Never Alone

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Loneliness has little to do with whether or not there is someone else around. It’s a dark wind of the heart that seems to say, “No one cares!” or at an even deeper level, “Nobody understands!” “I’m doing all of this…all alone!”

All of us have been in that fearsome place. We’ve felt that strange mix of anger and fear. The urge to lash out, or the awful fear that, even if we did, no one would respond.

The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Jesus’ promise.

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

And then he speaks to the weariest of lonely hearts. It’s as if he was seeking to put a kind of spiritual steel in our souls – “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5,6)

Today, draw deeply on the promise of our Lord’s ever-abiding presence.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

When Winds and Waves Obey

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“Don’t you care that we are about to drown?” That was the question Jesus’ friend asked him. You can hear the panic in their voices. And Jesus didn’t attempt to explain away their panic. There was no “Don’t worry, men”. No irritated “Why don’t you trust me?” No “How many times have I rescued you”?

Instead of addressing his friends, he spoke to the storm. “Peace, Be still.” And, in the simplest of terms. Scripture tells us that “the winds and the waves obeyed his voice.”

Whatever the panic you may face today, whatever your personal “winds and waves”, whatever in life is “out of your control”,

…Whatever stirs your deepest fears, our Lord promises “Peace. Be still.”

It’s not pushing away your fears, or minimizing the seriousness of your concern. It is facing the concerns, and standing in quiet amazement as our Lord speaks to your deepest storms. First…allowing him to quiet your inner storm, then…bring the exterior winds and waves under his control.

May the peace of God be with you today.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Strength For Today

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The day ahead will have its familiar routines…and its unexpected demands. Even the most common of tasks will often call for special grace or an extra measure of kindness. Or for strength when you’re at your very weakest.

In those times when the demands are beyond you, when your physical strength is low, your energy failing, or your next steps uncertain…you have the limitless, unfailing, inexhaustible strength of our ever-compassionate Lord. When situations seem the darkest He rejoices at the opportunity to show His strength through you.

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

(Neh.8:10)

A quiet, expecting heart that is open to our Lord can give you the resources to become a joyous channel of the strength of the Lord.

Teach me, Lord, that I am never limited to my own resources. Amen

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016

God’s Protective Care

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Because the Psalmist often faced times of physical danger, God often spoke to him in terms of safety and protection. He begins by inviting us to live in “the secret place of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1) …an intimate place of absolute safety. But that language may sound too lofty for the down-to-earth challenges you will face today. And so he offers a more earthy picture.

In the simplest of picture language he uses the imagery of the protection a mother bird provides for her young.

“He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge.”

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In the most trying circumstances today – or any day, draw on the calm assurance of our Lord’s strong protective “wings”. He cares for you.

Throughout this day help me to remember your care and protection. Amen

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Fountains of Joy

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Rivers are alive. Unpredictable. Sometimes they move with an awesome force. leaving destruction in their wake. Sometimes they flow lazily, as if they were saying, “Come in. Let me cool and quiet you.” Rivers call us to new far off places.

By contrast, fountains call the child in all of us to play. To experience sheer joy. To catch shafts of pure rainbow light through their cascading waters. To live again. Refreshed. Lifted. As if, only for a moment, our cares were gone, and we are once again a carefree child.

Is it, then, any wonder that the Psalmist’s experience reminds us that

“River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city.”

(Psalm 46:4, The Message)

The “fountain” of our Lord’s presence wants to “cool” your “city” – the place where you are called to care. He offers to make you a fountain, a “splash” of joy where there may be little or none.

Lord, may I let your fountain of joy flow through me today.

God, My Protector

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“In the shadow of your wings I will take refuge.” (Psalm 57:1)

Mary loved to watch a hen are for her chicks. And the more she watched, the more she came to see that the mother hen had a very special “language”. There was one cluck that meant “Come, little ones. It’s feeding time”, and another that warned of danger.

One afternoon in the yard, Mary watched as a hawk soared high above her. She was captivated by the grace with which the great bird flew. But then suddenly she caught her breath as the hawk dove toward the hen and her chicks. Just the shadow of the hawk alerted the ever watchful hen. And she “clucked” a very different sound. “Danger is coming”, it said. And the chicks ran to the sure, safe cover of mother’s protective wings.

Today will have its share of unexpected experiences, but we need not fear.

To our Great Protector, there are no surprises.

He knows what is ahead. He is ever-watching, and his loving, protective heart reaches out to us. We are his, and he calls us to run to the shelter of his covering wings.

Shelter me throughout this day, O Lord. I trust you.

A Mighty Fortress

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Sometimes the Old Testament Psalmist wrote of God’s presence in tender terms: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalm 23). How many times have those words have brought a calming quietness to our hearts?

At other times the language of the Psalmist is strong. He assures us that

Our God is “a refuge – a safe haven – from the storm. (Psalm 46)

In Martin Luther’s great hymn, he pictured God as “a mighty fortress…a bulwark never failing.” As he reflected on the intense opposition he faced, he thought in “battle” terms. In his need for a place that was safe physically and emotionally, he envisioned both a strong fortress and a bulwark – a solid wall raised for defense – impenetrable, “a bulwark never failing”.

Take comfort. Whatever today’s challenges, draw deeply from the promise of our Lord’s strength. He waits to show that he is “Our helper…always prevailing” no matter what “the flood of mortal ills”.

Lord, be my “bulwark” – my safe defense today. I need your strength.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Unfailing Strength

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Sailing down Alaska’s Cook Inlet, one seems to be surrounded by the untouched beauty of snowcapped mountains carved by the hand of the Creator. If you let it happen, the others on your boat will seem to fade away, and you can lose yourself in the vast quiet wonder around you.

Then someone calls out, “Look!  There’s an eagle.” And there it is, this great bird. But there seems to be no movement of its great wings. Effortlessly he rides the wind. Soaring. Swooping. Held in the vastness of the open skies as the Creator designed him to be.

Like the magnificent eagle, you and I were made to fly. High and free.

“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles.” Isaiah 40:31

Whatever demands today may bring, whatever “winds” you face, let your spirit be lifted by our Lord’s unfailing strength. Like the eagle, you were made for trusting and soaring.

Let every “wind” today lift me into your sustaining arms, Lord.

Blessed Quietness

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There’s always something waiting to be done. Routine things. They never seem to end. And then, sometimes, you face urgent situations. Demands you weren’t prepared for.

“Lord, I need this quiet moment with you. Really.”

“I need to draw on your resources. Your patience. Your wisdom. Your strength. Flood me with your peace.”

And now go confidently into the hours ahead. Experience our Lord’s compassion…and share it. Allow yourself to be filled with his joy…and pass it on. Draw from the deep wells of his patience and understanding…and give them freely to those you serve in his name.

Lord, make my heart quiet, ready to serve you.

Photo courtesy of Ken Jones, copyright 2016

Heaven’s Caregiver

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It’s easy to talk about the joy of serving. But the truth is – serving someone, caring for them day in and day out is hard work. Always listening. Forever keeping watch.

Take comfort, caregiver. You are not alone. Every moment in the hours ahead, in every demanding situation you will face today, you have an active, resourceful partner, an ever-present, always-understanding, Compassionate Caregiver.

Be assured. There is not a single situation in which our Lord is not with you, strengthening you, empowering you.

Take just a moment to let your heart call on him. Draw on his peace and his wisdom. He’s waiting patiently to meet your need.

Help me remember, Lord, that you are with me. Amen.

Photo courtesy of Alek Zaslawski (www.awzorchids.com), copyright 2016