God’s Promises

The fast moving white water was turbulent and appeared to be churning, as it poured into the forebay. A refreshing light mist, hanging over the stormy waters which stirred beneath, tingled my skin, and seemed to delicately kiss and refresh me. Jetting out from the most tumultuous parts of the water was a stunning rainbow. This scene brought to mind the many promises of God.

Rainbows are actually a sign to us of God’s solemn promise to never again flood the earth, as found in Genesis 9:12-17. As I stared deep into the tossing water, the Lord showed me a symbolic picture of how life’s troubles can be stormy, explosive, and even turbulent at times. However, right above that raging water, was a beautiful rainbow… a reminder of God’s promise that He will always be faithful to get us through the rough waters of this life. Psalm 91:4 tells us, “He will cover you with His pinions. And under His wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of God’s promises. Life can be hectic and unpredictable. Things happen that we don’t often anticipate or understand the “why.” When the waters feel as if they are raging all around you, remember these 15  promises from the Lord:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

“Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord, their hearts are secure, they will have no fear…” Psalm 112:6-8

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

“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 you souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

“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

“You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…” Jeremiah 29:11

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:10

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:7-8

“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“… I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

As I looked beyond the squally water, it became calm, peaceful, and serene as it was released and held in the forebay. That is a good picture of God’s faithfulness to us. When we hang onto the promises of God, He will deliver us out of our present turmoil into a peaceful place where the waters of life are once again calm, as we learn to rest and trust in Him.

 

Divine Appointment

While at a public pool, a gal pulled up a chair and joined me poolside. She immediately reminded me of the Cyndi Lauper I remembered from the 1980’s, with her bright skirt, cutoff fishnet stockings, and hair of different colors piled atop her head. Her bright blue eyes danced wildly as she we watched our kids in the water and began to speak. Within minutes, she had spilled out the details of her life to me. She shared her broken marital status, a recent move to the area, her negative opinion of her religious in-laws, and how she refused to teach her children that being gay was wrong. Here was a gal who was being open and visibly transparent about the pain and hardship she was experiencing, along with her belief system.

In the Christian church, the catch phrase Live out Loud or Let Your Light Shine are often used to encourage us to share our faith with those around us, whether it be in word or deed. Billy Graham was also quoted as saying, “The world judges a Christian by his life, not by his belief.” Being socially aware and available, play a huge role in being used by the Lord to share your faith.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, exhorts… “And this is my prayer; that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ- to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil. 1:9-11.) As we draw from the Lord’s love, so will it flow from us out unto others.

Being socially aware, simply put, is first of all being aware of your environment and those that surround you. And then, being able to interpret and react in an empathetic manner to the emotions and feelings of those around you. It means being less self-absorbed, and being open to being used by the Lord wherever you may go.

John 14:16 promises us, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” Staying in communion with the Lord is key to being able to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit. When you are in tune with the Lord and actively seeking ways to point people to Jesus, you will be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Joshua 1:9 tells you to be strong and courageous! The Holy Spirit will embolden the believer to speak out words of truth, hope, and encouragement. When you put your trust in the Lord, He will provide the words for you to speak out. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving… that God would open to you a door for the word, so speak the mystery of Christ…” Colossians 4:2-3

Speaking about the Lord our Savior requires faith! Matthew 21:22 reassures us, “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” If you ask the Lord to use you to share the good news of salvation and hope in Christ, and are willing to step out in faith, He will provide the message of truth for you to speak out. The Lord will provide the words of hope that person needs to hear at that exact moment in time when you surrender yourself to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit who works in and through you. He will never fail you. We must walk closely with the Lord and be willing to act upon what He tells us to do or say.

Colossians 4: 5-6 tells us to “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” When a person is hurting, often, they are open to receive a word of encouragement or even an offer of prayer, in spite of their own beliefs. Pain can open the door to the heart and allow one to receive hope from the Lord. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

If you would like more opportunities to share your faith with others, be socially aware of the opportunities the Lord presents before you in your day-to-day walk with Him. 2 Corinthians 5:7 reminds us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Each interaction you have with a stranger could be a window of time for you to share the word of truth and hope into a soul that desperately needs the Light and Life of Christ. Be prayerful in your day, communing with the Lord. Be watchful for situations to share the good news of Christ. Step out in faith as the Lord leads you. Surrender and trust in Him, and He will use you at a precise time. Colossians 4:17 exhorts us to, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.

”In closing, I leave you with ONE… MORE… THOUGHT… the Bible reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 Imagine that!

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The Most Needed Fellowship of All

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The Most Needed Fellowship of All

by Annette

I had arrived a bit early, sinking deep into the soft leather chair. It was a beautiful spring-like day, and I had been looking forward to spending time with a friend. I patiently awaited her arrival at the local coffee shop. While sipping my chocolate sprinkled hot latte, I began to think…hmmm, where is she? It’s getting late.  Moments later, reality set in.  She wasn’t coming. As I pulled away from the coffee shop, disappointed, I couldn’t help but think about the Lord and how often He anticipates our sweet fellowship, only to be let down by us when we don’t show up.

How easy it is to be distracted in this life and rob ourselves of the most needed fellowship of all… that of our Savior. Most of us have good intentions but, often times, the distractions of life just get the best of us. Being rushed or busy can result in us pushing our time with the Lord off to the side.

