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. 

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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.

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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.

 

ATTRIBUTES OF GOD – SOVEREIGNTY

Unlike centuries ago, we no longer have many sovereigns in our world today.  When we visited England, we stayed in London and went to Buckingham Palace, one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth II.  It is in downtown London and it takes up significant acreage with the palace, gardens and grounds.

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Looking at Buckingham Palace from across the grounds you can get a glimpse at the magnitude of the Queen’s residence. 

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Standing closer, we could see the guard making his route securing the sovereign, as we were on the other side of the gate looking in with a throng of others.  

We in the United States have a hard time with the concept of “sovereignty”.  Our whole corporate psyche is centered on freedom.  We believe that we were born free, to live as and where we choose while doing whatever it is that we want to do.  No caste system.  No one dictating what profession or job we must take.  No one telling us where we can or cannot live.  

Having a person over us who is sovereign is exactly what our forefathers rebelled against and it was the springboard for the Revolutionary War between our country and England.

So, when we come to the attribute of God that is titled “Sovereignty”, we have a hard time comprehending all that such term entails.  It is easy to speak the words that “God is in control of everything.”  But the reality of a Sovereign God is much more far-reaching than a platitude.

In Exodus chapter 18, we have a beautiful vignette of Moses and his father-in-law, Jethro:

“And Moses told his father-in-law all that the LORD had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had come upon them on the way, and [how] the LORD had delivered them. Then Jethro rejoiced for all the good which the LORD had done for Israel, whom He had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, “Blessed [be] the LORD, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh, [and] who has delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.  Now I know that the LORD [is] greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, [He was] above them.“”

Exodus 18:8-11 NKJV

Jethro was glad for the deliverance of Moses and the children of Israel and, after Moses had described all that God had done in Egypt, Jethro rejoiced and praised the LORD who is sovereign over all.  Nothing that some people may attribute to a god is outside His sovereign control.

The Psalmist says this about God’s sovereignty:

“Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”

Psalm 115:2-3

God is sovereign over all mankind or anything that he worships, nothing compares to our God and Lord.

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.”

Proverbs 21:1

God is sovereign over other monarchs on earth – while the king might be making plans, the Lord God controls that which happens.

“The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

Proverbs 16:33

As with kings, even the common man is subject to the sovereignty of God.  Men cast lots and then make their decisions based on that result, but God is the One who controls the decision that the lot mandates.

In fact, God is even sovereign over the actions of animals.

Recall what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10:

“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

Now, remember Jonah’s free transportation in the belly of the great fish, and then, at the word of the Lord, his being catapulted from the fish onto dry land.  Jonah 2:10.   Also, remember how God gave Balaam’s donkey the power of speech when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the street, but his master did not.  Numbers 22.

There is nothing outside the control of God’s loving hand.

  • Not the plans of the wicked even if they are dictators or despots.
  • Not the way our physical world works which sometimes seems to be in opposition to mankind such as when there are earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, or droughts.
  • Not the actions of demons or even Satan, remember how Satan had to get permission to test Job and could only take action within the confines established by God.
  • Not even my own free will. Regarding salvation, we may believe that we accepted Jesus through our own free will, but even then, it is God Who quickens our heart to become aware of our sin and our need of His grace. 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. … For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:28, 38-39 

God’s sovereignty is a tremendous comfort to the believer because it enables him to have confidence that he does not need to fear, God is still on His throne and He is still sovereign – in charge – in control, no matter what might be going on in this temporal world.

We must remember that when sin entered the world, man had turned himself into a headlong catapult toward sickness, illness, pain, sorrow and death.  God intervened in Genesis 3:15 where we learn of a Redeemer, a Savior Who will pay the price of sin and redeem God’s children for Himself.  We all must die physically because of the curse of sin on our mortal bodies.  But, we don’t have to die spiritually if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.   

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37

Beloved, God’s sovereignty is an attribute that is hard for us to comprehend but it is the basis of God’s providence.  We know that God’s will, His providence, shall prevail because God’s sovereignty mandates it.  Nothing can defeat God’s will.  Praise His Holy Name!

God’s sovereignty + His love for His children

=

Unassailable confidence and comfort for the believer.

