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Illumination

Who doesn’t love the bright morning sun on a clear crisp autumn day! The rays of sunshine illuminating the colored leaves of red, orange, and gold with an intense blue sky for a backdrop. Even on a cool fall day, the warmth of the sun heals the body and lifts our countenance. 

The beauty found in God’s creation is a reminder of the Creator himself. The way the light dances and sparkles amongst the autumn leaves brings to mind the Bible verse found in John 8:12 when Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 

In Luke 11:34-35 we are told, “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Jesus Christ is the only way to fill our hearts, minds, and lives with the Light of life. Only through redemption in Christ, can our body be filled with the gift of Light. In John 14:6, “Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Once we accept the gift of salvation, His Light shines through us. This is life changing now, and for all eternity to come! 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

When someone is walking closely with Christ, there is something attractively different about them. They offer the hope of Jesus and walk confidently, with a sense of peace, even in the midst of turmoil. Being led by the Holy Spirit, and abiding in Him, they share God’s truth in word and deed. They are intentional, putting others before themselves. They are warm and welcoming, and people feel loved upon after an interaction with them.

Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” As light illuminates leaves on an autumn day, bringing beauty and brilliance to its onlookers, so can we. When we have the Light that comes from a relationship with Jesus, others should see that. Psalm 18:28 says, “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Praise the Lord for His wonderful Light!

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” Luke 11:34-35

“Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.” Psalm 18:28

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Living Water

The water was serene and still, resembling a giant glistening sheet of glass. The sky, a steel stormy grey with clouds of pink and purple, was lined in gold by the rays of the setting sun. As gorgeous as it was, there was something strikingly odd about this place. 

The lake’s shoreline was dotted with run down homes, dilapidated piers, abandoned boats, and empty store fronts. Clearlake, the largest freshwater lake in California, once a booming resort area and popular vacation destination, is now polluted with mercury from a nearby mine, compounded by blue green algae, and toxins, making it unsafe to swim or recreate in. From a distance the lake looked beautiful and inviting, but, in actuality, it had become unsafe and filled with dangerous poisons. What a waste of God’s beautiful creation!

The Bible tells us that we are also God’s beautiful creation. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us to, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” We may look like we have it all together on the outside but, what is the condition of our heart?

We, as servants of the Lord, are to be pouring out God’s love and goodness on those lives we touch. If we are polluted, those toxins will have a negative effect on our relationships, and also hinder our witness and testimony of the Lord in our lives. Thankfully, through Christ, we have a way to be made new once again.

Jesus can cleanse us from our filth and give us a healthy new heart. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He is Living Water to our thirsty soul. In John 7:37-38, Jesus tells us, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare, rivers of living water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in me.” 

Clearlake, once a thriving resort community, became a dangerously unhealthy body of water, resulting in an abandoned vacation destination. Our hearts, too, can become toxic, resulting in unhealthy relationships. But, through seeking repentance in Jesus, we can be cleansed and made new again. So, be encouraged my friend in the hope we have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. All is not lost. Our hope is found in Him! Proverbs 27:19 tells us, “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” Let’s be the beautiful creation God designed us to be!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” -Ephesians 2:10

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” -Hebrews 12:14

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” -1 John 1:9

“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. For the Scriptures declare, rivers of living water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in me.” -John 7:37-38

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” -Proverbs 27:19

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Shine Brightly

With leaves green and lush, the sunflower stands tall. In a burst, it opens with seeds of pure joy! This flower is bright and cheery, like an ear-to-ear grin on a smiling face. Its pristine leaves become a perch and a tasty treat for the tiny yellow-bellied warbler. It is a beautiful sight to see this feathered friend happily perched upon the sunflower. As time goes on, the leaves become tattered and torn where the little bird has rested and renewed its strength. Even then the flower is radiant with ever present bliss, its head held strong and high. With only a few leaves left, the warbler again makes a visit. Standing firm, although tattered and worn, providing for its guest, the sunflower still shines brightly.

