Hidden Behind the Clouds

courtesy pixabay

This time of year two of my favorite constellations, Pleiades and Orion, are visible over our house in the early morning hours.

Except this morning. This morning they were hidden behind the clouds.

Before I walk down the driveway to retrieve the paper I pause, look skyward, and marvel at God’s creation.

I wonder the One who placed the stars in the heavens and planets in motion is mindful of me. I am amazed the Creator who bound the cluster of stars forming Pleiades and put a belt around Orion’s waist, knows exactly where I stand when I go outside each morning.

But the other morning I was disappointed when Orion hid behind the clouds. There was no sign of his belt, his shoulders, or his sword. Clouds separated me from the stars I so enjoy viewing.

Although I wished the clouds would move as I stared upward, I was confident Orion was right where he was supposed to be.

Sometimes we might be in a place in life where we feel as if God is no longer visible. He’s hidden behind the clouds of life. Something moved in between us and blocked our view. During those times it might be easy to believe God left us all alone to stare skyward into a cloudy, dark sky.

Even when we look and can’t see God, he’s still there. He’s as constant as the Northern Star. We can count on him. When events in our life block our view of God, we need to hang on to what we know is true about him. Not what our eyes or emotions tell us to be true.

God loves us. He will never leave or forsake us. He has a plan; a good plan, for our lives. Our name is engraved on the palm of his hand. He counts the very hairs on our head. He knit us together in our mother’s womb.

And yes. The Creator God who placed the stars in the heavens and planets in motion, knows us by name and calls us his child.

Do you spend time marveling at God’s heavenly creation? Is there a constellation, or two, you favor?

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“Can you direct the movement of the stars—binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the constellations through the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?” Job 38:31-32 (NLT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Ready Your Horse

courtesy pixabayThe writer of Proverbs tells us to ready your horse for battle. Be prepared. Put in the time and effort to face what’s next. All the while realizing the victory is the Lord’s.

I expect readying my horse for battle looks different from yours. Readying my horse involves being prepared to write what I believe God wants me to write. Sending it where I believe he wants it published. Getting it in front of people I believe he wants it in front of.

Perhaps you’re preparing to venture into new areas in your career, relationship, life, or ministry. With each new adventure we face, our horse needs to be made ready.

Ready yourself for battle. Sounds good but how do we go about accomplishing that?

As Christ followers, I believe we ready our horse for the battle to withstand Satan’s fiery darts of doubt, temptation, discouragement, and disappointment ahead of time by grounding ourselves in the truth of God’s Word. We do our part, acknowledging our Lord is the one fighting the battle for us.

It took fourteen years before God moved David from shepherd to king. During that time David readied his horse for the greater battle ahead.

As a teen, he took care of his father’s sheep. He meditated on the word of the Lord and penned glorious psalms of praise, deliverance, lament, and hope.

While tending the sheep, David faced the paw of the lion and the bear. And was delivered each time by God.

He faced Goliath with a sling and stone and defeated the giant in the name of the Lord.

David readied his horse for the battle as King Saul chased him and his ragtag band all over Israel. He learned to be a leader by trusting God and depending on him for deliverance.

We can, and must, ready our horse for battle, always remembering the victory belongs to the Lord.

What battle are you facing? How are you readying your horse?

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The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. Proverbs 21:31 (ESV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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This Is The Way

courtesy wikipedia

Leonhard Seppala’s lead dog, Togo.

In 1925 a life or death mission was undertaken by twenty mushers and more than 100 sled dogs. This mission would not have succeeded if the dogs pulling the sleds carrying diphtheria antitoxin serum, refused to listen to their musher’s voice saying, This is the way.

The diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome, Alaska. Nome’s supply of antitoxin expired, and the town’s doctor refused to use it. The nearest antitoxin was in Anchorage. Nearly one thousand miles away. The only way to get the antitoxin to Nome was by sled dog. After receiving the serum by plane in Nanana, the mushers with their sled dogs relayed the 20-pound cylinder of serum to Nome. 674 miles and five and a half days later the serum arrived safely in Nome.

Followers of Christ are tasked with a life-saving mission to take an antitoxin serum–God’s truth and love–to a sick and dying world. For our mission to succeed, we need to listen to God’s voice. He is the one who directs our path in the way we should go.

Our mission to carry the Good News of salvation through Christ Jesus is a coordinated mission. It takes each and every one of us working together.

The way is treacherous filled with adverse conditions and winding trails. At times we may face extreme white-out conditions. The only way to know the direction we should travel is by listening to the voice behind us saying, This is the way. Walk in it.

We may feel like giving up. Like our strength is gone. But we aren’t alone. Others in the  race run beside us, helping us carry the serum.

When trail markers become hidden in the storm causing us to take a wrong turn, the voice behind says, This is the way. Walk in it. At the sound of his voice we make a correction, and get back on the correct trail.

During those times when the trail is too difficult to forge on our own, our Leader walks in front of us, guiding us, whispering to us, This is the way. Walk in it.

Taking the familiar trail may seem more logical than the one the voice behind us calls us to take. That’s when we have a choice. Believe God knows more than we do, or not. Listen to his voice and follow, or not.

