All posts filed under “Spiritual Reflections

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Sabbath Reflections ~ The Lord Looks at the Heart

Puerto Rico

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” – the human heart, with its conflicting emotions of joy and sorrow; the wandering, wayward heart, which is the abode of so much impurity and deceit.  1 Samuel 16:7

He knows its motives, its very intents and purposes. Go to Him with your soul all stained as it is. Like the psalmist, throw its chambers open to the all-seeing eye, exclaiming, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23,24

Steps to Christ, Chapter 3, 34.3

Have you ever done something and afterwards had a sense of horror about what you had done?

Sometimes it’s as if we don’t really know what we are capable of. Yet, the God who created us knows every inch of our soul, every yearning, every defect of character.

That’s why when I read the verses above it touched my heart ~ I can go to God at any time because there is nothing I can tell Him that He doesn’t already know.

There’s a peace about this knowledge ~ He loves me even though He knows what my failures are and will be.  He stands with me and says “this is My child.” He opened His heart wide enough to be willing to die for me and all my defects.

Have I done enough? I hear Him say.  What more can I do?

And my response is, Nothing Lord.  You have done it all.  You took on mortal flesh, laughed, cried and guided us, gave up your place in heaven so you could die for my wretchedness.  You did it knowing that I might not even choose to love you back.

But … I do choose You. For there is no one else who loves me so completely.

Thank you for your sacrifice ~ thank you for for unconditional love.

 

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God’s Will and Obedience

Como Zoo Conservatory

A statement I read this morning while doing my devotionals had me pause and absorb its meaning:

“God does not require us to understand His will, just obey it, even if it seems unreasonable.”  Charles Stanley

It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to understand what God says and/or what He wants us to do in our lives.  Yet, He who made us knows what the best is for us.

We can try to “reason” with Him, as if we know what’s best.  Yet, in all the times I have “reasoned” with God for Him to let me do it my way, I have come out the loser.  Yes, He respects our choices but I can visualize Him shaking His head as we plod along in our decision. There are no “I told you so’s” that come out of His mouth when we finally realize that the course we chose was not the best. He waits until we come to our senses and helps us get to where we should be.

For His way is always the best even if sometimes it is the most painful for us to go through.

Trusting Him who created me, knows every cell in my body and wants the best for me is not always easy but I’m trying to live every day doing just that.

 

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The Path of Life

Stairs Upward

“You make known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”  Psalm 16:11

Sometimes the path we’re on seems overwhelming and we just can’t take one more step.

Yet God is always there ~ He walks in front of us to guide us, He walks beside us to encourage us and He stands behind us to catch us lest we fall.

He’s just faithful that way.

But if we decide we don’t want Him to walk with us at all, He stands aside. And if we happen to fall and call out to Him, He’ll rush to help us up.  He’ll heal our bruises and give us His shoulder to cry on. And He will comfort as no one else can.

He’s just faithful that way.

May you lean on the faithful God of the universe in your journey.

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Of David and Purity

Winter Lake

One of the stories in the Bible speaks about a man named David who was a king and abused his power.

David saw a woman bathing ~ a woman, named Bathsheba, who was the wife of one of his soldiers, and decided to take her for himself.  Then he had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, killed so he could have her permanently.

There’s a lot more to the story of David and you can read this particular one here, and an interesting story it is.  For David commits murder, adultery ~ his heart is full of greed and selfishness.  YET, God uses David and forgives him of his sin.

The question is ~ why?

A small book I’ve been reading makes a very powerful statement regarding David:

“It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart.”  Steps to Christ, pg 24

David didn’t just want forgiveness, he wanted a changed heart.

You see sometimes we do things we know are wrong and we regret it.  Regrets are a start, but if we don’t want to change the direction of our lives what good are they?

God is able to work with me when I not only regret what I have done wrong, but when I allow Him to help me turn from doing it again. That’s what David experienced in his life ~ true repentance. A desire to turn from his wrong and do what is right.

And because of this, David was able to write in Psalm 32:1,2

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”

Yes, the Lord can “cover” us ~ but like David, we need to want purity of heart.

May the Lord bless you on your journey ~ may He turn your face towards Him ~ the One who can transform hearts.

 

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A Late Summer Walk – William O’Brien State Park

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

The William O’Brien State Park is one of my favorite places to go for a walk.

