Remember

Memorial Day is a day to remember the sacrifices of those wh0 have paid freedom’s price.  I hope you pause sometime over this 3 day weekend to remember the hardships, the heartaches, and the acts of heroism that have sustained the liberties we enjoy.

Very few of us are enough of a history buff to connect the last days of the month of May to the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940.  I would encourage you to read this link that provides an interesting account of the pivotal events that transpired on these historic dates.

While World War II might predate many of us, the events of 911 are etched in the memories of more than just a few who will read this blog.  I was sent a link to a YouTube video a couple of months ago, and the events of this video made me think of Dunkirk.  I encourage you to watch this goosebump-producing video by clicking here.

Both the article and the video I shared are a testimony to the power of the human spirit.  I hope the sacrifices of Dunkirk in 1940 and the heroes of 911 are enough to keep you thinking and remembering.

 

Enduring Life’s Hurdles

There are times when the burdens of life are incredibly heavy.  When I experience these times in my personal life and when I walk with others who are struggling, Hebrews 12:1-3 is the Gatorade that keeps me going:  let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Heartache, sickness, and grief can present circumstances that are difficult to endure. Like it or not, they are hurdles that are a part of life’s race.  Regardless of how hard we train, we will find it difficult to cross the finish line if we do not keep our eyes on the goal.

The key to finishing the race is to keep your eyes focused on the next step and not the hurdle three steps in front of you.  Even though tragedies and  trials can appear to be insurrmountable obstacles, a person needs to see more than just the mountain ahead?

Instead of yielding to the mountain,  focus your faith on the God who made the mountain.  When troubles come, do you see just the storm or do you see the rainbow?  When you feel there is no way out, do you hear the roaring lion or do you feel the presence of Daniel’s angels?

When it comes to endurance, you do not have to walk alone.  Jesus extends an invitation to walk with Him and He offers to help carry the load:  Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Mattew 11:28-30 The Message).

Go ahead and read these words from The Message, they should be enough to keep you thinking:  Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!—Hebrews 12:1-3

Follow the Leader

There is a word in the Lord’s Prayer that is a common word, but at the same time, it isn’t.  The word lead is one that you have probably used many times.  If you have a dog, you have told him to “heel” and then you would lead him as you walk.  As a child, there is a good chance that you played the game, follow the leader.

The word lead is uncommon because the form of the word used in the Lord’s Prayer (lead us not into temptation) means something else.  The word Jesus used is one that means to bring or to carry. 

Using the Shepherd-sheep analogy, this word suggests the personal involvement of the Shepherd for the benefit of His sheep.  The idea is not that Jesus will simply lead us, but that He will carry us through the shadows and show us the way.

Jesus, our Shepherd, knows what we need, and He knows how to lead.  The truth of this statement is found in Hebrews 4:14-16:  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin.  Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Here’s a thought to keep you thinking.  We can know that He knows, because He has already been where we are going.

His Name’s Sake

Like many people, Psalm 23 is a favorite of mine.  As I was reading it earlier today, the last four words of  verse 3 caught my attention:  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

A person’s understanding of these four words may be limited because he thinks of God just as God.  The Hebrew language of the Old Testament is much more expressive and describes God in much more colorful and explicit terminology.  The different names of God emphasize the way He interacts with HIs creation:

  • Jehovah-rophe (the Lord who heals you)
  • Jehovah-raah (the caring Shepherd)
  • Jehovah-jireh (the will provide)
  • Jehovah-shalom (the Lord is peace)

The personal application for us is that when we are struggling with emotional or physical issues, we can call out to Jevovah-rophe.  When we feel like we are alone and no one cares, Jehovah-raah is present.  When we do not know where to turn or what to do, Jehovah-jireh will provide.  When the world seems to be shattered and crumbling beneath our feet, Jehovah-shalom is the peace in the eye of the storm.

I hope his name’s sake will be enough to keep you thinking.

Evolving or Flip-Flopping

I find the language of the media and politicians to be interesting.  They carefully select a specific word or phrase and use it like an artist to paint a glowing picture of either the issue or the the person they are promoting.

I recently read an article that praised an individual for the wonderful way his position had “evolved.”  Later in the article the writer lambasted another person for “flip-flopping.”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think both of the individuals in the article had simply changed their minds on an issue.

