There are many, including myself, who were quite happy to kiss that year goodbye. Yet, in regards to my Bible reading God met me in amazing, undeserving ways, and I’m sure He met you too. He is faithful to care for us even when we are not faithful to Him. We are His–forever! It isn’t dependent on what we do or don’t do. Christ did everything for us so we can be free to receive His love and mercy each and every day.
Using our traveling metaphor, I feel as if my car sputtered through 2012. It was an uncomfortable ride stopping, going, darting forward and stalling out. I wanted to get out and forsake the whole trip, but God wouldn’t let me. It was as if He wanted to teach me something in my weakness. And that He did!
Most of you know my Mom died on December 15th after only 3 weeks of being diagnosed with abdominal cancer. It went unbelievably fast, yet felt at the time like life was moving in slow motion. It was strange and very emotional. On Dec. 3rd, I realized I hadn’t even looked to see what New Testament book I was to read for the month of December. I looked it up and turned to 2 Timothy:
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
(2 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV) Emphasis mine.
This book was Paul’s final letter before he died. It was as if God took me through an entire year of a Bible reading plan to get me to this month. I clung to every word finding rich encouragement from Paul to me. He was reminding Timothy of that which is most important in life. He was encouraging him to continue pressing on no matter the setbacks. I was so affected that God in His kindness would care for me in such a special way. I love God’s Word. I love encouraging others to read it daily for rich mercy in their time of need. But to have this kind of fuel poured into my struggling car for free, no less, brings tears to my eyes.
God knows us intimately. He knows exactly what we need. He is willing to have us face 11 months of struggle in our reading plan in order to get us to the 12th month where the doors of Heaven will open and rain fresh mercy down on us.
So I encourage you, to pray to God for direction in how He would have you read His word this year. Then, stick to it. You never know when the sky will open and a refreshing rain will descend.
I love this devotional sent from Family Life Today.
Four Places at Once
There is a proper time and procedure for every delight. ECCLESIASTES 8:6
If you were to point your car southwest of Cortez, Colorado, drive exactly 38 miles along Highway 160 and then hang a right on Four Corners Monument Road, in about a half mile you’d run into the only spot in America where you can be in four states at the same time: the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. It’s out in the middle of an empty desert, surrounded by dust, rocks and boulders.
But that doesn’t stop upwards of 2,000 people a day from visiting Four Corners and waiting in line just for the thrill of having their picture taken
standing in four states at once. Truly the American way, huh—trying to be four places at one time!
Truth be told, it’s a picture of the way many of us elect to live our lives. We are constantly pulled in several different directions. Our pressure-filled, rush-rush, hurried lifestyle has a way of leaving us winded, dazed and addicted to the next item on our activity list.
It leaves us little time for serious spiritual reflection. Little time for anything more than snap judgments. Little time to share our dreams with each other as a couple. Little sense of where we’ve been and where we’re going. What’s more, I fear that by crowding out any room for meaningful communication, original thought or spiritual insight in our family schedules, we’re fueling in our children a raw addiction to activity, constant motion, continuous noise and endless sensory stimulation.
I urge you to stop and check the speed limit on this road you’re on. Imagine a life that allows for real living . . . the kind you’ll never find at Four Corners.
What cutbacks and other restrictions could you impose on yourselves that would make your lives dramatically more manageable three to six months from now? Start by finding one thing you’ll say no to.
Ask God to give you both the tenacity and the wisdom to build some margin into your lives and family.
CCEF is an organization I highly respect for their practical application of God’s Word to our daily lives. Today I want to share with you an excellent article by Dr. Ed Welch. It is his practical meditation on an attribute of God – His invisibility. I believe you will be encouraged as I was to meditate on Scripture in this way, and to “tattoo it on your soul.”
Sometimes old and simple truths affect us in new ways. In fact, this seems to be an essential feature of spiritual growth. The passage that was ho-hum last week now plumbs the depths of our souls. We are always re-discovering simple spiritual realities as the Spirit brings new light and depth to old truths.
Here is one of those old truths: God is invisible.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Col. 1:15)
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. (1 Tim.1:17)
We all know this of course but, for me, this old truth has become new.
He is present, just invisible.
My spiritual doubts are almost always connected to God’s invisibility. I worship the God who I have never seen. That is a bit of a problem. How many times have I wanted him to write just a word or two of specific direction in the sky? How many times, when I was in distress, did I ask for a tangible visitation and didn’t get it? Well, this is the reason. God is invisible. He is not playing a game of cosmic hide-and-seek with me. He is present, just invisible.
Now that I am no longer waiting for the Lord to make some direct impression on my senses, I am free to see him as the one whose power sustains all things, draws people to himself, and sanctifies his children. I can’t see the wind, but I can certainly watch trees bend and hear leaves rustle.
He sees me.