 

Father, there are no words available to express my praise and love for You and for Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Lord, I cannot comprehend Your sovereignty and all that such attribute entails, but I do have confidence in You and Your sovereignty brings comfort to my heart.  Thank You, Lord.

 

MAINTAIN A GOOD NAME

In the summer of 1976 my parents visited Manitoba, Canada and took a number of pictures of fascinating things and places.  One picture that really tickled my fancy was that of Josiah Flintabbatey Flontain, (Flinty for short) a fictional character for whom the town of Flin Flon was named.  

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The image of Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin graces the community in a monument to the town’s founder..

According to an “official” website, the town began with a prospector’s claim and a dime store novel.  Flinty, was the hero of a science fiction novel that was found in the wilderness by gold prospectors in the early 1900s.  When the prospectors found gold in 1914, they remembered the story of Flinty and called their claim Flin Flon. 

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The community known as Flin Flon in Manitoba, Canada, as seen in 1976.

The name stuck, and Flin Flon became one of Manitoba’s largest cities. See the town’s website for more information on this unique community to our North.  See http://www.cityofflinflon.ca/tourist-bureau-park-campground-museum 

The name of Flin Flon had its genesis in a fictional character who was much beloved by the people in the area and they were willing to be known by his name.  Names are important.  They say something about who we are.  Names identify us and distinguish us from other people.  (Remember when you first learned of someone else who had “your” first name?  Takes some getting used to when you are a young child!) 

While Flinty was a fictional character, another One whose name we follow was not fictional.  Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and resurrected from the grave.  All this is written in the Holy Bible and is fact, not fiction.  He ascended into heaven where He lives to intercede on behalf of those who claim His name in faith and who have received the gift of salvation. Also fact, not fiction.

The Greek word for Christ is Christos meaning “anointed”, and “The Christ” was the anointed one of God, the Messiah, and the Son of God.  It follows from this that a believer in Jesus Christ would be called Christianos or a “follower of Christ”.  And that is exactly what the first believers were called as noted in the book of Acts:

… And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”

Acts 11:26 ESV

 

They learned Jesus’ teachings, His way of life, His relationship with God, His desires for them to be witnesses to others, and much more.  Jesus is not physically here right now to teach us, but we are not left to wonder what a His disciple should do.  He expressed what discipleship was on many occasions, but in Matthew it is stated as follows:

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. …”  

Matthew 10:24-25 ESV

We as believers carry Christ’s name.  As Christians, we are to be like Him. But, we cannot be like Him if we don’t learn of Him by studying His Word, by worshiping with other believers, by praying and by listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who indwells us and who is charged with the job of growing us into the likeness of God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. 

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

Romans 8:29 ESV  

Your name is much more than just the moniker that you use to sign checks or the letters you print on the Welcome name tag at a conference.  When someone says “Look, there is [your name]”, they are not speaking of your signature – they are speaking of you and all the aspects of you that they know.  Your name encompasses your life activities, your behavior, your words, your demeanor, your personality, your character and your witness.

That is why, in Proverbs 22:1, we read:

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”

The application to believers in Christ is clear.  Your name should be honorable, your conduct should be gracious and there should be none of the debauchery that is so prevalent in today’s fallen, godless world.  A Christian must never rank the approval of man over the truth of God and His Word.

Your name, your personal choice to honor God and live for Him, may be the witness that will be used by the Holy Spirit to draw people to God and His life-giving hope.

Choose a good name above all else – be a Christian disciple, learner, pupil of our Lord and seek Him all your days.  You will be blessed both now and in eternity.

 

Lord, help me to see You in all things.  Where there is anxiety, let me put my head on Your breast and let me hear Your heart of love reminding me that You are in control even when my world is falling apart.  Where there is fear, let me put my hands in Yours and so I can see the scars from the nails where You sacrificed Your life in payment of my sins.  Holy Spirit, guide my steps and my words so that I can be an effective witness for my Lord and Savior.

 

 

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

 

By now, at this time in the Christmas season, I suspect that most of us have seen some form of the Nativity pageant in our church, or at a school performance, or on television. 

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A wise man at our children’s Christmas nativity scene.

We have been told about the events that first Christmas Day over 2,000 years ago when the angels announced the birth of Jesus to the lowly shepherds who were tending their sheep in the field.  The angels’ announcement is found in Luke 2:13-14 where we read:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The King James Version of verse 14 says “and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”.  

