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Archive for March, 2015

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I was talking to a few aliens the other day–little green guys from outer space–trying to explain some earth-phenomena, since life in their galaxy is so different from ours.

First, a bit of background to explain what prompted the conversation.

Elena, our two-year old granddaughter, and I were exploring the church grounds across the street from her house.  She loves looking for treasures: sticks, stones, acorns, leaves, etc.

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On this particular day I noticed the oak trees sporting chubby little buds. Another pair of trees were bursting with bud-clusters, ready to explode into bright pink finery.

Elena and I inspected the juvenile growth. I tried to explain what would soon happen. But with no remembrance of last spring, her understanding was no doubt very limited. I might as well be explaining this to an alien, I thought.

That’s when my imagination kicked in.

What if inhabitants from another galaxy did come to visit Earth? And what if they had never seen buds or seeds before?  Imagine trying to educate them on the process of germination…

“Now, inside this seed is the beginning of life. If we plant it in soil, making sure to choose a sunny spot, and we shower it with water when the weather doesn’t supply rain, it will grow into a plant, bush, or tree.”

They look at me with doubt in their big, round eyes.

“I know it seems impossible. The seed is just a small, lifeless speck.  But I can tell you, having seen it happen repeatedly, that’s what seeds do.”

So the little green guys and I plant the seed in a sunny spot and shower it with water.

A few moments later, one of them wants to dig it up to see the first signs of life.

“Oh, no,” I explain. “It takes time for the water to seep into the seed and for the miracle of germination to take place. But believe me. If we come back in a week or ten days, there will be a little green shoot coming up out of the soil in that very spot.”

Oak sapling

They like the idea of green, but shake their little round heads in disbelief.

I have to admit.  The progression of tiny seeds to plants, much less tall trees, does sound ludicrous.

And yet that’s exactly what God does.

Sometimes our lives resemble brown, lifeless seeds. There is no sign of hope that circumstances might change for the better.

Sometimes we think it’s too late for a reversal of destiny. It seems our best, productive years are behind us.

Not so fast.

Consider George*, our friend who has retired.  Twice. During his first career, George worked his way up in law enforcement to chief of police; his second career, associate pastor. Ten years or so later, he and his wife moved north to be near family.  When the boxes were unpacked and the pictures hung on the walls, George sat down and thought, Now what? I’m not ready to park on the porch and drink iced tea. What can I do, Lord?

No immediate answer.

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One day George went golfing with his brother-in-law. They were paired with two more men at the course, to make a foursome. One just happened to be a high-ranking officer on the police force. As George and Tom* became acquainted, Tom expressed how they needed a chaplain on the force to minister to the officers. Stress was high, their jobs becoming more and more difficult as the years passed.

George’s heart started beating faster. A chaplain to police? Could this be the answer to his prayer? It would almost be like a merger of his first two careers into one challenging and fulfilling third career.

Yes, it was. For the next five or six years, George served as chaplain of police in his new community, impacting hundreds of lives in the name of Jesus.

We’ve all known people whose circumstances looked as promising as brown, lifeless seeds. Yet God caused miraculous change, and the lives of those folks burgeoned into glorious fruitfulness.

We can learn like those little aliens of my imagination. We can feed our hope by feasting on the miraculous springtime evidence around us. We can wait with confident expectation for the fulfillment of God’s plan.

And if hope seems all but gone, we can cling to the Source of hope.

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(“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”–Romans 15:13.)

 

*Names have been changed.

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.dreamstime.com; http://www.brilliantbotany.com; http://www.imagkid.com; http://www.allposters.fr.; http://www.slideteam.net.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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life-is-not-fair

 

“Here’s something that happens all the time and makes no sense at all: Good people get what’s coming to the wicked, and bad people get what’s coming to the good. I tell you, this makes no sense.”

Haven’t we all said or at least heard comments such as these? We know it’s true: life is not fair. But knowing the fact and accepting it are two different responses.

That quote up above came from a guy who had it all—fame, wealth, and power. If anyone could claim that life had been fair to him, it was this guy. Yet in spite of the veneer of an enchanted life, he, too, experienced disappointment and confusion.

What was his name? King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. Those sentiments of his at the beginning of the post come from Ecclesiastes 8:14, as interpreted in The Message.

No doubt you’ve experienced your share of disappointment and confusion, too. Perhaps you’re floundering right now, desperately in need of a handhold to keep you from falling.

