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Miracle Worker

23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. Revelation 21:23

Father in Heaven, you are a God of miracles.  You bring light when I am in darkness through your healing powers and in ways I can never fully understand.  Help me to see even the tiniest miracles that you perform throughout my day so I can lift up my voice in glory to You. Amen

If you were asked if you believe in miracles, what would you say?  Your answer would probably depend upon how you define a miracle.  Some might call it a rare event.  What if instead, you changed your perspective and recognized that God works miracles in our lives every single day?

A standard definition of a miracle is  “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.”  And again, how would you define “extraordinary?”  As I’ve grown closer to God and understanding His ways, my view of the world has certainly changed.  When seen through the lens of creation being the work of God, we can find any number of impossible things made possible.

37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

I’ve been blessed with being pregnant and giving birth twice.  Each time I marvelled at what was occurring in my body.  A tiny human being built from microscopic pieces of the universe in a body that itself is the perfect factory for human creation.  The parts all fit perfectly, just about every single time for thousands of years, millions upon millions of instances.  You don’t need to know statistics to grasp how impossible that should be.

Many say “that’s just science.”  Of course it is!  Science is the study of God’s amazing work – where the impossible happens all the time.  But let’s set human biology aside.  I can state for a fact that miracles happen regularly because I have experienced them.  Oh, if you had only known me 30, 20 or even just 10 years ago. You wouldn’t have seen Christ in my life.  You would have seen a woman desperate for peace.  Longing for joy.  Fearful of not being loved or appreciated.  A couple of years ago, a friend who has known me for some time commented how she could now see the work of Jesus in me.  Truly a miracle.  I’ve seen the same work in a few friends.  Ones I thought would never change.  And the change that has occurred is one that only the hand of God could’ve accomplished.

When you think “miracle” do you only think of cancer being healed?  A death avoided?  A financial windfall?  If so, you need to rub the scales from your eyes.  Just the fact that the sun rose again today was God’s miracle of creation.   His glory is revealed in so many ways.  Some include our continuous acts of human creation.  While other times through the medicines He has placed here for us to “discover.”  His miracle work is revealed each time a sinner recognizes their sin and asks God to change her and He does.  And yes, whenever we are blessed financially when we need it most. 

Friend, God’s glorious miracles are at work right now in your life.  Like our future Eden, He doesn’t need any outside source to cause the light to shine because He makes impossible possible.

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Everyday Glory

“If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

Holy Spirit, whatever decisions and choices I make today help them to be in service and glorification of God. Amen

I read an Instagram post the other day that asked this question: “Are you doing what makes you happy or what glorifies God?”  I would venture to say on a day-to-day, hour-by-hour basis we probably lean toward what makes us happy.  Sure, when it comes to bigger more difficult decisions, we may seek God’s counsel.  But how often when we are choosing what to eat, what to do with our free time, when we go about our chores and errands, before we open the door to enter work or school do we think, what’s God say about this? What could I do in this very situation that would make God happy?  What could I say to my spouse/friend/adult child that would sound like a word from the Lord?

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

We can take this piece of scripture and use it as a sort of “out” when it comes to our everyday lives being aligned with God.  We can never know all that God is thinking so we just go about our lives as best we can, right?  That may be true if we never study scripture or pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom.  Because when we do those two things, God will constantly be on our minds and lips.  He may even want that mundane day you have planned turned into something that glorifies Him.

We will never be fully satisfied with making our own choices about our lives.  It may appear that some people who have fame and fortune without God “have it all.”  As Christ followers we know true satisfaction, however, comes from the only constant thing in the world – God.  He knows what’s best for us.  He knows what will work in our lives to glorify the kingdom.  

Friend, when we change our daily thinking to God’s plan, not ours, we will also enjoy the fruits of the spirit – peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. And that sounds a lot better than anything I might’ve planned for my day.

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Forever & Ever

“To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” Philippians 4:20

“Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to live in me.  I can turn to you at any time, day or night, in times of joy and of sorrow and you are with me guiding me, convicting me and loving me.  Forever and ever.  Amen”

When I married my husband 34 years ago, we promised to be there for each other till the day we die.  I plan on keeping that promise, and I’m certain he will too.  However, I also recognize that we are both human.  We will disappoint each other.  At times we’ve felt betrayed by the other.  We’ve been angry and hurt.  We’ve also loved each other deeply.  And although I hope that our promise we made all those years ago stays true, you just never know what strange turns our sinful human nature may take.