The Jews wanted a prince to restore a peaceful kingdom to Israel, so this angelic hymn was, quite literally, music to their ears!  Even today, many people believe that true religion must bring peace. And, this proposition would be true if the message of Jesus Christ was universally received.  It cannot be argued that any system of laws could be more suited to living peacefully in human society than the Gospel of Christ. 

And he [the man] answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”  And he [Jesus] said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Luke 10:27-28 [See also Matthew 22:37-41] 

But, even a superficial glance at the daily newspaper shows, such love does not reign in our society or our world, and sometimes not even in our churches.  Indeed, the fact of the matter is that love is all too often missing from our interactions with others. Road rage, murders, massacres, vehicles plowing down pedestrians, infants being shot while in a car seat in the family vehicle, people shot while praying in their church, wars and conflicts … and the list goes on.  Hatred is everywhere and peace is hard to find.

Were the angels wrong when they said that this Babe would bring peace to our world?  Absolutely not.

But, Jesus said that He did not come to bring “peace on earth”:

 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Matthew 10:34 and again,

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

Luke 12:51

In these verses, Jesus is saying that He did not bring peace to the earth!  This seems to be inconsistent with the angels’ message when He was born!  But, the angels were not wrong or misinformed and Jesus was not ignorant of His mission.  Quite the contrary.  He did bring peace, just not the kind of peace that the people expected.  The fact is that civil peace was not the purpose of the Babe’s birth.

In Matthew 10 and Luke 12, Jesus is talking about the dedication that following Him requires.  It is not a shallow “liking” nor is it simply a willingness to do good things. He is also forewarning His followers that there would be persecution and that they needed to remain strong in their faith and dedication to Him.  Indeed, following Him requires whole-hearted devotion, no matter what the cost, even if it involves persecution, even if it separates us from our family, even if it separates us from this life.

Matthew Poole, in his Commentary on the Bible, says this about Matthew 10:34-37:

Accidentally, through the corruption of men’s hearts, the consequent [result] of Christ’s coming into the world, and of his gospel coming into and prevailing in any part of the world, is (as Luke phrases it) “rather division”, which is here called a sword. Through men’s fondness of their idolatry, superstition, and lusts, and madness on them, their impatience of being outdone in religion and righteousness of conversation, the event [result] of Christ’s coming was division, wars, variances, … men taking up arms to compel all others to their idolatries and superstitions. And that natural antipathy [hatred] which men have to holiness, setting them at variance with [in opposition to] those who, embracing the gospel, live a life as becometh the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,… 

Jesus did bring peace.  It was His heavenly peace for those who accept Him as their Savior. 

Here are just a few of Jesus words giving His peace to His followers:

“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.”

John 14:27

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

What does this have to do with Christmas?  A great deal!  Civil peace is almost a fiction. Rather, the peace that our Lord brought was His peace, heavenly peace. It is the peace that allowed Jesus to willingly go to the cross, to experience excruciating pain and torture without retaliation, and even to forgive those who were mocking Him while they nailed Him to the cross.

For the believer, His peace is real … it is part of the fabric of our faith and it covers the believer even in times of great distress.  It may appear that Satan and his forces are winning the cosmic battle over the earth.  But this is only an illusion that Satan wants us to believe.  (Remember Job?  Satan had to get God’s permission to hurt him, all for God’s purposes of which Job was unaware.)

God, the Creator and Sustainer, the Almighty Immortal Sovereign Ruler is in control. Make no mistake — God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is in control.  He was in control when Satan had to get permission to act and He has not changed.  He sent Christ into this world to exhibit peace and to bring that peace to His people. 

The Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” expresses the despair that the conflict in our world brings but God is neither dead nor sleeping.  He did bring His peace into the world on Christmas Day, and He is still in control even 2,000 years later.  Listen to the carol as sung by the group Casting Crowns on their album Peace on Earth.

Christian, take heart.  Rely on Jesus Christ and His peace this Christmas and all year long.  He will give you grace to endure that which comes your way.  His grace was sufficient for the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9) and it is sufficient for us today.