My concern is not so much about how we evolve or flip-flop, but more on what we become.  The teaching of Paul is clear on this matter.  In Colossians chapter 3, Paul lists the necessary steps we are to take, so we can become more like Christ.

1.  Set your heart on Christ

2.  Set your mind on the things above

3.  Put to death immorality

4.  Put off the old man

5.  Put on the new man

6.  Put on love

7.  Let the peace of God rule in your hearts

I encourage to get your bible out and read this passage of Scripture or click here to read it.  There is more than one thought in this passage too keep yoou thinking.

Where Am I?

A couple of weeks ago I damaged my cell phone and had to replace it.  I liked the iPhone I had, so I replaced it with a new iPhone with newer features.

One of the features I like is called Siri.  I simply push a button and ask a question:  “Where am I?”  Siri will speak to me; answer my question; and, give me my location. 

GPS technology makes it much easier to find your location and to locate what you are trying to find.  I have been a fan of the Global Positioning Satellite technology since it hit the market place.

When I think of GPS technology, I also think about God and the marvellous way that He knows exactly where we are and what we need. Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,  your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  How precious to me are your thoughts, God!  How vast is the sum of them (Psalm 139)!

I hope this is a thought that will keep you thinking.

Solitude

I heard my cell phone start talking to me about 4:40 this morning.  When it is on the charger and there is a power interruption, it emits a series of quick beeps.

I’m an early riser anyway and once I’m awake I rarely go back to sleep.  I gathered my clothes and went to the kitchen for my first cup of coffee, and . . . that’s right—no electricity—no coffee.

As I sit in the dark and write I am in a state of forced solitude.  I have used my cell phone to read a devotional, and I have offered up a prayer.  I have also come to a conclusion:  I am ill-prepared for a life without my expected conveniences.

No electricity means no internet, no TV, and woe is me—NO COFFEE!  At least my laptop has a good charge.

The truth is, solitude is what is lacking in most of our lives.  This quiet environment should be the rule of life instead of the exception that is forced upon us by Mother Nature.

Fresh Blessings

While driving through Wichita one day this week, I noticed several different businesses that were psychic in nature.  As I thought of their sham services, I thought about God’s offer to His children.  He has promised a lamp for our feet and a light for our path, but he has never promised a crystal ball to see our future (Psalm 119:105). 

The clear principle of Psalm 23 is that He leads and we are to follow.  He will always lead us in a path of righteousness, but never into a field of sin.   The direction He takes us will always be beneficial for our growth and spiritual development.

Another aspect of this principle is that we are to trust him for each day.  There are times, however, when we make the same mistake the Israelites made in their wilderness wanderings.  We want to stockpile the blessings of today, so we can smile our way through tomorrow.

God gave the Israelites the daily blessing of new manna.  Fearing this would not be sufficient to meet their needs, they wanted to gather more than their daily provision.  Wanting them to trust Him for each day and to live by faith, God caused the extra manna to spoil.

When we start to worry about our future needs, we need to remember the care of the Shepherd for His sheep.   God fully comprehends our needs for tomorrow, and He has a fresh blessing waiting for us.

The Person of Our Peace

When I read Psalm 23, I am reminded of some of the truths Jesus shared with His disciples:

  • I am the good shepherd.
  • I give my life for the sheep.
  • I am the door and the sheep must enter in through me.

These are truths of a personal nature.  Jesus emphasized this by the use of the pronoun “I.”  The same emphasis is seen in Psalm 23:  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

Look at the emphasis I have placed on the preceding words.  It is very evident that the work is being done by the shepherd for the benefit of the sheep.  This brings me to one of the key principles of this Psalm:  The shepherd is to lead and the sheep are to follow him into the green pastures.

When we follow the Shepherd, He nourishes our soul and spirit:  You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).  If your life is more turmoil than it is peace, consider investigating the love of the Shepherd for His sheep.  You may find that He is the missing peace to your life’s puzzle.

Here’s a thought to keep you thinking:  Sheep have a tendency to wander, and get lost. As sheep of His pasture, we need to pause and wonder in His goodness and find his love (Psalm 100).