Selwyn Hughes, that wise, Welsh pastor from a generation ago, recommends we fight uncertainty with certainties.

Certainties would include truths from scripture that apply to our situations. Truths that we can hold tightly in our hearts, such as:

  1. God is in control over the difficulties as well as the blessings. Yes, he could rescue us from trouble in an instant. But in his infinite, all-knowing wisdom, he has chosen not to. The reasons why may never be revealed. What we do know is this: God never acts or (withholds action) without purpose.

 Think of Joseph, a poster-child for unfair treatment. Yet, to the brothers who sold him into slavery, he said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

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God brings good out of all things—even the problems, hurts, and pain (Romans 8:28).

  1. God has you in his mighty hand—mighty in power (Psalm 89:13), mighty to save (Zephaniah 3:17), mighty in deed (Jeremiah 32:19).
  1. Out of his infinite might, God will provide strength to get us through. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
  1. Even as we plod through adversity, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him” (Lamentations 3:25). That goodness includes his comforting presence, his provision, his blessings in the midst of difficulty, and more.

King Solomon also observed:

“The good life is reserved to the person who fears God, who lives reverently in his presence,…the evil person will not experience a “good” life. No matter how many days he lives, they’ll all be as flat and colorless as a shadow—because he doesn’t fear God” (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13, The Message).

 In other words, life with God is far superior to life without God–no matter what.

These certainties are just a few God has graciously provided in his Word that can be applied when uncertainty threatens. But if you’re like me, simply reading them doesn’t help for very long. “Out of sight, out of mind” happens frequently.

Perhaps we can make the most of God’s promises by:

  • Keeping a list, particularly those that apply specifically to our situations. As the list grows, so will our faith.
  • Copy especially meaningful promises on Post-Its and tuck them in unlikely places. When we spot them they’ll provide a pleasant surprise and uplift. Possibilities include: inside a cabinet door, on the coffee container, on the dashboard. Move them every week to keep the surprise (and uplift) fresh.
  • Memorize promises while doing mindless tasks like washing the dishes, waiting at red lights, taking a walk. Soon you’ll be able to pray the promises back to God—anytime, anyplace–to bolster your spirit and strengthen your faith.

 

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Let’s stand on the certainties of scripture and God’s promises because:

 

“To stand is more important than to understand”

(Selwyn Hughes, Every Day Light, Broadman and Holman, p. 215).

 

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Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the handholds in scripture, the truths and promises that help us keep our balance, so we can stand in the midst of adversity. Although I do not understand why troubles and heartache sometimes attack, I do understand that you are unequivocally reliable and you will see us through. I praise you, for you are the strength of my heart (Psalm 73:26b).

(Photo & art credits:  www.mygratitudelife.wordpress.com; http://www.ncbv.org; http://www.sjeciowa.org.)

   

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Girl-praying

Long ago in Sunday School, our teachers taught us proper respect for God. The rules of reverence included:

  1. Be quiet and solemn in worship.
  2. Bow your head, close your eyes, and fold your hands to pray.
  3. Always treat God’s house with utmost respect. Never run.
  4. Never place your Bible on the floor.

The first rule was the most difficult to keep. I failed many a Sunday. My legs wanted to swing, my hands wished for crayons and paper, my eyes longed for a book. Sitting still in church was tortuous.

Years later as an adult, I came across the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a list of 107 questions and answers that explain the Christian faith.

The first question asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer shocked me.

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

The beginning of the statement made perfect sense. Paul clearly stated: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

But I was caught off guard by the second part.

Enjoy God?”

That was a startling, new idea for me, even though the Shorter Catechism has been in use since 1647. (Yes, that was well before my days in Sunday School.)

That new idea warranted further consideration. Did I enjoy God?

His blessings and benefits certainly brought me joy. But God himself? How could I enjoy Someone who’s invisible and rarely speaks audibly?

As the years have passed, I’ve discovered that, although God deserves the utmost reverence and respect, we need not always be solemn. We can laugh and sing for joy in his presence (Psalm 68:3 MSG).

In fact, enthusiastic praise of God, especially in the company of others, is an invigorating way to enjoy him. We can revel in who he is—our God of goodness, grace, and love. We can celebrate what he has done—supplying our needs, guiding the way, and surprising us with gifts we didn’t even ask for.

While we’re worshiping, we can lift our hands toward God (Psalm 63:4). That simple act alone, symbolizing our openness,  augments our connection to him.

