite awhile since I have actually taken the time to stop and remember those days and to give God all my heartfelt praise once again for the gift of His love and grace. It is a personal story, but one I think is worthy of sharing.

Bob and I were so excited to have a son, Robert Scott Frans, to add to our family. He was born to us and our 5 year old daughter, Kelly, on September 8, 1981. He was such a healthy, beautiful, blonde-headed, little boy and he stole our hearts from the very beginning.

But in the weeks that followed, there was this gradual uneasiness that something was not as it should be. I remember how he would never look directly at us and it especially concerned me that he never smiled or noticed objects when we placed them before him.

I think I had known that something was wrong, but I just didn’t want to accept it until one night, when he was about 2 and a half months old, I read in his baby book that he should be smiling at us by 2 months of age. I tried desperately not to panic, but I was so scared.

I didn’t sleep much that night, and we were at the pediatrician’s office early the next morning. The doctor, too, was concerned and immediately sent us to see an eye surgeon. I can still see his face. His name was Dr. White, and I remember the moments after he examined him, and he looked me right in the eyes and said, “He’s blind, there is just no connection there, no light going through. Surgery will not help, and there is nothing we can do. You are just going to have to accept it.” I will never forget how insensitive and cruel I thought that was. 

Our lives turned upside down that night as our minds and hearts tried to deal with this devastating news. Here we thought everything was perfect – an adorable little girl, a sweet baby boy, a nice home, and a loving marriage. And it was – but still there was shock and pain that I can remember to this day.

We cried out to God in such despair, and I knew it was going to take all the strength He could give us and His grace to be able to accept this news and move on. I mourned the loss of the normal life I wanted for this child, and I grieved for our family. How could I even begin to explain to Kelly at her young age that this little baby brother she adored and had wanted for so long would not be able to see.

And Scott, this little innocent child, how could I protect him from the unknown challenges that lay ahead. I remember thinking of all the things he would never see, and I was devastated that he would never see my face smiling at him, or the love I had in my eyes for him. I thought of the silliest things like he would never get to see the sparkling lights on a Christmas tree or the ocean waves at the beach. I thought of him never getting to drive a car, or throw a ball with his dad, or read a book with his big sister.

That night was one of the longest and most difficult of our lives. We knew blindness occurs in many babies, teenagers, and adults, and they are able to live happy, normal lives with their families. And we knew there were many, many things that people go through that are so much worse than this. But we couldn’t escape the sadness that we felt. Like every mother does when faced with even the smallest problem with her newborn, I questioned everything I had done before and after he was conceived, trying to discover if there was something I might have done to cause harm to this precious child. My heart was broken and I was so frightened for what lay ahead for him – and for us.

In the days that followed, news traveled fast. So many people called to say that they were praying for us, and our church and many others put Scott and our family on their prayer list. We felt their love and prayers, and they gave us strength.

I even had a teacher in our school system, who had a blind daughter, knock on our door one day and ask if she could talk to me. She told me about sending her daughter to the School for the Blind in Raleigh at a very young age, and how she had flourished and done so well under their care during the years that followed.

I sat and listened to her in disbelief. I appreciated her concerns and I understood she came to give me comfort and hope, but to me, this was even more heartbreaking. I had just brought this child into our lives and the thought of sending him away was more than I could bear. I remember thinking that maybe her visit was a blessing in disguise for it was during those moments that I tried to accept the devastating news for the first time, dried my tears, and resolved to do whatever I needed to do. I was his mother, the one who would love him, protect him, and take care of him and make sure he had what he needed. I would help him live as normal a life as possible. I would learn what I needed to know to teach him – in our home, with our family.  I would teach him “to see” the world through my eyes.

But, even with this renewed determination and acceptance, these were really difficult days as we tried to come to grips with the reality of what lay ahead. Bob, however, was not as accepting and ready to give up. He was determined that we should see other doctors, and we saw two the following week. The last one gave us hopeful news we didn’t expect. He thought perhaps there was a really small chance that Scott’s eyes had not developed fully and when they did, maybe, just maybe, he might be able to see. That was the only glimmer of hope we had until . . .

