Keeping Straight Paths

Photo by Tobi

I think very few people know how to read a map any more. Maybe this has become a lost skill. I remember unfolding a map and tracing the path I wanted to take for a trip. The biggest skill was getting the map folded back up the way it started out. I was never very good at that. And the truth is I’ve never been very good at keeping my path straight on my own. I need help. 

Nowadays GPS on my phone directs me when I’m on a trip. I often tell Maggy, “Trust the GPS”. There have been times when I started to second guess that philosophy. One time I remember driving through some farm land on a barely paved road in Texas. I was afraid of being totally lost and only having a cow to ask for directions! But then I came to a crossroads, and after a few turns ended up exactly where I was going and right on time. Another time I was trusting the GPS across some roads in Alabama when I lost cell signal and just had to drive a bit until I got a signal again. GPS isn’t flawless, but it’s an awesome helper. It even ‘redirects’ when I take a wrong turn. 

You might not realize it, but God has been our GPS all of our lives. 

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:6

When we do not pay attention to God, we usually get off track. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to get us back on track. During those times we experience regret and guilt that we didn’t acknowledge the directions that God had given us. 

The world is off-track, isn’t it? The crime, pain, suffering, aggression, and harm that people do to one another is far from how God calls us to live in Christ. It’s easy to point at the world around me and notice how things are going wrong. But what about my life? Am I acknowledging God in all of my ways? Am I seeking His will, His input, His teachings? If I am, then He can make my paths straight. I can be sure I’m on track when I’m listening to His guidance. If we can help you hear his directions more clearly, please get in touch. 

Who’s Dealing With Anxiety?

Photo by Kelly L

Who’s Dealing With Anxiety? Everyone

Anxiety is a word we hear often these days – because so many people are struggling with it. We know there are different kinds of anxiety, some of which disrupt our lives.  It can be characterized by panic, sleep issues, racing thoughts, and more. One article I read suggested that about 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder in their lives, making it one of the most common mental health conditions in our country. There is no shame in seeking mental health help for feelings of anxiety that are out of control – so do that if you suffer from that kind of anxiety.

On a lower level, there is a type of anxiety that is commonly called worry. If you don’t have an overwhelming anxiety disorder, you certainly know what it means to worry. There are so many things that trigger the restlessness, distracting thoughts, and focus on the things that can go wrong. We worry about our children, our finances, our marriages, our work … anything we are concerned about can morph into a sense of worry.

Apostle Paul had many things he could be worried about. He was in prison, but not for a crime. He wanted to be out sharing the gospel, but was in chains. On his heart were many churches and Christians who he knew needed his help and encouragement. So he had a lot to worry about, but he wrote something that should help us in stressful times.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6

He encourages us to turn to God when all of the concerns of life are weighing us down. In his writings, the Bible tells us what to do with our anxiety, our worry: Present your requests to God, and we do that along with thanksgiving. 

When we are dealing with worry, it may seem an odd time to be thankful – but shifting our attention to our blessings and the things for which we are grateful reminds us that God is present, he hears, he is moved by our prayers, and he loves us. That may not answer every question we have, but it does give us a pathway forward. 

Who’s dealing with anxiety? Everyone. Who needs to pray and be thankful? Everyone. When should we start? How about now!

Resource: https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/types-of-anxiety

The First Verse

Photo by Jeremy Müller

Video of this devotional thought available HERE.

Even people who do not know a lot about the Bible are familiar with the very first verse of the Bible. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

Just that one sentence sparks so much of our imagination. Among people of different thoughts and perspectives, it creates conflict and initiates arguments. But for Christians, it is the foundation of everything that we believe. 

It tells us of our historical roots. “In the beginning”. John began his gospel with similar language. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

It tells us of One who always existed. “In the beginning God…” We know that all things had a beginning, and that our eternal God was already present. The Bible doesn’t try to prove the existence of God, it assumes that He is. 