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Even hands placed palms up on the lap can add to our enjoyment of God. Steve and I learned this posture from one of his professors, when he attended seminary. After a teaching session on prayer, Dr. Stanger instructed us to place our hands in our laps, palms up. We sat in silence for a few moments, and suddenly I felt a tingling in my hands! Was the Spirit of God actually holding my hands as we prepared to pray?

Dr. Stanger explained that the pressure on the backs of our hands was causing the phenomenon.   But wasn’t it wonderful to imagine God gracing each of us with his personal touch? Yes, supremely delightful.

We can also take the celebration outside and enjoy God as the Creator and King of the universe. Look to the sky and contemplate the galaxies of stars in infinite space. Smile at him in wonder because each one of those infinite celestial bodies is under his control.

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Another way to enjoy God is to take delight in his scripture. We can express appreciation to him for the strength, comfort, and peace his Word provides, as well as those passages that are the joy of our hearts (Psalm 119:111).

Those of us who like to write find great joy in composing journal entries, poetry, personal psalms, and more, addressed to God, as a way of expressing our pleasure in him. Sarah Young, author of Jesus Calling, has inspired some of us to follow her example and go a step further: record thoughts or impressions we receive from God as we wait in his presence.

In these ways and more God has made it possible for us to enjoy him now and forever.

Psalm 89 15, 16(1)

 “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you,

Who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord.

They rejoice in your name all day long;

They exult in your righteousness.

For you are their glory and strength”

(Psalm 89:15-16).

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Dare I say it?  Is it too irreverent? You are FUN, God! I love spending time with you, rejoicing in you, celebrating your works, reveling in your presence, taking delight in our communication back and forth. What a glorious privilege you have granted us, Father, to nestle close to you and experience fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore.  Thank you for being our ultimate delight!

(Psalm 100:1-2; John 10:27; Psalm 65:2; Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 16:11)

 

What are some ways YOU enjoy God?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

(Photo credits:  www.imgarcade.com; http://www.pam-intheshadowof his wings.blogspot.com; http://www.sciencedaily.com; www. specificfeeds.com.)

 

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Queen Elizabeth - Westminster Abbey - London 1953

 On June 3, 1953, millions of people watched the inauguration of Queen Elizabeth II on television. Amidst much fanfare and pomp she slowly and elegantly processed down the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Behind her trailed a robe of royal purple velvet, eighteen feet long. Six maids of honor supported the weight of the magnificent train.

But even Queen Elizabeth’s grand, stately robe does not begin to compare to one mentioned in scripture:

“In the year that King Uzziah died,

I saw the Lord seated on a throne,

High and exalted,

And the train of his robe

Filled the temple.”

(Isaiah 6:1)

I have to wonder: What might the train of the Lord’s robe symbolize? Is there significance to the expansiveness of this robe? Why would Isaiah include the detail that it “filled the temple?”

A bit of research revealed interesting, heart-stirring answers.

The train of his robe: In ancient times, the flowing train on a monarch’s robe was a symbol of glory and splendor. To understand the importance of a train, we have to remember that in those days, all clothing had to be constructed “from scratch”—fibers of cotton, linen, or wool had to be spun into thread, threads had to be woven into cloth, cloth had to be cut and sewn into garments by hand. It was a time-consuming process.

Only the rich and powerful could afford to add extra length to their robes. The longer the train, the more glorious and splendid the king. And as he paraded past his subjects, the length of his robe was meant to impress.

Filled the temple: Isaiah’s statement conveys the magnitude of God’s glory compared to any earthly king or queen. Symbolically, the robe represents God’s infinite splendor and majesty—his glory. As one preacher explained, “air is the atmosphere of earth, God’s glory is the atmosphere of heaven.”  One day we will breathe God’s glory!  That gives me goosebumps.

God’s glorious robe that fills the temple signifies:

his absolute authority. “There is no room for anyone else in this high-exalted place. God is all in all” –Selwyn Hughes (1928-2006, Welsh pastor, theologian, author).

his divine perfections. There is no one else who is all-powerful, all-knowing, unhindered by the limitations of time and space, and absolutely righteous in all he does.

his incomparable splendor. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and John the Revelator gave us glimpses of their heavenly visions.  They saw a high and exalted throne encircled by an ethereal rainbow, seraphs crying “Holy, holy, holy,” lamps blazing, lightning flashing, thunder rumbling, angels and saints worshiping.