When we look at God’s creation, the sunflower, we can be reminded of what a great example the sunflower is. It stands tall, shines brightly, and gives all its got. It is that simple! “Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

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Enjoy the Season

Spring had officially sprung! The grass was a lush green, flowers were in full bloom, the clear morning sky held the promise of the warmth of the sun, and the beauty of the season that promised new life was in full force. In the midst of it all, stood a tall oak tree. A gentle breeze created the feeling that autumn was in the air, as the dried brown leaves softly drifted down and littered the ground. The oak was beautiful all the same, standing so strong, tall, and majestic. I thought to myself, Why was this tree only just now dropping its leaves when all the surrounding trees were budding with fresh new growth? 

The tree seemed to be out of season, in comparison to the others standing in its midst. Seeing that spring ushers in budding, blossoming, and new life, it didn’t seem to be doing as well, and it appeared to be off in its cycle of growth. But in actuality, this tree was right where it needed to be in terms of seasonal growth and right on track with it dropping its leaves in the spring, even though most trees experience this months earlier. The tree was healthy and thriving in its own way and timing, according to its original design by its Maker, the God of all creation!

It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison in our own lives too. If you feel out of season right now, instead of getting frustrated or down on yourself, I encourage you to savor the season. Accept yourself, and where you currently are in life. Seek to continue to grow and blossom, by learning something about yourself, and what the Lord is teaching you. See the beauty in the day, and enjoy the time you have been gifted. All things are passing by, nothing stays the same forever. Life is a precious gift from our Creator.

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How to Overcome Rejection

Like an ever growing snowball tumbling down a mountainside, picking up debris with great speed and momentum, so is the propulsion of rejection in the heart and mind of the one who believes this deception to be true. Hurt upon hurt, lie upon lie, until one’s life is perceived as continual rejection, be it real or imagined. 

The lies we believe about our lack of self-worth can seriously trip us up. It is a vicious cycle that snowballs. The more we believe the lie of rejection, the more we embrace it and make it part of who we are. Wearing the identity of rejection as our persona, insecurities grow and are seemingly affirmed when things go wrong in life.

Rejection and self-pity are from the pit of hell. They are not attributes given to us by the Lord. Don’t allow the pain and toxicity from real or perceived rejection ruin you. The fact is, we are God’s Masterpiece. We are made in the very image of God! Psalm 139:14 tells us, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

We are not responsible for the neglectful behavior we receive from others. However, we are responsible for our response. If you have wronged someone, apologize and make things right. Otherwise, your sin will cause a separation between you and the Lord. If your conscience is clear and without conviction, trust the Lord to take care of hurtful or toxic people in your life. His ways are always best. It may seem that people get away with wrong attitudes or hurtful behaviors, but that is a fallacy. We are all accountable to God. Nothing is hidden from the sovereignty of the Lord our God, as He sees the most hidden places of the heart. 

Pray for those who have hurt you or let you down. Lift them up to the Lord. This enables you to be proactive in a beneficial manner. Let the Lord do the convicting and correcting, if need be. Let go of hurts that can’t be resolved and seem unfixable. Focus in on Him and let Him heal unexplained disappointments or hurts in life. Having a heart of compassion and desire for others well-being will help. The Lord is merciful, and so should we also be. When we put the good of others first, we push down the selfish desires of our flesh. Do what is right before the Lord. There is peace in doing the right thing, as we rest and trust in Him. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Our purpose is not to aspire popularity or flattery from others. Seek ONLY to please Him, as our affirmation needs to come from Him. He will honor that desire. If we are serving the Lord first in our life, and He is our confidence, other things will also plumb up! Matthew 6:33 tells us, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” We are loved and accepted by the Lord our God. He will provide comfort and peace, along with strength and new confidence. Isaiah 30:15 reassures us that, …In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

It is of utmost importance that you know your worth. Walk in the freedom of knowing who you are in Christ. Your identity is in Him. Having a correct perspective of yourself will be a complete game changer. Enjoy your life. Count your blessings. You belong, are worthy, and your are competent. I urge you to meditate on this. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Be the best you!

