On Wings Of Eagles

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Do You Take the Time to Care?

 Matt 5:9 (NIV)
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

She was only ten when she wrote a letter to the newly appointed Soviet President Yuri Andropov in December 1982, asking in no uncertain terms if he was going to lead a nuclear war against the United States of America. News on the television in those in days was scary (It still hasn't changed!), and there was lots of talk of a possible nuclear war between these two super powers. With this in mind, from Manchester, Maine, courageously undertook the task of directly contacting the president of the U.S.S.R. And President Andropov replied to her letter, inviting Samantha and her parents to visit his country the next summer.

Soon after this, the Soviet Union opened talks with the U.S. This led the end of the 20th century Cold War. Many believe that this all stemmed from the letter of that ten-year old child.

Samantha continued to promote world peace until her untimely death at the age of 13, when she and her father were killed in a plane crash near Auburn, Maine.

What are we doing to promote peace around us? To be a peacemaker, we have to have love, true love for all mankind. Any prejudice, hatred, bias and unforgiveness have to be set aside in order to make peace possible. Peacemakers are there to protect, trust, persevere and hope. Without hope there would be no peace. But then without love, peace wouldn't be possible either!

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." (1 Cor 13:6-7 NIV)

Interestingly that among the signs of times in Matthew 24, "love growing cold" and "wars and rumours of wars" seem to go hand in hand.

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come." (Matt 24:6 NIV)

"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold…" (Matt 24:12 NIV)

Maybe we can learn something from this ten-year-old who decided peace was more important than our own interests. We can start this kind of peace in our own neighborhood. We can start with our own families.

Remember Joe? Yeah, he is anti-social and his jokes are disgusting. It is such an utter shame that he abandoned his family!

But maybe, just maybe if we take the time and effort to forgive him and shower him with love, just maybe, he would come around. You might even be surprised by his many hidden qualities! Maybe he took a wrong turn somewhere in life, but he too, is a child of God. Our accusations won't help him to find the way. Only peace and love will do that.

And what about Lucy, Henrietta and Philip? They too are yearning for acceptance. Are we willing to foster peace in these relationships? Are we courageous enough to love as deeply as Jesus did? Or are we letting events around us turn our love cold?

Remember Samantha Reed Smith. We can learn a lot from children! As Matthew penned in his Gospel "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 18:3 NIV)

Dear Lord, help us be the one to forgive today. Show us who we can reach out to and share Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Will You Be the Legs, Arms or Eyes Today?

John 15:12 (NIV)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Bob Butler lost his legs in a 1965 land mine explosion in Vietnam. He returned home a war hero. Twenty years later, he proved once again that heroism comes from the heart. Butler was working in his garage in a small town in Arizona on a hot summer day when he heard a woman's screams coming from a nearby house. He began rolling his wheelchair toward the house but the dense shrubbery wouldn't allow him access to the back door. So he got out of his chair and started to crawl through the dirt and bushes.

"I had to get there," he says. "It didn't matter how much it hurt."

When Butler arrived at the pool there was a three-year-old girl named Stephanie Hanes lying at the bottom. She had been born without arms and had fallen in the water and couldn't swim. Her mother stood over her baby screaming frantically. Butler dove to the bottom of the pool and brought little Stephanie up to the deck. Her face was blue, she had no pulse and was not breathing. Butler immediately went to work performing CPR to revive her while Stephanie's mother telephoned the fire department. She was told the paramedics were already out on a call. Helplessly, she sobbed and hugged Butler's shoulder. As Butler continued with his CPR, he calmly reassured her.

"Don't worry," he said. "I was her arms to get out of the pool. It'll be okay. I am now her lungs. Together we can make it."

Seconds later the little girl coughed, regained consciousness, and began to cry. As they hugged and rejoiced together the mother asked Butler how he knew it would be okay.

"The truth is, I didn't know," he told her. "But when my legs were blown off in the war, I was all alone in a field. No one was there to help except a little Vietnamese girl. As she struggled to drag me into her village, she whispered in broken English, 'It okay. You can live. I be your legs. Together we make it.'

