Friday, March 26, 2010

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me in paths of righteousness for His name sake..." Psalm 23:3b (KJV)

The big snow storm of 1996 was a real trial for my husband and I as well as our pets. Disabled for thirty-eight years, Charlie had a hard time walking in the snow. Determined to clear our long driveway and sidewalk, he bought a snow blower. He also wanted to clear a place in the yard for the dogs to walk. We had two Chihuahuas and a Pug. Neither of them was very tall. A snow that big would swallow them.

When it began snowing, the dogs seemed confused. The snow changed the landscape, covering the familiar odors that let them know their potty territories. Upon taking them out in the deepening snow, we realized by trial and error that they were not going to cooperate. Charlie devised another tactic. I heard him outside clearing the road and sidewalk. It surprised me to see him making several paths in our field. He later explained that they were for walking the dogs. As long as they could see and smell the grass and earth, they would be content, making it easier for all of us.

While Charlie was outside with the dogs, the words, 'paths of righteousness' came to my mind. I pictured Jesus walking in front of me on a path strewn with flowers. "Follow me," He seemed to say, and I did. A contentment I could only imagine washed over me. The 'paths of righteousness' seemed to parallel the white paths Charlie made, reminding me that Christ leads me.

Thank You, Father, for leading us to new paths and showing us better ways to work and live. Amen.

(c) 2010
E. Bonnie Ryan

Friday, March 19, 2010

Faith Lessons

Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food…yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17b,18 (NIV)

The continuing instability of our financial institutions, the high unemployment rate and the corruption of our political leaders, cause many of us to feel anxious about the future of this country. Some families have suffered financial setbacks and lost their homes to foreclosure.

Although we suffer and have problems in this life, we can still choose to trust God and find joy in the midst of pain. The prophet Habakkuk watched calamity come upon the nation of Israel as crops failed and there was no food, but he chose to step out in faith and be joyful in the Lord. In verse 19, Habakkuk declares, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength.” God may not end our problems immediately or improve our financial situation. He will be with us and strengthen us to endure what is happening. As we learn to rejoice in the midst of trials, we grow in our relationship with our Lord. He works to build His character in us. As we allow God to heal and change us, relationships with family and friends improve. We begin to realize the true riches in this life are replacing the worldly wealth we rely on. We can move forward with confidence that God’s grace is sufficient for us because His “power is made perfect in weakness.” (paraphrase of 2 Cor.12:9 NIV).

Dear Father: I need Your strength when I face problems in life. I choose to rejoice in the midst of trials knowing I can trust You to change me so I become more like Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2010 Diane E. Hussey

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Father's House

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:1-2 (NIV)

Jesus has prepared a room in our Father’s house for each of us. Because He created us uniquely, He knows us intimately. In the same way, I believe our rooms will be tailored for us.

I was experiencing the turmoil of divorce when I first meditated on these verses. I visualized curling up in a cushy pink room in a heavenly honeycomb to take a long nap. Now, that image amuses me because it conveys the comfort of a mother’s womb. At that time, rest and the healing embrace of His Word were what I needed.

Today I envision an outdoor room which resonates with the sound of wildlife, running water and the wind blowing through the trees. The air is scented with pine and flowers. This picture is limited by my human mind but based on His promise to those who thirst after Him.

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. (Isaiah 55:12-13a)

God has plans for me and so I wonder: What will my room will look like to me in five years?

Heavenly Father, I trust You prepared a room for me in Heaven. As I live on earth, let me revel in Your presence, inviting all who pass by to join in. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2010 Stephanie L. Snead

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Sixty Year Old Prayer

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4 NIV)

In the 1970s, I met an interesting elderly couple at a Christian retreat. They were in their 8th decade and had been married for over sixty years. A retired naval officer, in the early part of the twentieth century, he commanded a four-masted sailing vessel.

Most retreat participants dressed in jeans and t-shirts; but the captain always came to breakfast early dressed in a three-piece suit and tie. While he appeared formal in bearing and speech, his wife was warm and talkative. I had the pleasure of sitting beside her at dinner one evening.

“You and the captain must have led an exciting life together,” I said.

“Oh,” she answered, “not really. I was at home raising our five children. My husband was the one out seeing the world. He was quite a drinker and womanizer before he found the Lord.”

In my mind I imagined the captain falling to his knees and calling out to God during a fierce naval battle during WWI or WWII.

“How long has he been a Christian?” I asked.
“About three years,” she answered.

She had prayed for him for over sixty years. What a patient, loving, and forgiving spirit!

“You amaze me,” I said.

She smiled. “Oh, it wasn’t me,” she said. “The Lord gave me His love and forgiveness or else I couldn’t have persisted in prayer.”

Prayer: Lord, grant us persistence in prayer that we may rest in Your peace and lay hold of Your forgiveness.

© Christy Struben 2010