No Stop Signs

In my hometown, there is an unusual intersection. Five roads meet in this one spot. Rush hour navigation can be time-consuming. Knowing and getting in the correct lane is a challenge sometimes.

Life is sort of like this crossroads. Maneuvering our way into the proper lane is difficult at times. Having a desire for a right turn and getting there depends on others letting you in. Being rude and getting someone else to let you in may work. Going with the flow and changing lanes when it’s safe requires discernment, but impossible at times. Then, making a U-turn to get back on track is another adventure.

The spiritual road of life often requires directional changes. Often, these transformations are not easy, sometimes confusing even with roadblocks. Pondering the directional change and the Lord’s timing may cause us to hesitate.

Prayer petitions, listening to God, and obeying him are key. Moses made a course change at the burning bush. David’s life changed because of a sling. Paul experienced blindness before knowing God’s intention. Peter failed several times before getting himself ready to speak on the day of Pentecost. Setbacks are not unusual for those wanting to obey God. Although setbacks are not fatal, they make the Christian stronger for future works for the Lord. 

One thing is for sure, God’s instructions are there for us to follow. Delays and personal hurts are hindrances. However, there are no stop signs on your spiritual road of service. Maybe turn signs, yield signs, or rockslides ahead signs will be on your journey. But believers have a promise from God. He said he would never leave us.

Inner Peace

Someone always seems to be stirring up trouble; evidently, dissatisfied with their surroundings or possessions. 

According to an advertisement, a new gadget on display in a commercial is a must-have. Your life will be better with the new product. But, will this product fulfill its promise when you spend your hard-earned money? After all, your grandparents survived the 20th century without the latest gadget. Will you feel inner peace by its possession? 

What brings us the peace that passes understanding? Is it things, acquaintances, relatives, or employment? Inward peace is calming. It’s nonperishable and rust-resistant. It’s a personal decision. 

Certain things cannot change. We cannot increase our brain capacity, but we can fill the empty spaces. Some examples: We can control our weight unless there’s a physical disorder. We can increase our bank account by spending less. Spending less is a decision.

Which is better new clothing or a stable checkbook? Which contributes to our genuine peace? Most mothers will do without so their kids can have their necessities and even their wants. The mom’s decision brings her a sense of inner peace. Material things matter very little, if at all, in the big picture. The tangible possessions only bring temporary tranquility.

What about spiritual peace? How can one sleep peacefully when their life is in a storm? Two words come to mind—trust and obedience. First, trust in God, who will somehow work things out in his time. “God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him” (Romans 8:28 CEV). In my life, that’s a checkup verse.

Am I really trusting God and accepting what’s in my day? My inner peace rests on this belief. Also, do I anticipate the Lord taking care of me in all situations, including the ones I don’t understand? And secondly, am I cooperating with the commands of the Bible even though I do not know the end results?

In the meantime, while I wait, our Lord gives my heart a quiet peace. So, I have a choice, turmoil or inner peace?

Hope For Your Dreams

Joseph dreamed as a 17-year-old. His brothers despised his explanation. Their resentment turned to hate, which led to a dastardly deed; they sold him as a slave. Then the brothers lied to dad, who assumed his youngest son was dead. 

But God had other plans.

Joseph stood on an auction block, and the bidding began. Potiphar was the highest bidder. The newly purchased servant worked hard. Promoted to the chief servant, Mrs. Potiphar lied about him when he refused to sin. Prison was his reward for integrity.

But God was arranging other plans.

Once again, Joseph’s character refused to turn to bitterness. His prison dreams came true because God had other plans.

Joseph was now the Egyptian Prime Minister. Bountiful years passed under his leadership then came the famine. One day, there was a knock on the door, his hateful brothers appeared on the scene to purchase food. Revenge was not on Joseph’s agenda. He helped his family out of their bind by supplying them with food. When they returned the second time for supplies, Joseph revealed his identity. He was the brother who they sold into slavery. 

His dream came true. His brothers bowed down to him, as the 17-year-old had said decades before.

Hope bears its fruit, and dreams do come true. But in the meantime, there is much to be done. Diligence always pays off. The anticipated answer will come out of nowhere. At least, that’s our perception, but not God’s. It was always his plan, and his timing is impeccable. The dark clouds of doubt may surround you, and then comes the gleam of hope. Your prayers and diligence peeked through. Hope reveals itself on the horizon encouraging you to keep plugging along. The finish line is just ahead because God had other plans.

Everything Changes

God first told Eve she was going to give birth. No more creation of human beings from the dust of the earth.

Not too many years later, two brothers fought. The older brother envied the younger’s style of worship. As a result, Cain killed Abel. The spilled blood cried out to the Lord.