Her kind words brought hope to my soul and I wanted to do the same for Stephanie. "There are simply those times when we cannot stand alone. There are those times when we need someone to be our legs, our arms, our eyes or our friend.

How can you be the legs, arms, eyes or a friend today?

Dear Lord, we pray that we would be the arms, legs or friend that someone needs today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Matthew 15:30-31 (NIV)
30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.

I found this story about seven-year-old Annie Clark? She goes to Wilson Christian Academy. She won a penmanship contest ... and $1,000. The award is especially meaningful since Clark was born without hands. She writes by moving the pencil with her forearms.

Pretty impressive, don't you think?

Well, this story isn't about Annie Clark. Yes, she is special, but the real special folks who touched me are her parents: Tom and Mary Ellen.

The couple has nine children: three biological kids and six who were adopted from China, including Annie. She is one of the four adoptees who have special needs, which affect their hands and arms.

Mary Ellen said, "Each time, we weren't looking to adopt a special-needs child, but that is what happened. This was the family God wanted for us."

Tom said, Annie is "an amazing little girl. It's a shame because society places so many rules on how people should look, but the minds of these kids are phenomenal."

Truly, little Annie is special; but her parents are more special.

Here is a couple whose love of the Lord is so big they find it a blessing to welcome into their family children who have been avoided and shunned by others. Then, having done what others might think is extraordinary; they show the Savior's love by teaching those children that God will do great and wonderful things for and with them.

These are the kind of people who remind me that the Lord Jesus can do great things if we let Him work in us and through us.

After all if the Lord can help Annie Clark win a penmanship contest, what can't He do with all of us?

Dear Lord, thank You for specializing in doing what we humans consider to be impossible. We ask that You to grant us the grace to set our limitations to the side and be empowered to do something special through You today. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Are You Drifting?

Hebrews 2:1-4 (NIV) 
1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 2 For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, 3 how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Moored at Hokkaido, Japan, the 164-foot Japanese ship, the Ryou-Un Maru, was destined to be cut up and sent to the scrap heap.

That's when fate intervened in the form of a tsunami.

The violence of the waves broke the ship free of its moorings and sent her adrift. She has been adrift on an ever-so-slow voyage across the Pacific ever since. For those of you who are wondering what ever-so-slow means, in this case, in recent weeks, it means the ship has been moving forward at the rate of a mile a day.

Of course, a drifting ship is not a good thing. When a drifting ship sneaks into the crowded sea lanes, there is always the danger of collision. If the drifter goes aground and breaks up, there is an oil spill to contend with. Nobody knew how much diesel fuel was still left on the Ryuo-Un Maru, but her tanks could hold up to 2,000 gallons of the black stuff. That could be a mess.

All of this explains why a U.S. Coast Guard cutter put an end to the ship's drifting. At first, the U.S. vessel peppered the Ryuo-Un Maru with 25 mm shells. Then they switched to the more powerful 50 mm. It took about four hours for the vessel to go down in 6,000-feet-deep water and 180 miles from the Alaskan coast.

Nope, aimless drifting is not a good thing: not for a ship, not for a Christian.

That's the warning the writer of the book of Hebrews was giving when he wrote: "we must pay much closer attention to what we've heard lest we drift away."

It makes little difference whether you lived then or now, there are many voices trying to drown out the true redemption message the Lord has given us in the life, suffering, murder and resurrection of His Son.

You're heard those voices. There are those who say, "Jesus' substitution for us never happened and the Bible is a myth." There are others who say, "Some of it happened, but we can't be sure what is truth and what is fiction. And, of course, there are those who say, "It doesn't make any difference what you believe as long as you sincerely believe in something."

To any and all who would undermine Scriptural truth, our Daily Devotion passage counters with this encouraging reminder: look closely and don't drift. Jesus has risen and salvation's work is done. Pay attention and believe: by faith in the risen Redeemer we are saved.

