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Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:3

“He made all things.” Let those words pause in your mind for a moment. The original languages give the sense of detail, not overall systems. Walk out on a star filled night and look up. How far can you see? In a sense you can see to eternity for there is no canopy.

Every star? He put it there for you. Scientists think that perhaps every star may have a solar system with planets. Does that mean there is life out there? Frankly, I don’t care. I’m more amazed at the enormity of space and the enormity of the God who created it!

“He made all things.” I love to look at newborn babies. Those tiny, tiny fingers and tiny toes. The newness of life. What a miracle. The complexity of life, of growing! Even the brain function it takes to read this sentence is utterly amazing!  And to think that the whole process of life from beginning to end is not simply set in motion, but guided, ordained by its maker. Astounding!

And when I think of the unseen world. The fact that our bodies are made up of so many different cells, each working together to bring us life; to help us think, reason, feel, be passionate.  The way love makes you feel when it grows and endures the tough times. Exciting!

The one who made the mountains with all their grandeur also made the fragile flower, so delicate to touch yet able to withstand ferocious winds. Soft to touch but able to endure the toughest drought. Saplings springing from the hardest granite.

Take some time to look around you. Look past the pain of life, just for a moment. Ignore the fear and worry of the future, just for a minute. Take a deep breath and enjoy the creativity of the many colors in the sunset; the beauty of the fallen snow; the creativity that surrounds us.

All this was made by Jesus and he did it for you. The bible tells us he came to his own and they didn’t take time to notice. Who were his own? Was it the rocks he created? The animals he formed? The water he separated from the land? Nope. It was the only thing scripture says was made in his image. You and I. He made us in his image because he knew that would be the best way to enjoy the world he created.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus. I’ve been so distracted of late by the worries of life. I see the pain others are going through. I feel my own agony. Just for a moment let me see the beauty you’ve created for me. Thank you for loving me enough to put me where I am. Amen.

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. Isaiah 43:2

The fairy tales of old all have a familiar ring to them. They all start ‘once upon a time’. It doesn’t matter when they started or took place or where. They started. That’s all that needs to be known. The other thing that rings true is how they end. ‘They all lived happily ever after.’ The tyrant or big, bad wolf, or wicked witch all vanished. The flowers grew, the birds sang and life was good. Forever.

As children, perhaps one of the reasons we loved fairy tales so much was that they give us a glimpse of life that we know, as adults, will never really happen. Wolves win sometimes. Wickedness doesn’t just go away. Giants still roam the land and the walls of our unseen prisons seem inescapable. Fairy tales gave us hope that someday things will work out. Our dreams can be attained. Miracles will happen.

Isaiah 43:2 gives us a more realistic view of how life happens and what we can expect. There will be waters to pass through. The original languages describe this water as ‘deep water’ such as an ocean. There will be rivers to cross. Rushing, rock smashing rivers that threaten to tear our boats apart. There will be fire. Consuming fires that have no regard for the sanctity of life or the treasures we possess. Fire destroys everything.

But along with the horror Isaiah describes comes hope. When the Israelites were trapped at the edge of the Red Sea. And Pharaoh’s army was closing in. And there was no way out, no hope, nothing left to do but surrender and hope for the best. God made a way through the deep waters. He took a hopeless situation and brought His people through it.

When Israel needed to cross the mighty river Jordan to enter into the land promised them long ago. God parted those waters. The rushing torrents were silenced. He delivered His people safely through to dry ground.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to give into an evil world system. Innocent as they were and following God’s law to the letter, their fate was sealed by an evil king bent on proving his power. Yet when the King looked into the furnace he saw the impossible. The men were walking around in the midst of the flames. When they were released, they didn’t even smell of smoke!

Three lessons. Three examples of life’s attacks. The open attack of an enemy. The barriers to our dreams. The attacks when we are innocent. They each come into our lives. We were never promised that we would not see adversity and calamity in our life time. We were promised that in the midst of the most violent circumstances our Heavenly Father will walk us through. He loves us. Even in the direst of circumstances He will see us through.

PRAYER: Father God. I thank you for the promise you made that my life is completely and totally in your hands. Today I have many worries and concerns. It seems like my enemies are surrounding me. Sometimes I think I’m my own worst enemy! Help me to trust you in the midst of the trials of life. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

Israel is no stronger than its capital, Samaria, and Samaria is no stronger than its king, Pekah son of Remaliah. Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” Isaiah 7:9 (NLT)

“Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” It’s a short little phrase stuck in the middle of an important part of Israel’s history. King Ahaz had to make a decision. Would he really put his faith in God and stand firm against the enemies that wanted to destroy Israel or would he put his trust in a neighboring countries power?

In the midst of his emotional and mental struggle God said “Go ahead. Ask me to show you a sign of what you should do and what will happen.” It was a crisis of faith for the King. Where was his true allegiance? Ahaz chose not to ask for the sign. In the end he trusted the neighboring power rather than the God of heaven and his kingdom was ripped from his hands.

Each of us must choose where our true allegiance is. It’s a daily decision, even a moment by moment decision. The enemy wants us to doubt who is really in control. It happened in the Garden of Eden, “Did God REALLY say you’d die?” It happened in during Jesus time on earth when He visited His hometown and the Bible tells us “He did no miracles there because of their unbelief”.

As Christ-followers we must always remember that God’s way is the best way. We must measure each of our actions according to what God wants and allow Him to determine the outcome by His power. God CAN do anything we ask but He requires that we first trust Him to do what is best for us, even if His best seems detrimental at the time.

