Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s Faithfulness’

(a personal psalm based on Psalm 36:1, 5-8, 10 and other scriptures)
 

 

Our world is in travail, O God.

Wicked men create schemes to fraud others;

They viciously hunt down the innocent.

Their mouths are full of curses, lies, and threats.

Blameless victims suffer at the hands of their selfishness and greed.

In prideful arrogance, they even mock You, Father.

 

 

How is it that the wicked accumulate wealth and wield power?

Their dark deeds and unjust treatment of others

stir up frustration and resentment in our hearts.

Then we remember: the days of the wicked are numbered.

Our best course of action is to contemplate You,

And affirm our trust in your wise and loving ways.

 

 

Yes, You are our God of steadfast, self-sacrificing love,

As expansive and incomprehensible as the heavens.

Evidence of your attentive love is all around us—

In the gracious people we meet,

The delightful circumstances we experience,

The unexpected gifts we receive and enjoy.

 

 

You are our God of reliable and unchanging faithfulness.

You keep all of your scripture promises—all 2,300-plus of them!

You always have and always will act according to your holy character;

Therefore we can forever trust you to do what is right.

Never will you turn your back on us,

Even if we turn our backs on you.

 

 

You are our God of perfect and transcendent righteousness,

As firm, immovable, and majestic as mountains.

Everything you do is good,

Motivated by a purity that will not forever tolerate wrong.

Your perfect plans always conform to the prudent purpose of your will.

Everything you say is truth; you cannot lie.

 

 

You are a God of certain yet merciful justice.

To be honest, we’re often mystified by your actions.

We see evil men prosper and righteous men suffer.

Your judgments are as unfathomable as the deepest oceans.

But what we do know is this, and we cling to its hope:

In your infinite wisdom you work all things for good.

 

 

You are our God of strong and ever-present refuge,

Offering comfort, peace, and security through your Word.

In your Presence we are strengthened; our faith is renewed.

You shelter us from the full force of the storms of life.

You even protect us from what we thought we wanted

And provide us instead with what You know is best.

 

 

You are our God of abundant and delightful blessings

That flow continually like a great river.

Who can count all the wonderful works you have done?

But above all, you O Lord, are the embodiment of all blessing—

In you alone we find rest, support, and salvation.

In you alone we place our trust.

 

 
Stanza #1: Psalm 10:2, 7

Stanza #2: Psalm 36:1, 10

Stanza #3: Psalm 36:5a, 7, 10

Stanza #4: Psalm 36:5b; Psalm 145:13; Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Timothy 2:13

Stanza #5: Psalm 36:6a; Psalm 119:68; Habakkuk 1:13; Ephesians 1:11; 1 Chronicles 16:27; Numbers 23:19

Stanza #6: Psalm 36:6b; Jeremiah 12:1; Romans 8:28

Stanza #7: Psalm 36:7; Psalm 46:1; Psalm 31:19-20; Psalm 9:9; Psalm 18:2

Stanza #8: Psalm 36:8; Psalm 105:5a; Psalm 62:5-8; Psalm 31:14
 
(Art & photo credits:  www.wikimedia.com; http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pinterest.com (2); http://www.flickr.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; pinterest.com.)
 

Read Full Post »

 

"A pathway through the forest with bright sunlight."

 

“The path of the righteous is like

the first gleam of dawn;

shining ever brighter

till the full light of day.”

–Proverbs 4:18 NIV

 

I’ve been trekking along the path of the righteous since I was four years old, ever since I heard the story of Jesus dying on a cross to take the punishment each of us deserves for our wrongdoings. Miss Ruth, the storyteller, said if we asked him to forgive us, to be our forever Friend, and to take us to heaven when we die, Jesus would do all of that and more because he loves us so much. That very afternoon I prayed with Miss Ruth and embarked upon this adventurous* life-journey with Jesus.

Please understand: the path of the righteous has not been paved with my own righteousness. “I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:9 GWT).

My Christian parents made sure the first gleam of dawn during childhood included many hours of Bible instruction in various settings. Sound boring? It wasn’t. The Bible contains some of the most exciting stories I’ve ever heard, and they’re true!