Dear Lord, we pray that You will keep us safely anchored in the truth of Scripture. Thank You for the salvation You completed by dying on the cross and raising again. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Everybody Has a GPS

John 14:26-27 (NIV)
26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Many people in the Western world now use GPSs for navigational purposes. It is really a fantastic tool. You set the address or coordinates into the tiny computer, and it tells you what road to take, how many miles or kilometers it is, and even how long it will take you to get there. It can tell you where there is gas and food, it can even tell you where the nearest hospital can be found!

Truly a wonderful device.

But anyone who has a GPS knows that it can also be a frustrating tool. Once you program a route, there is no stopping. Even if you just pull off the road at a rest area or gas station, you immediately hear the annoying voice of the GPS telling you that you are no longer on the intended route. If you continue in your "wayward" way, the GPS will ask you repeatedly to make a U-turn, and if you persist in ignoring it, it will continuously tell you to turn right or left, trying to get you back to the original route.

Once off the path the GPS will NOT STOP telling you to get back to the intended route unless you either turn it off, cancel your trip or hit the "mute" button.  The GPS is very much like the Holy Spirit.
God has given us a guide. God's Spirit will guide us. He will keep us on the right path. But we can choose to "press the mute" button! We can ignore God's Spirit and continue to do our own thing.

The problem is, the consequences could be more harmful than turning down the volume on the GPS! The worst that can happen with the GPS is that you get lost! But if I ignore God's Spirit, if I continue to go my own way, despite the warnings and heedings of the Holy Spirit, you will also get lost-spiritually lost! you will quickly fall into sin, you will miss opportunities to witness, you will miss opportunities to help others, and you will make wrong decisions, ones that can have lasting consequences, to name a few.

If your GPS annoys you, go ahead, turn down the volume. But if God's Spirit is letting you know that you are taking a step in the wrong direction, give Him your FULL attention!

Dear Lord, we thank You for given us our very own GPS. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that leads us and guides us. Help us to follow your directions. In Jesus’  Name, Amen.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are You In The Fog?

Psalm 119:18 (NIV)
Open my eyes that I may see….
Have you ever been utterly surrounded by deep, bone-chilling fog? All you can see is…fog and more fog! You can't even see your own hand, unless you put it right in front of your face. Have you noticed that during such times of your life, you are unable to even perceive the presence of the sun?

Nonetheless, it's there, shining as brightly as ever.

But why do we tend to be more discouraged at such times? Is it possible it's because we can't see the sun?

But if we continually seek the sun, we will eventually see it.

Fog is not here to stay! It can't! The sun will eventually chase it away!

In our lives we often experience dense spiritual fog. So often we find ourselves lost in our circumstances. What can we do when a loved one is dying from a devastating disease? How do we react when our spouse decides to take a walk on the wild side? How do we feel when we receive an eviction notice? Where is God when we are hit by circumstances beyond nightmarish?

The fog of confusion hinders us from seeing the Son of God. Nonetheless, He is closer than we think.

"You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." (Matt 5:4 The Message)

We may feel lost and desperate, but only because all we see is the thick, eerie fog of our circumstances! But the Son is still shining, even brighter than ever before, it's just that when we let our circumstances overwhelm us, we can't see Him!

If at those times we could only remember to stop and ask God to open our eyes so we could see, we would no longer feel alone. The fog would dissipate enough for us to see the One who is called "the lover of our soul". His love would pierce through and we would find ourselves surrounded by utter beauty emanating from the undying love of the One who willingly sacrificed Himself for us 2000 years ago.

"Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." (Rom 8:35-39 The Message) 

Even a midst our worst nightmares, our loving Father in heaven gives us the possibility of seeing beyond what we can see. No matter how dense the fog, we can see Him shine as brightly as ever before. But this can only be done if we ask and believe.

Dear Lord, thank You that when we are surrounded by the dense fog of adversity, You are there! Help us to not let ourselves be discouraged. Thank You for always being there for us, In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Do You Feel Alone and Desperate?

2 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV)
And, “I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

March 26, 2009: Tassia was only 9 months when he was found, very weak and thin, wandering around alone. He had been an innocent bystander as poachers had killed his mother for her ivory. Now he was doomed to die, alone and desperate.