One Saturday morning, a few weeks afterwards, Bob was upstairs with Scott in his room, and I was downstairs cleaning.  (How can I remember all these insignificant details over 30 years later!) I remember I heard him call out for me in almost a cry, and I went running. Scott was lying on his back in his crib and Bob was holding Cookie Monster and bringing him back and forth in front of him. Scott was smiling. He was looking directly at the bear and smiling the sweetest smile you could ever imagine! He would look at us and then at the bear!

The tears were flowing down Bob’s face and we cried together, and we laughed with Scott, and we called everybody we knew to give them the news. It was one of the happiest days of our lives. I  had never been so thankful in my life nor have I ever been since. Our child could see!

To me, it will always be God’s answer to all the prayers that were being said for him. To me, it will always be a miracle He gave to Scott, and to us. Perhaps it was because his eyes weren’t developed yet and it took time – even though he wasn’t premature, and I had never heard of this occurring in a child before or since – but I will always know that however it evolved, God gave our little one his sight.

Yes, problems remained. He has had problems with his vision all his life, and it took years for me to understand, and possibly he too, that he was seeing out of one eye only, and then, sometimes the other one. We were told from an early age that he did not see normally with both eyes working together to form an image that can be clearly seen. It caused his eye muscles to pull, creating a sort of lazy eye that got progressively worse over time as he got older. When he was in high school, we saw a specialist from Duke who offered to do surgery, but warned us of how difficult it would be as an adult. We left the decision with Scott and he decided to forgo the procedure.

It hasn’t been easy for him. Even now, he is working with a doctor to train his eyes to work together to send the brain one image both eyes can see, and he is wearing prism glasses that hopefully will help him learn to do so. It has been painful for him to deal with and something he has felt self-conscious of his entire life.

It was always heartbreaking when he would come home from school and be in tears because kids had been making fun of him. I tried to reassure him, as I fought back my own tears, that it wasn’t that big of a deal, and it was the person he was that mattered, but I knew those words meant little to a 12 year old boy whose perception of himself and the world was seen through the eyes of his friends.

But he had his sight, as difficult as it was for him to see normally; and I held on to that and was so grateful for it. It is just one of those things we will never understand, but Scott learned to handle it with such maturity and acceptance, and we have always been so proud of him.  

As I write this, I realize once again how grateful I am for the gift of God’s presence with us during this time. I sometimes forget the faith it took us to get through that difficult time and the strength and love He gave us to do so. I know this experience changed me. It was the beginning of my true trust and faith in Him. I knew from that moment on that I would never be the same. God opened my heart to Him in a way I could never have imagined, and I knew I could never doubt His love and assurance ever again.

I don’t think we appreciate enough what a miracle this experience was in so many ways. How different life could have been for Scott and for us. I have no doubt God would have gotten us through it, and that life would have been just as joyous and happy as it has been, even if it had not turned out as it did. But with the most grateful heart, I am so thankful we didn’t have to face those challenges he would have had.

What a reminder to give God the praise and the glory for this blessing and all the many others He has given us. As difficult as it has been for Scott to deal with all these years, he realizes what could have been and he is so grateful for his gift of sight. May we honor and praise His name always.Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” 

 Prayer

Our most gracious and loving God, we thank you for the gift of Scott’s eyesight and for all the wonderful things he has been able to do because of it. We thank you for his life and what he means to us and to so many others. May we never forget from where these blessings come. But most of all, dear God, we thank you for the reminder that we don’t have to go through life’s painful circumstances  alone. How grateful we were and are for your presence with us and for the strength and comfort you give us. We give you all honor, praise and glory. Amen 

Is There Anger Within?

In your anger, do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a stronghold. Ephesians 4: 26 – 27

“Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” must be embedded somewhere in my soul because all my life I have had trouble sleeping if I am upset with someone, or if I know someone is upset with me – until the situation is resolved or until I accept that I just have to be patient until it is.