In all our relationships there is only one that we can know without a doubt, that we could place a million dollar bet on and know it’s a “sure thing.”  And that’s the one we have, as believers, with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17

Before the glory of Pentecost the Holy Spirit only came and “visited” man.  He would come and direct various people in the Old Testament to do God’s work.  But Jesus made it clear that He would no longer make us orphans.  When He left He would step aside for the Holy Spirit to come and live IN us believers forever.  How beautiful, loving and glorious is that?  God – this magnificent, mysterious, expansive, all powerful being wants to be a part of me and you, always.  While we are taking a shower, making dinner, at work, running errands He is with us. 

“You have often left God.  Has He ever left you?”  

Charles Spurgeon

I’ve had friends that no longer talk to me.  I’ve turned my back on some myself.  I’ve even gotten pretty mad at God.   With one of my funnier moments telling Him, “I’m not going to believe in you anymore!” (Ponder the irony of that statement for a minute) But God has stayed true.

Friends, look at the very best relationship you have.  The one that brings you laughter, joy, loyalty and more.  And magnify that by a billion.  That’s God living with us and in us through the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know about you but I think that’s certainly something for which we should glorify and give thanks.

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A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.  A time to be born and a time to die.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

As a kid living in southern California, I had the opportunity to go to Disneyland a number of times.  Before each visit my brother and I would plan out how to strategically use our tickets – yes, back then we had ticket books for rides.  That’s where the saying, “It’s an E ticket ride” comes from, meaning the best ones.  In the ticket book there’d be loads of A tickets for the kiddie rides and shows.  But only a few, valuable E tickets.  I imagined how much fun I was going to have spinning around the tea cups and travelling through the Haunted Mansion.  But when I got to Disneyland all I could think of was the next ride.  And the next.  When we would leave, I felt a sense of disappointment.  Like I hadn’t really been there at all.  So, I looked forward to the day we could go back and begin the process of yearning for something better around the next bend all over again.

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. Proverb 27:1

That has been a lifelong problem for me – always looking for tomorrow to bring me joy and peace.  It’s also brought me a lot of worry.  And although God wants us to be good stewards of our life, planning and preparing, He doesn’t want our hearts and minds to be absent from today.  Or worse, trapped in the past.  During difficult seasons we can so easily project our life to what we hope it to be or catastrophize our life to what we are worried it will be.  We often also wish we could just go back to the way things were.  Back home, back to a perceived better or safer time.  

On my rides home from the Magic Kingdom, I would wish I could go back.  Go back and relish each ride, each experience to its fullest.   And while I was doing that, I was probably missing out again on what was happening right then and there.  I can only imagine Elijah, a quiet, rugged mountain shepherd on day 50 or 100 or even 200 in Cherith Ravine letting his mind wander back home to Gilead.  Being just a man, he probably once or twice longed for his old way of life where kings and queens weren’t threatening his life.  Where he could pick berries and drink fresh goat milk each day instead of relying on ravens for food.  But God needed him right there, right at that time paying attention.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

It’s a hard lesson when we are in pain, suffering through bad news, or being persecuted.  We are admonished to trust in God for tomorrow and not yearn to go backwards to home.  And yet, in the midst of my Cherith I found myself doing just that.

Both my children had returned to their own homes after saying their final goodbyes to their beloved grandmother.  My husband too had returned back to a job that needed his presence.  That next day, after a particularly hard few moments and, to be honest, watching my brother-in-law’s little family gather closely together, I needed to escape.  I felt so alone and incapable of the task of helping shepherd my mother-in-law through her final days.  I took my eyes off the Lord and placed them back on myself.  A phone call home had me crying out to my husband, “I can’t do this.  I’m not strong enough.  I want to come home right now.”

I wanted to go back to before the cancer.  I wanted to envelope myself in my comfortable routine back home.  Fear and loneliness wrapped around me like a heavy blanket.  And then I remembered Elijah.  I looked toward the majesty of the Colorado Rockies and remembered God can do all things.  And He needed me right there, right now.  Not longing for home or better times.  Not worrying about the future. Instead, paying attention to the beautiful moments and lessons He had placed before me for today.

22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. John 16:22

I still will battle looking for the next “better thing” around the corner.  But the time between that search and remembering to enjoy this day has reduced to mere moments as I pull my thoughts back to looking for Jesus right now.  There is a time for everything. To prepare and to sow, to cry and to laugh. To keep and throw away. To mourn and to dance. When we step outside God’s timing we find ourselves at odds with His plan. But when we live in His moments, His seasons, we find ourselves in harmony. That is God’s promised peace.  And that my friends, is exactly where the joy is.

