While standing at the front of this church building, it automatically causes me to look up. This steeple is awesome, but at the same time it makes me feel small and helpless. My thoughts turn heavenward, causing me to cry out to my Lord and God. What a comfort it is knowing He is there for us. This is just a building, however it does represent God to us. The building is built with a stone foundation and stands strong. How much more is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ our true rock and foundation? He stands even stronger!
In our daily life, with all the trials and struggles we sometimes face, isn’t it a comfort and wonder to know we have a God who is with us to help? The troubles can overwhelm us, making us feel small and helpless, as when standing by such a towering building. When we choose to look upon our true rock and foundation, God, we feel empowered and strengthened. Why? Let us read what the Bible tells us in His word about Jesus as our rock.
Psalms 18:2 (NIV)
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
While a church building may represent God to us, I am grateful to have the living God, my True Rock and Foundation to stand on. I pray you do as well, and if not, will you consider Him today?
One afternoon I was outside in my backyard enjoying the wildflowers that were growing. There was a refreshing summer breeze blowing. It was an invigorating moment. One of life’s gifts to help us forget, if only for that moment, the troubles around us.
As I looked down at the flowers, I watched with interest, how the breeze gently picked up the open petals and blew them to the side. Softly, the breeze came along and lifted the petals right up guiding them over. I try to see God in His creation and look to see what He says in His word; then put it together.
So along came the breeze and gently lifted the petals on the flower. It directed them. The breeze whispered by as if to say:
“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 NKJV
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 NKJV
“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’.” Isaiah 30:21 NKJV
“You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11 NKJV
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NKJV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV
“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7 NKJV
Learn from the flower to rest in Him. It trusted as the wind gently picked up its petals and directed them to the side. At this moment, it knew that everything would be okay. There was no struggle, it just went with the flow. If only we could truly learn to rest and trust in the Lord. We could save ourselves a lot of trouble. Lay your burdens down at His feet and believe He will uphold you through it all. Let the Holy Spirit guide you and direct you. Truly rest in Him! Invite His breath to flow on you.
Looking at these train tracks, watching as they fade far off into the horizon, many thoughts and memories come to mind. It brings me back to my childhood days on Long Island. Trains were and are a major part of life there. They are an alternative form of transportation into New York City, avoiding the Long Island Expressway experience. You can take the train to many other places as well. They are an important form of transportation.
When you see train tracks what do you think of? Perhaps, a journey, an enjoyable ride, traveling to a vacation area or a daily commute to get to a specific place? Trains do not hold the same role for all people. A train might stand for a pleasurable trip somewhere, instead of a daily commute. There also are freight trains, which bring supplies and food to places for us to use in our daily lives. We can see that trains are useful for transporting people or items from one place to another. They bring us to a specific destination.
As we journey through life on earth, from a Christian perspective, we have a precise destination before us. Our purpose is to make it to this destination, our true home in Heaven! While reaching this goal becomes our focus or concern; we do not want to neglect the experience itself along the way.
May I ask you a few questions? How are you doing on your pilgrimage? First, do you know your destination? If so, are you staying on track? Have you been derailed along the way? It can be too easy to get distracted and get off course! We as Christians, have a destination we are reaching for. We have a “conductor” guiding us as we travel along. He is there to help us keep on track.
Most of us are familiar with the movie “Polar Express.” Let us consider this movie. It has a destination, which is The North Pole. There were passengers aboard for the ride. They were picked up along the way, especially for this train ride. They were not there by chance. Each one was going to the same place, the North Pole. However, they each had their own struggles to overcome along the way. The conductor knew each person and each situation. He was guiding them along and helping them to overcome their problems. They were each shown what they needed, from the conductor. He gave them their tickets punched with their need on it. One was to BELIEVE. Another was to LEAD. One was to RELY ON, and another LEARN. They each received a special message for their unique situation.
Let us now get back to us trekking along on our paths. Do you feel overwhelmed, confused, lost, unsure, unworthy, alone, tossed about, or distracted? We have a destination we want to get to. We have struggles along the way also. Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed or alone we allow ourselves to get sidetracked. Do not be dismayed for we have THE TRUE conductor, Jesus Christ, to guide us on our way. He is our keeper and is showing us the way to overcome all obstacles. He cares for you and me. He is making sure we make it to our destination, home with Him. He helps each of us in our own special need. He wants us to BELIEVE, LEARN, RELY ON, and LEAD. We must look to Him and His word to stay on track. Proverbs 4:25-27 (NKJV) admonishes us to do that!
