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A warning?

`Warning? Warning against what? ‘ said Boromir sharply.

‘Against delay. Against the way that seems easier. Against refusal of the burden that is laid on me. Against-well, if it must be said, against trust in the strength and truth of Men.’

The breaking of the fellowship, LOTR

Hard times come; some of which we can choose whether or not to accept. If we hold back from God’s will because we know the road will be hard, isn’t that wrong?
Tonight I heard my mom praying for the courage of Paul, it filled my heart. Paul’s courage was challenged and tested and yet still he fought on because he knew Jesus. He knew there was a greater reward. Never once did Paul hesitate to do God’s will and never once did he trust in the truth or strength of men. Now he is one of the most well known and debated upon authors in the Bible. Why? Because he refused the voice of the devil when he called him away from God. Paul had spent enough time doing the devil’s work that he knew it held no reward. Paul trusted in the God who saved him, Paul did not delay or deny God’s task. Paul went forth in courage because his faith was in God.
Oh, the things we can learn from God’s disciples.

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Let the storm pass by

Pain and grief build like the thick muggy atmosphere before a storm. You tell yourself you are okay but after awhile your heart and mind fill until the storm clouds break and you are left in a downpour of tears and a thunderstorm of racking shakes until through the midst of the rain you see Jesus. Scarred hand reaching out and taking you into His arms. As you cry into His heart you slowly feel better, His reassuring voice trickles in through the sobs and you hear Him tell you He loves you and that you will be okay. Suddenly your pain stops and feel like air after a big storm…refreshed…renewed…clear…. better. Thank you Jesus.

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As the trumpet calls

Do we sometimes forget that Jesus is coming back?
As we go through our days it can feel like this world is forever spinning and never ending. It’s easy to forget that there is a greater purpose than this. It’s easy to get so caught up in the day to day that our minds completely lose focus on the fact that tomorrow, the next day, tonight, right now Jesus could be coming back. Jesus himself said that He did not know the hour that He would return. As the world and it’s forever spinning seems to be forever spinning off its axle I see people starting to fill with fear, that or they were full of fear already, because the world is a mess. I’m sorry but it is. Yes, it’s partly our fault, but we don’t need to look at this world with the fear that we will be here forever till it ends. When the world is finally burned up there will not be a single Christian on it. No matter if you are pre tribulation, mid tribulation, or post tribulation in the end when the world dies we will not be here. Let me repeat that we will not be here. Jesus is coming back. If you knew nothing else in your entire life except that one fact you would know the most important thing you need to know to survive. If there is no Jesus, there is no point. But we know there is a Jesus, our Jesus, and He is coming for His people.

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There ARE going to be empty branches

When I go camping I love having a spot that is surrounded by trees because the trees can feel……almost magical. Have you ever taken note of the delicate work of each branch? Some full of leaves, some of flowers, some bare of anything growing.

What massive, living creations trees are; they don’t think, they don’t feel, but they are still alive.

Imagine, as the tree grows it feels each branch grow out and form flowers, berries, leaves. The tree feels joy, even pride as it reaches toward the sun. Suddenly a branch feels wrong. It feels bare. The tree works hard to grow something, anything from this branch but it remains without addition. The tree tries another branch and finds it also unwilling to yeild. Confused, the tree asks God why some of it’s branches are bare.

God gently replies:

“Not everything you try will grow and succeed. Do not focus on these branches, instead focus on the branches that are blossoming and blooming. Please do not be descouraged by the feeling these leafless branches bring, wait and see what these empty branches add to your life.”

Not everything we try will succeed. Some things we simply cannot do, and some things we are not meant to do; but do not focus on these empty branches. Allow them to be signs that we tried, even if nothing produced from the attempt.

Focus on your growing leaves and flowers, allow them to encourage you to branch out and once again try something new. It might succeed, it might fail, but God is there for us even as we try. And remeber, the best branches to hang a swing from are empty ones.

In other words, focus on your successes and let them encourage you, but do not hate your misadventures because they have a purpose too; and in everything God has a purpose and a reason.