It tells us that God moved to create. “In the beginning God created..” The earth, human beings, our existence – none of it was an accident. It was all placed into motion by an eternal Creator who loves and cares for us. It reminds us of the power of God because He created the universe out of nothing!

It tells us that the universe is planned and purposeful. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

It tells us that ‘in the beginning’ was ‘just the beginning’ as the story of the first humans and the adventure of the human race is given to us in the pages of Genesis.

The first verse of the Bible tells us that God wanted to create a world where humans have the opportunity to love and follow Him, receive His love, and experience eternal life with Him forever. 

Even as he made the world, he knew if they were given choices, they would not always make the right ones and would need saving. The Bible is the story of how God sent Jesus to make it possible for everyone to be saved. So, in reality, even in the beginning words of the Bible we are assured of how much God loves us … from the beginning. 

Do you know that God loves you? He always has, and he always will. He leaves you free to respond to that love by following His son Jesus. I hope you will make that choice.

Road Work Ahead

Video of this devotional thought available HERE.

When we are traveling and encounter a sign that says ‘road work ahead’, we know we are in for a slowdown. That can be frustrating, especially on a long trip. While it can cause us to be delayed for quite a bit of time, it is also a welcome warning. Sometimes you will have to travel over rough roads, come to sudden stops, or even have to travel in the other lane for a while. With these dangers and delays, we can learn to be grateful for the sign that warned us that there was some work going on to make it a better road.

In our lives we encounter some danger zones that are difficult at times. Christians are sometimes baffled at the dangers they have to face. Sadly, sometimes they give up their faith when times get tough. 

Merv Rosell was a successful evangelist in the 1940s and 1950s, author and hymn writer and musician. During his influential ministry, he wrote: 

God could have kept Daniel out of the lion’s den…He could have kept Paul and Silas out of jail…He could have kept the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace…But God has never promised to keep us out of hard places … What He has promised is to go with us through every hard place, and to bring us through victoriously.

– Merv Rosell

Every day in our lives we should know that there is a sign that says “God at Work Ahead”. That doesn’t mean that every road will be smooth, but it does mean that He will always be present to help us through. That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:28:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In the ups and downs of our lives, God is at work for those who love him. Hang on to God, even in the roughest of times. He can take every difficult thing that happens in life and use it to our benefit ultimately. Faith is trusting in the darkness that He is bringing the light eventually. 

Resource:

McLellon, Vernon. Thoughts that Shaped the Church. Tyndale, 2000.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/179441245/mervin-ethelbert-rosell

His Love Never Fails

Photo by cottonbro

Video of this devotional thought available HERE.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch watchmaker and later a Christian writer and public speaker, who worked with her family to help many Jewish people escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II by hiding them in her home. They were caught, and she was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a biography that recounts the story of her family’s efforts and how she shared hope in God while she was imprisoned at the concentration camp. 

Corrie Ten Boom once wrote:

“Human love fails and will always fail. God’s love never fails.”

In all of the great love stories of the world, there is one common thread. Human love fails. Think about it. Eve tempted Adam. Delilah deceived Samson. Rebekkah lied to Isaac. Look at all great romances in the movies and books. It’s true, even of the loves in our own lives. The problem is that all  humans are imperfect. So no matter how strong the feeling and commitment of love is, in some way there is imperfection and failure. 

But God’s love never fails. He is not a human being. He is perfect! He is all knowing! He knows everything about us, but still loves us with a perfect love. Even when you fail Him (and we all do), His love never fails. In his power and perfection, he knows how to love us. One of the best known verses in the Bible affirms this:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

You have been loved – and are loved – with a perfect love that isn’t measured by your past decisions, the regrets of your life, nor the hurts you have endured. While we appreciate every loving relationship we have, one above all is perfect. Remember how well you are loved, and the blessing of eternal life that comes to those who believe. 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Resources:

Corrie Ten Boom. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corrie_ten_Boom

McLellon, Vernon. Thoughts that Shaped the Church. Tyndale, 2000.