PEACE EVEN WHEN STORMS ARE RAGING

Even though storms are an everyday experience,  some storms are stronger than others.  The power that the storm unleashes is awesome and can be unnerving. The howling wind and driving rain, along with lightning and thunder, create anxiety if not outright fear in our hearts.

Scripture tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, including the ocean or sea.

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.   God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:9-10

In Psalms 24:1-2, David says:

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.[NLT]

Jesus illustrates His power throughout the Gospels of Scripture, but one of the stories that I often think of is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4. Jesus and his disciples were crossing to the other side of the sea.

Sailboat in ocean (C)
Sailboat in the ocean

A violent storm overtook them; in fact, it was so severe that Mark says that the waves beat into the boat so that it was full! Although I am not a marine expert, even I can understand that the situation Mark described was dire!  Imagine being in that boat, with the wind howling, the waves churning and the boat filling up with water. The expert fishermen, now disciples, were afraid for their very lives. This was no ordinary storm – it was fierce, they were afraid.

Jesus, on the other hand, was sleeping – no fear here!   When the disciples woke Him in their wide‐eyed fear, Jesus stood up and ordered the sea to be still.

“And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Mark 4:39. KJV

While I would have screamed at the sea, Jesus simply spoke and nature had its marching orders. Jesus essentially said “that’s enough.” He didn’t flail around waving His arms and stomping his feet. He was, at all times, in control. He simply spoke the words and directed the sea to “be still”.

It is encouraging to me to note that the sea’s response was not delayed until the storm naturally dissipated or moved away from the water. Further, the directive was not ignored. Jesus was in control: He spoke and the sea obeyed, immediately.

Landscape Rainbow, Seward Highway, Alaska

Notwithstanding the miracles Jesus had consistently been demonstrating, Scripture says that the disciples were incredulous, and that they asked each other who this man was.  How could He have such authority that even the wind and waves obeyed His voice?  See Mark 4:41.  Of course, the answer to their question is that Jesus is the Creator, the One who established the bounds of the waters in the first place.  He is the One in whom we have our being, He is the Word made flesh, and He is our Savior.

The storms and seas of this world, with their incredible expanse and surpassing power, obey Jesus’ voice. And He, through His Holy Spirit, is with His children in every circumstance — His voice that calmed the sea will calm my own heart and fears. Whatever flood overwhelms me, whether it be water, problems, illness, finances or circumstance, my Lord is in control.

Trust Him ‐‐ even when you feel that your boat is sinking! His voice is still powerful! He can still say “Peace, be still.”

Father, I praise Your Name that You sent Jesus to be my Savior. Jesus, I praise Your Name that You obeyed and became the sacrifice for my sin. Holy Spirit, thank You for being with me every step of the way, and for holding me close, even in the fiercest storm.

 

 

A CHANGE IN DIRECTION

We were driving down a highway one day when, straight ahead of us, there was what appeared to be a silo and a walkway going over the highway to a tall structure on the other side of the road.  While that may not be earthshaking, when I looked up from my reading it appeared to me that we had to drive directly underneath that walkway and in between the silo and the other structure.  There was nothing but farmland on either side of the highway for miles and the road seemed to be flat, no rise in elevation or hills to consider just more farmland up ahead.  But, there stood these two structures and the tiny bridge. 

20180610_133655

I have to say I was startled, and wondered how we were supposed to navigate this passageway.  My fears were unfounded, however, when we got to the point of no return and the road curved so that the buildings were on the right side of the roadbed.

20180610_133722

A change in direction.  We think things are going along just fine.  We have our lives all laid out.  The plan is determined and things are being put in place to execute that well-thought-out plan.

When all of a sudden, there is a change in direction.  A curve in the road that we didn’t see or even consider.  The flatness of our life’s terrain is a source of comfort and security.  We know what is going on and we don’t have to worry about surprises. 

Jesus said that His followers would have problems and trials in this life, He certainly did and He told us that we should expect it also. 

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

Luke 6:22 

But, Jesus also said that God, His Heavenly Father, knows all about all of His creation.  When a little sparrow falls from the tree, God knows about that.  Jesus then said, if God cares for the sparrow, just imagine how much He cares for you!  Again, Jesus said God knows how many hairs we have on our head. 

