Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Lasting Help Comes From God

Ominous cloud formation last Fall, 2014

Ominous cloud formation last Fall, 2014

True help cannot come from our own strength.  It does not come through devices of our making, nor originate from ideas of our initiation.  It comes from a power source not our own.

Real and lasting help in a battle comes only from God.

This is especially true, when the storms we face are dark and ominous.  Onslaughts brought on by unseen dominions and principalities, at work against us because we belong to Christ.

Hallelujah, our God is greater! 

He is a very present help for any need.  His is the kind of help that is more than a mere temporary fix, because the Lord’s help goes beyond our finite understanding of what is really needed or wrong.  He understands the battle for what it is.  He sees to the root source: the real enemy we face.

Are you up against an overwhelming situation?  Is the battle raging?

*Admit that you need God’s help.
*Cry out to the Lord and then trust in the power of His name.

Through God alone, we shall prevail, beloved.  He will not fail us, but will deliver in our time of need.

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, “LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.
2 Chronicles‬ ‭14‬:‭11 NASB

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God Values the One ~ Each Offering Multiplies

Dandelion seed pod brushed with grainMultiplies

God notices the small
And hears their cries.
He values every one;
By them resides.
He takes each offering
And multiplies.

Do you ever feel like your efforts for God go unnoticed?  Do you sometimes long for a wider realm of influence for your messages?

In our age of self-preoccupation, it is difficult to stay satisfied with pleasing Christ alone, and all too easy to get caught up in the trap of craving affirmation from others. 

Desiring multiple likes,
Wanting more feedback,
Obsessing over selfies,
Longing for massive followers.

As ambassadors for Christ, we may even conclude that success means reaching the masses.  After all, does not the great commission instruct us to do just that?  To go into all the world and preach the gospel?  It would almost seem like God wants each of His followers to pursue a global audience.

But we are not all gifted to reach large numbers with the good news about Christ.  The Billy Grahams of this world are unique.  God knows who can handle notoriety without succumbing to the temptations popularity affords.  He recognizes that very few of us would stay humble. 

One of our biggest errors, though, is to dismiss the importance to God of the one.  He loves the world, and it is a world made up of individuals.  People like you and me. 

 God loves the one

Christ left the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep.  He met with one woman by the well.  He called every disciple, one at a time.  God sent His One and only Son to save mankind.  He would have done it to save a single one.

Since God values every person, we should not feel slighted when our influence is small.  And if our focus is on pleasing the One who really matters most, we will never be dissatisfied with reaching just one, even if nobody else notices.

God takes each offering and multiplies

What will be amazing is when we get to heaven and God reveals the full impact our lives had on others. He will show us how the simple offerings we gave multiplied.  We will find out that the things we thought did not matter were actually huge, when viewed from eternity.

Until then, we must take our eyes and emotions off reaching the masses.  Instead, we need to focus on Jesus and serve obediently, even if our offering seems way too small.

God values us, each and every one.  No matter the offering, He blesses and multiplies.

****

“Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,”
2 Corinthians 9:10

Captured by Pain ~ Captivated by God’s Love

Ominous

Ominous ~ a recent storm approaching

Captured by pain
Yet captivated by grace sublime
Devastated in every way
Yet drenched in love Divine

God sometimes allows circumstances to capture us, in order to captivate us with His immeasurable love. 

He will even use pain to stop the busyness and speak into our lives.  To hold us in His arms and drench us with His love.

My recovery from neck surgery has been rife with ups and downs.  With periods of strengths and setbacks. 

Although I prefer the days without pain, it is during those weakened interludes that God grabs my full attention.  He is then able to remind me of His all-consuming love.

You may have noticed my infrequent blogging.  It is because of continued difficulties with computer usage.  Since I love writing and working with photos, my inability to do so has brought much discouragement.

The enemy wants us to focus on the ominous possibilities of our circumstances and dwell in devastated defeat.  To convince us that the life we once enjoyed has ended.  To permanently capture us with pain.

At its worst, though, discouragement cannot overtake God’s love.  Physical pain cannot extinguish it.  Hardship cannot prevent it.

No matter the difficulty, God’s love abounds higher, wider and deeper still.  Trials don’t have to destroy us; they can instead strip out the trivial and bring us closer to God.  We can discover afresh and anew that His word is true:

Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

I wish that things in life made sense.  The good news is that they don’t have to for me to know and experience a contentment found only in God. 

