Roaring River of Life

You know I love that Christian camp song ” I got a river of life flowing out of me”. It goes on to say “it makes the lame to walk and the blind to see. Opens captive’s doors and sets prisoners free. I got a river of life flowing out of me”! So what is this amazing miraculous river in our lives? It’s Jesus and all the joy, peace, life and other promises He brings to us. :)

This in itself is an eternal well spring  for each of us as Christians but what is even better is when the fun parts of the song start squirting “gush, gush, gush” as this river overflows to those around us spreading God love in a “wet water ride” fashion.

You know God’s blessings are gracious benefits to our lives and can bring joy in some very fun ways. So today and everyday let’s let God’s river roar through our lives spreading His joy to others with a smile on our face and bringing a smile to their’s, too :)

Growing Toward the Light

I like painting. I know I’m no Michael Angelo or Rembrant but I truly enjoy being creative and expressing myself through art. Most times I start a picture with an idea or simple plan of what I want to paint and pray that God will work through the creative process to not only help me put together a picture that glorifies and honors him but that helps me better connect to Him as He shows me glimpses of His love and light. This often happens immediately when I decide a picture is finished but sometimes the heavenly impressions and thoughts don’t surface for quite some time.

That is what God has been doing through this simple painting of a tree that I crafted about a year ago. I was always drawn to how the tree featured was not only basking in the light of the setting son but how it was almost smiling and leaning toward the source of these life giving rays. However, it was not until recently that God gave me the image comparison to us as humans being like the tree and God the life giving light that we so need and long for deep inside our hearts.

The Bible often uses trees as a metaphor for us as human and in fact one of my favorite examples of this is in the very 1st Psalm verses 1 thru 3: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”

The Bible is also clear that God is not only love: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 but that He is also only light: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5.

However, beyond these parallels I began to see through this picture two important keys to life if we are to grow our lives towards the light.

First we must keep our heads up towards heaven and our eyes firmly fixes on the light which is Jesus. I love how in this picture the tree has a heavenward tilt looking up to the sun and the sun is shining down with a smile of love and blessing. I liken this to the first three verses of Colossians 3: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This sentiment is also echoed in the soothing hymn “Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus” which proclaim the truth that as you “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace”.

Secondly, we must lean on and even into the light if we are to grow above the negative, harmful, unwholesome and unholy STUFF of the world and walk in the light of Jesus’ love. Just as the tree in the picture above is leaning towards the nourishing rays of light, real trees in nature do the same thing. They most often grow high and tall to get above the canopy and closer to the light but they will if needed grow at an angle or even curved just to reach a clear opening to receive the sunlight it needs to survive and even flourish. I love how the hymn [can you tell I love hymns :) ] “Leaning on Jesus” directs us to lean on Jesus and we’ll be “safe and secure from all alarms”. Romans 12:9 puts it more directly this way: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

All in all, I’ve found that when I strive to keep my mind set on the things above and rest on Jesus, my load is lighter, I experience more of His joy and His holiness is more evident. Then the sweet fragrance that is Christ can be an aroma that not only fills my life but draws others into the light of His love.

 

Do you feel called to be a leader?

Hopefully, those reading know we all have gifts, callings and work that God wants us to do and as the body of Christ no one person’s skills, talents and jobs are more important than anyone else’s. And we are all needed in order for the body of Christ to work properly and at it’s best. This includes followers and leaders both. :)

However, if you feel called by God to be a leader here are the basics of what He’s asking you to do: Go through, go through the gates, Clear the way for the people; Build up, build up the highway, Remove the stones, lift up a standard over the peoples. Isaiah 62:10.

First as a Believer having gone through the gate of Jesus, you must make it a priority to follow God and obey His commands to the best of your ability. By doing this you will not only be showing people the way but clearing the way for them to follow. If you can make good choices it will inspire others that they can do it. too.

Secondly, you must influence your environment in such a way that a road is raised up above all the yuck of the world that the people can walk on daily making it easier for them to follow Jesus. This task also includes removing tripping hazards and things that could cause people to stubble or even fall. You are to not only build up a highway but make it smooth and safe for traveling.

Lastly, you must maintain this way of walking in the light of Jesus’ love for people by setting a godly standard of following God’s commands, laws and statues. This will insure the work done continues to endure and produce fruit providing peace, hope and joy for those traveling on the way.

While this is all done for the benefit of the people you lead thru service, the strength, encouragement, comfort and joy among other things are all provided by God who continuously surrounds, protects, leads, guides and goes before you clearing and cleaning your path. If we let Him, God will do for us what He did for Joshua and the Israelites: But be assured today that the LORD your God is the one who goes across ahead of you like a devouring fire. Deuteronomy 9:3.

So if you feel called by God to be a leader? GREAT. We need more godly leaders who will pray fervently first, obey God above the world and then see the following: I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. Isaiah 45:2.