April 17, 2009: Bhaawa,a five month old baby, was found in despair, bogged down in the mud of a drying waterhole in the Kirisia Hills near Maralal in Northern Kenya. He was suffering from shock and grief.

Were it not for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, these orphan elephants would have died.

Sheldrick began doing these kinds of rescue missions in 1952, and not only did he rescue orphan elephants, but orphan rhinoceros as well. Though he passed away in 1977, his wife continued his dream, and as a result, more than 100 elephant orphans, as well as numerous rhino orphans, have been saved. All of these elephants and rhinos were raised by the Trust and gradually rehabilitated back to communities in Tsavo National Park.

To a baby elephant, his mother and extended family are of utmost importance. Without them he is completely lost and vulnerable, both physically, and psychologically.

When an elephant baby is found alone, these ties have to somehow be re-established through humans. Elephant keepers remain with these orphan babies 24 hours a day, travelling as a group during the day, and sleeping next to them at night. Different keepers sleep with different cubs every night, so that strong attachments to one person can be prevented. As elephants are highly tactile and sociable animals, great care is given to shower them with love and acceptance.

Initially, feeding is a 24 hour job, but bit by bit the elephant babies are weaned onto a 3 hour feeding routine. When they reach one year of age, they are transferred to Tsavo National Park and absorbed back into older elephant families. In this way, they can begin their gradual integration back into the wild. This transition is made easier by the fact that elephants are highly sociable and that they are automatically fond of their young.

Elephants also have a remarkable memory. They are often able to recognize people who cared for them, even after more than 37 years. This happened to Eleanor, age 42, when she recognized the one who had been her keeper when she was just 5 years old!

None of these elephants would have ever been able to survive if it hadn't been for these keepers who devoted their life in saving them. I am sure if elephants could applaud, they sure would cheer their human rescuers! Hurray!

We too were doomed for a solitary life with no hope in sight. As we wandered into forbidden territory, we became lost and entwined by the vicious snare called sin, and we, too, became orphans from our Heavenly Father, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Rom 3:10-12 NIV)

Someone did reach out to us, however, offering us eternity with Him: "Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master." (Rom 6:23 The Message)

We don't need to wander around as orphans any longer. We can be adopted by the Most High God, and thus experience His immeasurable love for each one of us: "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor 6:18 NIV)

All we need to do to have such a wonderful gift is to stop running away from God! We need to accept His offer. We need to welcome Him, as well as His adoption, into our lives.

Are you lost and desperate? There is hope. Come to the One who will never turn you down. Experience His love for you.

Dear Lord, Thank you for rescuing us when we were totally lost and desperate! Thank you for bringing us home and allowing us to experience Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear God

Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

In the early 1980s a Christian young woman who was languishing in deep spiritual, mental and emotional torment. Wrote a letter to God:

Dear God,

Where are You? How can You watch and not help me? I hurt so bad, and You don't even care. If You cared You'd make it stop or let me die. I love You, but You seem so far away. I can't hear You or feel You or see You, but I'm supposed to believe You're here. Lord, I feel them and hear them. They are here. I know You're real, God, but they are more real to me right now. Please make someone believe me, Lord. Why won't You make it stop? Please, Lord, please! If You love me You'll let me die.

A Lost Sheep

Many Christians are filled with such confusion that their daily walk with Christ is unfulfilling and unproductive. When they try to pray, they begin thinking about a million things they should be doing. When they sit down to read the Bible, they can't concentrate. When they have an opportunity to serve the Lord in some way, they are brought up short by discouraging thoughts of self-doubt.

Having found freedom, "The Lost Sheep" penned a response to her own prayer based on her new understanding of God's provision in Christ.

My Dear Lost Sheep,

You ask Me where I am. My child, I am with you and I always will be. You are weak, but in Me you are strong. I am so close that I feel everything you feel. Be crucified with Me and I will live in you, and you shall live with Me. I will direct you in paths of righteousness. My child, I love you and I will never forsake you, for you are truly Mine.

