The blue-violet blooms along the fence first caught my eye, And milk-white blossoms splattered the green weeds around them.
I found a bunch of bright golden black-eyed Susans nearby.
And look! A puff of pink wild roses.
Fragrant white-crowned yarrow marches beside the road While tumbling water clatters through the rocky roadside ditch.
Thank You, Lord, for these beauties attending my morning walk On this cloudy day in June. This visual feast—Your gift to me—eases my weariness from yesterday’s disappointments. My faltering faith leaps to life again as I remember Your presence and love. All praise and thanks belong to You, God. Let heaven and earth, all people and all creation give Glory and honor to You, O Lord our God! Amen.
Jesus is the way of salvation, the only way. Every other path is doomed to keep a person separated from the goodness of God. If you reject Jesus, there are severe natural consequences – even more severe than rejecting gravity at the top of a cliff.
But rejecting Jesus is not the only possibility. Even those who once rejected him have the opportunity to turn back (that is, repent) and receive him, as long as they are still drawing breath. For those who do receive him, the consequences are wonderful: we are specially selected children, we are inducted into the priest-order of King Jesus, we are an ethnicity of holiness, and God’s specially-obtained people.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button:
For some people, the player above may not work. If that happens to you, click below to either download, or play…
Dear Journal Jottings Friends,
I’m hoping to get a post of my own out later in the week Meanwhile, I’m reblogging a couple of great sermons by Pastor Tom who always makes the Bible clear. Here’s the first:
Many people, both past and present, recognize that Christianity has been a greater force for good in this world than any other religion or worldview. But some people want to have the benefits of Christianity without the difficult, almost embarrassing, business of actually entrusting their lives to Jesus Christ. That is, they want to stop short of having faith. However, Jesus’ chief apostle, Peter, presents us with something we in the modern world seem to hate: a binary choice. Jesus is the cornerstone, the foundation upon which everything depends. Those who trust in him will not be put to shame. Those who reject him will find themselves destroyed by that rejection. To be a Christian is to trust Jesus. Without that, there is no Christianity.
To listen to the sermon, click the play button: To download, right click on the link (or do whatever…
As I began my morning walk, I pondered my many failures. The Holy Spirit seemed to say, “Don’t go there again.” Then I turned my mind toward gratitude for forgiveness, the beauty of nature around me, and for friends and family. I could have walked on with thanksgiving and praise for spring flowers, singing birds, warmer temperatures, and baby calves.
But I didn’t. Instead, I let my mind wander back to promises I hadn’t kept and my many slips into people-pleasing. I remembered when I had first learned the joy of repentance and of receiving forgiveness. I had promised God that from then on, with His help, I would live in obedience to Him. I would say, “Not my will, but Yours be done, Lord.”
However, many times I’d gone my own way instead of leaning on His power to overcome evil tendencies. I poured out my heart to Jesus and walked quietly for a few minutes. A hymn from childhood bubbled up into my memory: “Are ye able to remember when a thief lifts up his eyes that his pardoned soul is worthy of a home in paradise?” *
My joyful response: “YES! And I also remember that I’ve confessed these sins and received Your forgiveness and cleansing. (1 John 1:9) Thank You sweet Holy Spirit for reminding me. Thank You God for being so patient with me.”
“Lord, You have given me another day to live for Your glory. Oh, let me do it well! Amen.”
*Verse 2 of the hymn, “’Are Ye Able?’ Said the Master,” Words by Earl Marlatt, Music by Harry S. Mason. An excellent performance of this hymn is at https://youtu.be/eFI90wvB8JU .
The leaves of the oak tree noisily applaud the arrival of spring. The pointy touch of pine needles reminds me that You are a God who feels and cares. Splotches of shade splash the sun-drenched pathway. What a God You are! We feel wind and waves, see rocks and wildflowers. Near and far, hills and valleys, woods and fields litter the landscape. So many birds, both glorious and plain! Such vast numbers, yet not a sparrow falls without Your notice. With fruit and vegetables, herbs and tree bark You provide Food and medicine in this beautiful, though broken world. Beyond all this, You give us the gift of laughter to brighten our faces When we’re tempted to gloom. You spoke forth all creation as the morning stars sang together, And You hold them all together by the power of Your Word. Indeed, what a God You Are!
