The Little Things

I will praise You

How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me?

Things so undeserved, yet you give to prove your love to me.

The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude.

We love it when God answers “big” prayer requests or sends great blessings, don’t we?  But I never cease to be amazed at how God cares about the little things in our lives and send blessings in such unexpected ways.  Many would say it’s just coincidental, but not in my book.

During my trip out to California this past week God blessed in so many ways. From snow storms clearing out of the area, making our third flight connection with 2 minutes to spare, being able to purchase tickets for an Alcatraz tour (the last 2  for the day), being near a tent which provided shelter when a terrible rain, wind, hail, and thunder storm arose before going on the tour, having that storm clear to make possible the tour, making connections “on time” after my GPS took us straight through heavy traffic in down town San Francisco, and getting us back home to Buffalo as more snow fell.  Beside that, the blessings of meeting people,  having conversations of the Lord and sharing at the book event what God has done in my life I believe were all directed by the  Lord and now the results are all in His hands.  I’m thankful for the experience He gave me, and for blessings undeserved.

“I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.  I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.”  Psalm 9:1,2

 

The Ebenezer Stone

why arre you cast down

What causes you to be “cast down” the most or are you presently “cast down?”  Psalm 43:5 asks us this question:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (ESV)

Perhaps the winter weather can make us feel this way; but chances are there are some other things going on in our lives that seem to take us down into the pits.  I’ve found, through some reading, something I’d like to pass on to you.

In I Sam. chapter 7, the Israelites were facing another attack from  the Philistines.  They asked Samuel (the prophet and priest) to pray and ask the Lord to help them.  God answered with victory for the Israelites.  Samuel then took a stone and set it up, “calling the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Up to now the Lord has helped us.” (vs. 12).  We don’t hear that name very often – mostly in the movie with Ebenezer Scrooge; but the meaning of the name is so different from what is depicted in the film.  It means “the Stone of Help,” or “God’s faithful stone.”  The Israelites realized that as God had helped them in the past, He would continue to help them; which is exactly what God did.

Now, let’s go back to my original question from scripture: “Why are you cast down, O my soul?”  Is there any reason we should feel like that?  The next part of the verse (Ps. 43:5b) says, “Hope in God.”  When things seem impossible, God is the God of the impossible. Our hope and help is in Him.  He will answer in  His time and way just as He has at other times in your life.

The following is a quote from George Mueller:

“For I shall yet praise Him.”  More prayer, more exercise of faith, more patient waiting, and the result will be blessing, abundant blessing. Thus I have found it many hundreds of times, therefore I continually say to myself, “Hope thou in God.”

So, whatever may have you cast down, remember the Ebenezer Stone” – As God has helped you up to this point, so He will continue to help you.  There’s no need to be “cast down!”

What a wonderful hope we have.

 

Even Then!

Yet I will rejoice

This verse is framed and hanging in my little office area.  I look at it often as a reminder to myself when my day is filled with the “dark and dreary.”

When Habakkuk penned it, he was anticipating great destruction upon his people from the Babylonians, but he basically said; even though there might not be fruit on the trees, there might be loss of crops and livestock resulting in no food to eat,

      “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Hab. 3:18

Amid pending suffering and loss he had learned he could and would trust God, and with that trust would come great joy–not in the circumstances but in God Himself.

I don’t know about you, but I need to remind myself of this all the time.  Life can be disappointing and hurtful, lonely, and just plain hard.  I want to to able to do what the prophet did in spite of any circumstances.  The how and why I (and you) can do this is found in the next verse:

The Lord God is my strength; He makes my feet like deer’s feet, He makes me walk on my high places.” (v. 19)

If Habakkuk could have sure-footed confidence in God and live on the heights even amid extreme circumstances, can’t we do the same?  Oh, yes, a thousand times, yes, we can!

I’m challenging you (and myself) to memorize these verses this week.  They’re a good reminder!

Wounded Warriors

victory through jesus

Probably everyone is familiar with the organization called Wounded Warriors.  It’s purpose is to help those military personnel who have been wounded in the line of duty; to encourage and help them as they adapt to living with their disabilities. It’s  a great organization.

Do you think there are also wounded Christian warriors in our churches?  They may be bearing scars; some that can be seen, others not seen.  Perhaps they are wounded from emotional or physical hurts or from severe trials or grief they are going through.  If you know one, is there a way for you to help and encourage that one to stay strong in the Lord?  Prayer is always in order, but sometimes it only takes a phone call, a card sent, or better yet, a visit to show that one you care.

We are in the Lord’s army.  We need to be looking out for the troops.  We have an enemy who’s trying to destroy us.  But we also have One in us who is stronger and greater than he.

“But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”           I Cor. 15:57

“…because greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”  I John 4:4b

We may have battle scars, but we are victors.  Don’t forget that!

 

 

Nothing Going Like You Planned?

the steps of a good man

Have  you ever felt like the hand of the Lord was against you?  Perhaps it was because of an illness (yours or a family member), a financial crisis, a job layoff or problems at work; or just the fact that nothing was going the way you hoped or planned.

In the Book of Ruth, Naomi, her husband and 2 sons left their land during a famine, thinking everything  would be better in a foreign land.  The sons married Moabite women.  Early in the book of Ruth we discover, however, all three men died, leaving their widows to fend for themselves.  This is when we hear Naomi’s remark to her daughter-in-laws, “I grieve for your sake, for the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”  Was that true?  It could seem that way. But we know the story.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, chose to go back with Naomi to Israel; God  provided for their needs through a kinsman redeemer; and Ruth was blessed with a husband and a son.  She became the grandmother of David.  Yes, there were hard times for Naomi and Ruth, but what a blessing for both of them.

