This is Bubba Bean, my scaredy cat, yet most affectionate. He sits with me many times in my quiet time with the Lord. In his younger days he was an outdoor/barn cat, but he and his fat little self have since settled down in the house. I remember taking my daughter to go pick him out, as a kitten, at the home of some church friends. He was the prettiest one, but they said, "Oh, he's the crazy one." We took him home anyway. We do love our furry friends and praise Yah for them.
I thought I would share another favorite hymn; "All Things Bright and Beautiful." I was such a fan growing up of the veternarian/author James Herriot and his "All Creatures Great and Small" books and PBS series. This hymn inspired the name of the first book. Here is an excerpt from Then Sings My Soul, Volume 2, 150 Of The World's Greatest Hymn Stories:
All Things Bright And Beautiful, 1848
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. ~Genesis 1:31
One day, Mrs. Cecil Francis Alexander was working with one of her pupils in Sunday school-- a little boy who happened to be her godson. He was struggling to understand the Apostles' Creed and certain portions of the catechism. Mrs. Alexander began to mull the possibility of converting the Apostles' Creed into songs for children, using simple little hymns to explain phrases and truths of the Christian faith to little ones.
The Apostles' Creed begins:I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. For the phrase: "Maker of heaven and earth..." she wrote this lovely song, "All Things Bright and Beautiful." She based the hymn on Genesis 1:31: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good."
The Apostles' Creed goes on to say about Jesus Christ:"...who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary..." That spurred the writing the writing of "Once in Royal David's City."
The next phrase, "...suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucufied, died, and was buried," became the basis for Mrs. Alexander's hymn, "There Is a Green Hill Far Away."
According to one account, the imagery Mrs. Alexander used for that hymn came about as she was driving into the city of Derry, Ireland, to do some shopping. Alongside the road near the old city walls was a little grass covered hill. Somehow, this knoll helped her visualize Calvary, and from that came the inspiration for the hymn.
The creed goes on to speak of the Second Coming of Christ, prompting Mrs. Alexander to write a lesser-known but still beautiful hymn entitles, "He Is Coming! He Is Coming!" which contrasts the Lord's First Coming as a babe with His return in power and glory.
These hymns were published in 1848 in Mrs. Alexander's book, Hymns for Little Children. It became one of the most successful hymn-publishing projects in history, going through over one hundred editions.
Cecil Francis Alexander published many other books and hymnals, including: Verses from the Holy Scriptures (1846), Narrative Hymns for Village Schools (1853), Poems on Subjects in the Old Testament (1854), Hymns Descriptive and Devotional (1858), and The Legend of the Golden Prayer (1859). But nothing stood the test of time like the powerful combination of the Apostles ' Creed with her own gift for song.
All Things Bright And Beautiful
(Chorus) All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all.
Each little flower that opens, each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings.
The purple headed mountains, The river running by,
The sunset and the morning, That brightens up the sky.
The cold wind in the winter, The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden, He made them every one.
He gave us eyes to see them, and lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty, who has made all things well.
Here is a link to a sweet version of the song:
Over the past couple of weeks, things started to go haywire around my house. The freezer in my fridge suddenly went from frozen solid to warm and squishy, three days after I spent the grocery money filling it with food, which, you guessed it – I had to toss.
A few days later I was scheduled to meet with Jeanette and our web development team-leader for a business meeting, and then accompany our pastor’s wife visiting church members who are sick. But when I got in my car, it wouldn’t start. I turned the key and it made a small chirping sound, like a cricket.
I went from the driveway to the mailbox, and opened a bill that, even after reading it several times, seemed to be asking for full payment on an amount that I had been diligently making payments on with a payment plan.
Then I broke my favorite soup bowl, cut my finger and stepped on my dog. (We are all ok, praise God!)
Go ahead and let your imagination run wild, and you’ll recognize what my reactions could have been to all these crises. I surely could not afford to buy a new refrigerator, repair the car and pay the unexpected bill in full. For a few fear-filled moments I started to triage the situation to figure out which of the things was most urgent and which I could afford to fix right now. The only answer was that I could replace the soup bowl, but that was about it.