One way to hear God’s voice is to spend time listening for it through meditating on his word. We need to become so familiar with our Master’s voice, if another voice tries to direct us, we recognize it as a fraud and shut our ears to it.

God’s voice stills, reassures, leads, enlightens, forgives, calms, encourages, and comforts. The enemy’s voice rushes, frightens, pushes, confuses, condemns, stresses, discourages, and worries.

As was true in 1925, our life-saving mission today is of the utmost importance. The trail and weather conditions are extreme. The dedication to save lives is sacrificial. The end result is more than worth it.

This is the way. Walk in it.

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Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Why Death?

Why death?

That was the question posed by the preacher during the funeral service for a dear friend Pilot and I attended Saturday. A friend only twenty-one months older than me. A friend who left behind a husband, three children and their spouses, fifteen grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren, a sister, brother, and countless friends and relatives to grieve. Linda will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.

One of the first things the minister said was, “It is not unchristian to grieve.” He then directed us not to focus on what we feel – our great loss – but on what we know – God is real, and the Word of God is also real.

In answering his question, why death? the preacher said death is not normal. It isn’t God’s intended plan. Death entered our world at the same time sin did in the Garden of Eden.

None of this surprised God. Of course it didn’t. God already knew before he said, “Let there be…” as he spoke the universe into existence, Jesus would come to this fallen, broken, death-filled earth, die on the cross of Calvary, rise from the grave, and ascend to his throne in heaven. The perfect sacrifice. The perfect Savior. The perfect Victor.

Because of Christ’s victory over death, we too have victory over death when we place our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

Preaching from 1 Corinthians 15, the minister said there is absolutely no contest. Jesus is the Victor. Jesus conquered death. Death was swallowed up. Our separation from loved ones who die is not permanent. The penalty of sin has been removed. The moment we open our eyes in God’s presence, no sin will ever come between us again.

He closed by reminding us to be steadfast to make Christ known.

Whether we have experienced the loss of a loved one or not, it is good to remember death does not have the final word. Jesus does. If we belong to him, we are welcomed with open arms into the glorious richness of heaven, where there is no more sorrow. No more sadness. No more tears. Amen?

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When this happens, then at last this Scripture will come true—“Death is swallowed up in victory.” O death, where then your victory? Where then your sting? For sin—the sting that causes death—will all be gone; and the law, which reveals our sins, will no longer be our judge. How we thank God for all of this! It is he who makes us victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So, my dear brothers, since future victory is sure, be strong and steady, always abounding in the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever wasted as it would be if there were no resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 (TLB)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Will Go For Us?

courtesy pixabayAround 742 B.C. the prophet Isaiah heard the Lord ask, “Who will go for us?”

To which the prophet replied, “Here am I. Send me!”

I wonder…are we as eager to respond to God’s call as Isaiah?

Here I am, God. Whatever you ask, I’ll do it.

Wherever you send, I’ll go.

No matter how difficult, or how far outside my comfort zone, if you call, I’m the person for the job.

What I’ve often found is when we feel God calls us to step up and take on something for him, we become afraid to say yes to his “Who will go for us?”

We’re afraid God might ask us to do something beyond our abilities.

Or something unpleasant.

Or something which will require too much from us.

Or…fill in your own blanks.

Every time God called one of his prophets in the Old Testament it cost the prophet something.

Anoint Saul’s successor while Saul’s still king of Israel, realizing if Saul chased David all around the country to keep him from taking his throne, he wouldn’t be too happy having you anoint him. (Samuel) Cast into a cistern? Put in stocks? (Jeremiah) Told your wife would die, yet you are not to mourn outwardly for her? (Ezekiel) Thrown in a lion’s den? (Daniel)

It was beyond human ability to accomplish on their own.

Call down fire from the sky? Fed by ravens beside a brook? Raise a widow’s son back to life? (Elijah) Divide the Jordan River by striking it with a cloak? Provide unlimited oil to pay a creditor to save a widow’s two sons from slavery? Cure leprosy? (Elisha)

It was often unpleasant, and usually involved being despised by the people God sent the men to reach.

Plague of locusts? (Joel) Declare social justice is inseparable from true piety? (Amos) Swallowed by a large fish? (Jonah) Warn kings and rulers who despised justice and distorted what is right, their city would be reduced to rubble. Remind rulers God requires all men (and woman) to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the LORD?(Micah)

Warn the arrogant, those who make themselves wealthy through extortion, and build their realm by unjust gain, they will not escape God’s wrath? (Habakkuk) Declare woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled? (Zephaniah) Warn the people to give careful thought to their actions and the need to put God first. (Haggai) Declare judgment on the nations at Christ’s return. (Zechariah) Punishment to those who do not follow the Lord’s ways? (Malachi)

Phew.

I’m thinking not many of us will be called upon to serve God in the same way prophets in the Old Testament did.

Still, we may be hesitant. We may forget the One who calls us knows what we are capable of. We may forget he knows our strengths and our weaknesses. We may also forget God will not send us where he knows we’ll fail. Why would he do that?

Isaiah and the other prophets were able to reply, “Here am I. Send me!” when God asked, “Who will go for us?” because they trusted the One sending them.

Let’s pray when we’re called, we’ll respond the same way. Here am I. Send me!

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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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