God Cares For His Faithful People
Spring is coming! Outside my windows, flowers are trying to pop up from the once frozen ground, the birds are congregating around the bird feeder, the red bush in the fields and along the roads is vibrant with its beautiful color, and the trees are starting to birth buds which will soon burst forth in beautiful green leaves.
I may be cooped up inside because I am one of the “older” people, who has been urged not to venture out because of a health condition. But I can step out on my deck and look around at all the new life beginning to shine forth, and I am reminded that God cares for his faithful people.
When things seem to be shutting down around us right now, the beauty of God’s earth will not. It will continue to give us the hope of new growth, and the sun will soon offer us warming rays to replace the cold darkness that has been filling our days. We can smell the freshness of the air and know that God has not left us to go through these difficult times alone. He will remind us every new day that he is with us always. We may have to adjust to a new way of living but God will be there guide us.
PRAY WITH ME:
“Almighty God, you have always loved your people, to the very depths of giving your only Son to die for us that we might live a new life with Him. Help us to remember that even though we must make sacrifices right now, none of them will compare to the one that you made for us. We are thankful, Lord, for the promise of a new life that is to come to each faithful follower, and we rejoice that you are our God!” AMEN.
Rocky Raccoon and Communion?
There is a raccoon hiding in a hollowed-out opening in the big maple tree by my deck. The maple has been there for about seventy-five years and is slowly losing its branches. I know that it is going to have to be taken down before too much longer as it is a danger to the roof of the house. But right now, on this very windy day, it is extending a welcoming shelter to the raccoon.
I tossed a piece of stale bread into the opening to the raccoon. It stared back at me with frightened eyes before bowing its head to eat the bread.
I am reminded of the communion we have with one another. Sharing bread and a cup of juice connects us in one body together with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Like the maple tree, Christ shelters us from the winds that blow us off course sometimes. He brings us back into His Grace when we seek His forgiveness and remember why He sacrificed His body and blood for us.
Such a simple act, eating the bread and drinking from the cup, for such an enormous gift that is given to each of us!
Who would have thought that a little raccoon could have inspired me to remember communion in this fashion? But then, God does have His way of reminding us of His presence, doesn’t He?
PRAY WITH ME:
Holy Father, we are thankful that we can come to You when we are frightened, seeking the shelter of Your love. We are strengthened and renewed by the body and the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Let us remember that by the communion we share with one another and with You, we have been saved! AMEN.
Walking With God
I have always been a person who needs a place of solitude for a short time each day. It is the way my soul is calmed and refreshed.
My favorite place, weather permitting, is in the woods behind my house. As I walk along, I begin a conversation with God. Anyone, hearing me, would say, “Wow, that’s one crazy old lady talking to herself!” I might seem a little batty but there is another voice that is not heard by whomever might be listening. It is the voice of God. Yes, God can talk to you if you are willing to hear!
We talk about how things are and He tells me something He’d like me to try to do. Maybe it’s a reminder to be kind or forgive someone, or just be thankful for the gifts I have received from Him. I tell Him about my fears and He reminds me that as long as I keep Him in my heart, I do not need to be afraid.
I tell Him about my concerns for my family and He tells me not to give up trying with them. After all, He hasn’t given up on me though countless times He could have. Then I express to Him the joy my family also brings to me, and He says, “You are my children and I love you.”
I always thank Him for the beauty all around me and He says to me, “When you want to talk again, I’ll be here waiting for you.”
PRAY WITH ME:
Father, I am so thankful to be able to share with you my thoughts, knowing that you will listen and not turn away from me. If I am sad, you will comfort me. If I am bursting with joy, you will rejoice with me. I need never feel alone for you are by my side at all times. Thank you for loving me. AMEN.
Rocky Moves On, And We Must Move With God
Today I checked the maple tree by the deck to see how my little friend, Rocky Raccoon (that’s what I named him), was doing. Alas, he has moved on to another safe haven. Something in his nature must have encouraged him to make that change.
Each of us at one time or another finds it necessary to make changes in the way we live our lives. Like Rocky, we cannot hide away in “a hole in a tree” indefinitely. God expects us to think more of doing for others than isolating ourselves in a cozy and comfortable place where we feel safe.
We have His work to do. We must venture forth in order to care for the needs of others. What purpose have we served if it is to serve only for our own needs?