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Matthew 10:29-31

If that is the case, do you really think God would be surprised about anything that would happen to you?

As certainly as the sun comes up in the morning, there will be surprises that come into our lives, some good ones and many others not so good, and we have to learn to handle them, sometimes in a split second.

How can we do that?  By leaning on the One who loves us with an eternal love and who does, indeed, have our life plan before Him.  While we may be surprised by events that occur and seem to derail our life, God is not surprised by any means.  He is omniscient – He is all-knowing.  Further, He is omnipotent – He is all-powerful. 

Combining those two eternal and immutable attributes of God, He knows all things that will happen to you and He is strong enough to be sure that His plan for you will be fulfilled.  That does not mean that there will not be difficulties for us as Christians.  Rather, it means that when there is a difficulty, we can be certain that we are in God’s hands and that He is in control of the situation. 

This is when faith comes into play.  We need to have faith in God so that we can truly rest in His eternal arms during whatever trial or difficulty we are experiencing at any given time.

A change in plans often is unwelcome, distressing and disturbing.  But it often brings surprises and growth in our spiritual life that outweigh all the distress originally felt.  In the process, we can learn a great deal about our God and our relationship with Him. 

Think you are running into an unmovable obstacle? Think again, God may have turned the roadway just in time so that you are, once again, on the straight and narrow way!

Father, I praise your name and give you all glory and honor because only You are God.  There are many imitations and false gods in today’s world, there are many things that man has made into a god such as money, fame, privilege, possessions, even family.  Forgive us when we replace You for anything else.   You are the one and only true God, and it is to You that our love and allegiance must be directed.

 

HUMILITY – A LOST ATTRIBUTE OF MODERN MAN

Picture hanging in our office
Picture depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd holding His lamb in His nail-pierced hand.

Listening to the news reports, listening to radio talk show participants, listening to parents and children interact, listening to parents and children at the sports stadium … just listening to what is going on around you reveals, in a nanosecond, that there is an absence of humility in our modern society.

Humility has, from the beginning, been difficult to find among mortal men. Adam and Eve turned their back on humility and sinned when they ate the forbidden fruit in their attempt to “be like God”. Genesis 3:5.

But Scripture reveals that we have no basis to be proud or arrogant.

O LORD, what is man that you regard him, or the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4.

According to Scripture, we are temporal, finite; sinners who have absolutely no standing with God. While we may look good to other sinners here on earth, we have no basis to stand puffed up before God.

God is at work in His creation and in my life on a moment by moment basis. He is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (all over, everywhere), and He has extended His grace to us through Jesus Christ, His Son, and our Savior.

What is the response to this powerful, present Creator God? It certainly should not be strutting our stuff before Him, as if we could accomplish anything without Him!

Rather, it should be the response that Abram had when God told him that He was making a covenant with him. Genesis 17:3 says:

 Then Abram fell on his face.

It has been said that Western society is blessed to be steeped in the teaching of Scripture and the person and work of Christ. However, this blessing of familiarity can readily motivate contempt in us for the things of God. Even if we do not consciously disregard the Lord, when we fail to marvel at the Father’s grace, simply because we hear of it every week, we must be careful not to fall into a subtle and powerful form of contempt. 

Canon 6 of the Council of Orange says:

“…if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, “What have you that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7), and, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

We must beware of Satan’s subtle urging that we take credit for our salvation, that we believe that we are not dependent upon God for our very existence, that we forget exactly what we are – sinners, deserving of punishment from a Just God. Satan does not want us to remember that, even though sinners, we have been rescued from that punishment by the grace and mercy of God which is extended to us through belief in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Someone who is drowning and is virtually unconscious of his plight should not become arrogant when a stranger jumps into the water and rescues him from death.  Rather, there should be a recognition that he was unable to do anything to save himself and that the rescuer is due great honor for the valor extended on his behalf.  

This is a picture of us, Beloved.  We were drowning in sin and stuck in the mire of evil deeds, thoughts and desires.  Jesus through God’s providence rescued us – we had nothing to do with it because it is all God’s grace.  There is no basis for us to become proud, holier than thou, arrogant or puffed up in ourselves. 

Take time to meditate on the greatness of our God and His love for us.