Artists have tried to imagine the sight:

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But God’s authority, perfection, and incomparable splendor are not only on display in heaven. His glory is on display in creation–all around us. Consider these few examples:

• The delicate wing of the butterfly, emblazoned with brilliant colors in intricate patterns.

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• The intriguing double-spiral of sunflower seeds—one spiral in a clockwise direction, the other, counter-clockwise.

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• Lacy feathers of frost gathering on a window.

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• The graceful curl of the wentletrap shell.

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• The jewel-like qualities of grains of sand.

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“Our God is lavish in splendor.  His creative fullness spills over in excessive beauty” (John Piper, pastor and author).

And why is that important to embrace and celebrate? Because we are so often distracted by the concerns of life.  We allow them to consume too much of our attention.  There’s a better way to live that many people never discover.

“Many people gaze at their problems and glance at the Lord.  But I tell you to gaze at the Lord and glance at your problems” (Ted Smith, pianist for Billy Graham Crusades).

Let’s visualize God’s grandeur–every day, as we prepare ourselves to pray.  Let’s become enthralled in the throne room of heaven, in the splendor and majesty of Almighty God.  And let’s bow down in humble gratitude that this magnificent God is also our loving Heavenly Father.  Think of it.  The glorious, all-powerful King of the universe is our Abba–our Dad!  Can any realization be more comforting, strengthening, or empowering than that?

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Dearest Abba, too often my thoughts are a tangled mess of concerns.  I need a fresh vision of your glory to supersede the “what-ifs.”   Remind me that with you, the God of all authority and might, I have nothing to fear.  You are all I need.

(Photo and art credits:  www.petersengland.blogspot.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.forums.thesims.com; http://www.allposters.com; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.sandgrains.com.)

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 Antiques-Roadshow

 

“Do you have any idea how much your painting is worth?” asks the antiques dealer.

“No, not really,” the owner answers.

“At auction, this portrait would probably bring…(a bit of a pause)…$5,000 or more.

The owner gasps. “And to think I only paid $25.00 at a garage sale!”

Scenes such as this are quite frequent on the popular TV program, Antiques Roadshow.  It’s astonishing how valuable some common-looking items turn out to be.  But I can’t help feeling a bit sad for the previous owners, who had no idea the worth of their possessions.

There are some folks who see little worth in the teachings of Jesus.  To their way of thinking, his world view and expectations seemed upside down and backwards.

For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus highlighted attributes that the world does not value, yet God considers of great worth.  Meekness would be a prime example.

Part of the problem lies in a common misunderstanding of the attribute. People think a meek person as weak-willed, passive, and too nice for her own good.

Such thinking is far from the truth.

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Meekness includes:

  • Surrender to God
  • Trust and confidence in His ways and provision
  • Gentleness and humility with others
  • More concern for the interests of others than one’s own
  • Self-control, self-sacrifice, faith, patience, and forbearance
  • A gentle and soothing disposition

A weak-willed, passive person cannot demonstrate such traits.   Meekness requires strength of character; it is power under control.

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Imagine wild stallions running free across rolling hills.   Manes and tails undulate and flow in the wind, muscles strain beneath gleaming coats, hooves pound a rapid rhythm. Indeed, stallions in motion are a majestic sight. They exude power. But that power is useless to man unless it is harnessed and trained.

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That’s the picture of meekness–strength under control. Strength to do the right thing at the right time. It’s not a human personality trait; it’s a super-human God trait. And the more we know his Son and abide in him, the more we’ll demonstrate meekness.

What might that look like, day-to-day? First, there would be no:

  • Mean-spirited sarcasm and rudeness
  • Arrogant behavior
  • Concern for prestige
  • Over-sensitivity or defensiveness

 

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Instead, the beauty of meekness includes:

  • Quiet trusting in God to supply
  • Adherence to the Golden Rule
  • Love in action—caring, giving, helping
  • Gracious understanding and forgiveness

The world would be a different place if meekness were a more prevalent trait.

Some of you may recall the old tune, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Do you remember the next line? “And let it begin with me.”

Surely the same could be said for meekness. We can each be an example. As opportunities arise that require meekness, we can allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with his power, much as we fill our lungs with air. In fact, we can use that physical act of taking a deep breath as a reminder of “the breath of God” within us, providing everything we need for meekness: trust in God, self-control, compassion, kindness, and patience.