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Chaos

Out of the chaos come the best stories.
Think about the greats. Tolkien, Lewis, Dickens, Vern, Stevenson, so on. The main theme of most of their stories is chaos. War, poverty, destruction, and the aftermath of all of the above. And out of these horrors come stories that touch people’s hearts. Stories that soon become legends in their own right; stories that guide you down a path laden with dark, crumbling caverns and forests only to emerge at the entrance to magnificent palaces and lands filled with magic and faeries.
Most stories have at least a moment of chaos that leads the protagonist to the right place at the right time so they can be there when the world needs them, or at least when the author needs them.
If we allow God to lead us through the chaos times in our lives we will find ourselves in the right place, at the right time when the author of the world needs us. And we will find after all the struggles that the grand palace and the land of magic was worth every dark, crumbling cavern we had to climb through; because God knows the end of the last chapter and He is guiding us on the best path to reach the apex of our lives where we will stand undefeated and look behind us to see the gentle, powerful hand that was leading us all along.

Credit to owner for cover image

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Enough light?

Stormie Omartan wrote a book titled ‘just enough light for the step I’m on.’
The book itself I have not yet read, but the title has clung in my mind.
How often do we go through times like that? Days when we feel like we only have the dull beam of a dying flashlight guiding us, just enough light to see directly in front of us and that is it. We may even feel like that has been our whole lives, just enough, never more, never less. The point of the very dark and invisible path ahead is Faith. Would we need an all knowing God if we were all knowing ourselves? God could have given us a complete outline of what our lives would be but He knew that if we knew all we would go through we couldn’t handle it. Our free will also comes into play here. If God had given us an exact road map the decisions we made ( good or bad) would not have happened because they were not part of our map.
We have only enough light so we step out trusting in God, and even when we fall He catches us and lets us learn from our mistakes.
We would not be people, with thought and choice, if we had an exact path. Yes God has a path for all of us and a destiny and an end result, but a lot of what gets us where we are going is our decisions. It may be a hard road or an easy road depending on our choices. Sometimes we may even not end up where God plans for us to be because our decisions lead us elsewhere, but He allows us to be real and to make our choices without dictation. Jesus directs us. Not controls us, directs. He lets us choose where we will go but He still guides us to keep us safe.
We have just enough light to see the path and to somewhat make out where each path may go when we reach a crossroads.
Walking a dim path with Jesus is the same as if we were walking in brilliant, full sunshine.
Walking a dim path without Jesus is simply a good way to get lost.

Christianity · Devotional · encouragement · free · J.R.R.Tolkien · Jesus · searching

Dragons and kings

God is not like smaug, the great dragon from the Hobbit, where when we come into His lair trembling and say “I had heard stories about you but I did not believe them,” he stands back from us flexing the scales across his chest and blowing a snort of smoke out of his nose he proplaclaims, “and do you now?”
In contrast when we come up to Jesus trembling saying, ” I had heard stories of you my Lord, but I did not believe them.” He looks at us with love and responds, “I know, I have been waiting for you to come and see me for yourself.” Then He hugs us and all our fears and sins and scars melt away and not only do we believe the stories we now know the man they are about and we know He loves us. His gentle embrace following us everywhere we go until we get to live with Him in His kingdom. There is no dragon pride, just the gentle/powerful/all knowing/unending love of a king.

(Credit to owner for the cover image)

Christianity · Devotional · encouragement · free · Jesus

When the devil comes calling let it be Jesus who answers the door

How often have we felt like the world has delivered a spin kick in the stomach to us and then laughed as we grimaced in pain? Too often I’m sure. We have all been there. Down and almost out, wishing we could crawl from the fight ring of life and curl up in the comforting shadow of the stands where nobody can see us. We close our eyes and try to wish away what we have been dealt, but when we open them the hurt is still there. We blame everything. The world, people, ourselves, even God, but when it comes down to it there’s only one to blame for all misery and that’s the devil. He is knocking at the door to our hearts and our minds waiting for us to open up even just a little, and because we aren’t letting him in he brings a battering ram with him. Victory in such times comes from response. If we let Jesus take over and respond as He would want us to then we win. The devil won’t stay long if it’s Jesus who answers the door. Whenever the hit comes, where ever you are, however it presents it’s self Jesus is right there ready to defend you; He is a loving and jealous God and He is very protective of His people. I know that it’s hard to understand why the pain happens at all but the trying of our Faith produces endurance; sometimes suffering is required of us and it is impossible to understand why a living God would hurt His people, but He isn’t the one hurting us, yes He is allowing it, but He isnt causing it. I once heard a pastor say, “don’t pray away your blessings.” What he meant was if we never suffer than we never get to see God save us. Miracles don’t happen for people who don’t need them. We must put all of what we go through in God’s hands and respond as Jesus would no matter how hard it is because that is how we reach a break through. Whenever the devil comes to the door step back and let Jesus answer He has defeated the devil before.