This is the antidote for us to defeat Satan’s maneuver against us.  In humble submission to Christ, thank Him for His love and grace. 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

John 10:11

The Good Shepherd wants you to come to Him as a lamb, one of the most humble of creatures.  Rest in Him as He holds you in His arms. 

Father, I pray that You would forgive me when I have slid into a pattern of placing myself before You.  The reality that the God of the Universe knows me, loves me, and sent His Son to die for me calls for nothing other than humble obedience, reverence, love and awe. 

 

GOT POWER?

(This is a revised version of the post originally posted April 21, 2015)

We were camping when an unexpected cold snap caused some damage to the RV.  Frozen hoses and pipes were identified and then we went to work searching the Internet to find a place that had the necessary parts.   A quick call confirmed that they were open and had the needed parts. So now it was up to us to get there.

Since we were in unfamiliar territory, I pulled out the trusty RV GPS that is created specifically for the intrepid RV camper and put in the address.

Directions GPS

We found the store, purchased the necessary supplies, and began our trek back to the campground when we came to several intersecting roads. In fact, this intersection arrived just as my husband was asking what road we needed to be watching for AND just as the GPS flashed “LOW POWER” and “POWERING OFF”.   Then, it just went blank.  Not even a “sorry” or “I tried” or “You have 1 more minute”.  Just … well, nothing.  It apparently didn’t care if we got lost!

I couldn’t believe it.  In my second of need, it was “powering off.”  My frustration stemmed from the fact that, unlike my husband, I get lost in a paper bag.  I am the one who, in Walmart, will turn left into the main aisle thinking I am going to the checkout lane and wind up in sporting goods at the back of the store.  If there are two directions to select from, I will ALWAYS pick the wrong one.

Anyway, I was the one who had insisted that we purchase this GPS, even though my husband has a virtually infallible sense of direction, simply because I do not.  I wanted to have my own backup plan … assuring myself that we could find our way home if something happened to his directional instincts.  So, we purchased this fancy-dancy GPS thing and now, when he actually asked me a directional question, in my truest hour of need, it is “powering off”.

Inside the car, I went into full scale fume mode, when my husband said simply “We’ll just plug it into the charger when we get back to the RV.”

How simple, yet how profound.  Recharge!  That’s the answer for the electronic messages that had disrupted my day. 

But what about spiritually?  How do we get our spiritual power?  And, when we have exhausted our power, how do we recharge?

In Acts 1:8, Scripture records Jesus as promising that his disciples would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” so that they could be effective witnesses for Him. We understand this coming of the Holy Spirit as the day of Pentecost, and because of that day, we believe that the Holy Spirit is within us, as Jesus promised.  John 14:16-17.

But the Holy Spirit’s presence with us is not the whole answer to the “recharge” question.  We must avail ourselves of that power.  I had chargers available at the camp site but the GPS had not been plugged in – now, it was unable to give me the information that I needed when I needed it.  It had no power even though that power had been available.

Likewise, simply having the Scripture in your hand, purse, cell phone or pocket, is not availing yourself of the power which otherwise would be provided. This realization prompted me to consider how often I had ignored going to the Scripture to charge my spiritual batteries.

I had time for many other things, but, I did not have time to quell the growling hunger for my Lord by feeding on the nourishment of His Word in Holy Scripture.  Daily activities took priority over quiet time with Him that would have prepared me for those encounters that He had prearranged for me to handle according to His will, not mine. Ephesians 2:10.

Did my spiritual red light flash “Powering Off” when the assignment came because my batteries had not been charged through reading His Word with contemplation and prayer and then praising Him for His excellent goodness and mercy?

Or, did I not even see the assignment that He had for me that day because my spiritual eyes and ears did not have sufficient power to even recognize the call to present Christ to those around me?

Scripture states that the Spirit and Scripture were given to us so that we would be complete and equipped for every good work that God has for us to do.   2 Peter 1:3 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The kicker is that we must plug ourselves in to the Source of our Power.  Seek the Lord and He will be found.  He is waiting for you.   Deuteronomy 4:29.   Beloved, don’t delay – go to the source of all power and life, Jesus Christ and His Word.

Father, forgive me when I give more time and attention to worldly things and ignore the more important spiritual preparation that I should undertake.  May I look to Your Word continually and seek the Holy Spirit to provide the power to live my life in constant witness of Your love, grace and mercy.

