Many of the Books in the New Testament are a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the people in the churches He started. They are meant to teach, encourage and guide the people. They are also His prayers for them. Paul, formally known as Saul, had an encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus and from that point forward everything single thing He did the rest of his life was about shining a light on Jesus Christ. When we read his letters, we learn about Jesus and a new life that puts faith first. Amen.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2013 near Garden of the Gods Park in southern Colorado)
With all that goes on in the world and in our lives we all need to find rest and to be restored. It is how we are all made. Balance is a key element in life. Eating a balanced diet is best…balance in our speaking and listening time makes us better in relationships…balance in our fun and wild times with our quiet times. The best recipes have a little bit of this and a little bit of that or a pinch of this and a pinch of that…excess will lead to destruction and definitely a poor tasting meal. In order to be at our best we need balance in all aspects of our lives…physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Seek the Lord and you will find rest and be restored. Amen.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(This photo was taken in September of 2019 at a lake in central Minnesota)
Devotion…dedication…faithfulness…self-sacrifice….love. A commitment can be hard at times. A commitment is not something to be taken lightly. If you commit to something think carefully about how you will respond when things don’t go as planned or how you expect them to go. God made a commitment to love us and to save us even though we are still sinners and it was tremedously difficult for Jesus to keep that commitment…yet He was able to fulfill the commitment by staying close to the Father in prayer and trusting the will of God. Jesus is our example of how to get through the hard times and to remain committed to God and trust Him with all aspects of our lives. Amen.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you strength.”
(This photo was taken in June of 2018 near the border of Minnesota and South Dakota)
The Holy Bible…The Good Book…The Scriptures…The Word of Life…The Living Word…the Truth. It is more than a compilation of stories about people who lived thousands of years ago…it is God speaking to us, teaching us principles of life and the story is not over at the end of the Book. It lives on in all of us today because of Jesus Christ…He has risen and He lives! Take time to read and hear the Word of God in your life, you will find the stories about struggles and comfort are very similar to our lives today…the principles are still the same. The reason it is stood the test of time is because it is the Truth. Amen.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be throughly equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
(This photo was taken in October of 2014 on the island of Maui, Hawaii)
Loyalty…faithfulness…commitment…dedication. As we learn and grow in our spiritual lives we begin to see more clearly the differences between worldly goals and spiritual goals. Eventually we all get caught in the middle of these differences for different reasons. This is a battle that rages on for everyone. The only answer I have experienced is trust in God. We will not always be able to see the what or the why and that is incredibly frustrating…don’t let that hold you down. Continue in faithfulness and not in worry, do your best in your situation and pray. Talk with the Lord, not in memorized lines from childhood but with sincerity and true feeling because He is with you and He has shown His level of devotion to you by the sacrifice of His Son. Amen.
“And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
2 Corinthians 5:15
(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands)
Distractions are everywhere. Our focus shifts from one thing to the next so quickly, especially in the age of social media. When I was young I remember people using a phrase attributed to Mark Twain, ‘If you don’t like the weather; wait five minutes!’ Well in today’s society it could be ‘if you don’t like the top story of the day; wait a few minutes!’ With schedules and activities; things to do; places to go and see and access to so much information, it is no wonder people are filled with worry, anxiety and feeling exhausted. We end up putting any time with God and prayer as a line item in our never ending busy lives. God is not looking for you to be a social media friend or follower, who checks in on your feed to see what’s what…rather He is asking for your full attention, daily. Your all…your everything…everyday. May God bless you with wisdom and courage.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.”
(This photo was taken in July of 2018 on the shore of Lake Superior in Ashland, Wisconsin)
In all the places you will go, with all the people you will meet and in all the things you will do…keep the Word of God close and God is with you. Pick out a verse that speaks to you and memorize it, hold it with you throughout your day and speak it as a breath prayer and you will sense peace. Continue this practice and pick more verses to work on memorizing. The Bible is our instruction manual for life and as we remember verses and speak with God during all times by speaking verses He will be a part of everything. This isn’t a quick fix, instant gratification thing…this is walking by faith and knowing that the Creator and Savior are with you every step of the way in life. May the word of God flow in your daily life.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(This photo was taken in July of 2016 on Beartooth Pass in Montana)
It may be hard to believe sometimes…it seems unfathomable, an error in judgement or even misguided from our perspective. However, it is true…God loves you, unconditionally. There is nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God. It has all been tried over and over again throughout the Old Testament, so God took things up a notch and sent His one and only Son to triumph over all, forever. He had it written about before it occurred in the Old Testament and then again after it occurred in the New Testament. God loves you and He is right there with you, He knows the struggles and the victory you experience in your life every day. Talk with God, thank Him for His never-ending love and seek His will as you go forward in your faith and life journey. May God’s peace and joy be with you.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.”
(This photo was taken in July of 2016 while driving through North Dakota)
The true form of joy comes from believing and knowing that the Lord your God created you out of love, knows the about the deepest part of you and will never leave you or abandon you. Faith has been and is the only thing that can overcome sadness, darkness and sin. Jesus came down from heaven and showed the power of faith by His actions and His sacrifice. He defeated sickness and illness, He defeated the devil in the desert, and He defeated death. He did it all for you and He did it out of His love…and that is why true joy is found only in Faith and nowhere else on earth. May you find joy in God’s peace and love.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9
(This photo was taken in June of 2016 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)
Music is one of the ways I sit in praise and worship of our Lord. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives. Take time to be with the Lord. Some times it is just sitting and listening to songs of praise like one of these…
I encourage you whatever you do and wherever you go to sense His presence the most, go to that place and thank God for all you have and all He has done and then invite Him to guide you going forward…He is always there waiting for you and He will never leave you. May God’s love, joy and peace be with you.
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”
(This photo was taken in August of 2016 near Glacier National Park in Montana)