Love, God

We are never alone. Have you wandered away from God today? He is right where is always has been, come back to Him with open arms.

Dear Lord we thank You for always being there. Help us not let the business of life get in the way. Thank You that even when we wonder You are their ready to welcome us back. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When We Are Suffering We Are Not Alone.

Isaiah 43:2 (NVI)
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

For many years Robert Manry held the record for piloting the smallest ship ever to sail the Atlantic Ocean.

The trip aboard his boat, the "Tinkerbelle," had difficulties you and I couldn't imagine. For example, because he was afraid of being run over, Manry did not dare to sleep when his craft was in the shipping lanes. The rudder of his vessel broke several times. He was often washed overboard, saved only by the rope he had tied between himself and his 13-foot vessel.

After 78 days at sea, Manry sighted land at Falmouth, England.

Two months at sea had left him with only this desire: he wanted to tie up his boat, find a hotel room, and get some sleep. The enthusiastic crowd that welcomed him had other ideas. A fleet of about 300 boats, all blowing their horns in salute, came out to greet him.

Forty thousand well-wishers lined the docks, cheering him in. Manry had sailed alone, had suffered at sea alone, but he received a hero's welcome!

Of course, Manry is not alone in suffering. Others, like Manry, have also suffered to complete their goals. Like Manry, most of them have been congratulated for their accomplishments.

But that was not the way it was for Jesus. When He died, there were no crowds cheering Him on. The only shouts were people rejoicing over His pain. For Jesus, there was no hotel room where He could rest. There would only be the dark, borrowed tomb.

When He rose from the dead, there would be no crowd of 40,000 well-wishers to acknowledge the event. As He suffered for humankind, He tasted the rejection of the very people He had come to rescue. Fulfilling the Father's plan of salvation for all who would believe in Him was a lonely one.

We need to realize Jesus' life, death and resurrection -- which won our salvation -- was not something He had to do. Nor was it something we had earned. Jesus' sacrifice was birthed out of God's goodness, greatness and grace.

Back then, Jesus' life was lonely. It shouldn't be the same today. Today you, and I, and all Christians ought to spend our lifetimes thanking Jesus for having endured rejection without objection, for having done all that was needed so we could be saved.

Dear Lord, thanks You that because You are with us, we are never alone. We give thanks for Your presence in our life now and Your blood-bought salvation for our eternity. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do You Feel Abandoned?

Jeremiah 14:19 (NIV)
Have you rejected Judah completely?
    Do you despise Zion?
Why have you afflicted us
    so that we cannot be healed?
We hoped for peace
    but no good has come,
for a time of healing
    but there is only terror.

Mother Teresa is Albanian by birth; her original name is Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu. In 1948, she became a citizen of India. She received her spiritual training in Dublin, Ireland and Darjeeling, India and she became a nun in 1937. In September 10, 1946, after teaching for twenty years at a high school in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa received another call from God to serve the poorest of the poor who lived in the streets.

Archbishop of Calcutta Henry D'Souza knows that at times in her life, she felt abandoned by God. He said that in one letter, she wrote that she had been walking the streets of Calcutta searching for a house where she could start her work. At the end of the day, she wrote in her diary, "I wandered the streets the whole day. My feet are aching, and I have not been able to find a home. And I also get the Tempter telling me, 'Leave all this, go back to the convent from which you came.'" She did find a home and the rest is history. The Missionaries of Charity feeds 500,000 families a year in Calcutta alone, treats 90,000 leprosy patients annually, and educates 20,000 children every year.

Everyone at one time or another will feel like God has abandoned him or her. But do not let the feelings fool you - He is always near.

Dear Lord, thank You that no matter what we feel You will always be in our heart. Help us share that hope with someone today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

He is Always There For You

1 Thessalonians 1:4 (NIV)
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you.

I think all of us want someone who understands and has time for us! We are so accustomed to being needed for something we can offer and not being wanted just because we are who we are.

