Streams of Water

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Early in the morning, before the sun even rises, the streams of Schwabacher Landing lie still, reflecting the surroundings and sky like a brand new mirror. How refreshing they are to the creatures who depend on them for life. Moose, pronghorn, bald eagles, and deer are often seen here, making this incredible place their home.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1.

The homeland of the Psalmist was a hot, dry land, and often the deer would actually make a “crying” sound, which the word “pant” means here. According to scholars, there are several reasons deer would yearn for water to this degree. 1) They could be in a desert place, where there is little water. 2) There could be drought conditions, which would lead to extreme thirst. 3) They may be pursued by their enemies, and after running hard and fast, would actually cry for water. No matter the reason, the deer seeks one life-giving source no matter the circumstances it faces.

In this psalm, the writer is in exile and far from the place of worship. It is obvious he is heartsick and desperate for the presence and worship of God. He is not interested in comfort or honor or companionship. In the face of danger, loneliness, and uncertainty, all he desires is communion with God.

Can this be said of us? When we are in dire straits, do we long for God, or are we too busy thinking up solutions to our problems? When we are lonely, do we allow our loneliness to drive us to Him or do we seek companionship of others? Do we seek God in the deserts and droughts of life, or do we attempt to seek comfort?

May our God be who we long for, whether we face deserts, droughts, or enemies.

There’s No Place Like Home

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We have been blessed to be able to see some of the prettiest places in the world while on our travels, and God-willing, we have plenty more we want to see. But I don’t know if there is a more beautiful place to me than home.

This is my favorite view from our neighborhood walks. No matter what time of day or what time of year we see it, it’s always amazing.

Sunrise is glorious; sunset even more so, as color fills the sky. Clouds and storms can be dramatic, and clear days are heavenly. The green of spring and summer, the colors of fall, and the barrenness of winter are each beautiful in their own way. Boats, as well as lakeside homes, entertain our entire community with the best ever impromptu fireworks shows on Independence Day, as well as other holidays.

But maybe I love this view mostly because it’s home.

“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.” Isaiah 32:18.

When you think of “home,” hopefully you think of good things- peace, rest, security. And although it’s good to feel that way about your earthly home, that doesn’t begin to compare with your security in Christ and your heavenly home.

As we all know, our earthly homes aren’t always places of peace, rest, and security. Bad things happen, and at times, our lives are shattered, leaving us feeling vulnerable no matter where we are.

The only place of true security is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is in fellowship with Him that we find true peace and rest, no matter what is happening around us.

We should strive to make our homes as joyful and happy as possible, but sometimes life kicks us and our families in the teeth. However, if Jesus Christ is the center and foundation of our homes, we will find that no matter what happens, security and peace will be found there. I’m thankful that Christ is my everlasting refuge!

When Mountains Shake

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When you see the Rocky Mountains for the first time, prepare to be blown away. Their beauty, diversity, and majesty are unmatched.

One of the most beautiful drives we have ever taken is the San Juan Skyway, in Southwest Colorado, which meanders 233 miles throughout the heart of the gorgeous San Juan Mountains. This All-American Road takes you through great, historic mountain towns like Durango, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Riding through these mountains is a humbling experience and brings to mind the power and glory of God.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10.

As solid and enduring as the Rocky Mountains are, they won’t last forever. They will pass away. Although everything in life, as enduring and dependable as it may seem, might fall apart, God’s love for us remains unshakable.

Though even the most solid foundations we have come to depend upon may be removed from our lives, God’s peace continues for those who trust Him. His love endures through all the heartache and heartbreak. His mercy and grace fall upon us in spite of our sinfulness. His hope and promise break through the most painful of circumstances.

Throughout all of my life, in good times and bad, God has been with me, never leaving nor forsaking me. People may disappoint us and break our hearts, even the most beloved and dependable people. Circumstances are like the waves of the sea – sometimes taking us up and sometimes crashing down on us. Money comes and money goes. Relationships begin and they end.

But God’s love and peace last forever, even during the times we don’t even sense Him. May we be constantly mindful of our faithful Heavenly Father.

Their Children Will Not Meet with Disaster

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I don’t know that there’s anything more painful in this life than for a parent to have to watch disaster come upon their beloved child. Unfortunately, in this sinful world, it comes too often and in many forms.