Father, I bow at this time of the year and thank You for the Gift brought to us through Your grace and mercy in the birth of Jesus Christ.  When the sorrows of the world beset me, grant me the grace to rely on You in the sure confidence that even in times of difficulty, You are in control and I am in Your hand!

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 20, FAITHFULNESS part two

 FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Series Post No. 20

 FAITHFULNESS – BELIEVING GOD AND TRUSTING GOD AND HIS WORD

PART TWO

 

John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory, (Crossway Publishers, 1998) notes:  

“Though God’s ways of expressing his faithfulness are sometimes unexpected and bewildering, looking indeed to the casual observer and in the short term more like unfaithfulness, the final testimony of those who walk with God through life’s ups and downs is that “every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” 

 

What does Scripture say?

 

And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until   he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you.”

Joshua 23:14-16.  What is the definition of faithfulness?  “… not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you.”  Seems to me that this is a pretty good definition!

 

So, what does God’s faithfulness mean to His people? 

 

God’s faithfulness is the attribute where He is ever mindful of His covenant and fulfills all the promises which He has made to His people.  This faithfulness of God is of the utmost practical significance to the people of God.  This faithfulness is the ground of their confidence, the foundation of their hope, and the cause of their rejoicing. 

 

It saves them from the despair to which their own unfaithfulness might easily lead, it gives them courage to carry on in spite of their failures, and it fills their hearts with joyful anticipations, even when they are deeply conscious of the fact that they should have forfeited all the blessings of God because of their own wayward actions. 

 

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. 

Deuteronomy 7:9

 

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:9

 

The saying is trustworthy, for … if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:11-13

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

Our response to God’s faithfulness is, obviously, faithfulness to God.   This is the fruit that the Holy Spirit wants to grow within us as we grow in the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.   He gives us the ability to remain faithful as we seek His strength and lean on our Lord.

 

Jesus said that we were to be faithful to him in our obedience and allegiance to Him when he said:

 

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” 

Matthew 10:32-33.   

 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

1 Corinthians 13:7. 

 

In Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards quotes this verse and notes that Paul is showing that charity includes a suffering spirit so that it “bears all things;” and that we do this by encouraging the two graces of faith and hope.  

 

Indeed, Edwards states that the fruit of faith through agape love “cannot be conquered by all the opposition the world brings against it, for faith overcomes the world” and also he notes that faith and hope in God enables the Christian to triumph in Christ Jesus.”

 

Faithfulness in interpersonal relationships is evidenced when, the Holy Spirit gives us the disposition to trust others. We give others the benefit of the doubt and we, ourselves, are trustworthy.  We are faithful to our vows, to our commitments and to our world. 

 

An example of faithfulness that is given to us in Scripture is marriage:

Marriage has a unique place because it speaks of an absolute faithfulness, a covenant between radically different persons, male and female; and so it echoes the absolute covenant of God with his chosen, a covenant between radically different partners.

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury 

 

In other words, our marriages, our family life, our relationships with those in our intimate circle should reflect the faithfulness and love that characterizes God’s relationship with His people.  When people see us in the restaurant, at the mall, in the movies or by the hospital or nursing home bedside – do they see a faithfulness in all circumstances?   Is our marriage a witness of our relationship with Jesus?  Are you utterly reliable in the little things that no one will notice as well as the big ones that are out in front of others?  

 

Let us pray that the Lord would increase our faithfulness and that we would be able, at the end of the day, to lay our head down and hear His voice say:

 

Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master”. 

Matthew 21:25. 

 

Being called “Old Faithful” is a goal worth achieving in the Lord’s Kingdom! 

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.  

GOD’S WOODLAND CREATURES AND US!

Often, we think of God’s woodland creatures in terms of big animals. Such as the caribou that we saw in Alaska. Tall, heavy with incredible racks on the top of their head. The muscles that are necessary to hold their head up are incredibly strong, they would have to be to carry the antlers as they do. And they are fast, when speed is needed.

Caribou close up
Caribou with large rack grazing in the Denali National Park., Alaska.

 

Out west we have the buffalo, certainly a handsome specimen of strength and endurance!

Buffalo in ND
Buffalo in the American West, specifically in the plains of North Dakota.

