Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Canopy of Little Things

Along the main street of our city grows a beautiful canopy of huge, old oak trees.  Their branches drape across the five-lane street with grace.  In another part of town, another canopy of oak trees is growing.  We have watched for several years as these oak trees, planted about ten feet apart, have grown large enough to create the canopy.  Crepe myrtle trees in the median add a sprinkling of color in the spring.

As beautiful as these streets are, and as much pleasure as we have in them, at some point, someone had to decide to plant these threes there.  Perhaps it isn't so with the older trees, but with the younger trees, it is obvious they are there by design.  Someone had the forethought to plant them  and place them so they would be beautiful for decades to come.

When the trees were first planted, they were small, tiny things.  And it is true each of these huge oak trees began from a single acorn.  The acorn held within it the promise of a massive oak to come.

I don't think we have any idea how powerful the future is for some of the smallest things we do.  A smile, a kind word, a thoughtful touch of the hand, may make a big difference in the life of the person who receives them.  We may feel as if we are powerless  to do much for the Lord, but we can each pray for those around us. We don't need to know details or particular, the Lord knows those.  All we need to do is to ask the Lord to work where He sees need and to work out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in and through that person.  This tiny acorn may one day grow into a massive oak.

I am convinced it is the tiny things, the unseen things, the unheralded things which will reap the most in heaven.

 Mark 12:41-44"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.   And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.   And He called unto Him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:   For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living."

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Curb Appeal

(Thanks to my dear husband for the inspiration for this one.)

There used to be a television show in which landscape artists and contractors picked out a house in a neighborhood to improve the house's "curb appeal."  The transformations were often incredible, the houses ended up being much more attractive, and the owners were usually elated.

In our lives, we may often find ourselves at a crossroads, a choice between two actions or two paths.  One path may be lined with beautiful plants and picket fences.  It may have great "curb appeal."  The other path may be lined with brambles and thorns.  It may seem dark and foreboding.  But we must choose one.

Twice the Scriptures repeat this verse:

Proverbs 14:12  Proverbs 16:25
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, 
but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Because the verse is listed twice, I think we should be doubly sure the path we select is the Lord's choice for us.  We cannot lean upon our own understanding because too often we would choose the "curb appeal" over the dark and foreboding place.  As we walk our paths, too, we must remember  "As for God, His way is perfect," (2 Samuel 22:31.)  If we walk in His path, even the brambles and thorns will have a perfect place and purpose in our lives.
To quote the line from a favorite older movie, "Choose wisely."

  Proverbs 3: 5-7
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.  
Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. "

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Ask Lorie. . ."

We have a new boss at work.  She has been with us for over a year now and her management style is totally different from that of the manager she replaced.

Lorie is in all respects the boss of our unit.  She is hands-on and likes to make the decisions.  In the past, the nurses were used to coming to me, as the assistant, for answers and information.  Now I simply answer most questions with the same answer, "You'll have to ask Lorie about that."

It is very comforting to know there is one place to get definitive answers.  We all want that in every aspect of their lives.  People who know me are well aware that if you ask me a question I can't answer (except for those "Ask Lorie" questions) I am likely to put my phone to my mouth and ask my wise Google search for the answer.

As Christians, we have a source of answers that doesn't require a battery or wi-fi connection.  We have the Scriptures.   Jesus said to the Pharisees,  "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me,"(John 5:39.)  The Scriptures testify to us of our Lord, and answer the questions we have of life.

Once I was deposed for a medical lawsuit.  The plaintiff's attorney asked if I found a certain textbook of laboratory tests to be "authoritative."  My attorney had already told me that in a legal sense this meant a source that could not be refuted in any sense, it was absolutely true.  

I think the plaintiff's attorney was astounded when I responded to her, "No, the only authoritative text I know is the Bible."  I'm sure my attorney was holding back a smile at that answer.