The clouds assembled, then the downpour started. Water was falling from the sky. Noah’s generation saw rain for the first time. 

After the flood, a rainbow appeared, and God made a promise to Noah and his sons. “Never again will I destroy the whole earth with water.” God kept his promise to Noah.

Generations past, the Lord told a man to leave his kinfolk. By doing so, God said, “I’ll make you a great nation.” Abraham obeyed God. Years later, this man and his wife, Sarah, became parents well past the childbearing age. So was the beginning of the Jewish nation, Israel. 

Fast forward to the dominance of the Roman Empire. An angel informed a teenager she was about to have a baby. She said, “How can I? I’m not married.” The Angel said, “The Holy Spirit will overshadow you. Nine months from now, you will give birth to a son, Jesus.” 

Everything changed.


No more animal sacrifices. No migrations to Jerusalem. Now believers can worship in a nearby church.

Christians who let God lead their lives also experience new things. It’s a faith thing. When God directs our lives, he does something different by changing our direction or desires in life. He plans to use each believer to bring glory to him. We do so by being faithful and making ourselves available.

Release & Rejuvenate

Banging your head against the wall hurts. For me, headbanging means I’ve picked up too many things to do, and some downsizing needs to happen. I can’t say no when I should say no. When I reach the point where hair pulling is the only solution, the light comes on in my brain. I’m over-extended. 

I was there a few weeks ago. Slowly I started saying no. Cutting back is allowing me to get a fresh perspective. Now I’m evaluating other things, even asking for outside advice (which I hate). Maybe a few more trees to thin out in the forest around me is needed.

But, God is still my number one priority. My relationship with him is essential. Spending more time in prayer and doing lots of short prayers during the day has helped. Now, I realize releasing burdens whenever they pop up has also been beneficial. By doing so, my head seems to be better. Time will tell.

You’ve just read how I’ve expressed my priority changes. Maybe you are in a similar situation. If so, think about releasing some of your responsibilities—the ones you picked up and don’t need. Ask yourself, “Will the world get along without my involvement?” The world will be here tomorrow and next year.

Release and rejuvenate is good for my soul, and perchance you need a resurgence also.

Discernment

Everybody goes through a struggle at times. Knowing which way to go or what to do in certain situations is puzzling. An often used verse for encouragement in this area is Isaiah 40:31. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (NKJV). Quoting a Bible verse is good, but following it is better.

By nature, we are not patient, especially when we want God to answer us immediately. Our Lord often delays his answer for our best interest. We do not understand his reasoning. But, if we wait for him to work his plan for our request, we will realize he knew best all along.

Trusting, waiting, and discerning are godly attributes that we can incorporate into our lives. Each of these three attributes is a lesson in making a worthwhile learning experience. Sadly, this lesson is not a one-and-done experience. Every time a crucial decision needs an answer, we should resort to the same process; Trust, wait and discern through prayer.

Romans 5:3 in the old King James states, “tribulation worketh patience.” Likewise, the ESV says, “suffering produces endurance.” Often our best learning experiences result from some trouble we endured: past experiences and the lessons grasped in those valleys. Hopefully, we learned them the first time without journeying through the same valley again.

God has a way of making discernment real, and the way he chooses for us to learn is for our betterment. So, then, when the needed lesson is behind us, we better discern the future to wait on the Lord.

A Piece Is Missing

Misplacing your keys may be aggravating, especially when you’re in a hurry. Our memories fail us at times. We expect our memory bank to be retrievable in an instance, but there are times when the mega bites get jumbled or go on an unannounced vacation. Most of the time, they’re taking a short nap.

There are other times when our memory seems to be in a coma. These are reminders of the seasons of life. We all have them. Teens forget their homework. Adults forget where they place things. And the older one’s memory bank seems like someone pressed delete.

When processing Bible knowledge, we go through stages, but they’re not the same for everyone. We are all made from a different mold, and the growth process is varied. 

Young people rely on their memories, that’s good. Still, their numerous activities sometimes reach an overload—the time to complete project conflicts with another event.

Adult life has too many things going on simultaneously. Work, family, and social events collide. Choosing between events means the elimination of one and presents a lose-lose situation.

The mature crowd has reached the place where things are supposed to slow down. That may be true for some. Others want to do everything they didn’t do in the previous years. Time is abundant, resources and health may not cooperate.

But, something is missing. Reflection may draw one’s attention back to spiritual things. We might ask ourselves, where is God fitting into our lives, or have we pushed him aside in our journey through life? The answer usually falls into place when we put God first. 