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you, Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”
Glowing ever so softly, the sun is radiating gloriously! It fully encompasses the area, with the glow of a spectacular sunset. I am reminded that God is our sun and shield. How wonderful is His love for us! He bestows His undeserved glory and grace upon us. Patiently and faithfully God is there for us! In His word it also says, we need to walk uprightly to be endowed with all His blessings. These are His words and promise to us. How do we do this? How do we walk uprightly, especially in these troubled times we are experiencing? God does not leave us without hope or a way out. Take heed to what He says in Ephesians 6:11-18 NKJV:
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Do not be overwhelmed or discouraged by outside circumstances. Do not let your peace be taken from you. Stand strong, gird up and trust Him with all your heart. Be a light amid all the darkness. As one cried in the wilderness; be one to shine in the dark.
“Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” Matthew 13:43 NKJV
Are you anxious, worried, stressed, or uneasy? Are you concerned about all the situations and circumstances in your life? Do you not know that you are of great value to God? We read in Matthew 6:26 (NKJV):
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
The picture above illustrates this scripture well. Walking along the Saint Lawrence Seaway Trail, the birds above were soaring, gliding, and fluttering about. They were enjoying themselves and appeared not to have a care in the world. They moved about with great ease. We tend to get heavy laden at times in life. We stumble and struggle through the days. The cares of the world take away our peace and joy. God does not want us to carry all these cares upon ourselves. He is our ever-present help in time of need. He tells us in His word to come to Him and to cast our care onto Him.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7(NKJV)
The birds really do not have a care in the world; we should not either! He wants us to trust Him, in all things. Give all our concerns to Him, so we too can glide our way along this earthly journey. Watching God’s extraordinary creation is surely a confirmation of what He proclaims in His word. To God be the glory! Cast your care upon Him, He truly does care for you. Do not forget that you are of great value to God!
One afternoon I was taking out our little Dachshund for some air and other business. I was feeling a little down, with all that is going on in the world right now. It can get overwhelming at times. We not only have to deal with the corona virus illness itself, but with all the unrest and conflict resulting from all the experts and leaders. As I was mulling all this over in my mind, a question came upon me. It was “Why are you cast down?” Immediately I lifted my eyes up to the sky and cried out to God in prayer, fully considering the Bible verse in Psalm 43:5 (NKJV):
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?”
I looked straight up in the sky above, and as I focused my eyes, I was delighted at the beautiful scene I beheld. The sun was brightly shining, illuminating through the clouds, brightening up the cloudy atmosphere. I felt a sense of great peace, comfort, and thankfulness. Yes, why am I cast down? I have no reason to be cast down. God encouraged me to lift my eyes to Him! Let us look at Psalm 123:1(NKJV):
“Unto you I lift up my eyes, O you who dwell in the heavens.”
Despite all our surroundings and trials in this world, God is in control. He is there for us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Just take the time to look unto Jesus, He will never fail us. We can get through all things with Him at our side. Be encouraged, be of good cheer, God is our help. We will get through this.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33(NKJV)
While standing near the edge of The Grand Canyon an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder, along with a little fear and trembling, came upon me. Stunned, I gazed out in amazement. Overlooking the absolute beauty and grandeur of this sight was a breath-taking experience! One cannot even begin to grasp what lies before you.
My mind marveled at the awesomeness of this creation by God. The magnificence of The Grand Canyon can be unfathomable. Looking upon the width and length and depth and height of it, it appears infinite, although it is not. The Grand Canyon is finite with limits and boundaries, despite its largeness.
