“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.“
1 John 4:7-12 NIV
God’s love renews and restores us. Our relationship with God is an inside out relationship…we need to know and understand that everything in our life is the result of God’s love for us and there is nothing we can think, say or do that will change God’s unconditional love. As we receive and understand God’s love in our hearts and minds, we are equipped to go out and give love to others in our daily life and interactions. May God’s love and peace be with you and flow through you. Amen.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?“
Romans 8:31-35 NIV
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:37-39 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Philippians 2:1-4 NIV
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Romans 12:9-13 NIV
“In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:5-7 NIV
(This photo was taken in May of 2020 at the High Falls in Tettegouche State Park in northern Minnesota)
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24 NIV
The more we try to take control and hold on tight to all circumstances the more life slips through our fingers. We were never meant to carry all of our burdens alone; we are not meant to fix everything or try to get things to meet our expectations. God doesn’t need us to define our purpose in life, only our surrender to bring us to it. Turn towards Him and daily give yourself to His way in your life. Trust the Lord with everything. Amen.
“Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. 30 Serving me is easy, and my load is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 NIRV
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 at Sapphire Point near Dillon, Colorado)
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV
God is bigger than any circumstances or situation you are facing. He is the only way to bring real change into your life. The more we keep doing the same things and reacting the same way to difficulties the more we will get frustrated and angry, wondering why this doesn’t change or get better? Trying to control things is not what we were made to do…we were created out of love and made for relationship with God and others. God is faithful, He will never leave you or abandon you…if God feels far away it is most likely because you have wandered off. Turn back towards Jesus Christ and trust God’s faithfulness.
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deuteronomy 7:9 NIV
(This photo was taken in September of 2022 in Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:9-13 NIV
God loves you. No matter where you are, no matter what you have done or left undone…He loves you. There is no love in this world as great as God’s love for you. We don’t earn His love and we don’t deserve it…we can’t get more of it because we are good and He doesn’t withhold it when we sin. He knows everything about you and your life and guess what…He loves you all the same. The proof is found at the Cross. Invite Jesus Christ into your heart and give Him thanks for His love for you.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8 NIV
(This photo was taken in March of 2013 at the Botanical Garden in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada)
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Proverbs 3:3 NIV
God has given human beings free will and His Word gives us instructions on how we should choose to live…unfortunately too many of us have turned our backs on God and put worldly things before Him in our lives. This choice by human beings of rejecting God is what invites evil into the world and evil comes to cause pain and suffering as described in John 10:10…“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” We need to turn our focus to Jesus, invite Him into our hearts and surrender our plans for His Will. Amen
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2021 at a park near Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
John 10:14-16 NIV
From the very beginning God created us out of his love. As we try to find satisfaction and happiness in worldly things we will come to find that only by God’s grace will we find true joy and peace in life. Wisdom is found in spending time with God and reading His Word. There is a big difference between knowing Jesus vs knowing about Him. The more we know Him in a personal relationship rather than just know about Him…the more our eyes are opened and the better we begin to understand that we are broken, sinful people in need of a Savior and Jesus Christ is our good shepherd and our redeemer. Amen.
“ For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:13-14 NIV
(This photo was taken in May of 2014 at a lake in central Minnesota)
“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.”
Romans 8:28 NIV
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 NIV
Where does hope come from? It comes from the Creator of everything and everyone…only God who can take on all our sins and overcome this world. Only God can defeat death and evil that is so prevalent in this world. Put your hope in God for He is the only true source of Hope each day.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:1-5 NIV
(This photo was taken in May of 2020 along the North Shore of Lake Superior)
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
1 John 1:5 NIV
Our faith is about more than what we believe…it is also about how we put what we believe into actions. A faith journey is best lived inside-out…start with you…what do you believe…what is your relationship with Jesus Christ…your sin…your confession…this isn’t a check the box type of thing, it is a daily surrender of self-centered desires. As we build our faith on the foundation of coming to the Cross, we can take the things we learn and put them into practice in our daily lives and interactions…this is a journey that requires commitment, it requires a willingness to sacrifice and it provides peace and joy that is beyond our imagination. May God’s peace be with you. Amen.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:6-7 NIV
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Arches National Park in Utah)
“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.”
Psalm 95:1-7 NIV
The only thing in all the earth that brings about true unity among all people from all over the world is Jesus Christ…His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection and His never-ending love. May God’s peace be with you. Amen.
Shout To The Lord by Darlene Zschech
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
5 make music to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
6 with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the Lord, the King.“
Psalm 98:4-6 NIV
(This photo was taken in July of 2019 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)