Waiting for Spring

The Robin  an English Nursery Rhyme

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?

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He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing    

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In the early Spring of 1865, the daffodils were just peaking out to bloom and hope hung in the air of our nation. The long bloody conflict of the war between the states had ended and it seemed there would finally be peace. On April 15th a shot rang out in Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Though the peace we came to enjoy would never be shared by Lincoln, the hope of new life could never be put out by a bullet. God will release again the sweet fragrance of the lilacs just as surely, because hope is never a prisoner when put our trust in God.daffodils with signature
When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring  Walt Whitman

When I pass through deep waters

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you… Isaiah 43:2

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Maybe what we mean by deep water is that it is deeper than we are. When we are small children, that may in fact be quite shallow, but it is still a danger to us.We cannot make it through on our own. We will have to depend on someone else.

God’s promise to us as His children is that no matter the depth – He is deeper still – He will always be with us – He has measured the oceans in the palm of His hand. And when we face the strong currents of the rushing rivers, He is stronger still. He cannot be overwhelmed by them and so we can always trust in Him. Even the sounds of crashing waves all around us must never be reason enough for us to fear.

 

When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me…

Kari Jobe   from “I am not Alone”

Doing good – In a world of Evil

Once again we are waking up with the morning news filled with a story of senseless violence. A hopeless and bitter sorrow comes like an unwelcome guest to our door and how we answer its knocking on will determine whether we become a part of the problem or part of the solution. The apostle Paul was an expert in violence. He had begun as a significant part of the problem. He actively led the charge in persecuting the early Christian church. Though he may not have cast a stone he was a member of the mob that stoned Steven. Later as Paul traveled towards Damascus to bring his violent anger to that place Jesus met him on the road and transformed his life. Paul went almost immediately from being the persecutor to being on the receiving end of that evil. He was regularly lied about, stoned, beaten and imprisoned but rather than becoming bitter and spiteful Paul had this to say.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 

We are angry because in the immediate rush of emotions it feels as if the good and innocent are on the losing side. It appears as though hate and violence is so much stronger and more powerful. We need to shake ourselves in that instant and remember that at His very weakest hour on the cross Jesus overcame death hell and the grave. He forgave His murderers, saved the thief, provided for His mother’s care, gave opportunity to Nicodemus and Joseph to stand up for their faith and awakened faith in the heart of the stunned Centurion.

Good will always be stronger than evil no matter the false impression of temporary victory that hatred may give. The violent confess by their very hurtful acts their own spiritual weakness. Brief gains on the temporary battlefield of this life mean nothing in the true war for hearts and souls. There is no greater force in Heaven or earth than the love of God.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord Romans 8:38-39

When the darkest night and the strongest storms are over, the sun will still rise at God’s command to give us hope for a new day!

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“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can”  attributed to John Wesley

Seedtime and Harvest

 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13:23

The farmer waits all through the year for harvest. He prepares the soil, plants the seed, and then he waits and hopes for rain and sun to coax the seed into germination, then growth and finally full ears on the stalk. As harvest approaches he fuels up the combine and heads to he field for the  reward of his year’s labor.

The Bible tells us that God is in some was just like this farmer. He too has sown a seed into our lives.  He to works to prepare us for something more than we can imagine. Harvest time is not only about we go when we die, but rather about what we have done while we have been alive.

When someone has been hungry, have we fed them? When a neighbor has been alone, have we been a friend? When we meet the abandoned, have we stood with them? Each choice springs from the seed we have allowed to be planted in our hearts. Harvest time is every day. Every day is exactly the right moment! What will be harvested in our life today? Walking by faith is the adventure of finding out!

 

Faithfulness

Revelation 2:10 …. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 

We often sing “Standing on the Promises” but with but only a vague idea of what promises we are given in the Bible. Here is a promise right from the lips of Jesus to those who faithfully choose HIM. Though we know we are saved by faith, walk by faith and live by faith; there is little thought given to faith’s companion: “Faithfulness”. While faith is both a gift and a fruit of the Spirit, faithfulness can not be received, it must be lived. A bit more than 41 years back Nancy and I stood before a church altar and said “Till death do us part”. Those words were spoken in faith,  but the last forty-one years have been a process of learning faithfulness.

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    Whether it is in marriage, in church or on our jobs, faithfulness is a quality highly prized by God. God so loved the world that He gave His son… (John 3:16) and God so loves marriage that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) Over these years we have had a few mountain tops, many rivers to climb and yes – some deep valleys. Walking together so long we have begun to know what the other person will say or think even before they know it themselves! Our walk with Jesus is very much the same. He is always faithful and our walking out a life time of faithfulness with Him will have a reward. ! On the day we stand in Heaven to celebrate we will realize it has been worth it all!

Listening to a Friend

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And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Luke 10:39

In the last devotion we talked a little about faithfulness. The first mark of faithfulness is listening. Why is it that when everybody is talking, no one is listening? We all have a deep-seated need to be heard, but we may not stop to realize that the most important part of being a faithful friend is to be a good listener. Until we hear what someone else is saying we don’t really know them. The same holds true in our relationship with God. Until we get quiet long enough to just sit quietly listening, we are missing the chance of knowing what matters to Him. Maybe we are something like Mary’s busy sister Martha. Martha had a good heart. Martha had invited Jesus to come to her house as a demonstration of friendship. But Martha was so preoccupied with all the preparations that she neglected the opportunity to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. She was losing out on the chance to get to know Jesus. But Mary saw her chance and began building a faithful friendship by listening carefully to His words.

So let our prayer today be, “Lord slow us down, help us to put the brakes on our busyness and help us become a  faithful friend.” Let’s choose today to determine to listen and allow God’s word to take root in us. God already knows what we have to say, but the only way we can learn what He has to say is by listening!

Living by Faith(fulness)

Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith Habakkuk 2:4

Down in the footnotes you will see that the word “faith” that is used here also means faithfulness. So I was thinking on that I came to realize that while faith is real, it is also something that cannot be observed. Faithfulness, on the other hand is quite observable. In other words I could say, “I have faith in my marriage” but how could that be proved or measured. Faithfulness in marriage is quite another matter. Given the right detective agency yours or my faithfulness to our marriage vows can be quite obvious. That long-term marriage covenant stays a living thing as we each day give our spouse the gift of faithfulness.

Our relationship with Jesus Christ is exactly the same. We are in a covenant relationship with him. Through the prophet Habakkuk God is saying to us exactly the same thing here. “Enough with what you say you believe: show me by your life!” Some days we are so filled with  religious pride that we fail to remember that God is not watching our religious maneuvering, but he is watching our hearts. My prayer today is, “God give me a faithful heart so by days end I can give you a day of faithfulness.”

How good it is to know that we do not serve a God we cannot trust. He is always faithful in ways we can see.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!                by Thomas Chisholm

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