Meekness is so important to God, he included specific promises in scripture for those who demonstrate this trait:

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  • “I hear the desires of the meek. I strengthen their hearts” (Psalm 10:17, RSV).
  • “The meek shall…be satisfied” (Psalm 22:26, ERV).
  • “The meek will he guide in justice; And the meek will he teach his way” (Psalm 25:9, ASV).
  • “The meek will…enjoy great peace” (Psalm 37:11).
  • “The Lord lifts up the meek” (Psalm 147:6a).
  • “The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord (Isaiah 29:19a, RSV).

Strength, satisfaction, guidance, peace, uplift, and fresh joy. Valuable blessings, don’t you think?

Let’s seize the day in meekness. Let’s partake in the adventure of living our lives upside down and backwards, Jesus’ way!

We will NOT be disappointed in the results.

(Art & photo credits:  www.dealtrackersf.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.kansas.com; http://www.pinterest.com;

 

 

 

 

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The spacious, free life is from God,

It’s also protected and safe.

God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—

When we run to him, he saves us.

(Psalm 37:39-40, The Message)

Freedom-Quote

 

There are folks who think that Christians surrender their freedom when they choose to follow Jesus. They think we give up our freedom to do as we please and take part in everything life has to offer.

Those folks miss an important fact: Self-centeredness does not satisfy in the long-term.

Even secular research has proven that truth. Several years ago, the Journal of Research in Personality published a study conducted by psychologists. They recorded their therapy sessions and found that individuals who used more of the first-person singular pronouns (I, me, my) were more likely to suffer from depression.

The truth of the matter is, real freedom is not freedom to, but freedom from. God offers us a number of glorious freedoms. For example:

  • Freedom from guilt. God forgives my sins and remembers them no more (Isaiah 43:25).  How loving, merciful and gracious He is!
  • Freedom from fear. He is my stronghold in time of trouble (Psalm 37:39.) How often have I called out, “Oh, Jesus,” with my heart pounding in my chest—at the moment a car crash was imminent, a child approached with blood oozing from his head, or the phone rang just before curfew, and our teenager wasn’t home yet.

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But fears can be quieted as we affirm who is in control. God is Lord of every circumstance. He is also the Source of solace, perspective, strength and wisdom–whatever I need, for every situation.

  • Freedom from worry. God has promised to supply my needs (Philippians 4:19). 

When worries begin to whirl in my head, I try to put into practice what Kay Arthur teaches: “Focus on God. Rehearse his character, his promises, his works. Remember his names, his attributes and how they suit your situation” (His Imprint, My Expression, p. 117). Extolling God’s greatness causes my problems to shrink.

Notice I said try. I’ve not always accepted God’s offer of freedom from worry. Sometimes dark clouds of concern fill my thoughts and blot out his goodness—his character, promises, and works. Sometimes it takes awhile for me to remember: My God is all-sufficient. He will see me through.

 As I grow older, the gap is shortening between worry-onset and God-focused thinking. Practice hasn’t made perfect yet, but at least it’s producing improvement.

  • Freedom from foolish decisions. He provides wisdom when I ask (James 1:5).

“I need not despair because the living God is my partner. I do not have sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties, but He is able to direct me. I can pour out my heart to God and ask Him to guide and direct me and to supply me with wisdom. Then I have to believe that He will do so. I can go with good courage to my business and expect help from Him in the next difficulty that may come before me” – George Mueller

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  • Freedom from discouragement, because God is omnipotent. With him all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). He specializes in redeeming disappointment. And while we wait, our loving Father provides strength.

The shroud of discouragement can also be lifted through gratitude, praise, and worship. Focusing on who our God is and what he has already provided can relieve the ache for what has not come to pass—yet.

 This post is getting long, so I’ll just list another five briefly:

  • Freedom from despair. He is my God of hope, joy, and peace as I trust in him, so I can overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13.)
  • Freedom from loneliness, because He is always with me (Psalm 23:4).
  • Freedom from prolonged sadness.  Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
  • Freedom from feeling helpless. In God’s hands are strength and power (1 Chronicles 29:12).
  • Freedom from feeling useless, as we live each moment for the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:11-12).

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Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). What he offers is the spacious, free life–to those who follow him, to those who become the children of God.

 

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My heart is overwhelmed, Father, as I skim down this list of miseries for which you provide relief. No doubt there are even more freedoms that could be included. I pray that when these negative emotions threaten to overtake my spirit, you would tap me on the shoulder and remind me: the more I turn my thoughts and feelings over to you, the more spacious my soul will become to enjoy the freedom of your peace. Praise you, gracious God, for such glorious provision.