Sometimes our anger or frustration can spill over into hurtful words during a discussion or disagreement with those we care about. What turmoil we can experience as we wrestle with all those emotions and thoughts at the words that were spoken on both sides! We may spend time thinking of all the things we wished we had said differently or could have the chance to say again! These upset feelings can build and we can become so obsessed with them, that they can take away our clear thinking, prevent us from putting the incident behind us, or even keep us from seeing the good things around us. What can we do with these painful emotions we have?

I recently read a Bible Study lesson on Anger: How should we deal with it in ourselves and respond to it in others in this angry world we live in? As I read and reflected on its message, I realized I needed to do some soul searching about myself. I don’t like conflict and try to avoid it, but there are certainly times that I have said things in response to others. You start questioning why you do the things you do, and whether you have these  feelings of anger, bitterness, or resentment hidden deep within, and you just don’t realize it.  

I do recognize that from time to time I can feel frustration and anguish from someone’s words or actions, and sometimes I respond and sometimes I can let it go. Also, I realized that at times – and why at some and not at others – I can let the smallest slight or comment build in my mind and heart. Even if I can manage to keep the hurt inside, it seems to stay with me for awhile until I work through it, and then I may not even understand why I felt the way I did.

I really wanted to discover where these feelings were coming from and I prayed that God would help me look within myself and see what was lying deep in my heart. It is really humbling when you ask Him to do so, and He does. And sometimes it’s not at all what we expected or wanted to see.

Indeed frustration and anger can be powerful and potentially damaging emotions if we give into them. God’s Word instructs us to be patient when we are wronged and long suffering when we are hurt. (1 Cor. 13: 4  – 5) God gave us emotions, but he never intended for them to rule over us. Anger, frustration, or bitterness expressed in words, or especially in actions, will always result in consequences, and usually they include pain and regret.

The author of this lesson said that anger can be manifested in 3 ways:

1. rage (explosive, uncontrolled expressions of anger that lash out at anyone in its path)

2. resentment (unexpressed anger that may turn into hostility as it festers over time until it can no longer be controlled, and it comes out in a damaging way)

3. righteous indignation (an anger in which you stand up for what you believe to be right, to speak for justice, or to defend the powerless).

There are many causes of anger such as not getting our way, losing control, feeling rejected, experiencing loss or disappointment, or having feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes our deep seated anger can result from unresolved issues as a child.

This author stated that most of our anger is motivated by our own self-interests  – are we being treated fairly – and often we take our frustrations out on those who least deserve it. It is one of the most destructive emotions we can have.

Yet, even God showed anger many times in Scripture and so did Christ, so our anger can sometimes be a positive thing when we use it in the proper way and for a good cause. Many who feel anger have learned to control their emotions rather than letting their anger turn into rage, and they use it in constructive ways to deal with issues and concerns. Others who are slow to become angry may still feel upset, but they have learned to work through their feelings.

This verse doesn’t command us not to feel anger, but “in our anger”, to not let it cause us to sin or hurt others. This author states: “Anger is not sinful unless it steps beyond God’s law – either to seek outcomes that He does not honor or a desire to use methods that He condemns. Justified anger is purposeful and beneficial to someone who is being mistreated, hurt, or taken advantage of. Unjustified anger is self-motivated and vengeful. It seeks to get even and destroy.”  

When we reflect and take a serious look at ourselves, we can discover amazing things as God opens our hearts up to the truth. I soon discovered that thankfully, I don’t think I have any pent up rage or resentment toward anyone, but perhaps my upset feelings would fit more into a category called SELF-righteous indignation caused by my own pride and selfishness. If I was truly honest in searching my heart, I had to admit that at times, I felt as if I was in someway being denied or deprived of something that I truly believed I was deserving or worthy of – such as more respect, acknowledgement, or appreciation.  And if I didn’t get it, I got upset.

How easily we can focus on something so insignificant and let it become an obsession with us! It eats at us and takes away our joy and contentment. I finally realized that during those times, I must have been so focused on me that I forgot where my eyes and heart should be, and that is on loving others, and more importantly, on serving and loving God. It is indeed humbling when you come to the realization that you have let yourself become so self-absorbed that it changes who you are and who you want to be.

