Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Is It?

Night Snowfall at Maple Grove

Large snowflakes falling gently through the night air caught the flash from my camera and reflected it back in this photo. The effect reminds me of "manna from heaven," the food that God provided for the Israelites when they wandered in the wilderness, as recorded in the Bible.

"When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, 'What is it?' For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, 'It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat'"
(Numbers 11:9; Exodus 16:14-15).

God is faithful in providing for the needs of His people, as we see in this miracle of the manna from heaven and when Jesus fed the crowd of 5,000 with two small fish and five barley loaves. 

Jesus does care about our physical needs, and more importantly, He cares about our spiritual needs.  The next day the crowd went looking for Him, and when they found Him, Jesus told them:

"Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”  . . Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.””  (John 6:47-51, 58).

What is it?  The manna in the Old Testament was bread from God that kept His people alive when they were wandering in the desert wilderness.  It was a foreshadowing of the new covenant in His Son, Jesus Christ.  He is the true manna from heaven, the Bread of Life. Those who believe in Him have new life now in this current wilderness and eternally when He makes all things new.

Friday, February 25, 2011

So Much More!

Feeding the Flock at Maple Grove

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" (Matthew 6:26).

We have a small flock of chickens at Maple Grove. Normally I let them out of the henhouse to forage for bugs and greens.  When there is snow on the ground, however, they refuse to come out of their house. At those times they are totally dependent on me to bring them food and water.  It is a big commitment on my part to take care of them every day. . . and the more harsh the weather, the more committed I need to be!

How much more is God committed to taking care of us!  It is easy for us to forget that everything we have we receive from our heavenly Father.  He provides for all of our needs and then gives us even more:  Food, drink, shelter, protection, clothing, jobs, cars, technology, family, friends, love, forgiveness. . . and on and on! He is committed to taking care of us, especially in the harshest of times. 

Sometimes we are ungrateful or forgetful of all that God gives us, and that is why we pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." It is not that God won't provide for us if we don't ask.  By praying this prayer, we acknowledge that all we have are gifts from God who gives us all that we need and so much more!
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" 
(Matthew 6:31-34).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Rich Supply

Farmer Friend at Maple Grove

  "He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower,
‘Be a mighty downpour'"
(Job 37:6).

Some people love the snow for its beauty and recreational benefits such as skiing, sledriding and snowmobiling.  The snow delights children when schools close but can be problematic for safe travel and snow removal.  A heavy snowfall unifies folks in a community as they reach out to support each other, as this local farmer did when he came out to offer his assistance.

The farmers may appreciate the snow more than any of us.  They know how beneficial and necessary it is for growing crops.  The water from falling rain and melting snow filters down from the surface of the earth and supplies all the rivers, streams, and springs.  It is by God's design, and as He provides for our physical life, He also provides a rich supply for our spiritual life:

"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my Word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Be Watchful

KC and the Chicks
 "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Does this look a little too close for comfort?  I wouldn't exactly call KC a "roaring lion."  She's an indoor cat and is way too lazy and timid to chase anything.  Or is she? These little chicks don't appear to be afraid, but they are always watchful.

On the night Jesus was betrayed, He went to the garden to pray.  He told His disciples, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  His disciples could not stay awake.  God knows our weakness, and so He tells us repeatedly in His Word to be watchful:

  • watchful for His answers to our prayers
  • watchful for opportunities to share the Gospel
  • watchful for temptations and Satan's deceits
  • watchful for Christ's return
We need God's strength to "stay awake" and be watchful.  We receive His strength by studying His Word and praying.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Colossians 4:2).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jesus Knows Me, This I Love!

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart" (Jeremiah 1:5).

Thank you Lord, for this precious life that you created.  I pray that she will know your love and love you in return. Fill her with your Spirit and keep her in your tender care.  Guide her parents with wisdom and strength as they teach her to know your truth!  As she grows and matures, may she know the purpose for which you set her apart.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Refuge and Shelter

Bed and Breakfast at Maple Grove
"You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat" (Isaiah 25:4).

During a long, cold winter with heavy winds, snow, sleet and ice, I find myself looking forward to sunnier, warmer days.  But when the intense heat and dryness of summer stretches on and on, I long for cooler, breezier days.  When it comes to the weather, it seems like I'm never satisfied, but in both cases I am immensely grateful for the shelter and safety of my home. 

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

When the physical and spiritual storms of life attack me, my God is always there as my refuge and my shelter.  He warms the coldest corners of my heart with the radiance of His Son's love and grace. He satisfies my scorched and thirsty soul with His Spirit of wisdom and truth. 

Do you feel troubled or distressed?  I pray that when life is hard, when your heart is cold, or when your temper is hot, that you will remember the One who longs to be your refuge and shelter. 

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust'" (Psalm 91:1-2).

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Every Morning

Dawn following a storm at Maple Grove
 "I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22).

I rise early in the morning while dawn's first light begins to break through the darkness. I can see that the dark clouds of the night storm are being swept away into the distant eastern sky.  They no longer pose a threat or danger. Any fear I felt from the previous night's storm is lifted. 

It is the same with my sins.  The darkness of my sinful thoughts and offenses could hover over me like a storm cloud, burdening me with guilt, shame and fear.  The Light of God's love, however, reveals that with Him there is forgiveness.  Even though I daily sin much and deserve God's wrath, Christ has redeemed me from my prison of sin.  He freely and daily offers forgiveness, life and salvation to everyone who believes and trusts in Him.

Are there any sins--wrong thoughts or deeds, disbelief or offenses--that burden you so that you live with fear, resentment or regret?  Return to God and receive His unfailing love and forgiveness. 

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning" (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Living Water

Winter Creek at Maple Grove
"The LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem. . . in summer and in winter.  The LORD will be king over the whole earth" (Zechariah 14:5,8).

 I enjoy walking down to the creek at the back of our property in all seasons.  It's not a very wide creek.  In the summer there are times when it is bone dry. After a hard rain, though, the water flows briskly, and the rushing sound is very soothing.  There is something about bodies of water that draws us to them.  Whether it is a creek, a river, a lake, or the ocean, we are drawn to their banks. 

Jesus is our Living Water. He said, "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).  Just as our bodies need water to sustain us physically, we need Jesus and the "living water" He has to offer to sustain us spiritually and eternally.

"For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Revelation 7:17).

When you see flowing water and are drawn to it, I pray you are reminded of Christ, the well of Living Water who is drawing us to come and drink deeply.  In what ways is your spiritual thirst being quenched? Are the rivers of living water flowing from you, as He said,  for the benefit of others?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Signs of the Times

Sunset at Maple Grove
Have you ever asked God for a sign--something to prove to you that He is real?  I think that we've all been there at some point in our lives.  God has given us all the signs we need.  First, in the world He created we see evidence of a great Designer.  Then, even though we resist or refuse to believe in Him, He sent His Son into the world to show us the depth of His love for us.  He gave us His Word in the Holy Scriptures to teach us all that we need to know to believe and trust in Him. 

In Jesus' time, His critics posed the same question.  They asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.  He replied, "When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’  and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16:2-3). 

When I see a red sky at night, I take it as a sign--not just that fair weather is ahead, but that God created a beautiful world for us and even though we make a mess of it, He loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us from our sins, from death, and from the power of the devil.  He promised to be with us always and to come again in glory.  I pray that each time you see a red sky at night you will be reminded of God's love for you and that you will put your trust in Him.  What other signs do you see of God's presence around you?