(Photo credits:  www.moreofimministries.org; http://www.wallpaper4god.com; http://www.treasuring-christ.org; http://www.887thebridge.com.)

 

 

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His kayak paddle provided more steering than propulsion, as the tourist enjoyed a quiet excursion past tall conifers and wide-armed hardwoods. Slowly he meandered southward, confident that returning to his launching point would not be a challenge.  The man at the kayak-rental shack had assured him: surface water flowed at just over one mile per hour. And should he fall out of his craft, no real danger would threaten. The water was only three feet deep, and the shore not more than ten feet to either side.

It’s hard to imagine, the kayaker thought,  that this narrow, shallow stream actually becomes a mammoth river. He’d been told the stream was fed by underground springs, and flowed another 2,300 miles from where he paddled. Along the way, more rivers would flow into it. And when the fresh water finally met salt, the river would be over a mile wide.

Mississippi-River

Have you guessed the name of this waterway? It’s the grand and powerful Mississippi. Yet its headwaters is a tame little stream, fed by a few underground springs or fountains.

Such a river offers an illuminating picture of our relationship with God. We are the rivers, and…

…“[God] is the fountain of life,” (Psalm 36:9).

Anglican bishop John James Stewart Perowne (1823-1904) said: “These are some of the most wonderful words in the Old Testament. Their fullness of meaning no commentary can ever exhaust.”

But if we don’t at least try to grasp the wealth of truth in these six words, we stand to lose much profit.

So let’s consider that, as our fountain of life:

  • God the Son is the source of all life, and all life is sustained by him (Hebrews 1:3). Without him, all life would cease.
  • In him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
  • He is like a spring of water welling up to eternal life in our spirits (John 4:14).

Those are wonderful concepts, which Dr. Perowne surely had in mind as he contemplated Psalm 36:9. Yet our triune God is like a fountain of spring water in more ways.

First, a bit of digression. No doubt you’re aware that bottled spring water is a big business these days, supposedly offering water that is much superior to what comes out of the tap. Critics have their doubts.

But our God is 100% perfect! No doubt about it.

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“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Consider as well the following scriptures, which itemize his excellent perfections. And keep in mind they come to us in unending supply:

  • Presence.  “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).
  • Reliability.  “The plans of the Lord stand firm forever; the purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:11).
  • Right-Doing. “His righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 111:3).
  • Faithfulness.  “The faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (Psalm 117:2).
  • Sovereignty.  “He rules forever by his power, is eyes watch the nations” (Psalm 6:7).
  • Love.  “His love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5).
  • Compassion.  “[The Lord’s] compassions never fail” (Lam. 3:22).
  • Protection.  “Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:9).
  • Stability.  “The Lord is the Rock eternal” (Isaiah 26:4).
  • Joy.  “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3).
  • Blessing.  “Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence” (Psalm 21:6).
  • Grace.  “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

That’s an even dozen attributes. But since our God is infinite, his attributes are also infinite. We’ve barely begun to explore his perfections. In addition, he will forever expend those attributes for our good (Romans 8:28)—not only outwardly, as he engineers circumstances, but inwardly as we allow his attributes to flow in us.

In addition, God is flowing through us, so we can provide life-giving grace to those around us—grace that expresses itself in love, compassion, and blessing.

And that brings me to another metaphor–for those tributaries that pour into the Mississippi. They remind us of the influence of others in our lives–faithful and mature family members, friends, pastors, and teachers, who come alongside us by example and with wisdom, providing strength and growth.

Mississippi_watershed_map_1

Chances are, those tributaries of the Mississippi are also fed by springs. For every believer, our triune God is the pure, ever-flowing, life-giving source of all that is excellent, and everything we need for a fulfilling life.

Is your heart overflowing with praise?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

We do give you praise, oh God! You are the fountain of our abundant and excellent spiritual life. You are the only spring that quenches our thirst for fulfillment, joy, peace, and satisfaction.  Thank you for flowing in us, so these desires and more are fully met. And thank you for flowing through us, so we might have the privilege of sharing your living water with others.

 

(Information about the headwaters of the Mississippi from the Mississippi Headwater Board and wikipedia.org.  Photo & art credits:  www.nature.org; http://www.1mississippi.org; http://www.fbcphil.org; http://www.agodman.com; http://www.wikipedia.org.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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