We don’t like to go through hard times, and we don’t know how God is going to use them in our  lives.  He not only will bless us and provide for our needs, but He may also bless others through us.  So, don’t try to run away from your  problems or hardships.  Let God take you through them and use them as He  wills.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and He delights in his way.          Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down  for the LORD upholds him with his hand.” Psalm 37:23,24

God’s hand is not against you.  He will not fail or forsake you.

Stay Focused

looking unto jesus

A 6 lane highway, in the dark and in the rain is not my kind of driving, but that was just the way it was yesterday heading for the airport in Atlanta, before daybreak.  The reflectors dividing the lanes were a help to keep me focused.

Staying focused – isn’t that what we need to be doing every day?  We can find ourselves in some pretty dark and stormy situations; but we need to focus on God who can help us soar above those clouds and see the beauty of the Lord working in our lives.

As that airplane soared higher and pierced through the clouds, what a blessing it was to see the awesome night sky sprinkled with brightly shining stars.  Though stormy below, it was a wonderful reminder of our awesome Creator and sovereign God who  rules over nature as well as our lives and is ready to sprinkle our  lives with blessing after blessing as we focus on Him during those stormy days.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” Heb. 12:2a

So when your day is dark and dreary, you know where to look!

 

Mistakes & Grace

be kind

MISTAKES!  We all make them, don’t we?  Simple mistakes can often be simply corrected.  Even with auto correct on our computers, mistakes are often corrected before we hardly realize there was a mistake.  But most mistakes in life can’t be as easily corrected.  Often it means “swallowing our pride,” admitting we’ve made a mistake, and asking someone to forgive us.

Questions I ask myself are, “Can I be quick to forgive someone else who has made a mistake? Do I minister grace to that one?”

Consider what God does for us.  We make a mistake, God ministers grace to us.  We make another mistake, God ministers grace — again and again, and again.

This is one word we need to carry with us all through this coming year and use it often.  We are saved by grace and God’s grace carries us all through our lives.  Let’s in turn administer grace to others all thru this year.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”  Eph. 4:32

Amazing grace!  Oh, what it can do in our lives.

“A Stable” Foundation

new years

It’s the end of an old year; the beginning of a new; a good time to look back, but also to look forward.

When I drove to my daughter’s last week I read a sign on a church bulletin board that asked, “Do you have a stable foundation?”  What a unique question to ask during the Christmas season AND AS WE ENTER A NEW YEAR. How would you answer this?

Our faith’s foundation begins in that Christmas “stable.”  Without it, we would have no hope.  God became flesh.  Jesus is God.  He is our foundation.  He came to give us eternal life  and abundant life to enjoy now.  Without Him we are like that foolish man who built his house on the sand.  It did not stand through life’s storms (Matt. 7:24-27).

So, yes,  look back at this last year and remember  all the ways Jesus has blessed you; all the ways He has led, protected,  provided for you, because He is your foundation.  Has He ever failed you?  I believe you will have to say, “No!”

Remember:  if you have that “Stable” foundation,  don’t you believe He will  do the same things in the coming year? Circumstances may certainly change; new trials, discouragement, fears and losses arise, but our foundation will not crumble. He will not fail you.

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes I will help you, I will uphold you  with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10

The past, the present, the future are all in Jesus’ hands.  He never changes.

As we start the new year remember:  Jesus is our STABLE FOUNDATION!

 

A Merry Christmas

Matthew 1:21.

Friday night and Sunday our choir presented the cantata, “The King is Here.”  It was a joy being part of this wonderful message in song, testimony and drama.

That blessed first Christmas was the fulfillment of years of prophecy.  God’s people, for centuries, looked for the coming of the Messiah; and yet when He did come most of them couldn’t accept the fact He was God in the flesh.  The miracles He performed; His wise teaching  were not enough for them to believe.  And then when Christ gave his life on the cross and was buried, they reasoned away the empty tomb and still would not believe.

His name tells it all: ”

        “You shall call his name Jesus for He shall save his people from their sins.”                    Matt. 1:21

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”                                                                                    Acts 4:12

Yes, Jesus came the first time and He will come again some day, just as other prophecies say. Are you looking for and anticipating that coming?

His salvation is a free give.  He paid the price with his own life.  He longs for you to accept it.  Won’t you do that this Christmas?

What a Merry Christmas that would be!

 

God is Always Faithful

great is thy faithfulness

You have heard it said, “All I have to do is look around me to see someone who is worse off then me.”  Worse health issues, worse financial problems, worse family problems, worse __________ (you name it).  That certainly may be true, but your problems, whatever they are, big or small, are still serious to you and that’s okay.  What we need to remember is that there is Someone who cares all about you and your situation.

One day last week in the Daily Bread there was a reference to just a few verses in Lamentations.  I ended up reading all 5 chapters.  Wow! You talk about problems, hardships, discouragement – it was all there. But our dear writer, Jeremiah, who was in the midst of it all and even crying out, “How long?” knew exactly where his hope lay.

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”  The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him”  Lam.  3:22-24 

So you see, we may not be able to do anything about our situation, but we can trust in the ONE who has allowed it.  Perhaps He will take it away, perhaps He won’t.  Nevertheless, He is right there with you.  Trust Him to do what He sees and knows is best.