HEY THERE, FRIEND!

When you were in elementary school, or perhaps middle school (also known as junior high), did you make friends with some boy or girl who was a special friend?  Someone you went bike riding with on Saturday, or someone who would come and share a meal at your house?  Perhaps even a friend who would go on vacations with your family? 

On the Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls
Two friends on the Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls

I suspect that everyone has had at least one such friend.  Now, fast forward decades later … how ever many decades apply to your life … and ask whether you have spoken to that friend recently or whether you have visited with that friend in the past year or two.  Unfortunately, for me, there are a number of friends who have not had any communication from me for many years. 

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

Proverbs 27:6

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

True friends provide wise counsel and their words are for your benefit, even if they seem to hurt when first said.  Not so with those who would harm you.

In Psalms, David tells of his close friend and companion who betrayed him when the man sided with Absalom in an attempt to unseat David from the throne:  

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

Psalm 41:9

Even Jesus had a “friend” who betrayed Him to those who hated Him.

“Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.”

Matthew 26:50

Praise the Lord for the friends you have, especially for the friends who rejoice when you rejoice and who weep when you weep, for the friends who love you even when they know you well, for the friends who stay by your side through thick and thin (that’s an old-time expression, it means all the time!).

I recently had occasion to visit with friends from my ancient past.  It was a delightful time and many humorous stories were told, and retold, as we thought back to our youth.

In our day and time, communication is so easy and all encompassing. Technology has made it possible for us to communicate with, and even see in real time, people all around the world while we are sitting in our home or office.  We can be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media and can tell people all that is happening to us on a moment by moment basis, something that mankind could not even begin to imagine for millennia past.  We have removed the impediment of distance so that communication is possible wherever and whoever you want to speak with.

And yet, in our culture, people would rather communicate via email than have a verbal conversation. In short, we fail spectacularly in our communications face-to-face.  We readily tell others what we want them to know, but we don’t necessarily want to hear what they might say in response, so we tell them our side and then turn off the electronic device so that we can move on to other things.  All the while, we are satisfied that “I have reached out to them” but, I have not interacted with them!

We read in Exodus 33:11 that Moses was a friend of God’s.

“Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”

People come into our lives at various times, and we become friends and share our family’s stories with each other.  This is as it should be, we are social beings and we need interaction with others.  And, the reality in our 21st century is that people will move away, with increasing regularity.  The family compound is no longer in one place.  Most families are split apart geographically as children leave the nest to find their employment elsewhere, as they marry and move to the location where their spouse has work, as the grandparents move to the retirement home in Florida or somewhere warm so their arthritis doesn’t hurt so much; the reasons for moving are as varied as are the families involved, but the fact of the matter is that each move requires making new friends, and it also has the unintended result that the friendships formerly made are torn asunder.

As it does for any personal interaction, it takes work to keep a friendship strong.  It takes work to keep a marriage strong.  It takes work to keep your Christian life and witness strong.

Cherish your friends.  Keep in touch.  Speak to them on the phone or in person, don’t just rely on the email that you have programmed in the Hallmark app so it goes out to the list automatically. 

Blessed is the one who calls someone else friend.  Blessed, indeed, is the one who calls Jesus not only Friend but Savior and Brother.

Thank You, Lord, for giving us the marvelous gift of friendship with others, the gift of joy and laughter, the gift of memories and sweet thoughts about those who have come into our lives.  Thank You, Father, for giving us the best friend we could ever imagine, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Brother, our Everlasting Friend.

WHO DO YOU IMITATE?

Although he lived long before anyone reading this post was born, Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) rendered a quotation that many of us know today.  He was an English cleric who was also a writer and collector.  His book, including collections of comments and short essays were wildly popular in their day.  One of his most famous quotes which is still in use today is: “Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery”.

Imitation.  Children imitate their parents/caregivers all the time.  We were taking care of a young girl while her mother took some night classes at a nearby school.  She was looking at a Golden Book that we had in the house when she began “reading” to us, as her nursery school teacher would do.  She held the book in her hands and looked at the pages, then turned the book facing us and said “Blah, blah, blah, I don’t want to hear about it!”  After saying this, she turned the page and looked at the next two pages, again flipping the book to face us and repeat the same sing-song-phrase. 