Have you ever been there?
King Solomon – the wisest man who ever lived, no less - tells us to be careful what we think, because our thoughts run our lives. I knew that if I started to panic and take any of these mishaps into my own hands, all I would accomplish was making a mess.
In my mind, I was already in over my head. I had to let go of the problems, grab my thoughts and wrestle them back into the realm of clarity and truth.
I laid the bill, my car key and a fridge magnet before the Lord, and said, “Lord Jesus, you know exactly what is happening here. You are the Waymaker. I know that you will make a way for all these things to be taken care of, and there’s nothing for me to do right now to fix any of it. I am confident that if there are things that need to be repaired, you will make a way for that to happen. If this bill needs to be paid, you will make a way for the money to be available. Whatever I need, Lord, you always provide. I trust you, Jesus, and I give you all thanks and praise forever and ever! I leave all these things in your mighty hands. Amen!”
I let go of worrying about it and went on with my day; setting the bill aside, bowing out of the business meeting and asking our dear pastor’s wife to please pick me up when it was time to go visiting. Whenever a tidbit of worry would try and sneak in I firmly thought, “No, I trust Jesus. He’s going to handle this. Not me.” I continued to praise him in my mind and heart throughout the day, refusing to let concern slip in.
When my sweet friend brought me home from visiting that evening, everything aligned for us to easily use her car battery to jump my car; which started right up and has been running fine ever since.
Checking the refrigerator again, I discovered that a huge slab of ice was stuck under the freezer drawer, keeping it from closing and causing it to not stay cold. All I had to do was defrost it and remove the ice block.
Re-reading the bill, as bright as day the line popped out that said, “If you are currently on a payment plan, you may disregard this notice.” I read it half a dozen times and hadn’t seen it before.
Glory to God in the highest! All the problems dissolved at once!
Let’s look at what Paul had to say to the church at Ephesus:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ESV).
We could paraphrase Paul to say, “For we do not wrestle against appliances, or automobiles or unpaid bills…but against the thoughts of fear and worry that the enemy places in our minds in the midst of the trials we face every day.”
It doesn’t matter to the enemy of our souls if all the car needs is a little boost for the battery or if all the fridge needs is a good defrosting. If he can entice us to forget who we are in Christ, panic, and take matters into our own hands, he knows that we will create enough problems on our own that we’ll make his job of terrorizing us a piece of cake.
Beloved, I know that there are times when what seems like a major crisis really is a major crisis; the doctor’s report is dire, the bills are past due and there simply is no money, our children are in deadly peril or our marriage is broken and there’s nothing that we can do. I know. All of us have faced trials that, if it weren’t for the Lord, we would simply no longer be here.
But we must take our relationship with God to its ultimate expression. When we know for certain – when we truly believe – that all authority and all power have been given to Christ Jesus; when our trust in him goes beyond the natural to become supernatural through his Holy Spirit…
When our supernatural trust in him allows us to find supernatural rest and provision – even in the presence of our enemies…
When supernaturally resting in him brings us to a place of supernatural strength – his strength manifested in us…
Then we remember that because we wrestle not against flesh and blood - the battle is the Lord’s. When we place all our trust in God instead of panicking - praising him for his goodness, grace and mercy, leaving all our trials in his hands – then we experience supernatural victory - regardless of the outward circumstances.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere (2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV).
Did you know that there is tremendous power in praise? It has been said that our minds are like a battlefield, where the enemy of our souls is constantly trying to seize territory and set up strongholds.
King Solomon wrote, Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23 KJV); while the New Covenant Version translation says it very plainly, Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life; and Saint Paul exhorted the members of the Colossian church, Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (3:2 ESV).
How did the serpent convince Eve to taste the forbidden fruit? He deceived her and caused her to doubt that God’s instructions were well-intentioned. He lied to her in order to change her mind about what was true. He caused her to forget who she already was as God’s image-bearer.
