Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Leader

Three years ago, before we got our beagle, Ellie, I began studying dog training. I read that dogs don’t want to be the “boss,” even though it may seem so at times.  Dogs desire someone to be the leader, the protector, and the provider for the “pack.”  However, if no one steps up to the job, our dog will act as the pack leader.

Humans, like dogs, seek a leader.  We want someone to show us the way we should go. 

During our first trip to New York, we clearly needed to know more about the layout of the city, especially the subway system.  (If you haven't been to New York City, there are a bunch of subway lines, each designated with a different color. The subway map looked like a whole box of crayons!) After that, our oldest daughter took it upon herself to memorize not only all the subway lines but also the layout of the avenues and streets.  When we returned to New York three years later for Thanksgiving, she was our leader.  She knew what she needed to know to guide us, we knew she knew and she knew that we knew.  It worked out well.  I particularly remember the seven of us walking to the spot to watch the Macy's parade. In a sea of people, we were each simply following our daughter. She was wearing a white wool cap, so I knew if I just kept that white hat in my sights, I wouldn't get lost.

We all just need, and want, a leader.

Thankfully, for those of us who have trusted in the Lord Jesus, we have the most perfect of leaders.  We have a leader who is not only completely capable of leading but abundantly desirous of leading as well.  He knows the way because He has been there before.  He created the land upon which the roads rest.  He made the sun which illuminates the way.  It is His creation, and He promises to lead and guide us through it. But He will not force us.  We must desire His leading, much like our little dog Ellie desires us to lead her.  Our heart’s prayer must be that of the psalmist…

“Lead me, O Lord, in Thy righteousness because of mine enemies; 

make Thy way straight before my face,” (Psalm 5:8.)

“...for Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in safety,” (Psalm 4:8.)

When we turn our hearts to Him as our guide, He will perfectly fulfill His role.  

There is no other who can do so.

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth:  for I am God, and there is none else.”

(Isaiah 45:22)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

(John 10:27.)

Friday, November 10, 2023

Stand Still

In the 20th chapter of 2 Chronicles,, the story is told of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, who was a good king and had “riches and honor in abundance,” (2 Chronicles 18:1).  Several nations decided to league together to “come against Jehoshaphat to battle.”

When Jehoshaphat heard this, he was tempted and feared, but he did the best thing he could do, he “set himself to seek the Lord,” (v.3).  He also called all the people of Judah to ask help of the Lord and the people did as he requested.  They came together to fast and pray.

As all Judah, men, women, and children, stood together before the Lord, the Spirit of the Lord came upon one of the Levites and he proclaimed:

 “Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou King Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, ‘Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,' ” (2 Chronicles 20:15). 


He went on to say, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle:  set yourselves, stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem:  fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you.”

In the morning, when they went out to face their enemies, King Jehoshaphat appointed singers unto the Lord to praise the “beauty of holiness” as they went out before the army.  As they went they said, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth forever.”

King Jehoshaphat and the children of Israel chose to do what the Lord had told them to do.  They chose to trust Him to fight for them.  They depended upon His strength and not their own.  "For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” So what was the outcome of that battle?

“And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten," (2 Chronicles 20:22). 

The three enemies began to fight against each other until all were dead and “none escaped.”

In our own lives, doesn’t it seem like we are often surrounded by the armies of our enemies?  Sometimes we feel as though we are being attacked on several different fronts at the same time.  We may feel as if we don’t know what to do.  In those moments, let us remember the experience of King Jehoshaphat and make the same choices he did.  Let us set ourselves to seek the Lord.  Let us follow the wise counsel of His Word and  stand still and “see the salvation of the Lord.” 

The battles we face are not ours, they belong to the Captain of our salvation.  His is the victory because He has already fought the battle and vanquished the foe.  He died on Calvary for our sins, after living a sinless life Himself.  Then He arose victorious from the grave, securely the victory over the enemy who was set upon destroying Him and now seeks to destroy us.  By trusting in Him as our Saviour and Lord, we claim HIS victory in every battle.  There is no enemy who can conquer our Lord.

Every moment, our Lord gently whispers to us the same thing He said to the disciples, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid,” (Matthew 14:27). When we are tempted to fear, let us remember His words and take heart, the battle is not our's, it is the Lord's.

“Through Thee will we push down our enemies:

through Thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.

