Archive for January, 2014

I can remember being young, 5-ish, and wandering off on my own in the grocery store. I didn’t think I had wandered far from my mom, but when I turned around… she was nowhere in sight. I felt so small in an aisle of grown-ups going about their shopping, loading things into their carts (called buggies where I come from). I felt so lost. There was not a single person in sight that cared about me on a personal level. I cried out for my mom and rushed out of the aisle. I was right, I hadn’t wandered too far. She was there in the next aisle. At 5 (ish) that was a long way away, and I was lost in the crowd. I remember her hugging me and knowing that I was safe again… but I’m sure that I got at least a stern talking to about sticking to her side.

Do you ever have times when you feel like this, even as an adult? I know that there are times when I am not listening to God or walking in His will for me. During those times, I feel lost and alone even if I’m in a crowd. Fortunately, God is good. He loves me and He wants me back.

Luke 15:4-7, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

If ever you are feeling lost, take the time to communicate with Jesus, the Great Shepherd, and ask Him to find you where you are and bring you back to the flock. There’s no place He would rather have you.

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When I feel ineffective for God and useless to Him, I go to Psalm 37:23-24: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way.  When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” These words of truth remind me that when I am seeking Him, God values, helps, and enjoys me. Every piece of me is critical, regardless of my own fear and self-doubt. God actually has things for me to do that no one else was created to do! Plus, He delights in me and has a tight hold on me even when I mess up.

Working a puzzle, I usually do the outside border first. I think of that defining shape like God’s Word which gives me the framework for my life. Next, I usually choose the more unique colors or patterns, like the areas of my life that “shine” or seem easier. Then come the fill pieces–common in color or design, creating the background of the puzzle. These are the less noticed or more difficult spots in life. Some pieces I try are a quick fit while others are so far off that I laugh! I quickly find that each piece picked up and put in place is needed at a specific time and spot. With perseverance, the beautiful picture begins to emerge.

So often my self-image and innermost feelings seem larger than God’s truth, like the pieces will never fit anything. Thankfully, God knows each of us completely and will forever love us (Psalm 139:1-18). Do you hear Him inviting us to join Him in completing our puzzles? Let’s pick up our pieces, take His hand, and watch the beauty take shape!

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I have a wonderful friend who has one of the kindest hearts I have ever known. She is always rescuing the little critters that come into her yard. One summer she found a nest of pheasant eggs. The mother pheasant was believed to have died and the eggs were abandoned. She asked me to help her gather the eggs and put them in a makeshift incubator, warming light and all. She turned each egg every so many hours, just as the mother pheasant would do. And when the time was just right, all nine eggs hatched. Not one was lost. She fed them with an eye dropper around the clock. When they were old enough, she took them to a feed store and the man there released them on his property.

God calls us to take care of others, to help, guide, and love as Christ loves. The sojourners, the single moms, the children who are lost, the widows, those who need help. We are to be the arm that reaches, the heart that teaches, and the gentle words that help another truly know the love of Jesus, no matter where they are or where they have been. The kindness we show others is like a seed that is planted. When cultivated with the love of Jesus, the unloved no longer feel alone, rejected, or neglected, but safe and secure. No longer lost, but found!

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” 

~ Luke 10:30-34

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“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

~ Psalm 103:12

Praise God that when we ask for forgiveness, even though others may not forgive, He does! And, not only are we forgiven, our sins are forgotten! Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

As I was sitting one day, I began thinking about a visual to share with others on how God has truly changed my life. God brought me back to the days when I was a young teenager. I enjoyed making candles. I would experiment with color, shape, and fragrance, making each one an original. Some of the most unique were the ice candles. As the candle wax was poured over ice and then left to sit and cure, the water left holes and distorted cracks. These were shadowed by an opaqueness in the candle so that as the light shone it would flicker beautifully through each crack or hole.

My life is like that ice candle. There are many, many cracks. Each one tells a story of a time in my life before I walked with Jesus. Each one represents a sin that was forgiven, a part of me that was forever changed, and the light of God’s Glory, as I allow Him to shine through the cracks and holes created from the pathways of my life. The opaqueness represents the times I then and now stand in God’s way; for in the shadows, there are doubts, fears, anxieties, and everyday stresses that can prevent me from shining God’s light.

I invite God to shine everyday, to take my life and let my past be a light that can help another find their way and know that through Jesus, God can shine through them too. For through faith by God’s glory and grace, we are forgiven!

     “And when Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”

~ Luke 5:20

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“I wait for the Lord to help me. I wait with more longing than those on guard duty wait for the morning.” ~ Psalm 130:6

Whether we like it or not we all have to wait for some things. Consider sitting in a waiting room, be it for a job interview, doctor’s appointment, or even a meeting with the principal. Chances are good that someone, if not you, is praying. Maybe we should consider such places as “sacred places” rather than reason for irritation. The whole spectrum of human needs show up in waiting rooms, waiting for something good, dreading something bad, unsure what the outcome will mean. We can wait hours, days, or even years in our lifetime, hoping for something to change. Are you in a waiting room in your life?

There are times when we pray, but don’t seem to find the answer we are looking for. This “sacred place” of waiting has value and purpose. It gives us time to examine our priorities, our real needs, and the urgency with which we seek resolution. It’s possible to become so focused on our requests that we don’t notice what may be happening while we wait. Sometimes our prayers will change over time and we will come closer to seeking God’s will, rather than our own. Other times God may reveal to us changes happening in our own hearts and minds. God may be working in ways we cannot perceive, to accomplish something we would never dream of.

Other times it seems as if God is silent. This is a good time to review in your mind the faithfulness of God to all generations (Psalm 117:2), that His love endures forever (2 Chronicles 5:13), that He never changes (James 1:17), and He knows you and has your name written on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16). He will never abandon you! If you are in a “waiting room” for God to answer prayer, He is with you, every moment, and you can trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28).

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart, and wait for the Lord.”  

~ Psalm 27:14

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