When trials capture us, we can rest in God’s embrace, knowing that He is in control. 

God wants us to focus on the magnificent certainty of His promises and dwell in contented rest.  To believe that the purposes He intends are yet realized.  To forever captivate us with His love.

God will use anything to drench us with an awareness of His everlasting love and His grace, so sublime.

“I will sing of the Lord’s unfailing love forever!
Psalm 89:1
NLT

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.
Genesis 50:20a
NLT

 

Written in Sand ~ God Erases Our Sins

I left this message at the beach ~ figured someone might need it

I left this message at the beach ~ figured someone might need it

Written in sand
Our sins, such disgrace
Forgiven, our mistakes
God’s love does erase.

I have fond childhood memories of trips to the beach.  I don’t get to go very often anymore, but periodically just yearn to see the ocean.

I get to missing the taste of salty brine and the feel of sand between my toes.
Of relaxing to the gentle lapping of the waves, skirting back and forth on the shore.
Or building castles fortresses and writing heartfelt messages in the sand.

My memories of the beach linger.  Not long after formed, however, my seaside fortresses and writings in the sand all washed away.

Words written in sand, meant to last forevermore,
Erased quickly by the seashore.

The amazing thing about artistry in sand is that once eroded or washed away, the erasure is permanent.  There is no ability to precisely replicate what was before, whether castles or words.  Sand tablets have the ability to completely clean the slate.

Written in the Sand ~ Jesus

When He knelt before the woman caught in adultery, we don’t know what Jesus wrote in the sand that day.  Many speculate that while the religious leaders took turns hurling accusations of her guilt, Christ listed each of their faults in the sand.  Since there is no record in Scripture, nobody knows with certainty what He wrote. 

Jesus could have written about the sins of her accusers.
He could have documented the wrongdoing of the accused.

One thing is for sure, though, when the ordeal was over and the adulterous woman went on her way, she did so forgiven and cleansed to sin no more.  Had Christ listed her transgressions in sand during her trial, no trace of her wrongdoing remained when it concluded.  That is because when God forgives a repentant heart, He wipes the accusatory slate clean.

Covered completely by the blood of Christ, our sins lie forever forgotten at the bottom of the sea.  The tide of His merciful love erases the penalty of death written over our lives.  Our iniquities, washed away like messages in the sand.  No trace of former evidence remains.

“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
Micah 7:19

Stony Conclusions ~ Merciful Loving

Stony and cold ~ taken last winter

Stony and cold ~ taken last winter

I have stony places in my heart.
Because o
f my love for truth and its implications,
I justify these pride-filled inclinations.

God’s truth deserves allegiance.
It is absolute and unbending.
Truth, written in stone, is never ending.

But truth warmed by love is best.
Hardness impairs truth’s gentle out flowing.
Its embrace, annihilated by stones stacked for throwing.

Christ, the Truth, is our loving example.
Willingly, He brought light unto chaos.
The Rock, struck so that living water could reach us.

****

Out of adoration and allegiance to God’s word, it is all too easy to look down on those who don’t.  To walk in a hardened self-righteousness toward others. 

I accumulate grievances and conclusions
I judge and criticize
I demand perfection in others, when I’m not perfect myself

****

Stony conclusions vs Merciful Loving

God does not tolerate sin, but lest we forget, that includes our sin, too.  I am all too quick to make stony, judgmental conclusions about the shortcomings of others.  By doing so, I refuse to let mercy guide my willingness to love.  My stony heart runs the risk of growing cold.

Out of displeasure over their sins, stony hearts repel and reject others. 

Soft hearts, however, invite and embrace others, despite their flaws, remembering that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

Mercy requires that we love and believe the best for others.  We never condone or compromise on truth, but by recognizing our own sin, are able to reach out in love.  Mercy causes us to refrain from focusing on the flaws of others and instead take it all to the throne of God. 

Mercy lovingly draws near, then waits on the Lord for opportunities to share His uncompromising truth.

The law was given on stone.  It demanded perfection.  Through Christ, though, the veil was torn, splitting asunder the barriers of imperfection and making the living of the law possible.  Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf broke through the unattainable requirements of the law, thereby offering grace to the lost and rejected.

Christ died for all of our sins.  He is no respecter of persons, but wants everyone to come to the saving knowledge of His truth.