Now consider this, if God can create something like The Grand Canyon in all its splendor, how incredible is God Himself? He is not finite and has no limits and boundaries. Who can understand His width, length, depth, and height? He does not even have any measurements. What does this say about His vastness and infiniteness? In Ephesian 3:17-19 (NKJV) we read what The Bible has to say about this very subject:
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
This is wonderful to ponder and meditate on. God has a never-ending love for us. He cares for us and no matter what situation you are going through; it is not too hard for Him! Let us look at Jeremiah 32:17 (NKJV):
“Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”
This should bring you hope, peace and comfort to know what a loving God we have. His vast and deep love for us is unending. His love is infinite with a depth immeasurable, that reaches every aspect of our life. Marvel at the awesomeness of God Himself! He cares for you. God’s blessing on you all.
Spring has finally arrived, and we embrace the miracle of new life appearing again. Gently, yet determined to push through, the lilac appears, birthing a new flower. New life has come! We see the flower peeking out and get to enjoy the beauty it brings. Yes, the lilac is lovely to look at, but another benefit is the pleasant fragrance it offers. This rebirthing brings us a sense of hope. It tells us the lilac plant endured through another winter. If we persevere through hardships; we also can experience renewal in our life.
The lilac tree persevered through the cold, snowy and icy weather. Patiently, it waited to bloom, to become all God wanted it to be. It forbearingly endured through the difficult winter. This is not always easy. Ladies think of giving birth. Patiently you wait for the baby to form and be ready. Then the time comes to push out this new life; so, it can grow into all God has designed for it.
Now we can apply this to our daily struggles; in which we all find ourselves. Life has a way of bringing us many trials and tribulations. These difficult times can help us to grow stronger if we persevere. They can bring about refreshment and renewal on the other side. God tells us this in Romans 5:3 (NKJV):
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.”
Of course, none of us like going through trials or tribulations; however, we must keep our mind on the result. Be strong and persevere, do not grow weary my friends for God promised us help when we fall into various trials. The Bible tells us in James 1:2-8(NKJV) to count it all joy, looking to the end of the trial.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
We are all in a tribulation of great multitude at this point with Covid 19 spreading wildly. It has affected the entire world and each of us personally, in many ways. Look to God to help us through this. Let us pray the end of this matter will help us all to see things a little differently. Not that all this horror is good, but during this pause, take time to reflect and find what really matters. Become all God wants you to be. Let Him work in and through you. Bloom fully! Be well, stay safe and God Bless.
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus Christ? We learn in the Scriptures, He is the Son of God, Our Savior, The Lamb of God, The Prince of Peace, The Coming King, The Good Shepherd, to name a few. I want to focus on Him as The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, and our Savior, as we commemorate His resurrection.
Sadly, for this to happen, Jesus had to go through the agony of suffering on the cross. This is the reason He came into the world, to die for us, to save us from our sin. Through the Lenten season we reflect on this gruesome event. Thankfully, because He was willing to suffer for us, we now can embrace His resurrection and victory over sin. He is alive!
Jesus already laid down His life for us, so now He takes up His role as The Good Shepherd to keep us in His flock. His love and care for us did not end on the cross! What is a shepherd? A shepherd is a person who cares for, tends and guards his sheep. He will even lay down His life for the sheep. Furthermore, we think of a person who protects, guides and watches over others as a shepherd. In the following Bible verse Jesus tells us, Himself, that He is The Good Shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” John 10:11-15(NKJV)
This is something to celebrate. He cares for us; we are His sheep. He rose from the dead for this purpose. Because He lives, we have hope, we are not alone. In Hebrews 13:5, Jesus tells us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Moreover, His love for us is not a superficial love, but a love of great depth. He loves us each so much that if just one of us was lost, He would have still come and died for our sin alone. See the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18:10-14 (NKJV):
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”
This brings me to the featured photo of the stained-glass window. I really enjoy these windows. Stained-glass windows are so engaging; they tell a story with their pictures alone. They truly are a unique form of art. Sadly; it is a form of the past.
This alluring stained-glass window is in St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ogdensburg, NY. It is one of the many beautiful windows on display there.
Jesus, The Good Shepherd, is fully expressed for us in this stained-glass window. Here we see Jesus holding a staff in one hand, while holding a lamb in His other. The lamb He is holding is that one lost lamb. We also see He is out and about in a pasture, keeping watch over the rest of His flock as well. Jesus, The Lamb of God, our Good Shepherd portrayed well, without any words needed!
On this resurrection day embrace The Good Shepherd, let Him guide your life. Rejoice!