 

Then, of course, we think of the bear. Huge, frightful jaws and paws with claws that can rip almost anything, certainly a person if they are in the wrong place at the wrong time! He is certainly not someone I want to encounter without a bus surrounding me!

Bear in Denali
Bear walking across the plane in Denali National Park, Alaska.

 

Another of God’s creatures is the deer that inhabits the wooded areas of our country. Traveling through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you can drive an 11 mile loop road around Cades Cove, the first settlement in the Smoky Mountains, and deer are always visible. Of course we are not afraid of deer – we remember Bambi!

Deer in woods Oregon 2009 178 (C)
Deer grazing in the woods of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park along the loop road in Cades Cove.

 

But there are also the small woodland creatures, and many of them are not confined to the “woods” as in forest, take squirrels and chipmunks for example. Many abide in urban areas, finding shelter and food in unique places.

 

It is not very hard to find food in our backyard. Not only do we feed the squirrels and chipmunks by hand, when possible – we also have several feeders around the yard. They provide continued amusement, as long as the food supply is available!

Squirrel at corn cobs on feeder (C)
Squirrel eating corn at the backyard “picnic table” just below the bird feeder.

 

Not all squirrels have their own private restaurant, however. Many have to forage for their dinner. Consider the squirrels and chipmunks seen in Oregon at the Lava Butte Lookout. This squirrel blends in with the lava rocks and minimal vegetation so well that we almost missed him. [Hint: if you can’t find him, he is in the very center of the picture, nibbling on some greenery right in front of him.]

Squirrel can you see him Oregon 2009 229
Squirrel seen in Oregon nibbling on greenery growing among the rocks.

 

This little chipmunk apparently made a home in the lava cone near Bend, Oregon. Not much in the way of greenery, but he must find food in the area.

Chipmunk in cinder cone Oregon 2009 190
A chipmunk in a cinder cone in Oregon.

 

Here, the little guy running down the steps must be successful in spotting some food that looked good to him.

Chipmonk on steps Oregon 2009 199 (C)
A chipmunk trotting down the wooden stairs at the Lave Butte lookout, near Bend, Oregon.

 

Clearly, our Creator God has equipped the squirrels, chipmunks, caribou, deer and all His creatures with the ability to find sustenance, even in the harshest of places. Rocks are not edible, but there is an abundance of food for this chipmunk as he is seemingly protected in his rocky restaurant.

Chipmunk in cinder cone (C)Oregon 2009 232
A chipmunk standing in a cinder cone, Oregon.

 

This Alaskan squirrel appears to be ready for winter, although it was only August when we saw him, but winter comes quickly so it is best to be prepared!

Alaskan squirrel (C)
An Alaskan squirrel, looking for goodies before winter covered the landscape with snow and ice.

 

The Creator God cares for each member of His creation. Jesus says, in Matthew 6:26:

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 

This same passage expands God’s care for His creation by including care for even the flowers and grass of the field. See Matthew 6:30 where Jesus says:

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

 

I don’t believe that Jesus intended to say that birds and grass were the only parts of creation that God tends with His loving hand. Rather, they are illustrative of the depth of love God has for His creation. Grass is temporal and is burned when its short life is over. Birds may seem insignificant to us, but not to God.

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.

 

Jesus is teaching by comparison. God loves these seemingly insignificant parts of His creation so that He knows even when a sparrow falls out of a tree, so that he knows even the number of hairs on our heads, even the insignificant parts of His creation illustrate His love and care to those for whom He sent His Son to die!

 

God has a plan for His creation and, for those who are in Christ Jesus, God has a specific plan for us to accomplish during our time on this earth. We are not insignificant even though we may feel that way at times. Whatever our age, whatever our station in life, whatever our physical or mental abilities, we are not insignificant.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.    Ephesians 2:10.

 

When negative thoughts attack you, when you feel like no one sees or cares, remember the chipmunk or the squirrel, or the sparrow or the grass. Those features of God’s creation merit His attention at all times … how much more does He care for those He created in His image and into which He breathed the breath of life. Genesis 2:27.
Praise His Holy Name.

 

Father, thank you for providing for the little critters you created. Thank you for giving us the wide variety in animals to look at and care for. Thank you for telling us that we are not insignificant. But most of all, thank you for sending your Son to die for our sins, and to provide redemption for us so that we can be your children. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace.