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GO

Road1

 

Jesus commanded us to Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a)

Two things are required in order to “go” and spread the gospel.

Grace and Obedience.

The first is God’s gift, and the second is our response to that gift. Grace is the giving of something we could never earn. Through God’s grace, by the death of Jesus for our sins, we are made “worthy” to be his disciples. We obediently step out, believing God will bless our efforts in His perfect plan and timing.

The focus then shifts from our abilities to His capability.

So, go, my friend. It’s all right.  Whether it is next door or halfway around the world, the Holy Spirit goes with you.  Jesus promised that.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

Shelter

Noel Coward once sang, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. ” Any Texan can relate to that, especially July-September.  Shade is a rare and precious commodity. So, when I looked out the window after church and saw these grackles huddled under my car, I laughed. Then I paused and thought…hmmm? Am I that smart?

IMAG0514Four years ago when I felt called to start this blog, I told the Lord that He’d have to show me obvious evidences of Him in my day so I could relay it to others. He has been faithful to do that, and this day was no different. Those birds taught me a deep truth.

If I was a grackle, more than likely I’d be worried that small water puddle might dry up and I couldn’t get a drink. What if no juicy bugs crawled by for hours on end.  Shouldn’t I be out there pecking around for them? What if the car moved? Well, I might doze off and get caught under it’s wheel.

But you see, I think the birds live in the moment, and then the next, confident God will take care of them. Instinctively they seek shelter.

In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus states:  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[?

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. That is being a good steward of our finances. However, there are times we all need to know when to just seek the shelter of the shade, that is God’s protection and love, and trust. Agreed?

Fenced

An author friend of mine, Anita Klumper, *took this photo.

anita klumper's hoolyhocks

I saw a godly message in it. If we stay within the boundaries God sets, we can grow high and bloom.

Decades ago, another author, a minister’s wife, wrote a little devotional book called Bloom Where You Are Planted. Hard to do. Our human nature wants us to sprawl, to go beyond the fence. But if we do, we will not grow correctly, will we? Like a tomato vine that needs training, we humans need boundaries. Today, free spirits of society whisper to  be self-orientated, follow your own path, dare to be different.

But, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, this is nothing new under the sun.  How much better to be under the boundaries of the Son! Our loving God wants us to grow correctly and safely, so His Word provides a fence for us. What is His fence?

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Deuteronomy 11:1.

Or as our Lord stated, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

So, unlike the old cowboy song sung by Roy Rogers, Don’t Fence Me In, I pray the opposite. How about you?

 

 

* check out Anita's faith-based fiction on Amazon.com

What a Sap!

ID-100210229Jesus said,  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

Charles Stanley explains:  “The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does. In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.”  http://bit.ly/2arv7z2

Want to be a sap? Then you need the Holy Spirit flowing through you. You must be the type of branch that is alive, healthy and strong. And you must be willing to be hollow,right? Hollowness pushes your agenda aside so God’s can flow.

You must be:

S -susceptible to His guidance, so you do not block His flow out of you into someone else.

Aavailable – to be used at any given moment to God’s glory

P penitent – until we have confessed our sins and received His mercy, we are not as open to seeing the mercilessness His Spirit want to produce through us. Our anger, prejudice or hurts may close us in and restrict the flow.

So, pray to be a sap. Then go with the flow.

Apple Seed

I have had this refrigerator magnet for years… I won’t say how long, but I know it’s been on at least nine refrigerators in five cities and three states.  Yesterday, while I was waiting for the microwave to tell me my dinner was ready, it’s simple profoundness struck me again.

13884333_1343214669029670_189221356_n

Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.

Isn’t that comforting? It means God knows your future. He values your fruitfulness capabilities. Our Lord knows how much fruit you can bear from the little seeds you plant in your day, even if you don’t.  The advice to a friend, the smile to a stranger, the kind word to a service clerk, the held hand and wiped tear. None of it is in vain. What you teach your children by example, or your grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Even the wiggly kid who always sits in the pew in front of you.

Long after we are gone, our seeds will still grow. Our efforts will multiply.

Paul knew it. He told the Corinthian church,  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (ICor 3:6)  Over two thousand years later, it still is growing. Paul’s letters convert hearts and strengthen faiths daily, maybe even hourly.

So keep planting, my friend. God knows what will happen.

 

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise.  Proverbs 6:6

ant-44588_1280I watched in wonder at the scene laying out a few inches from my feet. As some ants scurried in a line over the sidewalk to carry minute morsels back to their mound, one little ant dragged a piece of straw three times his length. At first the others skirted around him coming and going. I could almost hear their grumbling. “Look at that guy?” “Leave it to Joe to drag a stupid twig.” “Please, can’t he fall in line?”

On he trudged with his prize, not wavering in his quest. (I guess it was a “he”.) What tenacity. Finally, when he got to the entrance he stopped. How to get a stiff, horizontal piece of straw to bend and fit perpendicularly down that hole? He tried. Failed.Tried. Failed.

I held my breath. I almost reached down to help, then thought better of that idea. I might get stung!

Soon, three more ants came to his aid. Then a few others. The small stick  became covered with insects, each lending their strength to the task. At last, enough of them tugged, lifted and dragged the straw into their nest.

I cheered. People stared. Shrugging, I continued my walk.

But I saw a God-lesson in it. If we don’t give up, if we keep trying our hardest, eventually we will be able to proclaim, as Paul says: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7  Yet, Paul admitted he couldn’t do it alone. He had help from God, and from his followers.

There will be times we may have to accept help—just like that ant. If you are faced with a task and it is harder than you thought it might be, will you accept assistance, or stubbornly hiss between your teeth that you are bound and determine to do it yourself? I think sometimes God sends others to help us not only to benefit us, but them as well.

I wonder if the ants celebrated and patted each other on the back? Who knows? But, I bet like me, God cheered.

One letter can totally change things.  In a recent game of Words with Friends, I had two options. Spell prey or pray.  One letter difference, but oh, what a difference!

That got the grey cells activated…

falcon-1329991_640PREY – the E stands for EVIL. Scripture tells us Satan prowls around seeking his prey. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. I Peter 5:8   If you are the prey, you are helpless, hopeless, and vulnerable. Evil lurks and you cower, defenseless and weak with fear. Birds of prey seek out the ones least likely to resist. they intimidate and then swoop in.

 

PRAY – the A stands for Almighty. Instead of cowering in the face of evil ,if we pray God will prevail. He has conquered evil. He’ll provide us the spiritual (and perhaps physical) tools we need to fight it, or He will battle it for us. Psalm 62:2 says:  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  

Paul tells the people of Phillipi: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (4:6) 

When we pray, I envision an invisible dome of mercy and power over us. We are shielded from the effects of this world. Bad things will still happen because we live in a post-Eden place. However, God is with us. He will either give us the strength to battle it, remove us from it, or make good out of it.

And the cool thing? A comes before E in the alphabet. So why would we not choose the first letter over the fifth one down the line? When evil threatens the parameters of your life, remember God the Almighty comes first.

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