The following is a paraphrase model taken from a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley of In-Touch Ministries on The 3 Steps of How to Overcome Rejection:

1. Identify your feelings of rejection

They stem out of feelings of not belonging, not feeling worthy, and not feeling competent.

2. Reject them 

We are God’s children. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 

We belong to God!

He gave His son for us. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We are worthy!

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

We are competent!

3. Affirm

We are unconditionally loved, forgiven, accepted, and complete in Christ. Live as a child of the Living God. LISTEN TO WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT YOU!

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Enthralled by His Splendor

santaynezStaring into the eyes of a wild animal is captivating. Spellbound, it seems as if I am looking deep into its very soul. For those brief sacred seconds it is as if time is standing still. Gripped by its beauty, not wanting to lose the eye lock, I barely breathe, let alone move. It is an intense privilege to encounter one of God’s creatures and stare deep into its eyes.

It was on a wooded trail with green and gold foliage and a meandering stream that trickled discreetly behind the suburbs and cookie cutter houses. An experience I will never forget. From the first step into this refuge of tall oaks, dirt trail, and knee high weeds, it was as if God had opened a window from heaven.

Gracing the sky, as I began my trek into the wooded land, was a Great Blue Heron cruising calmly and ever so elegantly overhead. As I padded along, soaking up the tranquility, I next saw a flock of wild turkeys marching through a nearby clearing. With the rustling of brush came two scampering brown squirrels, chattering their gibberish and jumping from the low hanging tree branches onto the trail just ahead. But, it was what I would find just around the upcoming crook in the trail that would charm me completely.

I was mesmerized by the very nature the Lord had shown me, as I slipped into this sanctuary of unexpected wildlife. It felt as if I had entered into a special land and was being romanced by the surrounding splendor, titillated by each step I was taking. In a dreamlike state of mind, I looked up, and with great surprise was face to face with a huge owl.

guenclose1We each froze. He sat perched on a branch. He was majestic and alluring. We had an eye lock on one another. I felt hypnotized and unable to look away. I could not look away. We stared and gazed and ogled at one another. Neither one of us dared to move. He seemed just as attracted to me. The longer I looked into his eyes, the more I wanted to stay. I felt as if I never wanted that stare to end. It was like he was looking deep into my soul. I was truly transfixed by that owl. He had my complete attention and adoration. The feeling I had in his presence was that of awe. He was stunning. And, for some strange reason, he seemed to be equally absorbed by my presence. I was so drawn to him I did not want to leave at all. It was like I wanted to stay there forever. It was a surreal experience.

The encounter I had that day left an impression on me. I felt the Lord had shared with me a piece of His lovely world that I had been unaware of and was right there the whole time, just waiting for me to find, to notice, to acknowledge, to receive. Such splendor and fascination, like a secret gift in life. This made me think of the gift of salvation we have through Christ Jesus.

What if you were enthralled, allured, and completely drawn to Christ, compelled by His love and adoration? What if you accepted Him as a gift? He would change your life. Your eyes would be opened and you would see there is another dimension to this life. There is more than meets the eye. Jesus is awestruck over you. Christ’s love is deep. He never looks away from you. He always has His eye on you. He is ever watchful. Once you experience His presence, you will never want to be without Him, nor will you have to. In Joshua 1:5 the Bible tells us that the Lord says, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Staring into the eyes of one of God’s creatures is riveting. The incident I had that day on the wooded path will never be forgotten, as it is etched in my mind forever. I was truly enchanted by God’s creature. But, how much more am I captivated by the Lord our God. Nothing compares to looking up into the eyes of the Lord, being enthralled by His majesty and allure, and staring into His eyes of everlasting peace.

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