 

full_davidgoliath

 

The first gleam of dawn also included practical lessons of faith:

During one of Grandma’s babysitting-visits, she promised to take my brother and me for ice cream. But when the moment came to leave, we couldn’t find the house key. The three of us looked everywhere; no key. Grandma suggested we pray. The three of us perched on the lower stairs while we asked God to help us.

No sooner did we say “Amen” than Grandma again headed to the drawer where the extra key was kept. She’d already searched there a couple of times, but this time there it was.

 

house_key

 

Now why hadn’t she seen it before? Perhaps so two little kids could learn that God hears and answers our prayers—even those of low-priority status.**

And as the years have passed, the faith-pathway has been shining ever brighter.

The Light of the world (John 8:12) has enlightened my mind and spirit, giving guidance and allaying fear. (To be truthful, I haven’t always followed his guidance nor have I lived totally fearless–but I’m learning!)

Sometimes God has directed, and I wasn’t even aware. My high school guidance counselor and two youth group sponsors at church happened to be alumni of the same Christian college about four hours away. Each of them took me to visit for homecoming and other events. Three years later I was attending that school, where I met my husband, Steve.

 

taylor4

 

After graduating with a teaching degree, I failed to secure a job in or near the small community where Steve would begin his seminary training the following fall.

“Aren’t you worried about what you’ll do if nothing turns up?” a family member asked. I honestly wasn’t overly concerned, perhaps because the situation was totally beyond my control.   I had no choice but to believe God would provide something.

At the beginning of August a principal called. Due to health reasons a veteran teacher had decided not to return; was I interested in the position? Three weeks later I was standing in front of my first class.

Fast forward through seminary, the births and raising of three children, the pastoral appointments for Steve in six churches, twenty-six years of teaching in four schools for me, and poof! We’ve traveled together forty-plus years down this path of the righteous.

 

gods-kingdom-is-always-expanding-brent-lokker-7-638

 

And I’m still rejoicing that God bestows more light as the days go by. He shines ever brighter and will continue to do so till the full light of daythe day I arrive in heaven.

Robert Browning wrote, “Progress is man’s distinctive mark alone.” How much more so for us Christians, whose progress toward maturity and completeness results in a delightful, distinctive mark: we become lights on the path of life, shining like stars and reflecting the Lord’s glory (Philippians 2:15, 2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

3354fd36da3c802d3c072cfc275ca1b1

 

We, too, can shine ever brighter till the full light of day. What a glorious privilege he gives us!

 

I’d love to hear  a story from your path of the righteous.  Please share in the Comments section below!

 

____________________

 

*By adventurous, I am not referring to the hang-gliding, rock-climbing, parachuting kind. Rather, the I-wonder-what-God-is-going-to-do-next variety!

 

**Of course, God does not intervene in every situation. Even the most faithful believers sometimes endure pain and problems.   Yet, like another sufferer, Job, their hope in God remains strong. Their focus is on that day when all suffering will end and God will establish his perfect kingdom.  Meanwhile, he is their strength and song (Exodus 15:2).  Those saints are the true shining stars!

 

(Art & photo credits:  www.christianphotoshops.com; http://www.goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com; http://www.commons.wikimedia.org; http://www.greatvaluecolleges.net; http://www.slideshare.nt; http://www.pinterest.com.)

 

Read Full Post »

seagrape03

“Oh, what a beautiful tree!” my mother-in-law exclaimed with enthusiasm. Her comment referred to a tall bush, planted near the house and visible outside our kitchen window. “What’s the name of it?” she asked.  Being from Ohio, Mom wasn’t familiar with some of the unique foliage of our area in south Florida.

“That’s a sea grape,” I told her. “It’s actually a shrub, but they can grow quite tall.”

“Well, it’s lovely. Such big leaves!”

Now clearly there’s nothing remarkable about this conversation, until you know that Mom had asked the very same question with the very same enthusiasm every morning of her visit. And each morning I supplied the same answer.  Mom was in her late 80s, and her dementia was becoming more and more noticeable.