There will be bumps along the road. There are going to be forks in the journey with confusing sign posts directing you along the way. As you grow closer to Christ, through obedience and knowledge of His word, He will show you the path to take. Don’t be afraid to ask Him. Don’t impatiently take action on your own.

Never forget that the Creator God of the universe loves you and wants you to experience all He has for you. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. But you need to make that first step. Each of us needs to make a conscious decision to trust Him above all else and actively believe that He can and will see you through life’s obstacles. That’s what His love is all about.

PRAYER: Father God, I acknowledge that you are the creator and sustainer of the universe. I believe that you have all things in control. But I confess to you that there are many times during my day when I am faced with a choice to follow my own wisdom or ask you for direction. This almost always takes me down the wrong path. Forgive me for living in fear. Forgive me for following my heart and not what I know to be true. Help me to stand firm and step out in faith, truly believing that You can and will accomplish great things if I let You have control of my life. Amen.

If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” Numbers 14:8-9

It had been a long journey for the people of God. After years of captivity they had been rescued from Egyptian bondage after a series of miracles in which Pharaoh allowed them to leave. Now they reached the border of the Promised Land. During the journey God had provided them with fresh water, fresh meat, and shade from the hot desert sun by day and the warmth of a pillar of fire by night. All of this in the face of constant complaining on the part of the Israelites.

Now 12 spies were being sent into the land to scout it out. The excitement these men must have had! This was it! After years of waiting all their dreams were to be fulfilled. They gave their wives and children a final kiss and hug and walked into the land that had been described to them as a ‘land flowing with milk and honey.’

Their mission? To gain information that would be helpful for conquest. What were the people like? What did the cities look like? What was the land like? And perhaps most importantly, ‘Bring back some of the grapes!” Fresh fruit would surely be a treat that most of these people had never tasted!

Imagine what it must have been like for the families who stayed behind. Watching daily for the familiar figures of the men to come over the mountain. Dreaming of having a home again and no longer being nomads; the children excitedly bragging about what they would do once they got there. It must have been a very exciting time.

Finally, one day someone shouts “They’re back!” A cheer erupts as the 12 figures approach the camp loaded down with huge bunches of sweet, ripe grapes. What a celebration must have ensued as the men told stories of what they had seen and the adventures they took part in.

Then, the most important news of all, “What are the people like?” And a hush falls over the crowd. The countenance of the men grows grim. “They are too big,” They speak softly and shake their heads “The cities are walled; the men are huge like giants. A group such as ourselves doesn’t stand a chance against them.”

Women wept. Children stared with disbelief. Men grew angry. The turned on Moses and Aaron first. It was their idea to drag them into the wilderness. Then they turned their anger towards God. It was so much better in Egypt. The food was wonderful. They had homes and good land. Now they were doomed to life in the desert.

In the midst of the chaos two of the twelve spoke up. They had been largely ignored at first as they were the youngest. Now they raise their voices. “Listen! If God is in this, and He’s told us He is, then the size of the enemy doesn’t matter! Don’t blame God. Give Him a chance to show His power. If He is on our side it doesn’t matter how big they are or how tall their walls are. Protection comes from God not men and not buildings!”

The message is the same for us today. When we are walking in God’s way and following His direction and guidance, His protection is upon us. That doesn’t mean we won’t endure the wilderness from time to time. Being a Christ-follower doesn’t exclude us from suffering.  What it does mean is that eventually, if we are patient and trust Him, He will bring us to the ‘Promised Land’.

PRAYER: Father God I thank you for the protection you promise us through your Son, Jesus Christ. I confess to you the times when I’ve complained about life and questioned your direction. Forgive me for the fear I have of the giants in my life. Help me to rest on your promise that your protection is with me as I war against the giants I encounter. Amen.

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  Psalms 78:4

During Old Testament times the stories of God’s deliverance were crucial to reminding each generation of how God worked in the lives of His people. Some of those stories told of great victories over enemies. Some stories told of God’s judgment for sin and a refusal to follow His commands. These stories were a constant reminder of God’s desire to be involved in the lives of His people.

Sometimes, when we read these stories we forget that the people involved in the events had no idea how they would turn out! We have the advantage to read ahead and see how God acted to save His people. They had to live the suspense, fear and anxious moments without knowing ahead of time what would happen.

The stories in the Bible remind us that God is actively involved in our lives and that He expects our lives to be active. Contentment in God’s eyes means that we rest in His provision while at the same time we yearn to grow closer to Him, to see Him work more fully in our lives. He never expects us to be stagnant.

 Being a follower of Jesus Christ means that we will never settle for less than what He can give us. Through the working of His Spirit in our lives we can understand more of what He has in store for us. As we seek to grow closer to Him we will meet resistance. The voices within us will tell us we can’t attain the things God has for us. We will feel we aren’t worthy of His blessings. Our failures and weaknesses will seem too large.

Don’t listen to the lies. You are God’s chosen child. He gave all He had through Jesus so that you can rise above the struggles and roadblocks that come into your path. Remind yourself of the stories of how God worked in the past. He can do the same for you today as you grow in your relationship to Him.

PRAYER: Holy God. I remember the Bible Stories of my youth and how you did miracles in common people’s lives. I have to admit that many times I feel that kind of involvement isn’t meant for my life. Forgive me for believing that lie. Help me to draw close to you and to believe that you can and will do a miracle in my life today. Keep me from being content to stay where I am in my walk with you. Amen.

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