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Jesus

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:35

Dear God,

I wanted to write to you today and thank you for the amazing gift you gave me and all of humanity.  It was so thoughtful of you to think of us!  I really wasn’t expecting something so wonderful and life giving!  

I am of course, writing to thank you for Jesus.  For that little baby you breathed into Mary thousands of years ago.  For that little child who grew to be a powerful yet quiet man.  God clothed in skin who experienced all the hardships, joys, temptations, love, frustrations and miracles you have blessed this world with.  

I’m so sorry, however, that your Son had to also experience the pain of our sin.  When I think of His last days it brings me so much sadness.  Your gift to us was so beautiful and we destroyed it with a vengeance.  And yet you still love us.  So much so you raised up that gift of Jesus for awhile to teach us a few more lessons before He went home to you.

Heavenly Father, we are entering into a season that should be all about the gift of your Son, Jesus.   Help us, through your Holy Spirit, to remember that little baby, that man, who gave so much in order to cleanse us of our sins.  

Today, oh God, I’m so thankful for the salvation your Son brought to those of us who pronounce Him King of our lives.  Your gracious and mercy-filled gift to us is all we ever need.  I know this small note of thankfulness can never repay you for your kindness.  I look forward to seeing you one day so that I can thank you in person.

Your loving servant,

Kris 

I hope you have enjoyed these 30 Days of Thankfulness! I’m taking some time off from the blog to enjoy this most wonderful time of the year! God bless and Merry Christmas!

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Tears

But while he was still a long way off his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

I know the text doesn’t say it but I can only imagine the tears flowing from the father and mother in the story of the prodigal son.  In fact, the King James version says “he fell on his son’s neck” in a dramatic display of joy and love.  Awhile ago, my family brought me to tears of joy with a surprise visit from my daughter, whom I hadn’t seen in months.  I heard the front door open and thinking it was my older daughter I made my way toward the front of the house to tell her hello.  When I realized it was my younger daughter I was overcome with tears and unable to speak.  I stood there sobbing in her arms.

It may seem strange to be thankful to God for tears but without them our world would be so vanilla.  I’ve laughed until I have cried with friends and family.  I’ve cried out to God, thankful for His grace and salvation.  I’ve wept at the birth of my daughters.  And yes, I’ve cried those tears of sorrow, of loss, of anger, of desperation.

Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5

So often we must weep, live in hard times before we can experience the full glory and blessing of God.  It’s why James tells us we should consider it joy to experience trials.  Because those trials produce good fruit in us.  And that fruit becomes something for us to share.

I have a friend whose 90 year old mother confesses to not remembering the last time, if ever, that she has cried.  What that means is she hasn’t participated fully in the gifts of life.  With each winter season in our lives we are so often rewarded with the spring, a time to bring  us great joys.  I want to go from this life knowing I have cried many tears from laughter, thankfulness, joyous surprise, beautiful surroundings and more.  I heard a Christian teacher say, “If you want the joy of Sunday’s resurrection you must first have the tears of Friday’s crucifixion.”

I’m so very grateful to God for giving us the outward ability to show our emotions.  To show those we love how much we love them, even after they are gone.  I’m looking forward to the day I can cry tears of joy when I see Jesus’ face watching for me from a long way off.  I know that when I get close enough, I will fall into His arms weeping, filled with joy.

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Beauty

Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman. 2 Samuel 14:27

While I was visiting my daughter’s family about a week ago, we took a stroll through the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  As far as botanical gardens go late fall isn’t the ideal time to visit.  However, this large tribute to God’s botanical world has a number of year-round gems.  Their tropical greenhouse exhibits seemingly endless unusual flowers bursting forth in yellows, purples, oranges, reds, and greens in all shapes and sizes.  Around each corner is yet another example of God’s gift to us of beauty.  And if that wasn’t enough a walk through the Japanese garden section sees an explosion of fall colors with fiery red Japanese maples and an array of colorful mums.

Missouri Botanical Gardens

While many lessons in the Bible warn us of making beauty an idol, that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the beauty of God’s world.  Beautiful women mustn’t rely on that beauty but instead have an inwardly beautiful heart.  And the riches of the world – shiny gold, silver and diamonds — cannot be the treasure we most desire.