This truth is a wonderful aid to my spiritual growth. Sin usually deceives me into thinking that I can’t always be seen by God, but when I remember that God is invisible, I know that he is always with me. How could I voluntarily sin in thought or deed when he is present?
He is near.
Fears can leave me particularly vulnerable. Those are times when I feel as if the Lord is far away because I don’t see the immediate and miraculous alleviation of the source of my fears. But the invisible God who promises to be near is, in fact, especially near.
He is greater than his creation.
Invisible means that God is different from his material creation. Reflections of him abound in other humans, animals, and the physical landscape, but these reflections never capture the totality of the invisible God. He is different from and greater than his creation—that’s why I trust and worship him.
Jesus embodies him.
Who are we that you, O Lord, would reveal yourself to us in the person of Jesus-in-the-flesh? Jesus is the embodiment of the invisible God. This makes me want to read the gospels over and over.
Someday I will see him.
And someday I will see him, the invisible God and Father, face-to-face. I don’t know exactly what that means. I assume it has to do, in part, with my sin being cast off once and for all (finally). But I know this: seeing him face-to-face is a pleasure worth waiting for.
Talk about it.
When an old truth is being impressed upon us, it is time to keep in step with the Spirit. Writing out a list like this is one way to do that. It is a form of practical meditation. It says, “this truth is too precious to put on the shelf for a later day. I want it tattooed on my soul.” After the list is written, the next step is to talk about it with whoever is willing to listen. It is good news that God is invisible.
What Scriptures have you meditated upon recently? Won’t you share them with us?
The Lord directs us to look to Him for all that we need–and look away from all that we fear and all that troubles us. Looking to man dishonors the Lord–and ends in disappointment. Looking to ourselves fills us with gloom, sadness, doubts, and fears. It was wise, therefore, of the Psalmist to keep his eyes fixed steadily and habitually on the Lord.
Beloved! In all your sufferings, let your eyes be ever on the Lord. Look to Him . . .
for ease in pain,
for strength in weakness,
for comfort in sorrow,
and for relief in distress.
Keep your eye fixed on Him as your Father and your God–who has pledged in His Word to do you good.
Friends may fail you, relatives may neglect or be unkind to you, and those you love most may be unable to help you–but look to the Lord! He will never fail you or neglect you. He will prove Himself both able and willing to help you.
Let nothing divert your attention, then, from the Lord–but carry everything to Him and exercise implicit confidence in Him.
Cast on Him every care,
commit to Him every work,
lay before Him every difficulty.
You will prove that He is not only able, but also willing to do “infinitely more than we might ask or think!” Ephesians 3:20.
Whenever Satan tempts you, or guilty fears torment you–turn your eyes to Calvary and see Jesus, your Savior–suffering, bleeding, and dying for you–and so you will enjoy peace.
Lord, help me to look to You for all my direction in life, so that I might not be led astray by my deceitful heart. Let me praise You and bring glory to Your Name every moment of my life!
“My eyes are fixed on You, O Sovereign Lord!” Psalm 141:8
In light of our recent election, I thought it would be good to listen to what President Ronald Reagan had to say about the importance of God’s Word. It made me cry to see how far our country has fallen since the 1980’s. President Reagan was the first president I was privileged to vote for. He had my respect then, and he continues to hold it in my heart today as the best president I’ve ever known. As you watch, pray for our nation, not that America would save us, but that God would save the lost in our country. We need Him as much as we ever have, we just may be more aware of it this week.
They say right before you are about to fall asleep at the wheel you’ll have the feeling of your car standing still and the road moving towards you. What a great metaphor to use in describing how I’ve been feeling this year. Maybe I’m about to fall asleep at the wheel? If so, how do you stop it?
I’ve always heard it helps to roll the windows down and play loud music you can sing along to. But it may be best just to stop and stretch for a bit. This is why I’m posting today–my way of stopping to stretch, chat with some friends and see if I don’t feel a bit more refreshed tomorrow. But I can’t chat alone. I need to hear from you. How is your journey going? What is God currently saying to you through His word. Won’t you send some much needed encouragement my way? I could use it!
What a gift it is to breathe. Taking a deep breath of mountain air while driving a convertible with the top down has to be at the top of my list of things I want to do in my life.
I talked with a friend who struggles with asthma and when she has an episode all she can think of is taking a good breath. She says it is frightening to say the least. Many times she has ended up in the hospital needing medical assistance just to help her breathe in and breathe out.
Life can be like an asthma attack at times. It punches us in the gut leaving us gasping for air. What do we do when this happens? Get help with our breathing–by reading the Bible. Nothing helps us gain fresh perspective on the difficulties we face like God’s Word.
How is your journey on the ancient road going so far this year? Are you breathing in God’s mercy and breathing out His grace? Spend some time worshiping God for all He has accomplished for you through His Word.