For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.

But Thou hast saved us from our enemies,

and hast put them to shame that hated us.

In God we boast all the day long,

and praise Thy name for ever.


Psalm 44: 5-8

“Now thanks be unto God,

which always causeth us to triumph in Christ.”

2 Corinthians 2:14

Friday, October 27, 2023

Absolutely No Idea


Dog on a couch

This morning I was straightening the house. Our sweet beagle, Ellie, was resting on the couch, waiting for our walk.  As I walked past her, I couldn't resist stroking her head and running my fingers across her velvety ears.  I told her, "You have no idea how very much you are loved."

That is true.  She is loved not only by me and my husband but by all of our family.  Our best friends love her, too.  People we pass on the street during our walks ask to pet her.  The ladies at the coffee shop we visit have Ellie's pupcup ready before they make our coffee!  She loves, and she is loved.

But immediately after speaking those words to Ellie, I thought how very true that is of myself.  I have absolutely no idea how much I am loved.  

I know my friends love me; they are effusive in their expression of love. I know Ellie loves me; she follows me around the house, wanting to be in the same room with me. (This may be because she hopes to get a tidbit of food I have, or maybe -if she's really lucky- a sip of my coffee.) I know my family loves me, too; they clearly show that in so many ways. I would have to be blind and deaf not to know my husband loves me.  It is the goal of his life with me to cause me to know that truth.

But that wasn't the thought that came to my mind.  The thought was, "You have absolutely no idea how much the Lord loves you."

It brings tears to my eyes just writing the words.  Our Lord loves us so much that He gave that which was most precious to Him, His dear Son, so we might be redeemed.  He has prepared a life for us beyond this mortal realm so wondrous the Scriptures say of it,

"But as it is written, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,' " 

1 Corinthians 2:9.

If I began to list all the things in my life that are proofs of God's love, I could not finish before I take my last breath.  Yet, there are so many more that I never even knew.  Ways He orchestrated things so that I was in the right place at the right time.  Ways He provided and protected me of which I was unaware.  Choices He led me to make that were to bring untold blessings, such as introducing myself to a handsome young man in Sunday School forty-seven years ago.  Or deciding at the last minute not to major in Journalism but to go into Nursing. Or having the "pick of the liter" and picking the most wonderful beagle puppy of all.

We will have doubts about many things in our lives, but the fact that God loves us more than we will ever know should not be one of them.  As Glen wrote in the lyrics of one of our songs, "Let it rule your hearts and set your spirits free."  God loves us. It is as simple and glorious and complex as that.  All we have to do is believe it.

"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:39

"For God so loved the world, 
that he gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; 
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 
may be able to comprehend with all saints 
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, 
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

Ephesians 3:17-19

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Ghost, 
be with you all. Amen."
2 Corinthians 13:14

Thursday, October 26, 2023

A Bed on Wheels

 Children have a way of finding joy in little, unexpected things. 

Once, I was walking with our youngest grandchildren, then four and six, and they noticed some pretty leaves on the ground. They both picked one up. Then my granddaughter, Evelyn, had the idea to collect leaves to give to her mother as a gift. Her brother joined in, and soon they both had a little brown bag of leaves for their Mom. They were so proud of their gifts and so happy with the little leaves. These little things that most adults would pass by without notice enthralled them. This affected me, and sometimes, when we are out on our walks, I will find things along the way - a pretty flower or an interesting stick- and I’ll think, “I want to keep that to show the grandchildren when they come.”  For children, contentment comes so easily.

Lila in her "bed with wheels"

This is how it was with Lila, the six-year-old daughter of a dear friend, who recently had her tonsils removed.  Prior to the surgery, she told her mother she was excited about being pushed in a “bed on wheels.”  While she was also excited about all the ice cream she could eat, I think she was more excited about the bed.

Would that we would be as contented as little children. But for us, it is a conscious choice of faith. The Scriptures are full of admonitions for us to "be content."

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content," 1 Tim 6:8.

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,' Hebrews 13:5."

If the Lord promises to never leave us - and He has - then we have the very best we can ever have; we have HIM. That is even better than being pushed around in a bed with wheels or eating ice cream to our heart's content. There is nothing more we need in our hearts or our lives.

Or, as I like to say,

Trust in the Lord always, for having Him, we have all.