The enemy’s lies had to first snake their way into her mind before he could entice her to act against her own best interests.
The age-old battle for our hearts and minds is still being waged today, and one of our best forms of defense against the enemy’s tactics is to set our minds on things above, by offering God the sacrifice of our lips in praise.
When we talk about praise and worship, we picture ourselves at church in a group of fellow believers, praising God with a worship leader and singers and musicians onstage – that’s when we give God glory in a corporate setting, as the Body of Christ.
But there is another kind of praise that we can practice personally - at any time, wherever we are - that gives us the power to guard our hearts and minds in the middle of any onslaught of temptation or distraction.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me (Psalm 103:1-2 NLT).
Sometimes what God says at the end of a verse highlights the point that he intends to make. The sweet Psalmist is saying that when we remember all the good things that God has done for us in the past, our minds will become so full of the memory of his goodness toward us that our whole being will respond with praise.
Remember, our minds are territory that the enemy would like to conquer. If he can convince us that God is not on our side, he can entice us to strike out on our own instead of following God’s guidance. A sheep who wanders away from the Shepherd is in grave danger. A coal pulled from the fire will smolder and die.
When we make it our praise practice to never forget the good things God does for us, and to praise him in every trial - the enemy can’t break through and invade our minds. The helmet of salvation is unbreachable, when we remember what Christ did for us at the cross, and how much he loves us, every day.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).
Our hearts are broken for every parent, all over the world, who grieves – or who will grieve – at the devastating loss of a precious child, born or pre-born.
Our souls cry out for all children whose lives on earth are suddenly taken, born or pre-born.
Our spirits cry out for God’s grace, mercy and guidance for every leader, legislator, health care provider, man, woman and child, born or pre-born, in our broken world.
Our prayers go up. In Jesus’ holy name.
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37 MSG).
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." ~Jesus to His disciples, Matthew 28:19-20
In some ways we could say this is easier said than done and in other ways we have more opportunities than ever. Introvert that I am, I have to say that I love the internet. I love people, but approaching them in person (especially strangers) has never happened easily for me. I so admire people that seem to never meet a stranger and have many friends. I have fewer friends, but the ones I have are close and special. The Lord knew what He was doing when He made so many different kinds of people. Sharing faith can be intimidating , but with a little creativity and understanding of ones gifts, it is such a blessing to be a part of what God is doing. Here are a few pointers.
Learn, develop and use your gifts in the way God intended them to be used. Yes, you do have gifts. Spiritual gifts include teaching, evangelism, prophecy, healing, giving, etc. We will go into more depth in the future, but for now you can study them, (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 7:7, Romans 12:3-8, Ephesians 4:11) and pray for the Lord to help you discover yours. Natural gifts are what you like to do including hobbies, sports, people skills, professional skills and personality traits.
Pray and listen to the Holy Spirit. Ask for help. "For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks, finds; and the one who knocks, the door will be opened." ~Matthew 7:7-8
Develop positive relationships. We all do this, but sometimes we need to seek out new ones, "Make new friends, and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." (Yes, I was a Girl Scout) Find common interests and have conversations. Here is where natural gifts and interests come in. Pray for spiritually rich conversations that glorify the Lord. Eventually they will happen.
Be a good listener. Your friends will eventually have needs that you can offer prayer for such as illness, family and relationship issues, lonliness, depression, etc. If possible pray for them out loud after listening to them and allow the Holy Spirit to give you the proper words. It is unlikely that they will turn it down. From time to time, take opportunities to share a verse of scripture that applies to their situation and remind them that you are continuing to lift them up in prayer. Share what you know, especially something personal that they can relate to. Even if you are a new Christian, you have a growing testimony of how the Lord is working in your life.