But I was under oath and what I said was true.  The Bible is the only text I know that is true from the first word to the last.  If we have trouble with something in the Bible, the trouble is not with the Scriptures it is with us.  Perhaps it is highlighting something that needs to be changed in our lives.  Perhaps it is revealing some area we have not yielded to the Lord.  Perhaps it is pointing out that we need to know Him.

The Scriptures are the most important "google" we can ever use.   Let us take advantage of the great source of doctrine, encouragement, comfort, instruction and reproof we have in the Scriptures.  

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee."

Monday, November 25, 2013

Through a Glass Darkly. . .

The other day during church, I glanced down at the floor where the light was pouring in through the window.  I could see the movement of a butterfly flitting around in these shadows.  Although I was just looking at the shadows on the floor, I could tell it was a butterfly by its shape and movement, yet I couldn't see its colors  or the beauties of its wings.

In this world, we can not clearly see the beauties of our Lord.  He is but a shadow to us.  As the Scriptures say, "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known," (1 Corinthians 13:12.)

There will be a day when the Glory of our Lord will be revealed and we will know Him in ways we can never know while walking this earth.  

Let us look to our future with great anticipation and joy, for there are great days ahead.

"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."

Friday, November 22, 2013

God is Just Good, Isn't He?

There are more things in this universe that point to the goodness of God than we can count, but I love it when one stares me in the face, or for that matter, melts in my mouth.

Several years ago I had to attend a week-long class for work in the delightful suburb of Chicago, Buffalo Grove.  Glen had traveled with me and we spent our evenings exploring the area.  We found an incredible German bakery, called Deerfields, and the very best pizza I have ever put in my mouth (and yes, I have eaten pizza in New York.  I am the only Davis who prefers Chicago pizza.)  

While we were shopping in the mall there, marveling at the stores we could only dream of having here, we went into the Lindt Chocolate store.  Along the back were bins from ceiling to counter of all different flavors of Lindor truffles.  We saw the ones we were used to seeing here, mint, raspberry, caramel, peanut butter, but they also had something I had never seen before.  They had Orange flavored Lindor truffles.  

Now, I absolutely adore the taste of orange and chocolate together.  Of course, I bought a bag full of these melt-in-your-mouth wonders and enjoyed each one to the fullest.

Since then, whenever I see a display of Lindor truffles, I have looked for the orange ones, but have never seen them.  I supposed a trip back to Chicago was needed to taste them again.

Until the other day.  

We were in a local grocery store walking down the Christmas candy isle.  I was in the mood for a particular candy my family likes during holidays, but I didn't see any of those, so we went on with our shopping.  

Before we left, my husband said, "Let's just head down that candy isle one more time."  He had in mind to buy me some of the milk chocolate Lindor balls he had seen there.  But when we reached that section of the isle, we were both amazed.  There on the shelf were bags of Orange Chocolate Lindor truffles.  He had not seen them on our first trip down the isle, so he was as shocked as I to see them.  Of course we bought some, and I could barely wait until we were in the car, to open one up and plop it into my mouth.

The taste had not changed over the years, it was still as delicious as I remembered.  As we drove away, we were both discussing one thing.  Not that the orange-chocolate was wonderful (although it was) but how wonderful was our Lord, to first of all allow the store to have the one candy that would have blown me away, but also to direct us to it the second time, since we missed His gracious provision the first.

To me, each of these little chocolate balls is a testament that God loves us.  He loves us more than we could ever imagine.  He loves us more than we could ever even imagine loving one of our own children.  He loves us and He longs to give us the desires of our hearts.

Psalm 37:4
"Delight thyself also in the LORD: and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass. " 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Seasoned Just Perfect

Living in a house of "foodies," I completely understand the concept of seasoning.  We were watching a cooking show the other day (a favorite past-time in the Davis household) and the chef referred to his entree as being "seasoned just perfect."

With seasonings, a little is perfect, but too much is overwhelming.  

My mother was a big fan of almond extract.  She loved it and held to the premise that if one teaspoon is good, one tablespoon is better.  But it wasn't always better, in fact sometimes it ruined the dish.  

