Friday, November 17, 2017

CREATOR OF ALL


For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.  He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. Psalm 95:3, 4 (NLT)

Mountains always speak to my soul. Throughout my childhood, our family would drive to Western Maryland each summer for a visit with our grandparents. They owned and worked a farm on Warrior mountain. I am still overcome with a sense of peace as I view and approach any mountain range. It feels like home—being one with nature.

God is found in such a place as this. You can be still and experience His creation. The varying melodies sung by the birds and the tones heard from the insects create their own symphony of grandeur. The sound of running water in a brook is captivating, adding another layer of richness. When the air is stirring, more is added to this symphony. One can hear the stirring of tall grasses, and pine needles, and the rustling leaves.  A breeze also cools your skin, moderating the warmth which penetrates from the sun’s rays.  The night sounds of crickets and whippoorwills create a different symphony to lure you into a deep restful sleep.

We are drawn to God as we gaze over a field of flowers in full bloom. Every year our senses are enhanced by the smell of pine needles and the leaves which display their brilliant fall colors. He has provided such splendor of color, to the ever changing hues of landscapes as the sun rises and sets.  

Heavenly Father, Creator of the universe, thank You for our senses. May we each spend time communing with Your creation and be drawn to Your Word, the source of all understanding and life. 

© 2017 Marianne Lucot

Friday, November 10, 2017

SEPARATION ANXIETY


Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)

This morning we watched our son pull out of the driveway to begin his journey westward to his new home. Our house which had been a flurry of activity was empty—and quiet. I didn’t believe my morning could get worse, but it did. As we watched my granddaughter climb the steps of the school bus, we saw a little boy run back to his mother. He didn’t want to leave her.

Memories of waiting with my children at the bus stop began to fill my mind. And the little boy who didn’t want to get on the school bus was my son. As the flashback overwhelmed my senses, I couldn’t breathe. I turned to escape before the floodgates opened and poured forth an avalanche of tears. I barely made it to safety.

We love, nurture and raise our children so that one day they will be able to stand on their own two feet. After all, we’re not going to be around forever. Today I realized the little hand I once held in mine was bigger than my own. Our little boy had become a man. I couldn’t pinpoint when it happened, but it did.

We are proud of our son. He is following his dreams—living the good life. And we can rest assured in the knowledge that when God places a dream in our heart, He equips us to achieve it.

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness and the gift of children. Grant us the courage to allow them to spread their wings and take flight. Keep them in Your loving care as they journey from home.

© 2017 Amy A. Verzi  

Friday, November 3, 2017

GUARDED


The angel of the Lord encamps round those who fear him, and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7 (NIV)

Many years ago, after a wonderful vacation, I was driving my young family home. It was dark night on a long stretch of Florida interstate highway. Becky, Hank, Kent and Judy were trying to sleep in the back seat, and we looked forward to stretching out on nice motel beds soon.

Suddenly, the car quit. The engine stopped, and I had to pull over on the shoulder. I was immediately aware of how utterly vulnerable we were. As the cars raced past us, all kinds of people, good and bad, saw our car sitting lamely on the shoulder. I’m sure some sort of prayer went up, but mostly my mind was occupied by fear and searching for a viable plan.

A car pulled out of the traffic and stopped in front of us. Was this friend or foe? How could I know if this person was to be trusted?

Then I saw the decal on his rear window: “Purdue.” That was my alma mater!

My fear was instantly relieved. God had seen my plight and moved to send help. And He did it in a way that gently assured me of safety.

As I talked with the driver of that car, we quickly bonded. This happened before cell phones were available, and he was willing to go out of his way to find a tow-truck to come help me.

The tow-truck came and we were rescued. When my family finally arrived at a motel with those comfortable beds, I just had to praise God for his gracious protection and provision through our ordeal.

Lord, I praise You that You are my guardian, always watching over me.
 