Reflecting

Do you struggle to write? Most of us would say yes at times. Well, this is one of those times for me. Nothing fresh seemed to come to mind. So, I started reflecting upon the Lord’s goodness. Covid has hit our household. As of this date, everyone but me has experienced this agony.

Now onto some positive reflections of the previous year. First, there is a fresh realization of God’s goodness. Family is excellent, friends are sincere, health is good, prayer is great, and the Bible is a wealth of golden nuggets. Some of the chunks are easy to find. Others need mining. The richness of them is priceless. 

As the years of life have drifted by, the reflection appears on God’s protecting hand. His unseen intervention kept me from getting hit by a car at age eight. His grace protected me in an automobile accident when eighteen. His watchful eye kept me safe when experiencing cramps while swimming.

Only God knew when this high school boy went to a dance the first Friday night of his senior year that he would meet his future wife. Then, there’s the Lord’s directing hand to getting Linda and me to hear the gospel and asking Jesus into our hearts on the same night. Our life and eternity changed that night.

We enrolled in the Bible college for training the following fall. God’s miraculous provisions during those training years were numerous, including the expansion of our family (son and daughter). Then, onto our serving the Lord and pouring our lives into others while still growing in God’s knowledge and presence.

The years turned to decades. Sure, there were bumps in the road, but God allowed us to continue the journey. All along the way, God has kept his hand upon our lives. 

We have reached our sunset years in the eyes of many, but there’s still much to do. We have seen two granddaughters grow into adulthood, are watching two grandsons who are reaching school age and are thoroughly enjoying a great-granddaughter who is still in diapers. God is good. Actually, great is the better word.

God has changed the ministry from teaching to writing this blog. Hopefully, it encourages others on God’s goodness.

We serve the one who speaks, and the world came into being. The Lord picked up some dirt, and voila, man. Then, sin came, but God was still working. He sent his Son. Two thousand years later, I can reflect that God is still working through his children.

When the Lord gives you the opportunity, speak up and tell someone how great our Savior is.

Contagious Commitment

After the crucifixion, the clouds of depression engulfed the remaining eleven disciples. Overwhelmed and saddened, they gathered in the same room where Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled.” Their future looked bleak. Happy days were difficult to imagine. Excitement about the future vanished.

These eleven chosen ones felt abandoned as they huddled in the Upper Room. Then something happened. The Lord walked through the walls. No words could describe what they saw. Is this real? Were they dreaming? A new day was approaching—one of celebration, encouragement, and challenge.

The disciples made the transition into a new era. First, they prayed and then, by faith, sought the leadership of God. Then, when their door of opportunity opened, they walked through it on Pentecost. Following their example, we can also open our doors of privilege. Whatever God lays before you, press on through tough times and good times because the Lord will never leave you—that’s His promise.

Simple encouraging words may slip your memory, but The Lord never forgets when you encourage someone. The Lord is always with us is a thought to remember every day, hour, and minute. Every breath we breathe is a gift from him and a reminder He is still with us in every moment of the day.

After 40 days of prayer, the disciples were ready to share the good news, which they did. Our world has not been the same since the Day of Pentecost.  May we make this new year one of prayer, serving our Lord with infectious enthusiasm. If we do, our communities and churches will be different. Why? Because we decided to serve the Lord with a contagious commitment to sharing the good news, which will cross generational boundaries.

Due Diligence

Ready or not, the new year has arrived. Many look forward with great anticipation to new opportunities and adventures, while a few see doom and gloom on the horizon. 

The younger generation revels in making New Year’s resolutions. Wishes that they want to happen for them. These wishes always seemed to come with rewards, riches, or meeting other individuals. The older contemporaries have let wishing to be a bygone event.

Whatever category best describes your age group, there’s always hope. For argument’s sake, let your wants be practical and personal—personal in the sense where you are in control. Forget about depending upon others to fulfill your secret heart’s desires.

Work and due diligence make most wishes come true. Patience also plays an important part. There are times of learning how to use new ropes to climb that will come into play. Experience seems to agree, and inexperience appears to say I can do anything now. The truth of those two thoughts will come in due time. 

Plan your route toward your goal. Allow for bumps in the road and the shortage of funds. But don’t let disappointments make the quitter within you persuade you to do just that. Instead, turn the potholes of life into enrichment.

Make yourself determined to buckle down and work harder and longer to achieve your goal; this may be where hardheadedness can be an asset. The no staring you in the face is reality saying there’s another way. Circumstances of gigantic hurdles in the path are an indication there’s a better way.

Thomas Edison tried repeatedly to find the suitable filament for the light bulb. History said he tried over one thousand of them before discovering the correct one. Nevertheless, the pursuit of the right element has made millions of homes illuminated.

Your diligence for the new year will come true with hard work.

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