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:3 New International Version) “What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:6-7 New Living Translation) “What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” (Matthew 10:29 New Living Translation)
Didn’t they even read my e-mail?” I fumed. “And they used to notify me when they answered my questions.” I hadn’t heard a word from the help desk since I’d submitted the request weeks ago. I looked on the company’s website and found a “status of your request” area. I located a rather unhelpful answer under their “closed” notation.
On the website, I discovered an address and considered firing off a couple of complaints to let them know of my irritation.
Then I remembered that I’m learning to “take off” anger, among other things, as I would take off old clothes, and to “put on” the new me that is created to be like Christ. With the conversation online, I had time to calm down, ask the Holy Spirit’s help, and edit before I asked for further, and I hoped better, instruction.
I may or may not get the help I need for that issue, but I’m learning a little more about obeying Jesus.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself — it tends only to evildoing.” Psalm 37:8 AMP
At this time of celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I remember the Easter hymns we sang in church as I grew up. I loved “Christ Arose” partly because of the building excitement in the chorus:
“Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes; He arose a Victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!” * (Words and music by Rev. Robert Lowry, 1826-1899.)
Now that I’m older, I value more and more the truth of the song. Jesus Christ conquered death, and He offers true eternal life to those who choose to receive and follow Him.
Christ is risen! Hallelujah! He is risen indeed!
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NIV)
“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3 NIV)
*Several performances of this song are available on YouTube. I liked this one by the Klondike Baptist Church Praise Team: https://youtu.be/UYcEH6vzVas
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16 NIV).”
One type of arrow, regret, targeted a weak spot in my shield for years. Now I’m learning to protect myself from it.
With the reminders of sin for which I’ve already repented, I can just mark them forgiven and let them go.
But many of those arrows catch fire from coals of ‘I wish’ or ‘if only.’ For example, “I wish I had made wiser relationship choices in college,” or “If only I hadn’t made so many stupid mistakes about a career, then life would be more worthwhile now.”
Wonder what Jesus would say about those regrets? He might say to me, “My child, do you think I have no power to work even your failures and mistakes into My plans and purposes? Can I not do what I said in Romans 8:28 and take these, along with all the rest of ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ and make something better than what anyone could have imagined?”
“Oh, right, Jesus. I must have thought You and the Father and the Holy Spirit were wringing Your hands and moaning, ‘If only she hadn’t done that! Now what will We do?’”
Then we would laugh.
“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)
“But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.’” (Jeremiah 18:4-6)
God offers me abundant life through Jesus Christ. But if I stubbornly cling to my own way, and don’t listen to Jesus and don’t obey Him, my life limps along in mediocrity. In fact, the more I try to take control of my life, the more “the mediocre” turns to “the pits.” (Matthew 7:24-26)
However, if I listen to Jesus and seek Him in His Word and try to obey what He says, I grow in His love and find more of His goodness—more abundance in life.
Therefore, let me choose to listen and obey.
John 10:10 “…I [Jesus] have come that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (Amplified Bible)
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land….” (New Living Translation)
God has told us to bring every thought captive to obey Jesus Christ. But how can I do that? My thinking patterns have become knotted and twisted around experiences, people, and natural tendencies. I can drag the whole bundle to Jesus. When I do that, He shows me loose ends protruding from the tangles.
Then the Holy Spirit and I pull one free from the bunch, straighten it out and make it obey Christ. For example, I don’t need to hold onto a bad attitude about some disappointed expectation. When I start to stew, I can say to myself, “No. That’s the old way. I’m new in Christ. I’ll let go of the disappointment and rejoice in Him.” And the next time I think about what happened or didn’t happen, I’ll stop and remind myself that I’m rejoicing in the Lord.
When that thought thread is brought into submission, we can start pulling on another one.
“…[We] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” –2 Corinthians 10:5 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” –2 Corinthians 5:17 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 (Scripture verses are from the New International Version)