© 2017 Parker Wayland

Friday, October 27, 2017

DRAWING NEAR

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NASB

My kitties love sunbathing on the back porch. I would have named that as their favorite thing to do. I would have been wrong.
As I was praying and doing my devotions, they came in from their porch time to curl up—one in my lap and one tucked tightly beside me. There have been a lot of rainy days this summer, limiting their time basking in the sun, but their priority was time spent with me.

This caused me to contemplate the value of things that sometimes wrestle for my time with God, and search my heart for where my cherished time lies. What are my priorities? What nourishes my soul? 
Seeking God and sitting in His Holy presence was my answer.

Nothing else soothes and brings comfort to my wounds when the trials of life are scraping my soul raw. 

Nothing heals my hurts like His loving touch on my aching heart. 
Nothing gives me hope, peace and strength like His word spoken deep into my spirit.

We are in desperate need of healing from all life's pain. Nothing can satisfy that longing except time spent with our Father. 
Perhaps life is meant to beat us ragged until we crawl into the presence of God seeking relief. I marvel at the restoration only He can bring.

When life is competing for your attention, I encourage you to stop—run to your special place to sit at His feet. Sit quietly before Him. You will come away renewed and strengthened.

Father, I'm so grateful you are always there, waiting for me to come and drawing near to me in love. Amen.

©2017 Bonnie Mae Evans

Friday, October 20, 2017

A MESSAGE TO MY SON


. . . “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
. . . for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9b, 10e (NAS) 

Dear son, 

I hope you’re doing okay. Searching for a job is discouraging at times. I also wrestle with it. When I get down and feel like nothing is going to happen, talking to God helps me. I lay it all out—my frustration and how it feels when no one wants to take a chance and hire me. Sometimes I feel sad, discouraged and even angry.  

Then, I take a fresh look at 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. This passage clearly speaks to me, and I hope it will to you. When I am at a low point, I cry out to God for help and strength. 

I claim this promise:  When I am weak, I know He enables me to be strong by the power of Christ dwelling in me. His power is made perfect in my weakness. We can endure anything knowing our Lord is with us in the midst of it. He may not take the difficulty away immediately, but He is with us, and He will bring us out on the other side. We will be changed because we learned to trust Him in the worst of times. Our faith is strengthened because we learned to persevere in a trial. 

This is true for you, too, my son. Our Savior is with you, and He will guide you through this tough time. He will show you, and me, the jobs He has for us. We have both learned to trust God.
Dear Father, be with and strengthen those who are facing hard times.
© 2017 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, October 13, 2017

RESCUERS

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; may the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace! Psalm 29:10a, 11 (RSV)

We have been divided by activist groups, waving their banners, screaming in the streets. We have been divided by our color. We have been divided by our income. But, when the chips are down, when Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texaswe were united. 

We bind together to help rescue all those who are in danger: children, seniors and pets. I saw a soaked little kitten carried in a box. I don’t hear people saying, “I helped seven white people, five black people, twelve seniors.”  I don’t hear anyone saying, “A skinny little white man rescued me from the roof of my garage.” They were helpers with big hearts and strong arms.

People were rescued by helicopters, large flatbed trucks, many boats of various sizes. Fire and Police Departments from different communities, and other states were on the scene. All the workers were volunteers, no one was on the clock. They worked day and night, day after day.

There’s a saying, “United we stand; Divided we fall,” dating back to Aesop. It has been cited from Abraham Lincoln to the terrorist attack of 9/11. When people are in trouble, we unite and come to the rescue.

I didn’t say “Americans” because maybe they weren’t. They were love in action—bound together by seeing a need, joining hands and heartsfilling that need.

God’s hands are all around, through rescue after rescue. With tears, I prayed for them. I learned when my troubles were more than I could stand, I kneel.