Did you know the God of the Bible wants time with you? This thought seems very far-fetched and probably even more difficult to believe; however it is very true. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 tells us God actually chose us to be His people because He loved us so very much - what a sobering thought. God chose you! I don’t know what’s going on in your life, at this very moment, and the loneliness you may be feeling; however God is fully aware of who you are and where you are at, having all the time in the world just for you. You are not a bother to Him; in fact, He loves it when you come to Him with your every concern and care; whereas other people might be just too busy to be distressed with your problems. I don’t believe people mean to be rude or indifferent to other people’s burdens, not always anyway. I think they are so absorbed in their own issues; they cannot stop to lend a helping hand. But I am so eternally grateful for God’s schedule always being open, and His eagerness to commune with my heart makes me grin ear to ear.

I encourage each of you to bring your burdens to the ONE who loves you whole- heartedly, with the knowledge that He is never too busy to listen and help. If a family member, friend, or associate seems to brush you off, as people can sometimes do, just remember: they feel the same way you do, and are looking for someone to be open to them and have time for their needs. God’s schedule has your name written all over it; try your best not to miss an appointment with Him because He desires the opportunity to show you just how much He cares.

Dear Lord, thank You for always being there and wanting our time. Help us to bring our burdens to You and to help others not feel they are alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Monday, February 17, 2014

You are Not Alone

Matthew 28:20 (NIV)
And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

In 1983, Belgian Rom Houben, engineering student and martial arts enthusiast, was in a terrible accident.

It was an accident that left Rom comatose and vegetative state.

Days, months, years, decades passed. Wars were fought; governments changed; technology advanced. Many things were transformed, but for comatose Rom Houben there was no change to his sad and altogether hopeless condition.

Then one day Dr. Steven Laureys of the University of Liege hooked Houben up to some modern, state-of-the-art, brain-scanning equipment.

Dr. Laureys turned on the machinery, and the bells and whistles of his devices lit up like the Fourth of July. The equipment said that Houben was, in fact, not a vegetable; it said he had normal brain function.

It was true. For 23 years, totally helpless, unable to communicate, Houben had heard everything said about him. Houben heard when people talked about him as if were already dead. He also noted how, as the years passed by, his friends gradually stopped coming by.

Rom Houben could understand. After all, everybody had been told he didn't know if they were there or not.

As I read Houben's story, I wondered how lonely, how very lonely he must have felt.

What better place to turn then to the Bible. Thinking about all the Bible passages which might have been a help to him.

"Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let Your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!" (Psalm 130:1-2 ). And, of course, from the book of Romans, there are these classic two verses: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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" (8:38-39).

What great verses for each of to memorize.  At some time or another, sooner or later, almost every one of us will feel alone. We may not be in the hospital, and we may not have been diagnosed as brain dead, but we will feel we are alone -- very much alone.

Always remember that we are never alone, God is with us.

Dear Lord, Thank You for coming to seek and save the lost, for healing the sick, for being a friend to those who are isolated. May we always remember You are with us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do You Feel Like You are Alone?

2 Corinthians 11:25 (NIV)
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea.

I wonder if Adrian Vasquez feels blessed or cursed.

He might feel he is cursed because he had to bury two of his friends at sea. On February 24th he and his pals went fishing. They were headed back to their home port of Rio Hato when the boat's motor conked out.

After two weeks, one of the lads stopped eating and drinking. He died on March 10th. Because of dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke, Vasquez's second friend passed away on March 15th. When their bodies began to decompose, he had to consign them to the sea.

Now you know why Vasquez might feel cursed.

And why should he feel blessed? Sometime after his water had been depleted, it stormed. It stormed enough that Vasquez was able to refill that five-gallon water container. That water and the raw fish he was able to catch sustained him for the rest of his ordeal.

But there's more to Vasquez's blessings. By a minor miracle he was spotted by some commercial fishermen. They picked him up and turned him over to Ecuador's Coast Guard.

Vasquez had been adrift for 28 days. That beats St. Paul's "a night and a day" adrift at sea.

Still, I wonder if when you're adrift, when you don't know what is going to happen -- or if anything is going to happen -- it doesn't make any difference how many days pass. You're really, truly alone.

Or are you?