We all have areas in our hearts that are prone to hardness.  However, stones block our nearness to God.  They prevent His love from flowing forth, because stony places cluster as rocks; rocks that are all too easy to pick up and throw at one another.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ”
Ephesians 4: 14, 15

My prayer:
Lord, don’t let me become a vessel so hardened that I am closed off from loving others.  Break apart my stoniness.  Use the broken shards to collect and pour out living water

Keep my heart pliable.  Don’t let me remain in stony condemnation of others.  Remind me that I too am a sinner, ever in need of Your grace.

Gully Washers ~ Helping Others Through Life’s Raging Rivers

Raging River

Raging River ~ a gully washer

Down south, when it rains hard, we call it a gully washer.  These are the kind of rainstorms where the water gushes down into gutters and through culverts, with flash flood strength.

Raging River Prehistoric

Raging River Prehistoric

I took these photos near the end of one, still showing the force of water rushing into a gutter.  While it collected, the water almost looked like a prehistoric animal.

Raging River Demon

Raging River Demon

This one looked like it had the face of a demon ~ creepy! 

Gully Washers of Life

As my husband and I recently discovered, life’s gully washers can certainly hit with demon-forced strength.  We both still feel like we got pounded!  Like for us, the raging of the flood can last long and grow strong enough to try to sweep you away.

Through it, though, we once again found that there is help and hope no matter the intensity or outcome of the battle.  And a way to look beyond one’s own circumstances and bless others along the way.

The day I captured these pictures was a Sunday.  The rain had just drenched the road in front of my church, before I left for home.  Were it not for the kindness of a parishioner, who had laid bricks as stepping-stones, those of us leaving would have had to traverse a raging river to the parking lot.  The raised brick walkway instead enabled us to make it to our cars with a smile on our faces and dry toes in our shoes.

Help Others During Gully Washers

The thoughtfulness of the brick layer got me to thinking about things we can do to help someone going through a gully washer in life.  Even if we are still in the midst of one ourselves.

We all face times of stormy trials.  With God’s help, we can make it safely to the other side and learn invaluable lessons of endurance.  Lessons designed to equip us to encourage others going through difficulties.  As our circumstances grow us, He doesn’t want us to live in a vacuum. 

Instead, by His power, God wants our lives always on display, shining His light and being used for His purposes.  As Jim and I learned throughout his hospital journey, opportunities for doing so presented daily, and were often just simple acts of kindness on our part.  Some, though, required courageous acts of restraint when issues arose.

Stepping Stones of God’s Light During Gully Washers

In some form or fashion, we can all be stepping-stones of help, light or encouragement to those God places in our path:

We can simply listen and show that we care.  Really listen, to comfort and understand.

We can go out of our way to offer a helping hand.  Or simply hold a hurting hand in need.

We can forgive, even when doing so hurts and the offense seems justified.

We can pray, in earnest, with heart-wrenching, gully washing tears.

Such kind consideration for others models that of our Good Shepherd, who leads us through every storm to places where pastures are green and waters are still.

Raging River ~ Reaching for Help

Raging River ~ do you see the shape of a stick figure, reaching up for help?

With God’s help, we don’t have to suffer through struggles alone.  We can reach out to the One who calms the storms.  But when we reach the seasons of peaceful valleys, Jesus asks that we not grow complacent by neglecting those around us hurting and in need.

With Christ as our example, deeds of comfort and compassion may be their only bricks over the gully washer; the only chance they have of making it safely through to the other side of their raging river.

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3, 4

*****

**I would love to hear from you.  Tell of a time when God used a storm or trial as an avenue for you to bless others. 

 

 

Overcoming Hurdles ~ Another Update

Despite many painful hurdles, God keeps putting a smile back on my face

Despite many painful hurdles, God keeps putting a smile back on my face

Hello blogging friends!  Just wanted to update you again on my recovery from surgery:

Things are progressing, but I have had several unanticipated hurdles and setbacks.  With each one, though, God continues to help me overcome and get through.

Although I miss my writing and photos terribly, I am still not quite ready to jump back into blogging, since I only tolerate brief work on my PC.  My iPhone is the only source of connecting to the internet I tolerate, and only limited amounts of that.

I trust you are all doing well.  I hope to engage again soon with reading your posts and sharing through blogging.

Blessings,
Sue

“For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.”
Psalm 18:29

*I will open this post up for comments and do my best to reply.  Please let me know of any pray needs of yours, so that I can join with you in lifting them up to the Lord.