My youngest daughter, by contrast,  is a master of flavorings.  She knows exactly what minute amounts to combine together to make a routine recipe turn out as a masterpiece.

Think of any spice... salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves...and think how it would taste to take a heaping spoonful into your mouth.  My bet is it wouldn't be there long.  But a sprinkling of these on certain dishes makes them delightful.

As Christians we should be especially seasoned.  And what is that seasoning?  Grace.  It is grace by faith which seasons the Christians.  Grace and faith are those which make the fires of life bring out the best in us, lead us to trusting Him more and recognizing that "as for God, His way is perfect, (2 Samuel 22:31.)

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Always Clear Above the Clouds

In one of our services the other day, our friend Jamey made the statement, "It's always clear above the clouds."

Jamey was talking about how the view is always clear when one is flying and reaches an altitude above the clouds, but I was struck with  how applicable it is for each of our lives, flying or not.

The book of Job tells us "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward," (Job 5:7.)  Or as the old preacher used to say, "Trouble's a-coming."  We will all face troubles, fears, turmoil in our lives.  The question is, will we choose to live under the rain-cloud, or above the clouds?

If we are Christians, we know that we have a refuge beyond the clouds, we have a safe-haven where we can run and be safe.  The Lord is our "very present help in trouble."  We can choose to live there, above the clouds, or we can choose to continue in our sorrow, our turmoil and strife, under the clouds.  It is not a matter of location, it is a matter of faith.

When the troubles come where will we be found?  The life of faith calls us to a life above the clouds, where it is always clear.

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God."

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who Told The Squirrels?

As I was talking our dog, Sparrow, out for a walk yesterday morning, I heard rustling in the oak tree branches above my head.  The sound was significant enough for me to look up to see what was causing it.  My eyes caught a squirrel scurrying from his nest out on the limb to pluck a small branch of leaves and carry it back to his nest.  Then I noticed that he had a partner helping him.

Walking a little down the sidewalk, I spied another squirrel, whose nest is in a pine tree, doing the same thing.  He would leave his nest which was far out on the edge of the limb overhanging the street, and run from the pine tree to the branches of the nearby oak tree.  He would choose the branch he wanted and run back to his nest.  I was enthralled watching these little creatures padding their nests.  They must have been entralled as well, because usually when Sparrow and I make a visit outside, these little guys run up the tree and disappear.  This time, I don't even think they noticed us.

When I relayed the story to my husband, his first reaction was, "I wish they wouldn't pluck branches off my oak tree."  But I replied that it was God who told them to do it, so it was probably good for the tree as well.

The point is, God placed it in the minds, the hearts, the very being of these little furry creatures to do this.  They can't NOT do it, because it is their nature, their instinct, what they were made to do.

Just as the squirrels were created to act and be as they are, when we have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are become new creatures, the old cast away.  We are to act and live and be by faith what the Lord has newly created us to be, His sons and daughters.  We are to walk by faith believing that tremendous work our Lord has done in us.  We were created in our new-birth to do this.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: 
old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

And that ye put on the new man, 
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Mind-boggling Details

Details. . . we can't escape them.  Without planning for and about the details every project would be destined to fail.

I have a project I hope to start after the first of the year which involves a great deal of planning.  It involves knowing how many nails, boards and such will be required.  If my project is to come out right, my detail planning must also be right.

I was thinking of this the other day while passing by the construction site of a new apartment complex.  Several complexes were in various stages of building.  Looking at all the 2x4s and sheets of plywood, I wondered just how one goes about deciding how many nails, boards, etc., would be needed on a project of that size.  I know there are people, and most likely computer programs, to sort all that out, but still the details are just mind-boggling to me.

I look at that apartment complex and I remember that the Lord produced this universe, and all we can see (and can NOT see) beyond it simply with His Word.  In those words, the complexity of the entire universe was encapsulated.  He not only created it with His Word, but He maintains it...down to the last minute atomic particle, "by the power of His Word."

What a mighty God we serve, what a powerful Lord we worship!

 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created."