Jesus spent his ministry roaming from place to place, spreading the word of God to as many people as possible. He did not know each day where He might find nourishment or a place of rest. Yet He did not cease his journeys to teach others about God’s love and salvation.
We must also do the same. Sharing the word of God with the world around us is the task that God has given to us. There is no satisfaction in keeping it to ourselves. Like Jesus, let each of us be willing to freely share the Good News of our love for the Father and His Son.
PRAY WITH ME:
Lord, You have always shown us Your love in the many things You have done for us. In these times that are so difficult right now, help us to continue to search for ways to let others know that You are there for Your children. It is a blessing to enlighten others with Your word and Your love. AMEN.
Attitudes of Gratitude
How many times have you heard someone say…”I’ve worked hard all my life to have everything that I have”? We sometimes see ourselves as our source of strength, our happiness and prosperity, thinking that we are what we are, or have what we have, solely because of what we have done. We can be negligent in giving credit to God for what He bestows on us, or allows us to accomplish. We forget that we receive blessings because God wants us to bless us with things that we desire because we have served Him faithfully.
I read these words somewhere, which were referring to life in the Garden of Eden: “The beginning of man’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart”.
Psalm 100 tells us to thank the Lord for who He is and what He has done. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. In other words, get enthused about God and all of the blessings He brings to your life. Rejoice, sing praises, clang cymbals and gongs, shout to the Heavens His Holy Name, and do these things without reservation.
Picture this…..a stadium filled with excited, roaring, motivated football fans, yelling and screaming for their teams, their enthusiasm overflowing from the bleachers. Why is it so easy to visualize this scenario and think it appropriate, but find we cannot show the same excitement to others when we talk about God and His love for us? Would we even dare to be like that crowd in the stadium in our church sanctuary? Probably not, because we might feel it would be irreverent, not respectful worship, certainly not part of our traditional Presbyterian worship!
Did you know that the word enthused comes from a Greek work that means “possessed by God”? Do you feel enthused at this moment while we are discussing God and remembering His blessings for each of us?
Part of the problem in churches today is that the people in them forget to show that they are possessed by God with an enthusiastic spirit. They sit and listen respectfully to the pastor’s sermon, some are not happy with some of the hymns, some are daydreaming about other things, some are drowsy and trying to stay awake, and some keep checking their watches to see how much longer before worship is over. This is certainly not the type of a church that would inspire others to want to be a part.
Do you remember when the children of our church brought to worship the hand motions for the Doxology and asked the congregation to learn them? At first, everyone seemed hesitant and somewhat awkward to doing that, but began learning to raise their hands in thanks to God. Now it is a part of our praise to Him as we thank Him for all of our blessings. Have you ever looked around at that time to see the smiles that are on some of our faces? We have even been so bold to do those hand motions when we have visited other churches. Sometimes people stare at us but we do them anyway because we are enthused at that moment about God’s blessings to us!
I find that our church and its people rejoice in sharing the love of God with others in many ways. Some do it quietly with beautiful cards mailed to others to let them know they are remembered. Others make phone calls. Some bake wonderful goodies to give to others. Some visit people who are living in nursing homes to let them know they are missed and not forgotten. Many of us help to prepare delicious food to share with the community of people who come to partake. Some of our people send emails to others who enjoy being part of the “online” community. Now we have a wonderful web site to share with those people, where they can read the pastor’s words to us, view church history, read devotions and Bible lessons.
As a faithful and dedicated church people, we are not hesitant to share God’s word with the world around us. God must be first as our motivation for service with gladness. This is how we show forth attitudes of gratitude. We belong to Him. We are His people…His sheep…His representatives here on earth. He leads us…He provides for us…guides us…comforts us…protects us…prospers us. He is the source of all of our blessings.
Has a grumbling, complaining person every really led anyone to God? When was the last time you told someone what God has done for you? Be enthused to tell everyone of God’s blessings for your life! Be just a NOBODY, who tells EVERYBODY, about SOMEBODY, who can save ANYBODY!
Now those are powerful attitudes of gratitude!
PRAY WITH ME:
Holy Father, we come to you with grateful hearts, singing praises of thanksgiving to your Holy name. We raise our hands on high and exclaim our love for you. We call out loudly so all will hear how our lives have been blessed by you. We ask that we might teach others to come to know your love and receive your mighty blessings. And we pray all these things in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.