Choices … choices.  A stroll next to the St. Croix River or through the woods. This time, the walk through the woods won out and with very few people out walking, it made the walk even more peaceful.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect.  Sunny with occasional restful clouds floating by.

Sometimes I look at nature and it looks messy to me – grasses growing amidst weeds and flowers with an occasional bug flitting in and out of the mess.

Yet it reminds me that this is how life is also.  No day is exactly the same and sometimes the stress of illness, work or family drama all blends together.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

And then … it’s as if someone pulls a blessing out of the sky and plants it right in your path. The heart goes back to breathing regularly, the drooped shoulders relax and the furrowed brows line disappear.

These are the small moments of blessing that I look for every day.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

Sometimes ~ just around the bend ~ a large blessing stares me in the face.  Unexpected and breathtaking, it brings such joy to my heart.  Today, it was a pair of swans sitting on a beaver dam. Although the dam looks messy, the beavers spent much time putting those sticks in an orderly fashion.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota, Swans

And suddenly, my cares wash away as a field of grass lies before me.

William O’Brien State Park, Minnesota

And it’s enough. Enough to overcome any stresses for the day.

“He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth.”  Psalm 104:14

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Talking Trees

As I was visiting family in North Dakota, I decided to take a walk on a beautiful crisp blue sky day.

The crispness in the air mixes with the oxygen I breathe and my brain seems to function in a heightened sense of awareness.

And thus it was that I happened to come upon ~ the short birch tree.

The Short Birch Tree

The Short Birch Tree

I had never seen a short one before.  With its large branches so close to the ground I wondered why it was so different than others.  And then it hit me ~ pruning.

This birch tree had been pruned and it could still stand straight as others but its majestic~ness would be able to be seen from those on the ground. A much closer look reveals horizontal markings on the tree. Every flaw is open for inspection and/or observation.

I found it to be a reflection of our humanness.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:2

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Of Falling Objects and God’s Protection

Fallen Treehouse

A couple of months ago we noticed that our very well built tree house was starting to lean. Every day it seemed like it leaned a little more and then a little more.  We were pretty sure the large tree stump that it was built around was rotting.

One morning I woke up to a semi cloudy day and wondered if I might be able to pull weeds.  Heading outside, I looked towards where the treehouse was and noticed there was weed pulling that needed to be done around and underneath it.  But then I looked at the sky and talked myself out of it.

Heading back inside the house, I started doing chores when suddenly I heard a loud swish and thump. It had been a little windy earlier and I thought “which tree fell this time?” Looking out the living room window, I noticed the tree house lying on its side on the ground with the tree trunk attached to it.

Fallen Treehouse

And … that’s where I had considered working.

There have been so many times when God’s protection shielded me and I was thankful that today was another one of those times.

Looking at the treehouse, a vivid memory came back to me of a movie I had seen several times called The Wizard of Oz.  In one scene, because of a tornado, a house is flying through the sky and then lands squarely on the body of the “wicked witch of the east.” But the only thing you see of her is part of her legs sticking out from under the house.

I shuddered to think that I could have been killed under this treehouse in the same manner.

“But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.”  Psalm 5:11

 

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Of Ticks and God’s Protection

Backyard

I dislike working the outside perimeter of our yard because of the possibilities of ticks and mosquitoes. But this morning I said “I can do this. I will not be afraid.” And I prayed really hard for courage and protection. So, with weed whacker in hand, I headed out.

When I came back in, I showered and checked for ticks and found none so I made lunch, sat down and watched a little TV.

Then I happened to glance down at my arm and very quickly heading up my arm was a HUGE tick (well, okay, since I dislike them so much they look huge – this one was the size of a pregnant ladybug). I quickly brushed it away from me. Had I been smart enough (no comments here, hehe) I would have killed the evil creature.

So I spent the next hour vacuuming/hunting for the tick but it was not to be found. Fortunately, they die within 24 hours if they don’t have a water source.

I’m glad I prayed for and received God’s protection. I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t always part Red Seas for us as most of us don’t have those kinds of experiences. In the every day, mundane kinds of experiences ~ that’s where I see God at work.

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The Value Of Man

Voyageurs National Park

“The value of man, the estimate God places on him, is revealed in the cross of Calvary.” (My Life Today)

When we look to Jesus we are better able to see the value of our fellow human beings because we will see them through His eyes.

Challenge for today: When criticism of another person comes to your mind, stop, pray and ask God to show you the value He has placed on them and to give you the strength to treat them as He would treat them.

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