We are at the halfway mark, and it is perfect time to be encouraged on our journey. If you are behind, you will find fresh encouragement. If you are bored, you will find fresh motivation. If you are current, you will find fresh inspiration. It is a longer post than usual, but it is too good to share only a portion. Grab a cup of coffee and tea and let the wisdom of this godly man speak to your heart this morning.
Encouragement for us from James Smith, 1860
One likes company sometimes on a journey. For, though a solitary walk is very pleasant when we are in a musing or a praying mood — yet, when we have far to go, our spirits are apt to sink, unless we have someone to converse with. In good company, the distance does not seem half so long, nor the road half so bad. Indeed, if I were allowed to choose, I would like to have four things in every journey I take. I would like . . .
a good road,
excellent company, and
suitable accommodations at the end of it.
Well, the traveler to Mount Zion — whatever may be said by some to the contrary — has all these. Reader, are you going to the Heavenly Jerusalem, to see and inhabit the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God? If so, let us talk together for a few minutes upon these points; it may cheer, or refresh, or stimulate us on our journey. We are but pilgrims and sojourners here, and therefore should daily make progress on our upward journey.
1. We have a GOOD ROAD. It is God’s highway, cut and made on purpose for Zion’s pilgrims. Here is a beautiful path, called the way of holiness. This way is solid, clean, and pleasant; raising us above the marshes and swamps around us. This way is plainly marked out in God’s holy Word. The Lord Jesus in his person, mediation, finished work, and bright example — constitutes this way. He spans the whole distance between earth and Heaven — and safely carries all and every one there who ventures upon him.
As the traveler commits himself to his path, that he may arrive at the place he desires, and passes along the same path to the end; just so must we commit ourselves to Christ, walk in Christ, depending alone on Christ, until we enter Heaven. We must rest on nothing but Christ. We must trust to nothing but Christ. Our whole weight must be on him; he alone must be the path between us and our Father’s house. Christ in his person — Christ in his mediation — Christ in his perfect work — and Christ in his beautiful example — is the only way . . .
from wrath — to love,
from curse — to blessing,
from guilt — to grace,
from earth — to Heaven.
And this is a good road — solid, settled, and level. Once on it, we have never to leave it; for it is the straight, safe, direct, and only available way to Heaven. Let us therefore, admire the road while we travel it, and travel it while we admire it, until we arrive at the end of it. We walk by faith, and the end of our faith is the salvation of the soul.
2. We have BEAUTIFUL PROSPECTS. In the distance, we see the everlasting hills, on which the sun never sets. Occasionally we catch a glimpse of the city of the great king, with its jasper walls, twelve foundations, and gates of pearl. Now and then, the eye rests on the pure river of the water of life, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb, gliding along like a golden stream of molten silver; making glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
In the purest, clearest light, we can at times, read our pardon, written in large letters of crimson — and our title to the mansions in the skies. All along the road we see the waving palm trees, the lofty cedars, green fir-trees, fragrant myrtles, and the many-colored flowers of Paradise. Such views we have at times, as almost ravish us, and make us long to pass over Jordan, and possess the promised land. But of all sights, none are to be compared to that of the king of glory, who at times manifests himself unto us as he does not unto the world. And when this is the case, we are fired with holy longing to see the king in all his beauty, as beheld in the land which is very far off! O the sweet glimpses, the precious foretastes of glory, the bright prospects we sometimes enjoy!
3. We also have EXCELLENT COMPANY. The very best company. We walk with God. We have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are attended with an innumerable company of angels, who are sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. Here on this road, we constantly overtake, or are overtaken by the saints, who are the excellent of the earth. Every choice spirit, every holy soul, every heir of glory — travels this road. And what makes our company so excellent, is, that every traveler has the Spirit of Christ, is a son of God, and knows God.
O how pleasant it is as we pass along — to converse of . . .
the person of the king,
the nature of his government,
the glories of his kingdom, and
of what he has done for all those who believe on his name!
And how sweet it is at times to talk of the work of the Holy Spirit within us . . .
convincing of sin,
revealing the Savior,
applying the blood,
bringing home the promises,
bearing witness to our adoption, and
sealing our souls unto the day of redemption.
How swiftly and sweetly the time passes away, while thus engaged. At such times we could pity princes on their thrones, and despise all the gold and grandeur of the present world!
4. We shall have SUPERIOR ACCOMMODATION at the end. In our Father’s house there are many mansions, and Jesus is gone to prepare a place for us. He knows well what will suit us, what will satisfy us. We shall find everything ready for our reception when we arrive there. Every power will find employment, every faculty enjoyment, and we shall be filled with delight and joy.
If we arrive at home weary — we shall find rest;
if sick — we shall find health;
if hungry — we shall find food;
if thirsty — we shall find drink;
if sorrowful — we shall obtain joy and gladness.