Mom’s fresh outlook each morning reminded me of Lamentations 3:22-23: 

The faithful love of the LORD never ends!

His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;

his mercies begin afresh each morning (NLT).

his-mercies-are-new-wallpaper_1366x768

Just as Mom brought new enthusiasm to each morning, so God brings new mercies for each day. Yes, the challenges we faced yesterday required wisdom, strength, and perseverance. But today we’ll need a fresh supply.   Praise God he never runs out of such gifts; he is always able to provide.

In the same way, God’s new mercies for today are not meant to be sufficient for tomorrow. In other words, we shouldn’t expect to feel confident and in charge this morning for the potential challenges of the future—much as we’d like to. (Who hasn’t wished to know now exactly how the next day or week will unfold, and how best to respond?)

Instead, our wise and loving Heavenly Father has chosen to lead us one day at a time. And just what is so wise and loving about keeping us in the dark?  So as to protect us from being overwhelmed, easy prey to depression, and paralyzed by fear.

No, our best course of action is to avail ourselves of God’s mercies for this one day. As for tomorrow, we can trust God to supply new mercies, more than sufficient for whatever we might face when the time comes (Matthew 6:34).

I’m remembering Corrie ten Boom. (Maybe this post brought her to your mind, too.)

g25143_u22597_corrie_ten_boom

Corrie and her family suffered cruel hardships in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, as a result of helping Jews escape the Holocaust.

After the war, people would often say to Corrie, “I wish I had such great faith as yours. I could never live through the experiences you survived.”

Corrie would tell a story to explain.

When she was a child, Corrie happened to see a dead baby. A terrible fear gripped her that one of her family might also die. When Papa ten Boom came to tuck her in that night, she burst into tears.

“I need you!” she sobbed. “You can’t die!”

Her sister, Betsy, explained why Corrie was so afraid.

Papa asked, “When you and I go to Amsterdam, when do I give you your ticket?”

“Just before we get on the train,” she responded.

“Exactly,” Papa replied. “And God knows when you’re going to need things, too. Don’t run out ahead of him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.”

Papa ten Boom was proven right. When Corrie needed supernatural strength, God did provide. We can rest assured that his mercies will be new and fresh each morning for each of us, as needed.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I praise you, Lord God, that we can face each day with fresh enthusiasm, because for each trial, you have prepared for us great mercies like endurance, strength, and wisdom. I thank you that in the midst of trouble, you also provide blessings: a more acute awareness of your presence, peace that defies explanation, family and friends to come alongside, miraculous provision, and delightful surprises to make us smile. You are not just a sufficient God; you are an abundantly gracious God!

(Photo credits:  www.mgonline.com; http://www.coffee4thesoul.com; http://www.myhero.com.)

Read Full Post »

Woman with piggy bank at rainy window

 

“Save for a rainy day,” financial experts advise.  And they’re right.  It is smart to have funds set aside in case of emergency.

But we would also be wise to save up for another kind of rainy day:

  • The day great disappointment shatters our joy
  • The day the doctor begins a consult by saying, “I’m terribly sorry, but…”
  • The day a loved one calls with disturbing news

What could we possibly save up that would help in such circumstances?

Consider: monetary deposits in a bank account insulate us against financial emergencies.

Similarly, we can make faith-statement deposits into our soul-accounts, to insulate us against life’s emergencies.  A healthy soul-account offers peace of mind, confidence, and a sense of well-being.

The most valuable faith statements are those straight from scripture, since the Bible is our source of truth.

Statements such as these are worthy starting points:

  • God is with me, even in the midst of trial.

“Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10).

  • God is my stronghold in time of trouble, offering help and deliverance.

“The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.  The Lord helps them and delivers them” (Psalm 37:39-40).

  • He will supply all my needs.