Clearly, this young girl was not actually “reading” the printed word, but she was repeating what she regularly heard at home, complete with the intonation that comes from frustration or anger.  Imitation. 

Even if we are adults, don’t think that our days of imitation are over.  We still imitate others. 

When we were in England a number of years ago, we went to Abbey Road in London.  Since some in our family were alive when the Beatles walked across that road, we had to do so as well.  This is our impression of the Beatles’ classic album cover.

Abbey road

It was a great deal of fun to imitate that walk, although it did not bring us any fame, just some honks by irritated drivers!

On a much more serious note, imitation can take on eternal consequences.  For example, we are to imitate the good that other Christians do in their lives.

“Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.”

3 John 1:11

Most of all, we are to imitate the Son of God, Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior.  After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, He told them to imitate His actions.

“For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

John 13:15

He also said:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 13:34

Eternal consequences, you may ask?  What if I don’t want to imitate Jesus?

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:15

“If you … [then] you…”  The opposite of this, of course, is that if we do not keep His commandments, then we do not actually love Him even if our lips try to say otherwise.

The writer of Hebrews said that we are to imitate the faith of our leaders who faithfully brought the Word of God to us.

“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”

Hebrews 13:7

Paul put it this way:

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1 Corinthians 4:15-16

Two questions, thus, come to mind.

  1. Are you obeying Christ’s commandments? Do you love others and serve them in His name?  If not, why not?  Do you really know Jesus Christ as your Savior or are you playing Christian, rather like playing a part in a play? 
  2. Is your life, your witness, your love for the Lord such that you could say the same thing that Paul said? “I urge you to imitate me.”  Is your way of life revealing the strength of faith you have in Jesus Christ?  If not, why not?  If so, can others find Jesus Christ by imitating you?

Imitation.  So easy that a child can do it.  So hard that many will run from its demands.  So much a blessing that it provides grace and abundant living in the here and now, as well as forever more.

Father, I pray that I would be a witness for Your Son, Jesus Christ and that Your Spirit would strengthen me as I seek to imitate Him and His love for others.  Enable me to live so that others can imitate me and grow stronger in their faith and in their devotion to my Lord.

SHOWERS SENT FROM GOD

We have had some rain showers this week.  Nothing like the severe storms that plague parts of the country at various times of the year.  Just showers, maybe some light thunder and a streak of lightning here and there, otherwise just showers.

 

rain-in-mississippi
Rain is visibly falling in several places as we were driving through Mississippi, and heading toward the storm.

If you live in an area where the land is flat and there are no mountains to interrupt your view of the surrounding terrain, you can see the rain showers as they head your way.  We took this picture as we were traveling through Mississippi.  While the cloud covers the entire area, the rain showers are visible as darkened spaces from the cloud.  The lighter spaces are the areas where the rain has not yet started. 

We look forward to rain showers because they are good for the earth.  They water the grass and plants, they reduce the pollen in the air (something great for allergy sufferers), and they provide refreshment to all God’s creatures. 

Of course, there are some who don’t like showers.  Children who want to play outside; people who work outside in the elements; people who have errands, and the rain makes the task more difficult.

Scripture talks about showers as being both a gift from God and a punishment from God.

In the book of Isaiah, we have a beautiful passage which tells of God’s good pleasure and power as He speaks to King Cyrus, a pagan king who was used by God to rebuild Jerusalem:

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: … I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness; let the earth open, that salvation and righteousness may bear fruit; let the earth cause them both to sprout; I the LORD have created it.”

Isaiah 45:1, 5-8

In Genesis we see the judgment side of God’s use of rain.  Here, God is telling Noah that the world will be destroyed by rain because of the great sin and abomination that the people have committed:

For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.”

Genesis 7:4

Noah and his family were spared because he had built the ark as God commanded and he took the animals aboard so that there was a remnant spared from the devastation of the flood.

Scripture also tells us that God is capable not only of sending rain in judgment but also of withholding rain as a judgment upon His people.

“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.  When I shut up the heavens so tht there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’”

2 Chronicles 7:12-14

Then, too, we see the prophet Elijah who told Ahab that there would be no rain and, after three years, the prophet prayed for rain.