Soon, oh how soon! shall we forget . . .
all the wants and woes,
all the cares and crosses,
all the troubles and trials,
all the darkness and the gloom,
all the sadness and the sorrow,
which we have experienced in the wilderness.
Heaven! Oh, what will Heaven be!
Paradise! Oh, what will it be to be there!
The palace of the great King! What will it be to have dwelling places fitted up for us there! No tongue can tell. No heart can guess. Only God, and those who have safely arrived there can say.
Well, fellow-travelers, let us take heart!
We are on a good road. There could not be a better road. It is harder than adamant, and firmer than rock. It is plain and straight. It is free and level. No tolls are exacted, no thieves prowl thereon. Safety, everlasting safety, is found on this road.
We have beautiful prospects. What sights we have seen already — and we shall see greater things than these.
There are clearer and brighter skies than we have ever seen.
There are sweeter, greener fields than we have ever looked upon.
There are lovelier and more fragrant flowers than ever met our eyes.
There are more striking landscapes than we have ever gazed upon.
In the land of Beulah, on the banks of the river of life . . .
what sights we shall see,
what sounds we shall hear,
what pleasures we shall taste.
Let us, therefore, press on with vigor and determined courage.
We have also excellent company. True, all are not alike — but all are more or less good. Every pearl is not of the same size, every diamond is not of the same quality, all gold is not alike fine — but all is precious, all is valuable. Just so with the saints, as one star differs from another star in glory, so does one saint differ from another in excellence; and yet all are glorious and excellent.
But the end! The glorious end! What shall we meet with — what shall we see — what shall we hear — what shall we taste — what shall we feel — what shall wereceive — what shall we possess, at the end?
The end crowns the whole.
We shall see God.
We shall be like Jesus.
We shall be surrounded by the saints.
We shall be attended by the angels.
We shall feel ourselves at home in Heaven.
There will be . . .
no more doubts or fears;
no more sins or sorrows;
no more disappointments or vexations — but
all will be safety, perfection, and glorious forever.
Reader, are you traveling to Mount Zion? Have you left the City of Destruction? Have you passed through the strait gate? Are you in the road to glory? Are you in Christ, who himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father — but by me.” There is no way . . .
from sin to holiness,
from wrath to mercy,
from Hell to Heaven
— but the Lord Jesus Christ.
I’ve just returned from a road trip to Atlanta to help my daughter move to a new house. I was surprised to see how many animals were lying dead by the road. I saw deer, armadillos, rabbits, possums and raccoons. It seemed to me more than the usual amount of road kill. Why? Then, the Lord began to speak to me an encouragement for us all.
Traveling Route 66 is a lot like any other highway; speeding is prevalent, traffic can be heavy and weariness can settle in. But it’s the little animals which jump out unexpectedly that can do the most damage. As you’re traveling through God’s Word, be sure to keep your eyes alert to the dangers lurking just out of sight. These animals are like distractions which come from no where and cause you to swerve to the right or the left. Usually the car isn’t damaged greatly, but it leaves the driver shaken up and disoriented. How do you continue on the path marked out for you avoiding such accidents? The best preventive is to know the dangers are there and watch for them. Practically these can be: Mood Swings, Depression, Discouragement, Lethargy, Apathy or even Cynicism. As you’re reading the Bible pay attention to the reaction your flesh is having to the Truth. You may not even be comprehending the verses you’re reading, yet the enemy is lurking hoping the throw you off course.
In driver’s ed class we were taught to never swerve to miss an animal for this is when the worst accidents occur. It is best to keep your hand on the wheel and drive straight ahead. Yes, the animal will most likely be killed, but you will be spared allowing your journey to continue. Your car may have many dents, but this is part of the journey, and gives us a story to share with others when they’re struggling in a similar way.
So, today if you don’t feel like reading your daily portion of Scripture–do it anyway. It is best to keep our hands on the wheel and drive forward no matter what gets in the way. Road kill happens, but how you handle it makes all the difference.
Billboards are purposeful. They are placed in strategic spots along the road in order to capture your attention. Many travelers choose to ignore them. But there are those who want to see everything the road trip has to offer, so they not only notice the billboards, but they take note of all the information advertised.
Think of today’s post as a Billboard of Truth. You could choose to pass it by, but you may miss something God has for you on your travels today. It isn’t long–10 minutes, but what he shares may change the way you travel from here on out.
Narratives can be a powerful tool to help us look at our difficulty from a different perspective. In this video, Winston Smith of CCEF, shares how a narrative from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia helped him in his fight against anxiety and depression when he was in college. Take time to listen to this video and see if you aren’t encouraged as I was. The Bible is God’s narrative to us. What a gift when God’s opens the Word to us like Christ did with two of his disciples on the Road to Emmaus.