Stay involved in church where you can study with other believers and be accountable to one another. "Let us not neglect our church meetings, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of His coming back again is drawing near." ~Hebrews 10:25
Adequacy Is From The Lord
The following is an excerpt from Voices of the Faithful: Inspiring Stories Of Courage From Christians Serving Around The World (Book 2) by Kim P. Davis, missionary testimonies, published 2009:
"Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God." ~2 Corinthians 3:5
"The only adequacy we have in ministry, comes from the Lord. My wife and I can barely keep up with nationals in everyday conversation, let alone understand the culture and be effective in making disciples. Still, God is faithful to open doors and use even us to get His Word to those who desperately need the truth.
Our Muslim neighbor, "Roger," brought our kids some ice cream, and I gave him a New Testament in the local language. Although I could barely explain this precious gift to him, he gladly received the book. What a great exchange! We got ice cream and he got the Word of God. The next day, I found out that he had read the first eight chapters of Matthew.
A couple of weeks later, when Roger was helping me fix a plumbing problem, he told me that he was still reading his New Testament. Not only that, but he wanted one for his Muslim friend who lives down the street. I gave it to him gladly. A few days later, he asked for another New Testament to give to another friend.
God is using Muslims to pass His Word around to one another! Am I adequate? Not now and not ever. My adequacy is from the Lord!" ~Nick, Central Asian Peoples
Lord, You Are the Word of Life. I pray for Roger and his friends that they will not only devour Your Word and find Salvation but also become leaders in your church. May we cling to You and Your all sufficient grace. Amen
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
When we practice supernatural trust and enter in to supernatural rest, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit with supernatural strength.
Can you imagine that rest could be an active principle? Can we actively rest? Is it possible that when we enter in to God’s blessed rest, we become equipped to accomplish much more than worry and struggle ever could?
Trust is an active principle, and peace is its fruit. Rest is an active principle and strength is its fruit.
You may already be familiar with how Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd, in John chapter ten:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (10:11 ESV).
Here’s how the Message translation describes the Good Shepherd:
Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He’s only in it for the money. The sheep don’t matter to him (10:6-13)
We can clearly see that the Good Shepherd is fully committed to protecting the sheep, even with his life, from the thief who comes only to kill, steal and destroy. The Good Shepherd is not a hired hand, he is the Son of the Father who owns the sheep and can be completely trusted.
Now let’s look at how King David, who was once a shepherd boy himself, responsible for guarding his father’s sheep, describes the Good Shepherd in Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
The Good Shepherd richly provides for his sheep – so much so that they are content and lie down in green pastures. He leads them beside quiet waters. They are no longer thirsty (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied - Matthew 5:6 ESV).
Once they are rested and fed, the Good Shepherd leads his sheep along paths of righteousness. Notice that the sheep do not head off into the wilderness on their own. They follow the Shepherd, who knows how to lead them through treacherous territory:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
The sheep aren’t comforted because the Good Shepherd beats them with his rod and staff, but because they know that he will use all his power and might to defend them from every attacker that would come against them (…For the battle is not yours, but God’s - 2 Chronicles 20:15b). We are fed by Jesus, led by Jesus and protected by Jesus.
As the Good Shepherd leads his flock, he also equips them – not only sufficiently, but with more than they think they need (And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over - Matthew 14:20 ESV):
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
God is not hesitant to bless us and anoint us to carry out his giftings in the midst of difficulties or even in the presence of enemies. In fact, the psalmist says that the Good Shepherd has prepared a bountiful table for us even before we arrive (…and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” – Mark 14:14-15). God has already made a way for us to accomplish every desire that he places in our hearts, for his glory.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
We could say that we have two little sister sheep named Goodness and Mercy who follow along behind us on the way, but I think rather that we can imagine goodness and mercy like a sweet fragrance, something that flows through us and lingers in the air after us, because we are so full of the Master’s presence that we have begun to be like him. In his presence, Jesus’ goodness and mercy have become our goodness and mercy (For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing – 2 Corinthians 2:15 NIV).
Can you see that when we accept Jesus as our Good Shepherd, he nourishes us, he leads us, he protects us, he prepares us and he equips us, until we become like him? We rest in him and we walk with him, until we take up our dwelling in his house, forever.