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”

James 5:17-18

Elijah’s faith was so complete that, after his prayer for rain, when the servant searched the skies for rain clouds six times and saw nothing, he told the servant to look again.  That time the response was that he saw: “a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea”. 1 Kings 18:44  Then Elijah told the servant to run to Ahab and tell him to prepare the chariot so that he would be stuck because of the deluge that was coming. Faith in the promises of God.  The prayers of a righteous person have great power!

Rain can be a blessing from the Lord or it can reflect judgment on rampant sin.  Rain can come in flooding torrents or in gentle showers.  However it comes, indeed even whether it comes, remember that rain is always under God’s control. 

When I was a child, we sang a hymn in my home church called “Showers of Blessing,” the words taken from Ezekiel 34:26. 

“And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing.”

Beloved, look around you and see the showers of blessing that the Lord has already given to you.  Look inside you and realize the showers of blessing that the Lord has provided to you through Jesus Christ and His atoning death and resurrection.  Look at the evidences of the Holy Spirit, resident within you, when you walk your life as a Christian.

Showers of blessing – they are already here, and the Lord will continue to bless His people as they call upon Him in faith. 

Father, I praise Your Name for the blessings You have provided in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  I thank You that You have promised blessings to Your children now and forever more.  I bow in reverence and awe at Your love and majesty, Your power and grace, Your judgment and mercy.  May I glorify You all the days of my life.

 

COME AS A CHILD

What does it mean to come to Christ as a child?  To consider this question, we need to have a glimpse of what a child is like.

A child is inquisitive.  Always wanting to learn what is going on in the world around him.

boy meets dino

A child is daring, within limits of course.   Playing with a bubble car is fun and challenging as you catch the bubbles and watch them rise into the sky.

Bubbles - the bubble car entertains

A child loves challenges, like mastering the fear to go down the slide alone.

Boy on slide at playground

A child likes to be active.  Just follow a 3-year-old around one day and you will realize how much territory that child can cover.

child at playground gym
Campground play area in Texas campground.

 A child is trusting.  They don’t second-guess the reason people are telling him to do something.  They trust that they will be cared for, unless and until they are hurt in so doing; then the ability to trust someone is difficult to retrieve.

Trust - evan jumping in pool with daddy

A child has faith in the one who is caring for him.  Although they don’t know the word or its meaning, a child demonstrates devotion and loyalty, and the child seeks and returns love.

“And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”

Mark 10:13-16

Matthew Henry says of this text:

That there must be something of the temper and disposition of little children found in all that Christ will own and bless. We must receive the kingdom of God as little children; that is, we must stand affected to Christ and his grace as little children do to their parents, nurses, and teachers. We must be inquisitive, as children, must learn as children (that is the learning age), and in learning must believe. (Oportet discentemcredere – A learner must believe.)  The mind of a child is white paper (tabula rose – a mere blank), you may write upon it what you will; such must our minds be to the pen of the blessed Spirit. Children are under government; so must we be.  Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? We must receive the kingdom of God as the child Samuel did, Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. Little children depend upon their parents’ wisdom and care, are carried in their arms, go where they send them, and take what they provide for them; and thus must we receive the kingdom of God, with a humble resignation of ourselves to Jesus Christ, and an easy dependence upon him, both for strength and righteousness, for tuition, provision, and a portion.

Matthew Henry Commentary on Mark 10.

So, have you come to Christ as a child? 

Do you lean on Christ as a child leans on his parent, nurse or teacher? 

Are you inquisitive as you learn and believe Him? 

Is your mind open to the pen of the Holy Spirit as He writes on your mind and will? 

Have you humbly accepted and resigned yourself to Jesus Christ and His authority over you? 

Do you depend on Him for strength and righteousness? 

Do you depend upon Him for your provision and care, here and forevermore?

May we not be childish in our belief, but may we be childlike as we look to our Savior and give thanks for our Almighty Father.  While we begin as newborn babes in the faith, may we not remain children but, through the grace of our God and the work of the Holy Spirit, may we grow into mature Christians giving glory and honor to our Savior, Jesus Christ and to His Father, the Almighty God. 