             “… you left your first love.” Revelation 2:4

It can be difficult when something or someone becomes front and center in our life, but choosing to get back on track with the Lord is well worth it. It is important that we do not allow the demands and distractions of others to pull us away from our fellowship, study, and prayer time with the Lord.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

What about making decisions we are faced with throughout our day? When situations and stresses occur, we are to go to prayer prior to making important choices. Matthew 6:6 tells us, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “This can seem unnatural at first, but thinking we have something figured out and making a snap decision often steeped in emotion can result in a negative consequence down the road and can affect our walk and relationship with the Lord, and even others. Life ebbs and flows much smoother when time is spent at the onset of a situation to consult with the Lord. Taking the time to commune with the Lord will also help us to have the peace we need to push forward when we are dealing with an issue in life. Often times the Lord will lead us to a Scripture to meditate upon as a promise from Him. Having the Lord’s wisdom and discernment brings us the peace of mind we need in order to cope with the challenges of life.  Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Bible tells us that we are to put Christ first in all things. Matthew 6:33 tells us “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” That means, setting aside time for Him FIRST when we start the day. That means, going to Him FIRST before making an important decision in life or seeking advice from another. That means putting Him FIRST and not giving in to the distractions of others or things during our time with Him. 1 Kings 2:3-4 says, “…and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me…”.

Matthew 11:30 tells us, “For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.” I have found this to be so true! When we are living out our life by walking closely with the Lord, communing with Him throughout the day, He truly does lighten our load. And, along with that, He gives us His perfect peace which surpasses all understanding. Philippians 4:7.

Life isn’t easy, and friends let us down, but the Lord’s love for us never fails. God said in Hebrews 13:5, “ I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I am so grateful the Lord is with us, always. As children of God, we have this assurance.

However… if you have never asked the Lord into your life, Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into him and eat with him and he with me.” And from that moment on, life as you’ve known it will never be the same. You will have eternal security in the Lord. You will NEVER be alone, and will have the assurance of eternal life with our Lord and Savior. Can I get an amen to that?!

Does God Care About the Details

The sealed box was difficult to open, so I cut into it with a sharp knife. Once opened, I emptied out the 500 pieces and began to separate out what would form the boarder. As I assembled the frame of the puzzle, I began talking to the Lord. I shared my thoughts on the puzzle and thanked Him for this piece and that piece. I was having a good time fellowshipping with the Lord, and the puzzle was coming together smoothly. But then, I had a separate thought. Why am I talking to the Lord about puzzle pieces?

Excusing my puzzle chit-chat as an unnecessary prayer, I quieted my mind and continued on with the puzzle. However, as I pieced together the remaining frame pieces I realized something very odd. There were two pieces that seemed to be missing. Mind you, this was a brand new puzzle, straight out of the unopened box.

For the next half-hour, my pursuit of puzzle pieces shifted to an all-out search and rescue mission. I sorted through all the pieces on the table numerous times. I doubled checked what I had already connected, making sure something wasn’t misconnected. I checked the chairs beneath the table. I crawled around on the floor scanning the carpet surface and spreading my hands out, hoping to find those pieces. I even extended my hunt to other rooms throughout the house just in case the pieces had mysteriously stuck to my cat’s foot and been carried off to a strange new location. There were no pieces to be found.

For me, the boarder of the puzzle is like putting in the foundation of a house. It must be completed first, as it is the framework for the a joining pieces. It was hard for me to move on without it, and so I continued on in a state of frustration and wonder… how could there be missing puzzle pieces when it was an unopened box? But, an even bigger question I was grappling with was, does God care about even the tiniest of details in life?

If we feel there are certain things in our life that are not worthy of mention to the Lord, we will only cheat ourselves in the end. Deuteronomy 10:12 tells us, “…what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” This would be impossible if we purposely hold back sharing certain areas of our lives with the Lord. Besides that, the Bible tells us that there is no hidden thing from the Lord. He already knows our innermost secrets! Psalm 139:3-6 tells us, “You know where I go and where I lie down. You know everything I do. Lord, even before I say a word, you already know it. You are all around me- in front and in back- and have put your hand on me.”

Our life is a beautiful picture, like that of a puzzle. We can try to figure out how the pieces of our life fit together on our own, or we can seek the Lord’s wisdom for our life, through a relationship with Him. Proverbs 3:13 tells us, “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.” Either way, the puzzle will be built. However, if we walk closely with Jesus He will make sure all the pieces in our life come together as they should. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

As the boarder was the framework for the puzzle, so Christ is to be the foundation of our life. Without this foundation and relationship with the Lord, our life will be lacking and incomplete. Just as the puzzle had a hole, so too will our lives. God designed people to commune with Him. If we are not walking and talking with our Savior on a daily basis, we will really be missing out.

God used this visual illustration of the missing puzzle pieces to show me just how important it is for us to be continually communing with the Lord, no matter what we are doing. God does care about even the smallest details of our life. In Matthew 10:30 we are told, “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” What amazing detail! Nothing is too minuscule to share with the Lord. The more open our communication with Jesus throughout the day, the better off we are. Micah 6:8 tells us we are to, “… walk humbly in the company of your God.” He wants us walking and talking with Him throughout our days. He desires that sweet continual fellowship with us in everything we do.

The puzzle, once completed, was of a stunning scene. It had a sparkling lake dotted with boats of varying primary colors, a pier with brightly painted houses, and a backdrop of majestic purple snow topped mountains. It was more than inviting, with the exception of the top left corner. In the place of the frame, was my old hardwood table. Those puzzle pieces…They never did turn up!

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