by Joan C. Benson
Think of someone you love with your whole heart– someone you want to spend time with, someone who loves you too. This is a relationship where you are known, even with your foibles and imperfections, yet loved deeply. That’s how God, the Creator of all the Universes, feels about you. Yes, you. And, yes, me. How do I know? “The Bible tells me so.”
In the book of Genesis, Jacob, the twin brother of Esau, was a guy with a troubling track record. He was a self-absorbed schemer and swindler. He stole his brother’s inheritance by tricking his father as he was dying. Jacob knew there was a Jehovah God, Yahweh. Yet, there was a distance between Jacob and God. No wonder with Jacob’s deceitful heart. He always referred to God as the father of Abraham and Isaac (Jacob’s father). We could describe his view of God as formal, not intimate. I would go further to say I doubt in his early years, he “knew” God at all.
by Sandra Barker
I love to write about God’s Grace (sola gratia - Latin for grace alone). Grace is such an inexhaustible subject - we can never fully capture the wonder of it. The grace of God surrounds us on every hand. He tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
In her Bible study, Entrusted, Beth Moore writes, "Grace is the divine means by which God makes Himself everything we need to utterly abound." Ponder that truth for a moment.
When I read the section Beth wrote on grace and all its wonders in our lives, I was so overwhelmed with it all, I started weeping. As I continued thinking about it, I imagined grace like a gentle rain on the thirsty ground of my heart. I soak in its refreshing, healing touch and I'm surrounded by the warm, secure feeling of a heavenly hug. I smile through my drying tears and rest in a joyful feeling of peace (:
by Joan C Benson
Have you noticed how life sometimes runs on parallel tracks? Good things can take place in the midst of not-so-pleasant circumstances. When I saw this image, it reminded me of this facet of life on planet earth. In this photo, we see the beauty of two seasons, complementing each other in color and form. The delicate flowers of a redbud tree are accentuated with the flakes of a late spring snow, enhancing both snow and flowers.
If I imagined myself to be a redbud flower, I might not feel the positive vibes of a blast of cold invading my springtime. Imagine bursting forth in your best show of first blooms, to find yourself shivering under a pile of freezing fluff. Sort of sets you back.
By Sandra Julian Barker
I recently took my grandson to a local art museum. When I saw the oil painting pictured above, I was struck by the turbulence of the raging sea the artist had captured and the imminent peril of the two sailing ships as they plunged toward the rocks. It's a powerful scene by Dutch painter Willem van de Velde the Younger (ca 1690).
The scene reminds me of Isaiah 43:2 where God says, "When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm." I love that no matter how fierce the storm is in our life, God is right there beside us, ready to calm the sea at just the right time.
by Marjorie Wingert
After a week of absolute gluttony, laziness, and self-indulgence, I found myself pounding the treadmill. Arms pumping and muscles straining, my thoughts wandered over the past week. Spring Break came as a welcome diversion from the usual hustle and bustle. Yet with all its fun and leisure, I came away feeling empty and unfulfilled. This is not to say we hadn’t enjoy our time together. We had fun! Biking, swimming, movies, trips to parks, and eating out characterized our week of play. We slept-in, went to bed when we liked, and were the masters of our own time. Why then, did I feel so distant and empty? Why then did it feel like I was dangling from a precarious perch?
The answer came amidst the streaming sweat and labored breathing. Why, Lord? Is it something I’ve done? Have I wronged you? The fervency of my cries kept pace with the intensity of my workout. Speak to me, Lord, I begged. My thoughts bounced between my pleas to earnest reflection of the past week. As memories surfaced in my mind, a pattern emerged. Although filled with fun, how much time had I spent seeking after God? How often did I take time to consult Him regarding decisions? When had I invited Him into take part in the day, activities, or projects? When had I asked Him to help me make the best use of this time?
by Joan C. Benson
Americans are familiar with choice. It's second nature to people who have lived in a more or less free society, depending on the period of history. We often glide through our days not giving much thought to all the choices we make. Yet, if we were denied the right to decide, undoubtably, we would squeal. Unless our voices are arbitrarily silenced and we had no recourse, we are not satisfied without this freedom of choice. Yes, we yearn to be the master of our destinies. We love the freedom to decide what, how, and when we do something.
Our Master Designer, God Almighty, gave us that ability to choose ... but with "guidelines," well actually, ONE guideline. If you examine Genesis, you discover God's children were provided with everything they needed in a beautiful place without strife or want. God's nature is to provide. Yet, the "children" chose to do the only thing God asked them not to do. I have to smile because having raised children, I know how natural it is for them to determinedly try to scale all barriers you establish, even if it meant for their good.
Imague by cottonbro on Pexels.com
by guest blogger Yvonne Ortega
Patience must be a four-letter word. Aha, I found it. It’s yuck!
Maybe you feel the same way I do more often than not. I understand.
A NEED FOR PATIENCE
I faced a mountain of paperwork each day as I worked on my taxes. I wanted to start them early, but the proper forms didn’t arrive until the week before my tax appointment. In a marathon to finish, my neck hurt, and my shoulders ached. My lower back screamed for relief. My neck felt as if someone glued it looking down at the monitor. Talk about a need for patience to continue.
What kept me going? A deadline. There’s nothing like a deadline. When snow, rain, or ice appeared, I didn’t mind staying indoors to finish. However, a couple of warm, sunny days in a row came along, and patience became a four-letter word again. Yuck.
by Sandra Julian Barker
It's time for some joyful thoughts. Seeing a beautiful butterfly sitting on an equally beautiful flower -- now that's something that brings a smile to my face. This lovely little guy (or maybe it's a gal, who knows?) was busy around the butterfly bush in my backyard when I managed to snap a pic of him. He wasn't still for long, constantly flitting from one flower to the next, busy about the work God created him to do.
What amazing color and design and delicate detail God fashioned in this unique butterfly.
by Marjorie Wingert
When Jesus first met his disciple, Simon Peter, Christ called him to obedience. Peter had just returned from an unsuccessful night of fishing. Imagine his surprise when Jesus climbed into his boat and asked him to row into shallow water. There, Jesus taught while the people listened from shore.
Once Jesus finished speaking, He instructed Peter to go fishing. Peter was faced with a choice. Should he do what he had been asked? Or would he refuse? After all, Peter had just returned from fishing. He had been out all night and was tired with nothing to show for his labors. Peter may not have felt like doing what Jesus asked but Peter chose to trust and obey.
by Donna Polverari
Luke 5: Now, go out a little deeper and let your nets down to catch some fish.
Do you ever feel like your efforts are failing no matter how hard you try, and it is not looking like there is any fruit or success on the horizon? In this scene, Peter is feeling defeated because he is a skilled fisherman, yet he can’t catch one lousy fish. Jesus tells him to go out deeper. He listened and the blessing for provision came. Jesus was showing him how much he needed his Lord and doing things his way in his own strength would not work. When Jesus said go out deeper, he wanted Peter’s full trust in their relationship. He would need to trust completely with his whole heart and be willing to change because the work would be done God’s way—not his. God had bigger, greater plans for Peter as a leader, and he would have to open his eyes to what was not working for him. It was all about complete surrender.
God also encouraged me with another man’s story that needed to trust God and had the odds against him. Bo Eason, was a former NFL football player that played safety for the Houston Oilers. The eight-year boy had a dream to play in the NFL, and it was a nearly impossible dream.