“My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

 

Sometimes God makes deposits in our soul-accounts through other reading.  Here are a few examples I’ve collected:

  • “God makes good things out of the hard times.” – Erica Hale
  • “Difficulties are sent to make us grow. Move from complaining to proclaiming what God is doing through the problem. Remind yourself, for every Calvary, there is an Easter.” – Barbara Johnson
  • “When we understand that life is not about us, we learn to overlook the trivial and fix our gaze on the eternal. What is an offense compared to His love? What is a rejection compared to His unconditional acceptance? What is a momentary trial compared to an eternity with Him?” – Emmanuelle Gomez

 

Faith statement deposits also come through experiences, such as:

  • The spontaneous hug of a good friend who knows of our struggles. That’s God’s way of assuring us…

…We are not alone.

  • An answered prayer—and the answer is far beyond what we asked for. That’s God’s way of showing us…

…His love and blessing never fail, even in the midst of difficulty.

  • A transformed spirit through worship.  Worry becomes faith. Fear becomes courage. Depression becomes gladness. That proves…
  • …The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 4:8).

 

Faith-statements, deposited in our souls even before we have need of them, provide a deep, sweet sense of security.

When difficulties arise, and the time comes to make withdrawals, we can praise God for each truth. Praise will fill our hearts with song and drown out the voices of worry and fear.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Your faithfulness, O God, is unwavering and unfailing.   Oh, how I want to be faithful to you, especially during difficult circumstances.  You have provided the tools.  I praise you for the deposits your Spirit makes into my soul account, offering solace, perspective, strength, and wisdom.   Help me to avail myself of your gracious provision.  

 

(Photo credit:  www.dailyfinance.com.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Unknown

 

Two weeks ago Steve and I enjoyed a visit with friends we’ve known since college. Last week it was with two other couples we’ve also known for many years.  Shared memories include experiences at church, exceptional dinners at restaurants, excursions to other locales, watching each others’ children grow up, and more. Every time we get together, there’s much story-telling, teasing, laughter, and reminiscing.

One special delight of old friends is the “memory back-up” they offer.

  • “Who was the guy that…?
  • “Where were we when…?”
  • “What was the name of that restaurant where…?”

Have you experienced the flow of feel-good endorphins after such a reunion? Believe it or not, research has verified that our psyches benefit greatly from nostalgia.

New research from the University of Southampton shows that feeling nostalgic about the past increases optimism about the future.  The research examined the idea that nostalgia is not simply a past-orientated emotion, but its influence extends into the future, with a positive outlook.” (http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2013/nov/13_202.shtml )

Might that positive outlook grow even stronger if God is included in the remembering?  After all, he’s the one responsible for everything good that happens (James 1:17). He certainly deserves our gratitude for delightful memories.  Each one is a manifestation of his loving care and provision.

With the remembering, we can give God praise: “The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” (Psalm 126:3).

 

AnExtraordinaryDay.net-Psalm-126-verse-3-The-Lord-has-done-great-things-and-we-are-filled-with-joy.-Woodland-photo

 

And with the remembering, we can strengthen our faith for the future.

On the other hand, all of us have unpleasant memories, too.  Difficulty, hurt, and failure are part of the human experience.  But even in contemplating those times, we can augment a positive outlook as the psalmists did (long before any research validated their strategy).  They often reaffirmed how God had ministered to them in the midst of trials:

  • He did not forsake those who sought him (Psalm 9:10).
  • He encouraged and listened to their cries (10:17).
  • He delivered them from all their fears (34:4).
  • He offered refuge (61:3).
  • He helped and comforted (86:17).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Lord, as I think about my life journey or read my blessings journal, I see your faithfulness displayed again and again.  Thank you for the gift of nostalgic remembering, which expands our joy, encourages our spirits, and grows our faith.

 

(Photo credits:  http://visualphotos.com ; http://www.anextraordinaryday.net.)

Read Full Post »

At Bible Study the other night we were discussing the wonders of creation as evidence of God’s glory (Isaiah 6:3). One woman shared that she and her husband had witnessed a triple rainbow once, while driving on the interstate. Each bow stretched from one side of the sky to the other in bright, glowing splendor. Vehicle after vehicle slowed, then pulled off the road, so the occupants could marvel at the spectacle.

Triple Rainbow

Those of us at the table listened with wide-eyed wonder. We had witnessed double rainbows, but not a triple. Several of us had seen the same double rainbow after choir practice late last spring. It, too, extended completely from north to south in luminous brilliance. I remember thinking, If only we were on the plains of Kansas for this moment, so no buildings or trees blocked this view!

