Candle was a firefly who wasn’t quite sure if he wanted to shine. Follow this new series in the Adventures of Tad to find out how Candle learns to shine. Great story for 2nd- 6th grade. Available today in e-book format on Amazon
The Shy Firefly Named Candle
Follow the link or find the book directly on Amazon today,
“Row harder! More to the left! Don’t stand up! Just be careful!” Who hasn’t heard all these instructions as you began your first solo voyage in a kayak? You might have been feeling a little nervous, but then just as you launched out, barely ten feet from the shore it seems you were sinking under waves of advice.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
The Jewish people as they arrived in their new home in Babylon were in very much the same situation. Some people were so depressed they just literally wanted to hang up their harps and give up. There were also some “Prosperity prophets” around telling the people to cheer up because God was going to destroy Babylon any minute and they would soon be back in their own land (PS send a big offering to me) Last of all, there were folks with their hands just itching to pull out their swords because they hated the foreign rulers and wanted revenge. With so many voices pushing and pulling at them many ordinary people were plenty confused. That is exactly when God sent Jeremiah this word of encouragement and guidance.
A) I Know the plans I have for you No matter the situation you are facing today, the first person to listen to is God! Rick Warren once said, “God loves you and everybody else has a wonderful plan for your life!” It is human nature to give advice but unless the advice they are offering lines up with God’s direction for your life it is at best just well meaning confusion. Most of the difficulties I have gotten myself into have been snap decisions that haven’t been tempered by prayer and patience. Don’t allow others to stampede you into their direction. God already knows which way you need to row and if we are ready to listen He is ready to guide us.
B) Plans to prosper you and not to harm you… There is no one more interested in your true prosperity than God. Wanting our best is at the heart of God’s very nature. When we were separated by sin God sent His son. When we felt alone, God promised to be with us. When we didn’t understand, God promised His wisdom. There is nothing in this life or in the world to come that God will not give us if we will listen and do things His way! Most of the spiritual snake oil salesmen actually bank on us wavering in our trust of God’s control. So remind yourself today that you don’t need to send $19.99 to anyone for God to act on your behalf. You don’t need to sign up to partner with a stranger or pick up the phone and call a special help line to hear what Jesus has to say. The promises of God in the Bible are just as powerful for you as anyone else in the world!
C) To give you a hope and a future The people of Israel had lost hope. They had no idea how things could ever improve. They were being lied to and manipulated by the very leaders who should have been concerned for the welfare. But God sent Jeremiah to them with words of calm encouragement. He was given the message that even though they would be in Babylon for 70 years (a lifetime for most) that even there He could bless them. They were to pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives right where they were. God wanted them to know above all things that He was still in control. In your fast paced world you may fell lost, disoriented and discouraged but God still has a plan. His plan always begins right where you are and it is the best plan of all.Because of the cross of Calvary God has already amazingly decided to bless us, to provide our needs and to lead us all the way home to him if we will trust Him alone!
One Christmas Amazed
There’s a Christmas for Santa
And a Christmas for Elves
And a Christmas for stores
That are filling their shelves
There’s Christmas on TV
And for fresh falling snow
And trees decorated with lights that can glow
But in the midst of the ruckus that is filling our lanes
Is there room for the Child
Who gave Christmas its name?
Is there space at our table for a forgotten lost son?
Is there a place on our lists for someone with no home?
Is there hope in our hearts for the broken and shamed?
Or are we too busy to remember their names?
As you put up your tree then on top place the star
That remembers the kings who came from so far
Who knelt and rejoiced back in old Bethlehem
As they opened their gifts in their worship for Him
Take a moment to pray with a heart full of praise
For on Christmas was born God’s true grace that amazed
Poem One Christmas Amazed by Peter Caligiuri 2016
This particular hymn holds a lot of personal meaning for my life. When I was briefly homeless as a teenager I experienced so much of these verses. “Jesus sought when a stranger” could have never been more true than my being invited to church on an Easter Sunday. I wasn’t just the guy next door, I was the vagrant hitchhiker that needed a warm meal. I had no idea that it was Easter until I entered the church service to which I had gone to get the free food afterward. I chose to sit in the back when I realized that I was definitely not dressed for the occasion. But contrary to my expectations, I discovered that the people at that little church accepted me and seemed strangely delighted that I had come.
Once the Easter service was over I was served a traditional ham dinner out back of the church together with all the other members. The afternoon passed quickly as I enjoyed the time with my new friends. How surprised was I to learn that they also had a late afternoon worship. By that time I was more than happy to stay a bit longer. No one pressured me that entire day to “be born again” or any of the other terms which I wouldn’t have recognized anyway. But I was drawn as if by a gigantic spiritual magnet.My heart was becoming bound with the fetter of God’s love yet I didn’t struggle a bit. Afterward when it was nearly time to go on my way, I was just hanging around with some of the teens and someone (not the pastor!) innocently asked if I would like to take a friend along. “What do you mean?” I suspiciously asked beginning to wonder which of them wanted to follow me. “We’re talking about Jesus?” one of them smiled and replied. In that single moment all my past defenses fell to the ground at the very evident power and presence of the love of Jesus Christ. At that moment God began what has now become a 45 year sealing of my heart to His courts above.
God bless you as you listen again to these familiar lyrics written by a young man by the name of Robert Robinson in 1757. Like Robinson I have also had my struggles over a lifetime journey of faith, yet God has been faithful and His grace always mighty to save!
…I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies Psalm 23:4-5
In David’s Psalm I often picture a meadow of the greenest grass in the very heart of the dark valley. There, while the enemies of the sheep peered down from the rocks, the Good Shepherd stood guard over the sheep as they grazed. They calmly eat then lie down to rest, trusting that they are safe. When they hear the silent footsteps of the enemy or see a shadow move in the distance, they have only to glance up to reassure themselves that the shepherd’s staff and his heavy rod are there. Then they rest their heads back down on their hooves and sleep.
What enemies are you facing today? What fear is keeping you from finding green pastures to rest in? When you trust in Jesus Christ as your Good Shepherd you will discover that He has also prepared a table for you. It does not matter what dangers you face, His rod and staff will keep you in perfect peace even in the presence of your enemies!
Valley of the Shadow Part One
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 Psalm 23:4
When I read about the valley of the shadow I sometimes remember driving through a place called Sugar Hollow. Though everything might seem sunny, dark shadows would begin to intrude across the road as it twisted and turned into the entrance to the hollow. The hills on both sides were steep and they cast such a shadow that in the late afternoon drivers quickly put on their headlights. The brightness of the day disappeared as we passed through that mile.
In the same way, God has chosen to lead us through a region called “the valley of the shadow of death”. The presence of a shadow tells us that we are close to the object which is blocking the source of light. The closeness of our enemies brings darkness into our lives but Psalm 23 gives us some lampposts to light the way to our Father’s house.
First Lamppost -He is with us
When Joseph discovered that Mary was
pregnant he was afraid and ready to quietly abandon his hopes of marriage and happiness at her side. But God told Joseph to not be afraid because Mary’s miracle child was to be called –
Immanuel “God with us” Matthew 1:23