Now it's true no human knew where Vasquez was, but that doesn't mean he was alone. The living Lord Jesus Christ who had given His life to save Vasquez's eternal soul was fully aware of the lad's location. Indeed, there was never a moment when Vasquez managed to slip off the Lord's radar.

Now if that's true for Vasquez, it is also true for you.

Although I don't know what your situation or circumstance might be, it is possible you may feel you are alone ... lost ... adrift.

If that describes you, remember, the Lord knows, and He cares, and He is with you.

We have a Savior, a Redeemer, a Friend -- a very present help in time of trouble.

Dear Lord, when we feel adrift, send an extra measure of the Holy Spirit, so we might realize and appreciate the blessings of having You as our Savior. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Is Your Mouth Filled With Worthwhile Stuff?

Psalm 19:14 (NIV)
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

At the end of World War II, a large banquet was held.

Numerous, long-winded speakers held forth but none could outdo the toastmaster who droned on and on and on. Finally he finished his presentation and announced, "And now, ladies and gentlemen, our foreign secretary will give his address."

The secretary stood up and walked to the microphone. He took his notes out of his jacket pocket, unfolded them, and sat them down on the podium.

He said, "Dear friends, I have been asked to give my address. In the five minutes which remain to me, I can do that. Here is my address: #10 Carlton Gardens, London, England."

He sat down to appreciative applause.

The foreign secretary showed his agreement with a plaque that is hung in the office of a Christian businessman. It reads, "Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and shut it when I've said enough."

What a great idea! It's an idea that God understands and uses.

Unlike me, you, and so many other people who always seem to be talking and never listening when God speaks, His mouth is filled with worthwhile stuff. With frankness and honesty not often seen in today's world. Our Lord lets us know what we need to know. Of course, high up on that list would be knowing the Savior whose life was the ransom price paid to rescue us.

Dear Lord, fill our mouths with worthwhile stuff and shut it when I've said enough. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love and Valentines Day

1 John 4:17 (NIV)
This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

As children, we all dream about happily ever after. We pine away waiting for the knight on the white horse or daydream about love that is never anything less than perfect. When you think of perfect love . . . who do you think of? While most of you probably said Cinderella and Prince Charming; when I think of perfect love, my thoughts turn to Adam and Eve.

Kind of a bad choice for “perfect love” you might say; but Adam and Eve, while best known  for the single worst mistake in history, were still the first couple ever made for each other in the literal and spiritual sense. God made Eve especially for Adam. She was made for him and from him. Their relationship was God’s handiwork and despite the whole apple thing, they created quite the life together.

God tells us in 1 John 4:12, “If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” So even though Adam and Eve were the epitome of imperfection, even though Adam probably forgot to take out the trash and Eve probably forgot to wash his leaf now and then, their imperfection was made perfect in their love for one another. No matter how flawed they were, their marriage was created in perfect love because the Master created it and He dwelt within the midst.

Don’t stress over living up to the fairy tale. Your love story, no matter how simple or how elaborate, was designed by God. He perfected it. He wrote it. He even illustrated it and signed his name on your copy. He’s the author and the finisher. (Hebrews 12:2)

Happily ever after doesn't always come with ball gowns and white horses. Most of the time, it comes with sweat pants and minivans . . . but that’s ok, because if it comes from God, it’s perfect and nothing less.

Dear Lord, thank You for being the author of love. Thank You for the design of love that You have shown us in the creation of Adam and Eve. Thank You that our love is made complete because of You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are We Really Listening?

Psalm 17:6 (NIV)
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me;
    turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.

Two psychiatrists met at their 20th college reunion. One is vibrant, while the other looks withered and worried. "So what's your secret?" the older looking psychiatrist asked. "Listening to other people's problems every day, all day long, for years on end, has made an old man of me."

"So," replies the younger-looking one, "who listens?"

Unfortunately, that is too often a problem -- who listens? REALLY listens?

The story is told  of a 22-year-old electrician who went to Manhattan a few days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He wanted to volunteer his time, but discovered that his skills were not needed.