Lord, thank You for letting me come to You as a child.  When I start to puff up into arrogant adulthood, let me see the error of my ways and return to my childlike dependence upon You and the guidance of Your Spirit.  May I grow up spiritually into a mature Christian who loves You and who is devoted to Your Son, my Savior and Lord, and may I know the sound of His voice through the Spirit as He guides and leads me along life’s treacherous ways.

 

ABANDONED

As we were driving through a neighboring town, we spotted a large retail complex with the high parking lot light, the mesh screens to keep the merchandise intact, with the promise of more goodies in the adjacent building.  On the property just next to this complex was this small building, that had clearly been abandoned some time earlier.

 Abandoned broken down building cropped

As we looked at it, I wondered what stories that building could tell, and what had happened to reduce it to crumbling timbers.   

Another example of abandonment that we saw on a trip through Colorado is this mining camp, high in the mountains of the Rocky Mountain Range. 

abandoned camp high in Colorado mountains 2

 

A closer look at this site reveals that this camp was destroyed by the ravages of time and weather.  When it closed, nothing could save it from the destruction that comes with abandonment.

abandoned camp high in Colorado mountains

The problem is that buildings are not the only things that are affected by abandonment.  It is a sad and distasteful statement to make, but the reality is that people are abandoned on a regular basis.

Human relationships are frequently conditional, and often people are abandoned when they have done something that is distasteful to another, and that person abandons the relationship, walking away and leaving the first person alone and sometimes destitute.  Consider the wife who is told that her husband wants a divorce because she no longer pleases him.  He walks out, and she is emotionally, and often, physically and financially abandoned.

Or, consider the employee who has spent decades working for the benefit of the company, only to be told that his efforts are not longer required because technology has rendered his job obsolete.  He is abandoned by his employer and he finds himself without a meaningful job and, sometimes, without means to care for himself or his family.

While it seems the situation is stark and there is no refuge to which to turn, there is One who will not abandon His children – the Lord Jesus Christ.

When the Israelites were facing a severe challenge in the wilderness wanderings, Moses told them:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

This comforting truth was brought from the Old Testament into the New Testament when the writer of Hebrews said:

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.“”

Hebrews 13:5

The Psalmist assured us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that:

“For the LORD will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;”

Psalm 94:14

Jesus, Himself, told His disciples these comforting words taken from John 14:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Verses 16-18

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Verses 26-27

What comfort and what encouragement, even if you feel abandoned by all others, Jesus has said that He will not leave His sheep, His children, as orphans.  Rather, He will send the Holy Spirit to be within each believer in Him.  The Holy Spirit will teach the believer all that he/she is to know.  The Holy Spirit will encourage and strengthen the believer so that there is no fear.  In place of fear there will be heavenly peace that is sent from Jesus Himself. 

Note, this is not a blank check so that you can get whatever material stuff you want! 

This is a free gift that will provide all the peace and comfort that you need, whenever you need it.  It will provide courage and strength to face whatever is ahead of you, even that which you don’t recognize today.  There is no reason to fear because your Lord and Savior is with you.

This is a free gift with no limit because your debt has been paid in full by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  You are debt free. That does not mean that you will not sin any more, believers in Christ are not immune from the temptation to sin, but the Spirit gives us the strength to withstand sin.  And, if we yield to tht temptation, confession and repentance will restore us to the peaceful relationship we can have with our Lord.

Abandoned?  I personally know that it is a scary time, but you are not alone if you are in Christ Jesus.  It is not an easy time, and getting through the trial will probably take more time than you like, but God’s schedule is eternal and not limited to our minutes.  He can give you peace moment by moment, as He directs you to those who can assist with your needs.  While God is with you each moment of this trial, His renovation of your spirit and your outlook may take some time, but it is a transformation that is worth the wait!

Often, when something is abandoned, there is a remarkable new structure that is ultimately built exactly where the abandoned building had stood.  When we feel we are abandoned, God can take this time to rebuild and refortify us so that we can serve Him in a new way. 

Rest in the Lord, and let Him overwhelm you with His peace, as He prepares you for your next adventure in the life with Christ.

Father, I thank You that You are the master builder who can transform an abandoned individual into someone who lives for You and who loves Your Son.  Thank You for not leaving us as orphans in this hard land; and thank You for the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, a peace that passes all understanding.