When we visited Virginia’s Appomattox National Historic Park in April of 2018, my heart hurt as I looked at these graves. These young soldiers were on different sides of a battle, yet they experienced death together at far too young an age. How their parents probably grieved until their dying day, because they never had the joy of welcoming their sons home, and probably never really even knew what happened to them. It’s heartbreaking to think about.

If you’re a parent, you know all too well of suffering alongside your child. When they hurt, you hurt – and you probably hurt more than they do. Whether it’s disaster brought on by their actions, someone else’s actions, or just part of living in a sinful world, it’s painful.

“Their children will not meet with disaster. I will bless them and their descendants for all time to come.” Isaiah 65:23b.

Parents, be encouraged! It won’t always be this way! Isaiah’s prophecy here tells us there’s a day coming when the days of disaster will be over! For all of us who are in Christ and our children as well!

Disease, death, disaster, destruction, depression will be done away with. A mom will no longer have to say “goodbye” to her sweet little one with cancer. A dad will no longer have to visit his beloved child in prison. Families will not be separated by war or sickness or death. We won’t have to watch our children suffer because of bad decisions or sin. It’s not that way now, but it will be.

What a wonderful promise to read and remember – “I will bless them and their descendants for all time to come.” Until then, let’s love our children unconditionally, pray for them continually, always point them to Christ, and live lives of hope, because a better day IS coming!

You Will Flourish Like the Grass

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The windswept green hills of the Little Missouri National Grassland cover over one million acres of North Dakota prairie. Yes, you read that right. Well over one million acres. Not surprisingly, it is the largest grassland in the United States, containing both long and short grasses. It is a beautiful sight to see, miles and miles of green hills crossed by meandering streams and rivers.

“When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass.” Isaiah 66:14a.

God’s people often went through hardship, many times because of their own doing, and Isaiah’s words brought warning to them. However, here in this verse, there’s a breath of fresh air. A time of refreshing would come.

What would cause the people’s hearts to rejoice and their lives to flourish like grass? The previous two verses promise peace, provision, security, and comfort. God is with His people, in spite of their sin and wandering, and a day is coming when they will be restored to Him. On hearing the promising future that awaits them, the people thrive, like this beautiful green grass.

We are no different today. Doesn’t good news bring us refreshment? Doesn’t the prospect of peace in a relationship, provision of a need, security in danger, or comfort in a loss cause us to rejoice?

Like the vast Little Missouri National Grassland, we flourish under the right conditions. And the right condition for us is a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Everything we could ever need or want is found in Him, and it is through Him that we grow.

Consider How the Wildflowers Grow

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When we visited the Northern California coast in the summer of 2015, one thing we could not believe were the gorgeous wildflowers growing on the beach.

I love flowers and consider myself an amateur gardener. I know just how hard it is to keep garden flowers living and thriving.

They need water, but not too much. They need food and fertilizer to boost their growth. There are times I must prune them, but it has to be done at just the right time and in the right place.

Even with all my effort, sometimes they just don’t make it.

But there’s a Gardener who knows so much more than I, and His wildflowers thrive in the most unlikely of places, like the harsh conditions of a sandy beach.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27.

God takes care of His children, just like He takes care of His flowers. Although these flowers do not spend time and money on their appearance, they are the epitome of beauty. The Lord gives us this example as evidence of the futility of worry.

Just as He cares for the wildflowers that grow in the harshest of environments, He cares for us and provides the very best for us. He supplies all that we need, He prunes us through the difficulties of life, and He gives us the guidance and direction that we so desperately long for.

By dependence on God’s grace and support, we are able to grow and thrive just like these beautiful flowers – even in the harsh places of life.

Our Source Never Runs Dry

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Multnomah Falls, in Oregon’s amazing Columbia River Gorge, is 611 feet of icy liquid beauty. It is so tall that it’s difficult to get the entire waterfall in one photograph. It is one of several gorgeous waterfalls along the historic Columbia Gorge Scenic Byway.

Something unique about this waterfall is that, unlike many of the West’s well-known waterfalls, it does not dry up during the late summer. It is always flowing, due to its dependable sources – rainwater, an underground spring and snow melt, which supply the falls through all four seasons and ensure a spectacular sight any day of the year.

“Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:38.

When there is an endless source of water, a waterfall will never run dry. That’s true for a believer in Christ as well. When our source is Christ and God’s Word, there’s an everlasting supply of everything we need to live life.