Joe may have helped in a way he never anticipated, for on the train home, he sat across from a weary firefighter covered in what appeared to be "ground zero" dirt and debris. Though he could see bits of rock in the man's hair and noticed that his hands were bloody, what shocked the young man most was the look in the firefighter's eyes. They appeared lifeless and dull.

Then the man began to talk and Joe listened. He talked about retrieving a shoe with a foot inside. Joe listened. He talked about cleaning debris from a face, then discovering that this person's body was gone. Joe listened. And as his listened, he did not flinch. He did not react in disgust. He did not judge. He did not interrupt. He just listened.

He listened as the firefighter lamented about the carnage everywhere and about shoes...there were so many shoes, he said. Everywhere...shoes.

Through it all Joe quietly held the man's attention and listened, which is exactly what the rescue worker needed at that moment. And because he listened, the man continued to speak. He talked his pain out, as much as possible. And Joe, for that time at least, helped him carry his unbelievably heavy burden.

That day Joe did not give blood, nor did he use his electrical skills to help with the relief effort. But he did one of the most important things a human can do for another. He gave a stunned and disheartened man his whole attention, and thereby immeasurably assisted in the work of setting the world right.

Dear Lord, we pray that we would really listen to those around us. Help us not just hear the words with our ears but help us hear with our heart. Use us today to listen to someone in need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

White Noise

Matthew 13:9 (NIV)
Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Have you ever heard of the term “white noise?” It’s used by broadcasters to blank out unwanted sounds on radio, television, and satellite programs. On its own, it sounds like a lot of static, but when it’s applied to a recording, the white noise gets rid of irritating sounds and unwanted frequencies.

We use “white noise” when we want to block out other sounds too. If workers are drilling in the street outside our homes or offices, we may increase the volume of our televisions or radios to cancel out the drilling noise. Or if we’re in a building where we can hear people talking in the next room, we might put a fan on to cancel out the sound of their voices. That would be white noise too.

There’s a lot of white noise in the world and in people’s hearts and spirits. The white noise that we've created with our lives has cancelled out Christ’s Voice. We make important choices without even consulting Him. We worship without even focusing on Him. We express our faith without even reading, knowing, or applying His Words. We've cancelled out Christ with all of the distractions in our lives. He still speaks His challenging words to us, but we’re either not hearing Him at all or we've distorted His words to suit our own ideas, opinions, and culture.

We’re afraid to listen to Christ’s Truth because He will radically change our ideas.

We’re afraid to follow His Way because we want to keep things going our way.

We’re reluctant to accept His Life because our lives will no longer be our own.

So instead of listening to Christ or hearing the Gospel, we create white noise to block out His irritating words and uncompromising demands. We want Jesus to be meek and mild – meek enough to mold Him our way and mild enough not to meddle in our lives.

The challenge that we face today and every day is this: how can we block out the world’s white noise and really listen to Jesus?

Dear Lord, we have failed to follow You completely. We are guilty of letting the white noise around us to block You from our lives and changing our ways. Help us to refocus our hearts and minds so that we will actually listen to You. In Jesus’Name, Amen.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Is Your Heart Listening?

Matthew 13:13 (NIV)
This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
    though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

A Swiss guy, looking for directions, pulls up at a bus stop where two Americans are waiting.

"Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" He says. The two Americans just stare at him.

"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" The two continue to stare.

"Parlare Italiano?" No response.

"Hablan ustedes Espanol?" Still nothing.

The Swiss guy drives off, extremely disgusted.

The first American turns to the second and says, "Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language...."

"Why?" Says the other, "That fellow knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good."

It's true. Knowing a lot of languages is no guarantee that you can communicate with someone (though it may increase your chances!). Even Jesus, the great communicator, found that there were people who couldn't understand what he was saying.

"Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand...." (Matthew 13:13)

Why? It wasn't a problem of languages; it was a problem of the heart.

"For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them." (Matthew 13:15)

Dear Lord,  there are times when we am slow to understand what You would have us to say and do. Though you speak clearly to us through your Word, our heart is not always receptive to what You have to say. Please open our so we may hear Your voice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.