Anger and frustration are in opposition to the character of God and what He chooses for us. It is a focus on self rather than on Him. Only God deserves our glory, honor, and praise. When we have such feelings of frustration, bitterness, and anger, we need to take them to Him and ask Him to soothe our hearts and minds, and trust Him to do so. May we be reminded to keep our eyes on our loving and gracious God and what truly matters!

 Prayer

Our dear heavenly Father, even we don’t understand why we sometimes act the way we do. Help us to look into our hearts and examine why we might have feelings of anger and frustration. We know that through you, hearts and lives can be transformed. Thank you for your love and presence in our lives and for all our many blessings. Amen 

The Heart May Ache in Laughter

 Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief. Proverbs 14: 13

We often hear the expression, “Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.” We never know what an individual is feeling and some may give the impression that they are enjoying life and are happy, when actually they are hurting emotionally, deep inside. They have such sadness, pain, and grief in their lives, and yet, they mask it to others with their laughter in order to hide their pain. Or others may truly try to experience happiness and laughter, but there is a deep shadow or a damper on any attempt to feel joy. Their hearts may be full of sorrow because of all the hurtful memories of the past or because of their hopeless, gloomy outlook for the future.

What heaviness of heart they carry around. Yet, for many, this is their reality and all they know. And even if they can step away from it for a while and feel a lightness of spirit with laughter, the heaviness may be that much greater when it returns. And how many times have we heard stories of how “joy has ended in grief” in the midst of celebrations and events of great joy. Life can be so uncertain and full of pain, but gratefully we have a loving God who understands and longs to fill our hearts with His love and presence.

Life is indeed a mystery. Why do some seem to have so much joy and others are filled with so much pain?

I am reminded of one of my favorite stories, “The Gift of the Magi”  by O. Henry, in which he wrote, “Upon reflection, we can conclude that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.”

Food for thought. It’s so true that circumstances in our lives can often bring sadness and despair, but how thankful we can be for the gift of smiles and laughter.

We know Solomon attempted to find the meaning of life in Ecclesiastesand he wrote the following (2: 1 – 3): “I thought in my heart, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless. ‘Laughter’, I said, ‘is foolish. And what does pleasure accomplish?’ I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly – my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during their lives.”     

Solomon finally concluded that a life with God is the only thing that matters and the only thing that can bring meaning to life and pure joy.

I have learned in my “old age” wisdom, that there can be a distinct difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is often fleeting and may last for moments or for only short periods of time, but spiritual joy is seated in the soul. Joy in Christ can bring an eternal satisfaction, contentment, and joy that you can’t imagine until you experience that deep and true relationship with God for yourself.

He wants us to feel that joy and commands us “to rejoice evermore!” He can lighten our heaviness of heart, refresh our spirits with His love and grace, and fill our minds “with a peace that transcends all understanding.”   

He can give us hearts of laughter and joy and longs for us to tell others of what life with Him can be. May we be more mindful of those around us who might be hurting and share the message of His love. May they too come to know contentment, joy, and peace through His grace.

 Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, thank you for loving us and wanting us to find joy in you. Fill our hearts with laughter and our spirits with hope, peace, and true contentment in life. Open our hearts to those who may be hurting around us and who need to know of the life they can have in you. Amen

Trust in Him

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37: 3 – 6

Early this morning the phone rang and I heard that sweet, little voice that made my day! Cole called to tell me that he had an idea. He thought maybe the next time we came to his house that I could take him to the toy store to buy a vehicle for him from the “Planes” movie. He said that if I would do that, it would really make him happy! I promised him I would. And what He will give me in return when I do will delight my heart. I look forward to his grateful smiles and loving hugs!

Isn’t it amazing to think that God too will receive joy when we do what He asks of us! And if we truly love Him and want to show our devotion, we will strive to be obedient to Him.

This verse from Psalm 37 gives several directives that God asks of us which would greatly please Him – He wants us to trust Him, to love others with kindness, to be at peace, to seek Him, to delight in His presence, and to commit our lives to Him. And if we do these things, He too desires to give us something in return –  lives filled with the blessings of His presence and love.