But one read through the description of the new Eden in Revelation reveals God’s desire for us to live amongst His gift of beauty.

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. Revelation 21:19

God didn’t have to make such a colorful, beautiful world.  Everything could be black and white.  So, on your next walk around your neighborhood give thanks to a God who loves to place color and beauty in our lives.  From the tiny pink flower nestled in the sidewalk crack to the glorious red and orange evening sunset and the beautiful bluebird to the spectrum of colors that make up our human hair, God’s gift of beauty is one that has little reason yet brings so much joy.

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Fiery Trials

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12

There’s a famous line in the movie Animal House, “Thank you, Sir!  May I have another!” which the college students must say as they receive a paddling in order to become members of the fraternity house.  This scene always comes to mind when I read about the trials and tribulations we most certainly will face as followers of Jesus.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3

James especially brings this message home – not only will we endure trials but we should enjoy them!  Of all the lessons and directives in the Bible I think I find this one of the most difficult.  In my more “infant” Christian stage it could take me months or years to see the blessings from a fiery trial.  But as I have progressed in my faith journey I’m working to shorten that time span.  My goal? To be in the moment of trials asking God to show me the lesson and blessing.  And not only that, to try and be a blessing to others while things aren’t going so well for me.

The dark moments of our life will last only so long as is necessary for God to accomplish His purpose in us.  

Charles Stanley, 30 Life Principles

I  don’t know about you but I’m taking this to heart these days.  I want to accept the lesson as quickly as possible.  And while I’m not begging for trials, I know for certain they will come.  I’m so thankful He has given us opportunities to improve our hearts and minds, our relationships with other people, and with the Creator Himself.  I heard Joyce Meyer say the other day, “When we are in the midst of a trial we get thrown at God.”  And I’m thankful when we are thrown into the midst of the fire He is right there reaching for us.

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Our Furry Friends

Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;  Proverbs 27:23

I am certainly thankful that the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to be with us always – to comfort, guide, and even giving us those taps on the shoulders when we are about to say or do something we shouldn’t.  Sometimes, however, we need an earthly comfort. A warm and fuzzy hug or a big sloppy kiss.  And that’s why I’m so very thankful God gifted us with pets.

There’s no clear answer as to when we humans started domesticating animals.  Some say the beginning of the 5th millennium BC, while others think it was a bit later in that millennium.  But no matter, we can know it was a long time ago we became shepherds and farmers.  It’s thought that dogs became our companions around 27,000 years ago!  The oldest known dog remains were found in the Americas and are dated to approximately 17,000 years ago.  We’ve certainly have had a long term love affair with our pets!

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. 2 Samuel 12:1-3

Now, while this verse is a rebuking lesson for David from the prophet Nathan, it also shows us a glimpse into the everyday life of the people – ones who loved their pet companions.  I can also imagine the shepherds who received the message of Jesus’ birth with their faithful sheep dogs by their sides that fateful night.

I’ve been blessed with two dogs, a few cats, some fish and even a few hermit crabs.  My dog right now, Tucker, brings me so much laughter and joy.  Don’t we all need someone in our lives that, when we come home after a long day, jumps for joy and begs to cuddle with them?  I thank God for this companionship and the love so many of us throughout the ages have received from our furry friends.

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Family

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” Genesis 21:6-7

As I write this we are about four weeks away from the Thanksgiving holiday celebrated in the United States.  And already I’ve heard from a few anxious friends concerned about gathering with family. To be fair, they are all worried about their spouse’s family!  But what makes holidays potentially stressful – dealing with the various personalities and their idiosyncrasies – is also what brings us such joy.  Our families.

When Sarah was gifted a child in her advanced age the Bible doesn’t talk about all her worries.  Although I could imagine there might have been a few.  Instead, what the focus is on is laughter and joy.  God’s creation of man included the eventual creation of family.  And there’s something about family that always feels so different than friendships.  We are bonded by some mysterious force from the heavens.  The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly in our families stays with us forever unlike a forgotten friend.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

The command to honor our parents is the first command telling us to do something for another human being. It stands to reason that God puts family pretty high up on his list.  And while there are those whose parents have made honoring them difficult due terrible sin and lack of repentance, for so many of us we must remember God’s love for family and how He wants us to love them.

I love my whole family, those of blood and those my rolling stone has picked up along the way.  Some I must work harder to obey the command, while others it comes easily.  I thank God for all of them — because I have benefitted from them all while in this crazy, mysterious union.