Christianity · encouragement · free · Jesus

Uncaged

Acts 16:25 and 26

Deafening slams of iron on iron as each door leading to your prison is closed behind you. Damp earth chills you to your veins and the deeper you go underground the more you have to rely on the light from the torches. ‘Be strong and courageous’ keeps echoing inside your head as your wounds remind you of what your captors are like. Finally you reach what seems to be the center of the universe and now you can fully hear the screams, cries and taunts of fellow prisoners. The eerie torch light shows shadows of scarred faces and you reach your own personal cell. The door is closed behind you with a crash like thunder and you are now cascading into a world of darkness as the soldiers and the torches slowly move away.

I suspect this analogy is a close description to what Paul and Silas felt as they were transported to their prison cell after being beaten by the Roman soldiers. Many Christians have been blessed to have never known this level of fear or pain, and yet many Christians suffer just as this if not more so on a regular basis; a suffering they accept because of their faith.

Today however I am going to be speaking on the mental and spiritual cage. If your mind is caged so is your spirit. What your mind dwells on your spirit will inevitably follow. We are all prisoners of this world; unless we know Jesus. However Christains still face the suffering of a caged mind from time to time, our cage just isn’t eternal. Things of this world find us and hold us locked behind bars. Self doubt, sorrow, fear, suffering, anger, even indifference can be cages quite similar to the prison I described in the beginning. Cold, damp, dark, caged. But the same God, the same just King who freed Paul and Silas from their physical prison can and will save us from our mental prisons. What was the secret trick the prisoners from Acts 16 had up their sleeve? Worship and praise. The times when we feel least equipped to worship are the times we need to worship the most. When we clear our minds of the situation and fill our minds with the Holy Spirit we can hear the gates creaking and slowly see the bars bend and break setting us free. God intends for us to live in Spiritual freedom through Him so He gives us ways to keep our minds and souls uncaged. When we are caged, as we will be once in a while, God takes the keys of our hearts and unlocks the doors to free us once again. He is a good king and doesn’t leave His people to suffer.

If you look around your mind and see prison bars please, turn your mind to worship and let God; let our warrior king come in and set you free.

Christianity · Devotional · encouragement · free · Jesus · searching

Contradiction

Today I was looking out over the lake in front of my grandfather’s cabin, and watching the gentle, grey waves roll in as multi coloured leaves escaped from their branches and settled on the stirring water. My mind flitted back to the ocean. The ocean is so much like God in many ways (and maybe God intended that) but today I thought of how the ocean is the world’s great contradiction. The sea is wild and untamed and sometimes quite harsh, yet it’s also gentle and nurturing. If you are out on the waves during a winter storm it’s a miracle if you make it back to shore! The wind howling, the water in turmoil, ice pellets driving into you like shrapnel; suddenly you realize this is not a place meant to be tamed or conquered and you are very much out of your depths thinking you could control such an controllable force! What you don’t see from the surface of those wild, teasing waves putting you back in your place is the security and comfort of the lives down below. When a big, cold winter storm attacks the animals under the surface swim deeper under the water until they are not affected by the storm. The ocean holds an array of extremely beautiful and delicate creatures who are unafraid and unharmed by the raging storm above. Where they are is quiet and safe and they know they are protected by the water. The ocean is so much like God in this way. To those who do not know God this world can be wild and harsh and untameable. They are like a little boat bobbing around in a wild winter storm, out on a great ocean and if they come out unscathed it’s a blessing. For those who know God and have accepted Jesus, it is like being a sea creature. We are safe in Jesus and comforted by His presence. When the storms of life hit we swim deeper into Him until we are enveloped by Him and are safe. Jesus does sometimes make us ride out some tough storms, but He always gets us through. Even if we don’t see Him protecting us right now He is there and He is keeping us safe. The ocean that crushes rock walls into sand is the same ocean that gently hydrates and feeds the ever so delicate anemone. The same God that conquers armies and parts the seas is the same God that gives dew to the flower and sends honey bees to scatter it’s pollen. What a perfect and powerful, loving and gentle God we serve and love; we are so very blessed to be called His children.