Resting in Christ doesn’t mean that we become like wet noodles who don’t do anything. On the contrary! As we rest in him, he leads us into greater and greater depths of richness and accomplishment, until we step fully into life everlasting. God places giftings and desires in our hearts, that are stirred up by his Holy Spirit, prompting us to glorify his name in all we do. Supernatural trust and rest provide us with supernatural strength and provision to accomplish all that God has placed into our hearts so that we can live the life that he has given us more abundantly, in Jesus’ holy name.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:16-21 NLT).
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
When we begin to practice supernatural trust, we receive an outpouring of God’s supernatural peace. Within God’s supernatural peace, we discover supernatural rest.
Notice that God’s peace actually guards our hearts and our minds, in a way that exceeds – goes far beyond – anything that we can understand. Our natural minds can’t understand supernatural peace, but through God’s Holy Spirit, we can experience this peace that passes all understanding. God makes his supernatural peace available to us, through his Spirit, as we trust in Jesus Christ: “Don’t worry about anything.”
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you (Isaiah 26:3 ESV).
Listen, Beloved Sister, Beloved Friend, God’s word is full of manifesting power. Remember, God is the one who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence. The first verses of Genesis tell us that “God said…and it was so,” until all of creation was full of life, and it was very good.
The Light-Speaker cannot lie. God’s word is so powerful, so complete-in-itself, if he were to lie, even once, all of creation would instantly disintegrate. Listen to what the Message translation says about the word of God:
By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God’s nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words! (Hebrews 1:3)
The New Living Translation says the same thing this way:
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.
Here’s the English Standard Version:
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Jesus, the exact image of the Father, holds everything together, sustains everything, upholds the universe by the word of his power.
So when the One who can not lie says to us through his servant Paul, “Do not worry about anything,” he means exactly what he says, and he has all authority on earth and in heaven, to back it up.
Can you imagine what it would feel like not to worry about anything? If you could possibly, even for a moment, experience that feeling, wouldn’t it be a level of rest that you’ve never experienced before?
The natural world is constantly telling us to worry about everything. Jesus tells us not to worry about anything. What will we allow to set the tone for us in 2019? Natural worry? Or supernatural rest?
Listen to what God tells us about rest:
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV).
God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it, God rested from ALL work that he had done.
God did not make the day holy so that he could rest. God made the seventh day holy because on that day he rested. To God, rest is holy. Rest sanctifies. Rest blesses.
God does not bless us because we worry. God does not bless us because we work so hard. God does not bless us because we struggle. God blesses us when we rest.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31 NIV).
Hear Jesus’ invitation:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).
We are weary, and we are burdened. Jesus is speaking to us. Today, right now. He knows that the very first thing that we need is rest. The more we learn from him, the more we find rest for our souls. And listen, Beloved, when our soul is at rest, our mind, our heart and our body follow.
Rest glorifies God, because supernatural rest is based on our supernatural trust in God’s power and authority.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).
His peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus. As we live, in Christ Jesus. As we live, in him.
Let 2019 be the year of supernatural trust and rest, in our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we can declare, like King David:
Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
now and always (Psalm 131 NLT).
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen” (Jeremiah 29:11-12 NLT).
The glorious reds and golds of October have long since given way to the tattered garment of November, and December flew by on the sound of sleigh bells, snow storms and shutdowns. Outside my window, January looks cold, damp and grey with a long winter stretching out ahead, and I pray, “Help us Lord, and please keep the power on. A little snow would be ok, but please, God, no ice.”
There are more types of windows for us to gaze through now than we could have imagined even a few years ago. Screens on desktops, laptops, iPads and cellphones beckon every minute of every day, grabbing so much of our attention that we can’t sleep at night for all the blue light. Talking heads bickering through the windows of our television screens do all they can to convince us that the sky is falling so let’s all get mad, be scared and blame the other guys. Help us, Lord, to put it all in its proper place.
Because here’s the point, if we don’t set the tone for the upcoming year, someone or something, somewhere on some screen or through some window designed to capture our attention, surely will. The question is, in whom do we place our trust, and who should we follow?