Dear Lord, thank You, for all Your helpers. I pray to be considered one of Your workers. Amen


© 2017 Lois Gosley

Friday, October 6, 2017

GIVING IN SECRET

...and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:4b. (KJV)

She sat in the chapel, waiting until the parishioners and the priest left. Her heart raced. She was afraid the priest would come back in and ask her to leave. Once she was assured of being alone, she quietly climbed the altar steps. Her only interest was the torn lace scarf on the mantle.

She found the long tear in the lace. She would use the talent God gave her to repair it. She took the white thread and needle and, working quickly, weaved the thread in and out of the lace as the tear became smaller and smaller.

She was not aware the priest had returned. He stood watching as her hands sewed the fine stitches in the lacework. He moved closer. Then she saw him.

Startled, she stopped sewing and faced him. He stared at her, and nodding slightly, he smiled and left the sanctuary. Heart pounding and hands trembling, she dropped the needle. Picking it up, she continued sewing. Within minutes, she finished mending the lace. She could not tell where the tear had been. It was fully restored. Cutting the thread, she genuflected and left the chapel.

In the cool air, she breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction. She felt she had done a good deed for the Lord. She would tell no one. God knew. That was enough because she had given her talent in secret, she knew God would openly reward her someday.

Dear Lord, may more Christians think of acts of kindness to bestow on one another as if they were doing it for You. Amen.

© 2017  Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, September 29, 2017

CAN YOU HEAR THE WHISPER?


And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. I Kings 19:12b-13 (NIV)

There are moments when life seems a bit more than slightly overwhelming. Often, after working all week long, chauffeuring the children back and forth to activities, managing our homes, dealing with personal responsibilities, and attempting to find a few moments to relax and enjoy life, things can feel like too much. In those moments, we just want to run away to a place where we can be alone. Sometimes to just be with ourselves and other times to be with God, to question Him and seek understanding about what He’s doing in our lives.

In I Kings 19, the prophet Elijah found himself running away from the challenges of his own life. After taking a bold stand and proving to the naysayers that God is real, Elijah was exhausted, alone, and afraid—ready to give up. An angel appeared and told him to listen, for the Lord was preparing to pass by. First came a powerful wind, then an earthquake, and finally fire. But God did not speak in the loudness of these things. Instead, after all the noise ceased, God spoke in a gentle whisper!
Has it been hard for you to hear God speaking through the chaos and noise of your life? If so, you are not alone. When it feels like God has stopped speaking, remember He has not forgotten about you. Perhaps, He simply wants you to be still and listen for His whisper.

Lord, slow my pace and quiet my mind so I can hear Your still, small voice.

© 2017 Dawn M. Wayman

Friday, September 22, 2017

BE COURAGEOUS


“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9 (NAS) 

God has a new opportunity waiting for me just around the corner. My search for a new job seems endless after applying for dozens of positions, but receiving no offers. Is God trying to teach me something? 

No matter how hard life seems as we face job losses, financial challenges or family relationship problems, as believers, we are God’s beloved children. He knows what we are going through, and He is with us in the midst of our fears, depression and discouragement. 

Our human emotions and misgivings often give rise to questions:  Will I ever get through this? Will I find a new job? Will my child be okay? Can this broken relationship be mended? God, why is this happening? 

Then, I remember God telling a fearful new leader, Joshua, to “Be strong and very courageous,” as he led the children of Israel into the Promised Land after Moses’ death. Seven times in Joshua God tells him to be courageous and not to be fearful. Pondering God’s words, I realize when we are courageous, we will not be discouraged, but will be an encouragement to those around us. All three words originate from the same root word─COURAGE! 

Just as God showed Joshua and the Israelites the way through the wilderness, He will guide me through this search and out to a new job. And, just as Joshua was told “the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” the Lord will be with us wherever He leads us. 

Father, teach us to be courageous and to remember You are always with us. 

© 2017 Diane E. Hussey

Friday, September 15, 2017

WAS THAT ME IN THE GARDEN?


Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
Gen 3:8-9 (NIV)

Was that me in the garden that warm sunny day resting in a bed of wildflowers under a canopy of trees?

