As we, in America, approach our Thanksgiving Day Holiday, we are reminded of all we have to be thankful for; and from whom all our blessings come. However, being thankful should not just be a one day event! Let thankfulness permeate our being. It should be an everyday and all consuming frame of mind.
As stated in the Bible in 1Thessalonians 5:16-18(NKJV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Because God is good!
Psalm 118:29 (NKJV)“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!”
On this Thanksgiving, even in the midst of all the turmoil surrounding us all, I encourage you to be thankful. We still have many things to be thankful about. God bless you all. Happy Thanksgiving!
Are you caught in a time of change? Life is full of them. We can learn and grow from them all, good or bad.
How do you look at change? Life is full of them. Some changes are good, which we openly welcome. Others we find not so pleasant and are not as eager to embrace them. Regardless, in this life, there will always be changes for us to face.
This photo shows a flower going through a conversion process. It is not the more familiar process, which shows new life bursting forth, like in spring. The flower is going from a season of full glory to a dormant stage, a time to rest. The flower loses the color it had and quietly fades away. Yet it does not lose heart! Hibernation helps to protect the plant through the frigid winter season, so once again, it will thrive. During this period, the roots continue to develop and grow, enabling the flower to appear again.
We too, as humans, need to learn from the plants and the process God has put in place. When going through a change point in life it is okay, and even a necessity, to step back. God may have pulled you out for a season to reflect, to rest, study and renew oneself and emerge stronger than before.
God speaks to us through His word. Let us examine scripture verses to see what God has to say concerning this.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.”
Do not fear or resist the change God has for you. Let go of the old and allow the new to emerge. God, in His way, does not want us to get too comfortable, change is a way He uses to guide us on. He wants us to embrace all He has for us. Remember, we are just passing through and the best is yet to come. Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. God Bless You!
“I am the Lord, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King.”16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, 17 Who brings forth the chariot and horse, The army and the power (They shall lie down together, they shall not rise; They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick): 18 “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.”
When we read these scriptures from Isaiah, we see how God makes a way for us. Imagine how the Israelites might have felt. Finally, they were set free! They were on their way to a better life. As the Israelites, were on their journey, they came before this body of water right in front of them. There they were, with all their belongings, children and all. Now what could they do? How were they going to be able to cross over? Could they make it if they swam across? Moreover, let us not forget who was right behind, chasing them, not wanting to let them go. Pharoah and company changed their mind about setting the Israelites free.
Can you see our predicament in all of this? We too, once coming to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, are set free. Slowly, we begin to move ahead in our new life. Yet, who or what wants to tag along? Our old self does not want to let go either.
Do we get to a certain point, then become blocked as well? What is your Red Sea? What is your roadblock or stumbling point? Is it fear, doubt, finances, health, addiction, pain, or perhaps old sinful ways? It may not be the actual Red Sea, but it is a real block for us. Are you at your Red Sea?
Although the way can be long, do not lose heart. God is our true help and hope, in all things. Take another look at the verses in Isaiah. Verses 15-17, show us:
-We are set free.
-God parts the Red Sea, making a way.
-He brings down the pursuers.
In verses 18-19, we see:
-God admonishes us to forget the former things.
-He gives us hope that He is doing a new thing for us.
-He wants us to know it and walk in it.
Do not let discouragement bring you to a halt. Do not miss what He is doing for you. Just like the picture in the woods, there is a way to cross over the gully. It might not be the way you think it should be, but the way is there. God will and does make a way for us in our walk with Him. Get through that roadblock to the new thing He has for you. Remember, God will make a way where there is no way. Now go forth and receive it!
This photo was taken in April. The buds were just blooming. Along came some snow, softly covering the new flowers. It took a very pretty picture. It reminded me of a Bible verse talking about the seasons. Of course, that verse is Ecclesiastes 3:1:
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” NKJV
Even if seasons overlap a little, they do each have their own time and purpose. It is nice we get to enjoy them.
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.
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!
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!
Many of us have heard stories from people who were close to death. They tell about their experience of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. There have been quite a number of these accounts in near-death situations. This is definitely a reassurance how God is there and is REAL.
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to see this light? When visiting Whiteface Mountain, in The Adirondacks of New York, to get to the top of the mountain; you must walk through the tunnel pictured above. As I stood at the entrance to this tunnel, I couldn’t help but think about, “The Light at the end of the tunnel!” Could it be something like this? I need to follow the light.
In life, we face many different circumstances. In some of them, we may long for the end of the problem to arrive. We might have to endure for a longer time than we like. The expression “There is light at the end of the tunnel,” is used to help us get through. If we put our trust in God, we always have hope. Keep looking to the Lord, He is the light of the world. He tells us this in John 8:12 (NKJV).
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
At this moment in time, we are waiting upon the Lord to calm the storm of illness from spreading its destruction any further. We all have many emotions to deal with during this crisis. We must go to God and His word to get His faithful reassurance.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18(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)
Keep looking to the Lord, our light, and get through the tunnel confidently. God Bless and be well.
People tend to get excited when they see a rainbow. “Hey, look there is a rainbow!” “Wow, I just saw a rainbow!” “That rainbow was so awesome!” These might be some thoughts exclaimed upon seeing a rainbow. Have you ever wondered why it brings this reaction? Yes, it is a beautiful, colorful and wonderful sight to envision. However, maybe the reason we get such delight goes much deeper than this. Perhaps, deep inside we know it is a reminder of God’s love and promise to us.
“I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.” Genesis 9:13 (NKJV)
Let us remember God created us in the beginning, in His image. Sadly, it didn’t take long for mankind to sin and fall from God’s grace. God was repentant, sorry, that He had created us.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.” Genesis 6:5-9 (NKJV)
God decided to destroy all, through a flood covering the whole earth. Thankfully, Noah found grace in His sight. God allowed Noah and his family to be saved, by entering the ark. This became their home and provision for safety throughout the flood. When the waters receded and land was visible, Noah and his family got off the ark. God made a beautiful rainbow in the sky. He said this was a sign of His promise to mankind, which is not to destroy the earth by a flood again.
“Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud.” Genesis 9: 11-14 (NKJV)
Upon seeing a rainbow, we are mindful of God’s love and grace. We also are reminded of God’s promise to mankind. Let us realize the rainbow goes all the way back to the flood with Noah. The fact that the rainbow is still in existence today shows us that God and His word are real! God keeps His word and can be trusted. This truly is a joy and comfort. What a colorful promise indeed! So, the next time you are enjoying the sight of a rainbow, never forget God’s promise and love for us. Honestly, this is the pot of gold. It is greater than anything the gold could ever buy. Rejoice and be glad. Enjoy!