We all know from experience that the most important aspect of any relationship is trust. We need to know that we can count on others, believe what they tell us, and be able to feel their sincere love and commitment before our relationship can grow, last, and be satisfying and fulfilling.

In the same way, as we grow to believe in God’s love for us, we can be more confident in resting in His care and delighting in His presence. As we learn to trust in His faithfulness to us, we will want to commit our lives to Him, to place all our present concerns and cares with Him, and to live our lives in a way that will bring Him honor. We will want to give Him our best. The more we love and trust Him, the more goodness will flow from our lives to others.

What a beautiful expression of His love in this psalm by David – one of the most gifted poets of all time. His words bring such imagery to mind as he writes that God, in His divine providence, promises to give us “safe pasture” from the burdens of this world that we often feel we have to carry alone.

Our shepherd will keep us in His care and provide for our needs. He will grant us more faith and confidence to face each day and what it will bring “ like the dawning light of morning”. He vows to give us “justice like the noonday sun” as His Word shines brightly with the truth that He is the Judge and Justice Maker for all the earth.

What blessings He will give us if we are faithful to Him – many beyond what this world has to offer – and what a blessing we can be to others in return as we share His love and grace.

 Prayer

Dear God, may we trust in you and live lives that are pleasing to you in every way. Thank you for your promises to us, for all our many blessings, and for loving us so much that you desire our presence with you. Amen

The Hope We Have in Christ

In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

Writing these devotionals has been such a blessing in my life. I have learned so much more about Scripture, about God’s loving nature, and especially about myself as I have looked more closely into my own heart.

I have heard from individuals that I have never met and from others who are friends and acquaintances, and their comments and stories have taught me more about faith, perseverance, and hope. We all have our own stories to tell and many of them are filled with the painful circumstances of life, but by hearing them, we receive hope and assurance from one another about God’s presence during these times.

When I started this journey a year and a half ago, my purpose was to share some of my own faith experiences with my children and grandchildren. I hoped to give each of them something to help them along on their spiritual journey – this walk of faith we all try to travel. I wanted to share Scripture passages that have been meaningful to me, but most of all, I wanted them to know that they can always trust God and that He will always be with them.

I spent a year reading, searching for just the right verse to fit the day or something that was going on in our family’s lives, reading commentaries and lessons on background information, writing, and trying to learn more about God’s Word. I tried to weave our family stories into each devotional so it would be something they could learn from, look back on, and remember. Every step along the way, I received such a blessing and hoped it would be for them. I had them bound into a book called Family Devotionals for 2014, and gave them as Christmas gifts in December of 2013.

During this process, Bob had offered much help and encouragement, and while working together, the idea for a blog came about. Scott set it up and “Living In His Loving Presence” began in January of 2014. I soon realized that I now had a different audience with somewhat of a different purpose, and while I appreciated the privilege of being able to share His Word, I also felt the responsibility it would entail.

I am not a biblical scholar by any means, and I can only share what God has meant to me and what He has done in my life. I have often worried that I might misinform, mislead, or offend someone with something I have written. But this verse always carried me through as I tried to just focus on sharing my faith and “giving the reason for the hope I have in Christ.”  

Recently, I spent some time with a good friend and he commented on how he had been reading these posts. We talked about some of the topics I had written about and how difficult life can be. He seemed to hesitate as if there was more he wanted to say. He is a godly man and I value his friendship and opinion so I pressed him on what he wasn’t saying.

Finally, he admitted that sometimes I make it sound so easy to be a Christian – that if we just have faith, all will work out just fine and life will be full of joy. His concern was that some individuals who are reading the blog might misunderstand.

I explained that when I began this endeavor, my purpose was to give hope, to be positive, and to try to lift others up with the reminders of God’s love and grace. I knew I could write entry after entry about situations in my life and how painful they have been, but I wanted to focus on God’s goodness and the strength we can find in Him.