Scripture goes on to tell us that Jesus is speaking of the Holy Spirit in this verse. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given to followers of Christ at this point, but He soon would be. The Holy Spirit is likened to water, because of His cleansing and purifying work. The Spirit dwelling and working in believers, is like a fountain of living, running water. From His presence, plentiful streams flow, cooling and cleansing as water.

How are we different because of God’s Spirit living in us? We live a life of grace, which benefits ourselves and others. We become a vessel of comfort and encouragement to those around us. We grow in our relationship with God and this growth brings Him glory.

Like Multnomah Falls, God’s Spirit never dries up. He is always flowing, bringing rejuvenation to weary souls.

Do you have a relationship with God? If so, allow His Spirit to fill you so that your life is a continual source of healing and refreshment for everyone you come into contact with.

Don’t Lose Hope in Your Prison

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There’s more to the national park system than the well-known parks we all know and love. There are also beautiful, but less famous, national monuments and national historical parks.

This is the Appomattox County Jail, at Appomattox National Historic Park in Virginia. Construction on this jail began in 1860, was disrupted due to the Civil War, and was finally completed in 1867. A jail is a place where you’ll find all kinds of people, but you don’t expect to find a prophet of the Lord there.

“While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time.” Jeremiah 33:1.

Jeremiah, the prophet, was imprisoned by the Babylonians when his people were in exile. What must it feel like to be doing exactly what the Lord called you to do, and as a result, you end up in prison? Baffling, confusing, lonely? However, God was with him, and though the prophet of the Lord was confined, the Word of the Lord was not! Jeremiah could not go do the work of the Lord, so the Lord came to him in prison – again and again and again – to give him His Word, which is still available to us today!

Are you facing a prison of your own today? Perhaps disappointment in your marriage, trouble with your children, adversity in your job, challenges in your finances? Maybe loneliness or infertility or betrayal? There is a myriad of situations that we face in life in which we may see no way out.

If that is where you are today, remember the prophet Jeremiah. Although he faced a literal prison in the presence of enemies, God came to him, spoke to him in the midst of affliction, and gave him a message that would speak to every generation. Don’t lose hope in your prison. Look for and listen to God, and then share His message with the world.

Consider How the Wildflowers Grow

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When we visited the Northern California coast in the summer of 2015, one thing we could not believe were the gorgeous wildflowers growing on the beach. I love flowers, and I consider myself an amateur gardener, so I know just how hard it is to keep garden flowers living and thriving.

They need water, but not too much. They need food and fertilizer to boost their growth. There are times I must prune them, but it has to be done at just the right time and in the right place.

Even with all my effort, sometimes they just don’t make it. But there’s a Gardener who knows so much more than I, and His wildflowers thrive in the most unlikely of places, like the harsh conditions of a sandy beach.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12:27.

God takes care of His children, just like He takes care of His flowers. Although these flowers do not spend time and money on their appearance, they are the epitome of beauty.

The Lord gives us this example as evidence of the futility of worry. Just as He cares for the wildflowers that grow in the harshest of environments, He cares for us and provides the very best for us. He supplies all that we need, He prunes us through the difficulties of life, and He gives us the guidance and direction that we so desperately long for.

By dependence on God’s grace and support, we are able to grow and thrive just like these beautiful flowers – even in the harsh places of life.

Creation Groans

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A couple of weeks ago, my husband was out in the safety of our yard, a place we go frequently without worry or care. A place we feel so safe in, that we often are off guard.

God’s creation is beautiful, amazing, breathtaking. But it’s also broken, and here’s evidence of that. This copperhead snake bit him, sending him to the hospital emergency room for a long twenty-four hour period.

Alongside the majestic mountains, endless oceans, gorgeous canyons, and even your own beautiful backyard are dangers. Some of these dangers take lives and destroy property, such as tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Others hurt, spread disease, and can even kill, such as certain insects and animals.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22.

How could something as beautiful and orderly as God’s marvelous creation become so broken? The answer is sin. Sin is the very reason for and the very cause of all suffering in this world. It is at the root of every devastation and every destructive event.

Not only that, but all human suffering comes because of sin. Have you suffered pain, hurt, disease, betrayal, heartbreak, loss, separation? Sin is the reason. All of creation was brought under a curse because of Adam’s sin, and this curse means creation is broken, and mankind suffers.

However, the day is coming when this curse will be removed, and Christ will restore all creation to its perfect and original state – the way it was before sin did its costly and deadly work. What a wonderful day that will be!

Are you amazed by God’s creation now? Think of how wonderful and beautiful it will be when the curse of sin is gone forever!