Unclothed and unashamed, I closed my eyes feeling the gentle breeze tickle my cheek. My friend, the serpent, awakened me for our stroll in the garden. We chatted merrily as we wandered through the trails and along the stream.

My mouth began to water as we reached the tree with the forbidden fruit. Every day the serpent encouraged me to sample its delicious offerings. Always, I refused and walked away.

But not today.

The fruit, so pleasing to my eyes, beckoned me like a long-lost friend. I took the fruit and brought it to my lips. After seeing no harm come to me, my husband took the next bite.

Everything changed.

The sweetness of the fruit turned bitter and our eyes were opened. I closed my eyes tightly, willing them to return to the way things were. The serpent looked quite pleased with himself when the Lord found us and swiftly passed judgment. We were banished from our home forever.

As we walked away from the garden into the strange land, I looked back to consider all we had lost. A lone tear coursed down my cheek as the chasm between us widened with each step. Emptiness replaced the joy in my heart.

Why, Oh Lord, do we trade the perfection of Your love for the seductive lies of the world?
 
© 2017 Amy A. Verzi

Friday, September 8, 2017

BIRDS IN MY FLOWERS

If you come across a birds nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. Deuteronomy 22:6 (ESV)

Last week while watering my hanging plants, I noticed a tiny bird fly away as I took the beautiful begonia down. The begonia was full of hot pink double blossoms. While watering it, I noticed a deep depression beneath some of the leaves in the middle of the plant.

Oh, no. A bird built a nest in the center and laid two eggs. I was mesmerized by the tiny oval eggs. After carefully watering the plant, I hung it back up.

Every day while watering, I checked the nest. New eggs were added until there were five in the nest. A few days later there were two tiny, naked baby birds huddling together. What a wonder it was to be able to witness the miracle of birth in such tiny creatures.

The mother bird scolded me loudly from a nearby tree when I took the nest down to check her babies. After I put it back, she continued caring for them. I thought how God loves and cares for us and Matthew 10:29, 31 came to mind. "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Fear not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows." It makes one humble to know how much we are loved.

Thank You, Father, for allowing me to enjoy one of Your little flying creatures. You created all life; may we all give You praise every day for our blessings. Amen.

© 2017  Evelyn B. Ryan

Friday, September 1, 2017

LOSERS

Let the favor of the Lord be upon us and establish the work of our hands…” Psalm 90:17 (RSV)

Joseph’s brothers were so jealous of their father’s love for Joseph, plus his dreams of them bowing down to him, that they plotted to do away with him. They threw him in a pit. They sold him. Imagine, selling your brotherLosers! Joseph was sold into slavery!

Joseph worked, as a slave, in Egypt, and the Lord caused all he did to prosper. He became a successful man. He also was handsome and Potiphar’s wife tried to entice him to “lie with me.” He refused. She told her side of the story, falsely accusing JosephLoser! Joseph was wrongly cast into prison!

While in prison, his cellmates, the baker and butler had perplexing dreams. Joseph interpreted them, and they were fulfilled as he predicted. The butler was freed from the dungeon and Joseph asked him to “Remember me, I was stolen, I’ve done nothing wrong, that I should remain in this dungeon.” The butler promised but forgotLoser! Joseph stayed in the dungeon two more years.

When Pharaoh had disturbing dreams, the butler remembered Joseph’s ability to interpret.
Pharaoh called Joseph. He interpreted the dreams and proposed a marvelous solution. Pharaoh made him a ruler. Joseph’s wisdom saved the people during a famine.

I asked a friend, “What if all these Losers had not done those bad things?”

She replied, “God would find other Losers.”

God sometimes uses the accomplished or the exceptional. But He often uses a dysfunctional disciple like Peter; a shepherd like David; a persecutor like Paul, and a prostitute like Rahab.

Thank You, Lord, the only ability You need is availability. Take this loser and use me to serve in Your kingdom. Amen.


© 2017 Lois Gosley