How do you reach that perfect balance and let others know? I understood what he was saying and I appreciated his thoughts. I know I sometimes overuse those desired comforting words such as love, peace, assurance, grace, hope, and joy. But I pray I never sound as if I have all the answers and that my life is perfect because of my belief in Him, because I don’t, and my life isn’t. I have known pain, grief, sorrow, disappointment, and all the other hard things of life – perhaps not in the same way that someone else has, but we all have our own burdens to carry.

Life can be hard and so can this walk of faith. It is a journey, and we are all still learning along the way. We all have our doubts, fears, anger, and frustrations as we go through uncertain times, but one thing that I have learned – that I would share with anyone – is that God has never once let me down. He has always been there to carry me through some really difficult times. And yes, I have found so much peace, joy, and grace in His loving presence. And by writing this blog, I am trying to help others know they can have it, as well.

It is my desire and prayer that in some way I will be able to pass on that hope and assurance I have found in Him to you. I pray as we all seek to know Him more that we will feel His presence and experience His love and grace. For in Him, there is always hope.

 Prayer

Dear Lord, there is so much about you and life we don’t understand. We may question and search, but may we never doubt that we can always find hope and strength in you. We thank you for your loving presence and for your saving grace. Amen

God Fills Heaven and Earth

“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 23: 23 – 24

I can’t believe it is already May! There is just something about this month that is special. It is as if spring finally has its day, and the uncertainty of April is behind us. It is also the month of Mother’s Day and my dear mother’s birthday. It always brings sweet memories and reflections of the past.

Yet, here and now, there are the beautiful reminders of God’s creation and His presence in the blooming flowers and trees, the newness of green grass, the fresh air, and the wonderful warmth of the sun. How could anyone doubt it?

Yet, even faithful Christians sometimes feel as if God has left them during a “season” of time. David said it well as He cried out to God in Psalm 44:24“Why do you hide your face and forget our misery and oppression?”

 When something unexpected happens to us, or if a painful circumstance has gone on for quite awhile, we may begin to feel a loneliness that startles and frightens us – as if God has left us. We experience disappointment, discouragement, confusion, doubt, fear, guilt, and even anger. We just don’t understand, especially if we have come to rely on His presence, comfort, encouragement, and guidance. Then suddenly it seems as if there is nothing from Him but silence. The sadness and heartache we may experience during this time has even been described as “being covered by  the shadow of death”.

I have had these seasons – times when I didn’t feel as if I could even pray because I felt so distant and isolated from God. They are painful, and I felt hopeless, and so alone, even when I was surrounded by loved ones. We just don’t understand why God would let us experience such despair, but in studying His Word, we can gain a little more insight into the possible reasons.

We can rest assured that God has one for these times – whether it is to get our attention, to help us in our spiritual growth, or to teach us to trust in Him even when we don’t feel His presence. But even when He seems distant and silent, we can enter the silence with Him. We can be still, look for Scripture passages that remind us of His love and promises, or listen to worship music, and get to know our God for who He is – more than just for the prayers He answers or for the blessings He gives us.

We can learn to wait upon Him and believe that we can trust Him even when He seems absent. For we can rest assured that He has been working in us during this time and He will make His presence known to us once again. Dawn always follows night and our times of darkness will end. And on the other side of the darkness, we may even discover that we have come out of this experience stronger and with a deeper faith in Him.

This verse reminds us that we just have to trust that He is there, even when we don’t feel His presence in the silence. God has promised that He will always be with us, that He is able to be everywhere, that we cannot ever hide from Him, and that He fills every piece of space.

It is incomprehensible; we can’t begin to wrap our minds around this divine being, His power, and His glory. Yet, accepting God’s omnipresence is a matter of faith; it’s that simple.

One writer suggested that perhaps we could think of Him in the way we think of air because air is near and essential to life. God’s love and presence also surrounds us and is just as essential to life as air itself. He is our breath of life. He fills the heavens and the earth, and He brings love, comfort, strength, hope, assurance, and peace. He is always with us.

 Prayer

Our heavenly Father, may we always be mindful of your presence even when we don’t feel it. May we realize that sometimes we have to trust that you know what is best for us, even if it means waiting in silence. Thank you for filling our world and the heavens with your holy and divine presence, love, and grace. Amen