Archive for January, 2011

I am with you always…

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Get Close to God

 Thirty-third in the series Get close to God

 
I am with you always, even to the end of the age-Jesus, Matthew 28:20

 

Since those are the last words Jesus spoke while he was still on this earth, I think they are worth a second, perhaps even a third look.  Is Jesus really with you right now, as you are reading this?  If so, how and where?  Well, I don’t know how he pulls off being with everyone at the same time, but he is God, right?  So, I would expect nothing less than omnipresence.

As far as where Jesus is, he can’t be too far away if he claims to be with us.  Paul explained it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:18: “We look not at the things that are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  Then in the next chapter he adds “we walk by faith, not by sight.”  Just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there-we can only feel the wind and smell aromas.

He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:27-28)

So many people live and die oblivious to the fact that there is so much more they could have experienced, had they reached beyond their limited existence.  Like a mouse stuck in a maze or a fish in a bowl, they are unaware of anything or any place outside of their own little world.

If we make a serious effort to pursue God, he promises to reveal himself to us:  “Abide in Me and I will abide in you…Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (John 15:4, James 4:8.)  Paul also encourages us to have unbroken fellowship with the Lord throughout the day: “Pray without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17)  I don’t think this is constant talking to God, it should include being quiet and listening to his still, small voice and thinking about him often.  I used to get discouraged when I would say “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” and then would hear absolutely nothing.  I’ve since learned the value of just being still before the Lord, to rest in his presence. 

This morning I was having a hard time focusing on prayer out in the woods and I was feeling a little bit defeated on my way back to the house when I was hit with the sunrise facing me.  It was so bright I could barely tell where I was walking.  All I could see was the sun.  I felt like the Lord was giving me an example of how to stay in his presence.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all I could see was him, in all his radiant warmth and glory, and not even notice all the worldly things trying to entice me and pull me away from the only true source of joy and satisfaction!  I was also reminded that in all the mostly cold and dreary days we’ve had so far this January, the sun was always there, it was just hidden by the clouds, just like our loving Heavenly Father is always there for us, even amidst our struggles and sorrows.

God has always been consistent concerning his desire for intimacy with us:  “Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9)

This  sunrise was captured from the front porch of the cabin Sharon and I stayed in during our 30th Anniversary vacation in North Carolina in the Fall of 2009.  This photo was not touched up in any way.  I was awestruck as I watched it come up over the mountain!  As we rely on the sun everyday to enlighten our way, we can also depend on the Son to guide and help us at all times.

I am continually with you; You have taken hold of my right hand.  With Your counsel you will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory.  (Psalm 73:23-24)

 

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My kind of January…

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

2011 got off to a great start with Sharon’s 50th birthday celebration, kittens to play with,
and snow to play in. 

Here’s what happened to Sharon’s birthday balloons:

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This wonderful devotion was written by my sister, Deborah, about a week ago.  Enjoy… 

I love our Christmas tree.  The thought of discarding it saddens me.  I’ve put it off as long as I can; it’s time to take it down.

 I can still picture it as it stood tall and regal among the other Frazier Fir trees at the tree farm. Its full branches reached out to embrace the sun, rain and fresh air.  A shame, really, to cut it down and end its life for a few weeks of our own holiday enjoyment.  But, then, isn’t that the purpose of a tree farm?  The trees are raised for that purpose alone.  They’re planted, nurtured, tended and raised to serve; then to die.

On Christmas Day, Jesus Christ was born for one purpose.  Like the Frazier sapling, he was raised, nurtured and tended by his earthly and Heavenly fathers to fulfill a specific role. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” (Isaiah 53:2)  He came to bring us life eternal; then to die.  Unlike the fir tree, however, he arose three days later and lives today to offer us salvation, joy, hope and life abundant. “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly,” Jesus said.

Decorations have been tucked away for another year, wrapping paper long discarded, once-green trees taken for recycling. Christmas is over…. but the story is not.  No post-holiday let-down; only a bright future with Him.  It is not the end; it is just the beginning. 

Yes, this year’s Christmas trees are dead and gone. But Jesus is alive and will return again;  perhaps very soon.  Are you ready?

Deborah Peterson

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Pete and Paula

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Roots by the River


I believe every child should grow up with a pet and finding the right pet for the family was quite a job. After the disaster with the fish, we decided to try a bird. I searched for the perfect parakeet, one that would sing and fill our house with beautiful music, one that was colorful and pretty. His name was Pete. Pete was bright yellow from wing tip to wing tip. He was like a little ray of sunshine in our home.

We took great pride in finding the right bird cage, a spacious home, for our new arrival. We filled it with all the right toys, food, and bird stuff, hoping to make his new home an enjoyable experience. But Pete was just not a happy bird. He just sat motionless. He didn’t sing, and he didn’t even play with his toys. He just sat!! It was obvious after several weeks of trying to entertain this bird, we were doing something wrong.

Then it dawned on me one day Pete was lonely. He needed a companion, someone to share bird things with. So off we went to the pet store to find Pete a friend. Her name was Paula. When we arrived, we heard this parakeet singing all the way from the back of the store and we knew she was the one. She was bright blue as the sky and just beautiful. We knew this was the one for Pete. He would fall in love with her, we hoped!

We were not disappointed, when we arrived home and put her in the birdcage with Pete it was love at first sight. For days he did not leave her side. Everywhere she sat in the cage, Pete was right there. If she ate, he ate, if she slept, he slept, if she sang, he sang. He was a happy bird and our home was filled with music. Paula was the focus of Pete’s life.

Unfortunately, Pete was not the focus of Paula’s life. We began to notice she was becoming increasingly unhappy. In her efforts to have a little space she would move away from him slightly when he got too close. On one occasion, Pete had her pinned so tightly against the side of the cage she could barely move.

Now I don’t pretend to know what goes on inside a bird’s head, but I just wondered what Paula would do about this situation. It was obvious this was not what she had in mind.

The birdcage was strategically placed in our kitchen by the picture window where there was lots of sunshine and activity they could see from their little home. I entered the kitchen one morning to fix breakfast, and found Paula sitting on the outside of the cage on the clothes pin affixed to the coddle bone. Pete was directly on the other side. Paula would fly off, ride the ceiling fan for a few minutes then return to her perch, outside the cage. She sang with such joy, it was wonderful. This went on all day, but in the evening, Paula would return to the safety of her cage and get as close to Pete as she could. She was a happy bird.

As for Pete, well he was a confused bird. He never figured out he too could slip through the cage and go for a morning or evening flight on the ceiling fan. He never figured out he could enjoy Paula outside the comfort of his little world. He just sat in the cage motionless until Paula returned. He missed the joy of being a bird!! We can learn a lot from Pete and Paula. Pete’s focus was on something/someone who could only bring him temporary happiness. His focus was limited to what was right in front of him. Paula, on the other hand, seemed to enjoy the fellowship Pete could bring, but also enjoyed the beauty of the world of a bird around her.

Our Dear Father in heaven says to us in Matthew 6:33, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. When we place our focus on the only one who can bring us not only circumstantial happiness, but the soul fulfilling joy of being a child of God, then we are free to enjoy the relationship of our spouse and friends in light of His glory.

Dear Father, don’t let me miss the joy of being a Child of God.

Ann Cason 2/10/05

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When we grasp the reality of God’s love, we will no longer seek our security in jobs, bank accounts, investments, houses, husbands, wives, friends, or health.  We will rest in the Lord, free from all fear, secure in the assurance that He is going to provide all that we need and protect us from everything that will not be for our good.  “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”  (1st John 4:18)     Richard Straus
 
 
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