"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  Hebrews 4:16

Old Oak Tree

Legend of the Forest Trees

One day, as God was listening To prayers that came to Him, He heard a whispered longing From a forest’s mighty limb. “O Lord”, it prayed, “let me be formed Into a palace fit For the most noble king on earth.” And God said, “So be it.”

Another tree then dared to ask To be a ship well known B men who sail on all the seas And live in every zone. The Father kindly looked on it And touched it with His hand, “You shall have your request in full But you may not understand.”

A third tree shyly prayed, “Dear God”, (And its leaves were aglow With its earnestness to serve its Lord) “Please let me always grow “With branches pointing heavenward To lead men’s thoughts to Thee.”

And God looked down on it with love And breathed, “This, too, shall be.”
The woodmen came and felled each tree And dragged them out one morn The first became a cattle shed Where the King of kings was born. They fashioned one to be a boat To sail on Galilee. From this the Master calmed the storm And leveled the rolling sea.

The tiny skiff has travelled far On sea, to every land, As men in faith have calmed their fears With His “Peace, be still!” command.
The third tree sadly hung its head, “They are making a cross of me!” But ever since, it has pointed men To the Christ of Calvary.


Keeping Perspective

Keeping Perspective - Beautiful TreesBroken promises, feeling taken for granted, unappreciated, unloved or misunderstood-these are things that can steal our joy. They cause us to lose sight of who we are in Christ and to whom we belong.

Sin also robs us of joy. One of my own heart’s fondest desires is to live at all times in the joy of the Lord. I long for it so much that if I find it missing, I cannot waste a moment until I have it back again.

Many times that means getting on my knees in repentance. Sometimes it is pouring out my broken heart to God, other times it is simply refocusing my thoughts on Jesus. Even in the midst of broken promises and feeling unloved, when I consider where my hope lies, I can be joyful.

If the Apostle Paul could praise God and hold fast to his joy while in chains, how can we who are free, do any less? Paul’s thoughts were not of himself and his own suffering. He focused on telling others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had things in perspective. His priorities were right with God.

Joy is not necessarily a feeling of happiness, though at times it can be. It is a deep assurance that no matter the situation at hand, we have much to look forward to. No matter the storms that surround us, we know that we are children of God and that He loves and cares for us. We can get excited when we think of all He has waiting for us in our Heavenly Home. How can we help but be joyful if we place our hope in Him and take our eyes off the things of the world.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1: 2-4)


The Pity Party:

Pity Party TearsLast night I threw myself a pity party and no one attended.  I was feeling alone and abused due to an issue I have.  I won’t go into details about the precise issue…we all have them.  I couldn’t sleep so I cried all night.  This morning I finally remembered to pray and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart that I didn’t have to feel the way I did; that I could have gone into God’s Word and prayed for peace.  He reminded me that I wasn’t really ever alone and that I need to behave like a child of God.

Why did I not pick up God’s Word and seek Him?  I did sort of pray but it felt like my prayers were hitting the ceiling and my prayers were all about feeling abused how others were blaming me for something I didn’t do.  I should have prayed in the Spirit since God says that doing so will edify me.  I don’t know why I didn’t seek Jesus in the Word of God but hopefully I will never again fail to do so.

As I spent time in the Word this morning and prayed in the Spirit I realized that I need to behave like a Christian and allow others to think and feel what they think and feel. I can’t change the mind of others.  I can only control and change my own behavior.  So I am calm and joyful today because of the Word of God and because I listened to the Spirit and was obedient.  By the grace of God, I will never throw myself another pity party.

 


A Matter of Grace:

A Matter of Grace - Fiery  I stood barefoot on the fiery bed of coals. I peered downward, waving the smoke away from my sizzling feet and saw huge, red, oozing blisters. I trudged on. Just as I was about to step into a meadow of cool, dewy, green grass I woke up with a start.

With clenched, aching jaws, drenched in sweat and tears, I sat up in the bed. If only the dream had lasted long enough for me to feel the cooling moisture of that meadow. However, there would be no more sleep that night and I wondered how I would live with this agony for the rest of my life.

Coping with Diabetes had always been a challenge, but this was far beyond anything I could have prepared for. I was on a low sugar, low fat diet and exercised every day. With God’s help, I had succeeded in controlling the blood sugar levels but nothing relieved the fierce, burning pain caused by the dying nerves in my feet. The damage had already been done. My heart was broken and I couldn’t believe God wanted me to live this way.

I called on my Pastor who also lives with chronic pain. Together, we called upon God. As my Pastor prayed for me, I was aware of His power and presence. His Holy Spirit filled me and I knew I was to simply keep trusting in Him. He would give me grace for each day if I would walk in faith. So, it truly was a matter of grace.

Later that morning I sat down to read my Bible. “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as great drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22: 44) Those words reminded me of the anguish my Lord suffered at Calvary. As I continued to read, His words were like a cool, dewy meadow to my soul. I am a Child of God and He is able. When I reach Heaven, there will be no more pain. Until then, I will rest in the palm of His hand.

 

A Matter of Grace - Dewy Meadow


Wings:

Birds on the Wing

Leaning back in my chair I look up and see a beautiful bird struggling to fly southward against the strong, gusty winds blowing across the lake. It has kept up the hopeless pursuit for hours as it makes longer and wider circles to build speed. Turning again to face the wind, it hangs as if suspended from the heavens, wings flapping in vain. I watch as it returns to the tree on the bank where another bird sits watching the great effort.

The birds sit with their heads close together as if planning their strategy against the blustery weather. Soon they both take to the air. Soaring northward, the wind is under their wings and they glide effortlessly. Circling, they face the strong currents. Unable to make any headway, they return to the tree discouraged but not defeated.  I sit until evening. The intense winds have turned into gentle breezes and the birds victoriously wing their way to whatever southbound destination they are so determined to reach.

Standing beside the lake where the water kisses the shore, I search the horizon for one last glimpse of the birds. In spite of the windstorm, they are gone. I bow my head thinking of the storms in my own life that do more than ruffle my feathers. Just as He did for the birds, God makes a way through for me. I toss a pebble into the lake water, then lift my hands toward Heaven and praise The Lord. He gives power to rise above whatever life may bring against me when I set my mind and belief upon Him.

I return to my lounge chair on the shore, fluff my pillow behind my back and relax. Gentle breezes like the breath of God caress my face and whisper in my ear. I thank Him that the storms that bring sickness, failure, tragedy and disappointment do not have to overcome. He lifts me and I move forward even stronger than before.

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall walk and not be weary, they shall run and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

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