When Jesus came near, he spoke to them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18 GW).
Jesus comes near, and he speaks. He fortifies us with the fact that he – and he alone - has all authority; and that no matter what it looks like out there, he is in control.
“…And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” (Matthew 28:20 GW).
As Jesus strengthens us, he also comforts us, reminding us that he will never leave us nor forsake us – even until the end of time itself. This is true, and it can be true, because when Jesus ascended into heaven after his resurrection, he sent his Holy Spirit to abide with us forever so that through him, we might have peace:
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 ESV).
The gifts and promises that Jesus gives us are not like the things that the world offers.
The things of the world are natural and temporal. They are subject to physical laws and restrictions and cannot be everlasting.
When we seek wisdom, or strength, or comfort, or guidance or peace from the world at large, everything that we receive will fade away like a fog, sooner or later. Worldly solutions can never be enough to sustain us against the onslaught of cares and worries produced by our broken world.
No human person or man-made system, no matter how educated, wealthy or powerful, has all authority on earth and in heaven.
When we place our trust in human beings or man-made systems, we are operating under natural trust, and everything that is natural and temporal ultimately fades away.
Jesus already knows the plans that he has for us. They are not plans for disaster. His plan is to give us hope, and an eternal future. When we place our complete trust in Jesus’ authority, in his perfect plan, and in his promise to never leave or forsake us, then we are placing our trust not in the temporary, but in the eternal. Not in the natural, but in the super-natural. Not in the limited, but in the unlimited.
In Jeremiah 29:12, God says, “In those days when you pray, I will listen.” What does God mean, when he says, “in those days?” The very next verse gives us the answer:
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
God doesn’t say that he will listen to our prayers, “in those days when you are perfect.” Or, “in those days when I feel like listening to you.” No. God says, “In those days when you seek me with all your heart, I will listen to your prayers and you will find me.”
In those days when we don’t know what to do. In those days when we’re exhausted. In those days when everything seems to be falling apart – and we all have those kinds of days sometimes, maybe often – but it is in those days when we seek God with our whole heart, trusting in his presence and his authority, that he is already listening – because he already has a plan for us – for good and for hope and for a future.
When we place our complete trust in Jesus Christ, no matter what seems to be happening inside our minds or outside our windows, we have placed our trust in the supernatural God – the creator of heaven and earth – and in his authority on our behalf. When we place our complete trust in the supernatural God, our human trust is bolstered by the Holy Spirit, expanding beyond every boundary that the world would place on it, and our natural trust becomes super-natural.
One way or the other, the tone will be set for our lives in 2019. The world would like for us to cooperate in its plan to set the tone for our lives based on every temporal thing that can only fade away, that will never protect us from fear or satisfy the longing in our hearts.
God is calling us to set the tone for our lives based on his word and his promises – on his eternal plans for our hope and our future. How do we set the tone for 2019 based on God’s promise to never leave us or forsake us, even until the end of time? It’s very simple.
We don’t have to be perfect. The grace of God has seen to that. Jesus comes to us exactly as we are, whenever we call out to him.
Let’s set the tone for this year by practicing super-natural trust that says, no matter what the circumstances, “I trust you, Jesus!”
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NLT).
I so love pictures that tell such a story without need for many words. Lord, bless the workers.
We are still praising the Lord for the awesome week we had, full of sunshine. Much was accomplished.
The foundation and what it is built on is the most important part of the building, needing to be solid and firm. It is the same for the building of our faith.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who build his house on the rock. "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. "The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell---and great was it's fall." ~Yeshua, Matthew 7:24-27
Vehicle maintenance, like soul maintenance. God is good, all the time. And all the time...
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them,..." ~Timothy 3:14
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. ~3 John 1:2
So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. ~1 Corinthians 10:31
I got a rock collection started for my fireplace and other surfaces and I built a scale model of what I want it to look like. You may be able to tell that I got some ideas from Pinterest.