Mystery seeds of 2020

(This is an unscheduled interruption of our Dwelling posts. I had to get this out of my head — and into yours.)

Strange packets of seeds that people have never even considered ordering are appearing in mailboxes around the world.

Supposedly, the packages originated in a foreign country. And, adding to the puzzle, they may not even be labeled as seeds but as jewelry. In this season of quarantine and isolation, when we can’t even ship packages overseas and our domestic mail is facing serious obstacles, these packages that seem to have been dropped on us from nowhere are mystifying. The USDA is trying to discover what they are, if they pose a danger, who sent them, and what the best course is in handling them.

Let’s not be mystified, though, about other seeds that are being slyly dropped into our lives today.

These seeds are, beyond any doubt, dangerous—deadly, even. The packages may have attractive labels. But we cannot, dare not, must not plant them and let them take root. Let’s name and nail the sender: the enemy of our souls and our faith. The purpose is to grow robust crops of fear, anxiety, anger, quarreling, resentment, harsh words, rage, slander, self-preservation, division, criticism, and hostility. Invasive species, these crops are meant to choke out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If these seeds are dropped at your door, DO NOT PLANT. Give them no soil to take root. Hand them over to an Authority who knows what to do with them.       

Book Tour, COVID style

We’ve all been walloped by the reality that we cannot control, predict, or depend on what we thought we knew of the future.

But there are certain things that God repeatedly and emphatically tells us we can always be certain of—no matter what the next hour, the next day, or the next year might look like.

Those certainties—and the difference this hope makes in our lives right now—are celebrated in the fourth book of the Hope Knows series, Facing the Future. The book can be used as a devotional, for group study, or as a springboard to dig deeper into Scriptures to keep your hope strong.

For the first three books in the Hope Knows series, YOU have taken the time and made the effort to come to ME at book signings or to purchase your books at local stores. Now it’s my turn to come to you.

Since no book signing event is planned, I’d love to do a book “tour.”

If you want to buy a signed copy of the book, I’ll deliver one to your doorstep, your porch, your backyard picnic table, or whatever socially-distanced place works for you. If you prefer, I’ll send your copy in the mail.

The planned “tour” to deliver books is this Saturday, May 23. PM me on Facebook, or contact me through the email on my blog site for more details or to order.

Looking forward to sharing hope with you.
Elaine

P.S. The Hope Knows books are also available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Or you can order directly from the publisher, http://www.jpvpress.com. JPV Press has two special offers right now. When you order Facing the Future, you’ll receive the third book in the series Can God be  Trusted? FREE. Or, if you’d like the complete set of all Hope Knows books, a special price saves you $15 on the four. Click on their Bookstore.

Count the Stars

“But, Lord, that’s impossible!”

That’s what Abram said when the Lord told him he and his wife would have a son. We can’t be too critical of Abram. The situation did look impossible. Haven’t we often reacted the same way to a promise the Lord has given us?

“Look up at the sky and count the stars–if you can,” the Lord told Abram.  “That’s how many descendants you will have.”

Count the stars. 

When I’m tempted to say, “Lord, it’s just not possible… is it?” and wonder how He could ever make good on His promise, I’ll have to step outside and try to count the stars. The stars will remind me: That’s the extent to which He is able to make good on His promises. That’s the scale to which my God can do the impossible.

Count the stars, and hold firm to our great hope.

 

  • (Painting by Brenna Moan. Thank you, B.)

 

Stand firm in this…

Last night I sat at a dinner table with a new friend. As we learned to know each other, she talked about first coming to this area as a young woman and being in awe of the beauty of our hills and valleys. When she married and became a resident of our county, as she raised her family she tried to instill in them an appreciation of the gift of living here.

Those of us who have lived here all of our lives sometimes forget we have such a gift. Every now and then as I drive 39, I wonder how many thousands of times I’ve driven that same stretch—could it even be tens of thousands? And so often, I do take it all for granted and don’t even see the beauty God created for us here as I race through busy days and occupy my mind with the challenges of the week.

Are we prone to do the same with the amazing, freeing truth that Paul wrote about in Colossians? He wrote, “But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it” (Colossians 1:23).

What truth? Go back two verses: You were once God’s enemies (strong language!), but he has “reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ… and brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”

His enemies. A bad spot to be in. But because Christ went to the cross, we now live in God’s own presence and He has wiped out the record against us.

I am reminded this morning of what a wonderful gift it is to live here in God’s presence, with no blame brought against me. I don’t want to take this for granted. If you belong to Christ, stop for a moment and drink in the beauty of this place where you now live.

This is the Good News that Paul said was changing lives all over the world (Colossians 1:6, 23).

Stand firm in this. Don’t forget or take it for granted. It changes our lives!

Born to be Brave

What’s holding you back?

What’s holding you back from the life Jesus died to give you?

Let’s ask another question first: Have you had a glimpse of the life Jesus died to give you?

So many times we are caught in the whirlwind of our days that we lose sight of Jesus’ plans for us: He came to save us from empty lives and give us lives full of heaven’s resources, purposes, power, and joys.

I don’t want to miss all that because I get so distracted by the temporal tempests that can blow away my days like the wind dispels smoke.

I have been thinking about the few small loaves and fishes that a nameless, ordinary boy gave to Jesus. When that boy offered his lunch to share, he could not have imagined the outcome. He only knew that he was willing to let Jesus have his lunch and Jesus could do whatever He would with it.

Most of us probably feel like that child, with so little to offer that we think it will make no difference or have no impact. Our little bit is indeed insignificant. But what Jesus can do with our little bit– that is what will make all the difference!

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anyone speak of God giving them a clear, fully detailed vision of the life He has planned for them. He does show us the next step on the path. He knows where He intends to take us, even though we can’t see it. He knows how He is putting together His masterpiece.

He knows what He intends to do with those loaves and fishes. We can’t see the whole picture. We just need to be willing to take the next step into that life.

What’s holding us back?

* What’s keeping us from following Jesus’ commandment to pray for and do kind things for that person who has hurt us so deeply?

* What keeps us from helping foreigners in our midst as God has told us to do?

* In this season of lilies, what keeps us from trusting God to provide everything we need?

* What keeps us from putting aside things in our lives that take our focus off God?

* What keeps us from declaring our citizenship in the kingdom of heaven while we live in a kingdom hostile to God’s children?

* What keeps us from believing that God can use our little loaves and fishes?

What keeps us from taking the next step toward the big, unlimited life He has for us?

As we take each step, He’ll unfold that life. And like the lunch for thousands of people, what He does will be beyond anything we imagine now.

What holds us back?

In Bob Goff’s book Everybody Always, he wrote, “Jesus never asked anyone to play it safe. We were born to be brave.”

Scripture says our new birth and life came from the Spirit of God—and yes, we were born into this new life to be brave.

At this birth, you inherited the Spirit of the One who gave you this life. And that Spirit is not one of fear or insignificance or helplessness. The Spirit in you is one of power, love, and self-discipline.

Following that Spirit brings life and peace.

What’s keeping you from taking that next brave step?

***

Scriptures: 2 Timothy 1:7; Romans 8:6; John 10:10; Ephesians 2:10

 

Photo Credit: Emily Leonard