Fruit Of The Spirit…Love

“One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:35-40 NIV

The laws of God are the only laws that will can save us from our own destruction.  The rejection of God and His way is what has led us to this place.  It is not too late to turn towards Jesus and offer our love to God and to others.  That is the only way we will find peace.

Love God Love People by Danny Gokey

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“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”

Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[a]

Galatians 5:14 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2014 on the island of Maui, Hawaii)

Faith Over Fear

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 NIV

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

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Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado)

I Will Praise You In The Storm

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

James 1:2-5 NIV

Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4 NIV

Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns

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But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;…”

Isaiah 43:1-3 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)

Trust And Pray

The Lord is gracious, kind and tender.
    He is slow to get angry and full of love.
The Lord is good to all.
    He shows deep concern for everything he has made.”

Psalm 145:8-9 NIRV

No matter what, anything is possible with God.  If you are discouraged or defeated and thinking this is never going to change or get better…turn towards God, put your trust in Him.  Confess your sins and make a commitment to change the way you live.  If you are frustrated and at your wits end with another person don’t give up…pray for them and be encouraged by story of Saul who became Paul…Saul was filled with anger and hate and he was leading the charge to kill believers in Jesus and yet this was the person God chose to change to help lead the charge to spread the Good News about Jesus.  You can read more about him in the book of Acts.  If God can change Saul to Paul, He can change you or someone you are praying for just the same.  Anything is possible with God.  Amen.

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“But I will bless anyone who trusts in me.
    I will do good things for the person who depends on me.
They will be like a tree planted near water.
    It sends out its roots beside a stream.
It is not afraid when heat comes.
    Its leaves are always green.
It does not worry when there is no rain.
    It always bears fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIRV

(This photo was taken in April of 2020 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Strength From The Lord

“I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[b] and the horn[c] of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 18:1-2 NIV

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“Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

(This photo was taken in May of 2020 at Cascade State Park in northern Minnesota)

Power In The Name Of Jesus

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:9-11 NIV

When life is difficult and frustrating, where do we get the ability to move forward?  What could possibly renew us?  What makes some people so resilient?  It has been my experience that there is only one thing powerful enough to lift us up out of any tragedy or trial…and His name is Jesus.  A relationship with Jesus Christ in the way to strength in the battle and rest when we are weary.  To experience His presence, we must do our part and be willing to spend time in devotions and prayer building our relationship with Him.  God made a promise, He will never leave you nor forsake you and He always keeps His promises.  Invite Jesus into your heart and into your life daily and you will be renewed each day.  May God’s peace be with you.  Amen.

There Is Power by Lincoln Brewster

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“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Proverbs 18:10 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2016 in Mount Rainier National Park in Washington)

Nothing…

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[b] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

Romans 8:31-35 NIV

There is nothing better than God and our relationship with Him.  There is nothing in this world more important than Him.  He is with you…He loves you and He is for you.  It is up to each one of us to turn towards Him and put His Word in our hearts and trust that He is working for our good.  While the world will disappoint and people will frustrate us there is nothing that can ever separate us from God and His love.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Graves Into Gardens featuring Brandon Lake by Elevation Worship

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No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:37-39 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 along Beartooth Pass near the Montana-Wyoming border)

What Are Your Distractions? Resolve Them ASAP…

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Colossians 3:2-10 NIV

Ever had one of those mornings or one of those days?  When you know you have things to do and you just can’t focus…you feel scattered?  Your mind keeps jumping from thought to thought and you have moments telling yourself, “c’mon stop it…focus on what you need to do!”  This is a perfect example of how we can’t overcome things on our own…we need help…we need God.  There is a sign in our home with the letters ASAP on it…yet it doesn’t stand for what you are thinking it does…this ASAP stands for “Always Stop And Pray.”  When you notice things going the wrong direction, always stop and pray…when you just don’t know what to do, always stop and pray…when life gets overwhelming, always stop and pray.  Distractions and taking our attention away from God will be constant in life…we can overcome our problems by remembering to ASAP.  May God’s peace be with you.  Amen.

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:6-8 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 in Badlands National Park in South Dakota)

Patience

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 ESV

When we believe and we trust in God we will be required to develop patience in this world.  Circumstances will often look hopeless and many people will despair and be engulfed in sadness and fear, that is the way of evil.  We must never give up hope, we must trust in God to continue working for the good for us and for everyone.  God does not make bad things happen, He is not tempting you with things that are not good…that is sin in the world.  God is at work in all the bad we have created to bring out goodness, kindness and love.  Believe in Him who created us, believe in His one and only Son, Jesus Christ and see the good things that can happen in your life in this world.  May God’s peace and joy be with you.  Amen.

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“I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)

Trust…Hope

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

One of the strongest drivers of action in our human lives is hope.  Hope is about ambition, desire, goal setting and most importantly hope is about trust.  Hope comes from belief and belief is driven by trust and trust operates very much like a bank account.  There are events that occur between you and another that are trust deposits and there are events that are trust withdrawals.  The tricky part is one withdrawal is typically larger than one deposit.  Trust also impacts what we give, if people make several trust withdrawals on us, we become guarded and we have very little trust to give to others.  We should reflect on our relationships and our trust accounts with others and know that no matter what the current balance is there is always hope to make it better because of Jesus.  We can trust Him…He only makes deposits in our relationship with Him.  May God’s peace be with you.

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“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

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 while on a walk in northwestern Wisconsin)