And if you feel called by God to be a follower. GREAT. We need more godly followers that will prayerfully think for themselves [as Believers we are all filled and guided by the Holy Spirit and should yield to His leading first] and then set out to follow God and accomplish whatever task He sets before you. :)

Easter Blessings

Just as joyful as Christmas is in hope, encouragement and love,  Easter is in victory, power and finality.  Jesus’ journey is complete. He has risen and lives in eternal victory. The reward for His triumph is the free gift of eternal life for all people who will but choose Him. What a Savior and what a gift! Abundant, overcoming and victorious life on earth and an eternal home with Him in heaven forever.

What is even more amazing is that He continues to work everyday through the Holy Spirit seeking out His lost sheep. I love the way Jesus says it in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” Wow, how glorious a Savior to pursue us moment by moment!

God is so faithful despite the fact that each of us has chosen to go our own way like it says in Isaiah 53:6 “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.” How great it is to serve our risen Savior, Jesus.

His Victory is complete, His work is ongoing and our home in Heaven is secure. Amen!

Resting in God’s Arms of Care

Well, both the Belize outreach trip and the West Palm Beach Expo are in the books for 2019 and we are pooped. It is always a fast paced, packed and rewarding first two months of each year but afterwards Leanne and I need some down time. And yes I mean “need”. :)

Rest is not just a want and desire we have from time to time but it is a vital need we have as humans. We are finite, mortal, weak and even frail and cannot maintain a high energy work pace indefinitely. Even Jesus took time to get away and rest. And as a genuine need, God always provides for us each a time and place to rest if we will take advantage of it.

God’s provision for rest is always safe, secure, holy and wholesome to restore, refresh and rejuvenate us as only He can on every level of our being. So today take time to rest. Enjoy God’s presence, the blessings He provides and maybe even take a nap. It is a great gift He offers us everyday.

Here are a couple of verses to encourage you as you take step back, shift into a lower gear and rest in the tender caring arms of Jesus. And as the old hymn “Leaning on Jesus” says you’ll be “safe and secure from all alarms”.

My presence will go with thee, and I will give thee rest. Exodus 23:14

I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

In Jesus’ Name

God definitely wants us to be a blessing to others and as we all look to the new year of 2019, many of us may be contemplating what good we can do this coming year to make the world a better place. There are so many opportunities from serving at a soup kitchen and mailing encouragement cards to friends to building houses in third world countries and visiting folks in nursing homes, prisons and hospitals.

Giving words of blessing is another powerful way to have a positive impact on people. Take for example the verses in Numbers 6:22-27 below where God tells Moses to bless His people in a special way.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing: ‘May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.’ Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.”

I love the variety of blessings God outlines for His people but I am also struck by the three little words towards the end of verse 27: “in my name”. You see that is how God wants us to bless others. This is not for God’s glory, for we know from 1 Corinthians 13 that “love is not self seeking”. Rather this is a simple way to edify those we serve and help them see the goodness of God.

So as we seek to do good to others in 2019, let’s not forget the powerful blessings that come when we speak, act and live in Jesus’ name. :)

Being like a Child this Christmas

Christmas is a time when we can all roll back the complexity and seriousness we make of life and become more childlike in our faith, outlook and attitude. It is a time when we can simplify our relationship with Jesus as we see Him as the Holy Baby in a manger, we can let our optimism for each days events rise as we see the good God has brought to our lives and we can enjoy the gifts of serving as we see the impact of simple actions on others.

It is Jesus’ desire for us all to be like children in our hearts each day as we let Him carry us on our way. Like a shepherd carries a lamb so Jesus is carrying us in His loving care. And when we see this truth through childlike eyes of faith, we are able to relax in His protection, provision and presence and enjoy Him the true gift of Christmas. The joy and peace this brings are hallmarks of Christmas and of children so I hope you enjoy this beautiful poem by hymn writer Isaac Watts that highlights both so well.

Hush

HUSH! my dear, lie still and slumber,
Holy angels guard thy bed!
Heavenly blessings without number
Gently falling on thy head.

How much better thou’rt attended
Than the Son of God could be,
When from heaven He descended
And became a child like thee!

Soft and easy is thy cradle:
Coarse and hard thy Saviour lay,
When His birthplace was a stable
And His softest bed was hay.

See the kinder shepherds round Him,
Telling wonders from the sky!
Where they sought Him, there they found Him,
With His Virgin Mother by.

See the lovely babe adressing;
Lovely infant, how He smiled!
When He wept, the Mother’s blessing
Soothed and hush’d the holy child.

Lo, He slumbers in His manger,
Where the horned oxen fed:
Peace, my darling; here’s no danger,
Here’s no ox anear thy bed.

Isaac Watts