English: Double rainbow

Even a single rainbow grabs our attention. The glowing colors, grand size, and rarity of rainbows all contribute to the wonder. And for those of us who know Creator God, we whisper a prayer of praise and adoration for this manifestation of his glory.

Two Rainbows at Dusk in Denmark.

Did you Know…

…rainbows are caused by light being refracted (bent) while entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it. It boggles my mind that light shining on tiny droplets of water, suspended in the air, can result in the astounding beauty of a rainbow. Give God a cup of water, and look what he can do!

In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc. The order of its colors are reversed, red on the inside, violet on the outside. This second bow is caused by light reflecting twice inside water droplets. Once is amazing enough, but twice? You wouldn’t think droplets were big enough for a double phenomenon, much less a triple!

Descriptions of rainbows often include seven basic colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Actually, the rainbow is a whole continuum of colors from red to violet and even beyond to colors the human eye can’t see. Yes, according to the National Center of Atmospheric Research, there are more colors in the universe we haven’t seen–yet (http://eo.ucar.edu/rainbows/ ). But someday we’ll have eyes that can see all!

That brings me to…

The Rainbow of Heaven

Even in heaven, a rainbow encircles God’s throne (Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 4:3), symbolic of God’s grace and faithfulness. Those attributes were highlighted when the first rainbow arched over the sky. Because of God’s grace and faithfulness, he promised Noah that never again would he flood the earth, even though “every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood” (Genesis 8:21). That first rainbow was a sign God would remain faithful to His promise (Genesis 9:12-17).

The rainbow in heaven is also a sign of God’s grace and faithfulness. John Gill asserts that the colors express His promises and blessings (www.bibletools.com ). Now that thought presents a challenge! What promise or blessing might each color represent? (Before you read on, you may wish to consider the possibilities.)

Red = the blood of Jesus, through which we have the promise and blessing of forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:14).

Orange = fruitfulness (John 15:5), providing the blessings of purpose and fulfillment in our lives. (Can you guess I live in Florida?)

Yellow = the light of God’s Word (Proverbs 6:20-23), giving us guidance, comfort, encouragement and more.

Green = the promise and blessing of everlasting life (1 John 5:11-12).

Blue = the skies and heaven, where someday we will enjoy eternity with our Heavenly Father (2 Peter 3:13).

Violet = royalty, because of the promise we will reign with Christ in his eternal kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12).

The next time a rainbow sweeps across the sky, we might remember these promises and blessings.

But rainbows can represent even more.

A Personal Rainbow

Several years ago, while sitting in the living room, I glanced down to discover a small but brilliant bit of rainbow shimmering on my leg. Revelation 4 had just recently been part of my Bible study, so the rainbow encircling the throne of God came to mind. At that moment in the living room, it was as if God had scooped up a bit of that ethereal rainbow and placed it on me, that God himself was personally touching me!

Now, when you or I reach out to touch a loved one, our unspoken message might be: “I love you; I’m here to empathize, to support, and infuse you with strength.” Well, that little rainbow “spoke” those words to me, from my Heavenly Father (even though it was caused by the beveled glass in the front door). It was a special moment of blessing and promise that brought tears to my eyes.

Of course, rainbows are not the only manifestations of God’s glory on earth. What rare and awe-inspiring moment have you experienced that “spoke” to you? “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). Share your story below in the comment box!

Read Full Post »

Our News from Italy

Notes to our Prayer Supporters

Laurie Klein, Scribe

immerse in God, emerge refreshed

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Shelly Miller

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Faith Barista

Because some days you need a double-shot of faith.

Rebeca Jones

Building Standing Stones

Wings of the Dawn

even there Your hand will lead me ~ poems and reflections by Heidi Viars

Jennifer Dukes Lee

Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

Holley Gerth

Live fully * Love Bravely

Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Healthy Spirituality

Nurturing Hearts Closer to God

Just Wondering

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Jody Lee Collins

Impressions Becoming Expressions

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions