Rising on Wings of Faith
I enjoy feeding wildlife in my garden. One evening, I noticed a bluejay sitting alone after the other birds had gone. I eased up to it. The bluejay was alive but barely moving.
The bluejay seemed comforted by my presence, so I sat on the ground near the bird until mosquitoes swarmed around me. I hated to leave the bird alone but needed to go inside. I’d never rehabilitated a wild bird before. I decided I’d call the local wildlife office in the morning.
In the meantime, I prayed, “Lord, I place this bluejay in your hands.”
The next morning, I slid on my garden shoes and walked outside to where the bird had been the night before. It was gone! Based on the bird’s condition, I doubted it flew away. Had a predator taken it? Maybe the neighbor’s cat or an owl?
My husband sensed my concern. “Where did you place the bird?” he asked. “I placed the bluejay in God’s hands — but this isn’t what I expected God to do!”
Deep inside, I knew that if I couldn’t believe God would take care of the bird, there was no way I could believe He would take care of me.
While speaking about worry, Jesus gave us a comparison between the importance of our lives and the importance of birds.
“Look at the birds of the air. . . your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew 6:26 (NIV)
The Lord gently holds us. Not a day goes by that we have to worry, wonder, or fear the sovereignty of His answers. He hears our prayers and knows the concerns of our hearts. Guess who I saw drinking from my bird fountain two days later? The bluejay!
How do I know it was the same bird? Its feathers were rumpled, it hopped with a limp, and it lingered behind the other birds. The bluejay looked at me just before it flew away. I looked at my husband. Faith rose in my heart. I looked back out the screen door and smiled.
“It’ll be just fine,” I said. “This time, I’ve learned not only to place the bluejay in God’s hands, but my whole heart, too.”
What’s concerning you today? Is there a situation that you’re apprehensive about? Do you long for the reassurance of heaven? If so, you can place your worries in God’s great hands.
Remember, Jesus’s hands were pierced with nails on Calvary’s cross so that you can walk free, forgiven, and be without burden. There on the cross, Jesus paid the ultimate price to win your love. Consider that. Jesus remained confident in God even as He hung on the cross dying in mockery and seemingly forsaken.
Where did Jesus’ confidence come from? According to the book of Luke, He understood the capable and mighty hands of God.
“Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:46 (NIV)
If Jesus, who was gloriously raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God in heaven, trusted his well being in the hands of his father — despite how bleak the situation looked — won’t you also trust in God?” (See Luke 24:7 and Acts 2:24)
Here’s a suggested prayer:
Lord, I’m broken today. The struggles of life have weighed me down. Yet, I agree with David, the psalmist who wrote that you do not despise a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). You welcome me into your presence just as I am. I know that your desire is to restore, build up, heal, and cleanse. I offer my life to you afresh. I believe by faith that you are more than able to take what is broken in me, repair it, and mend me again. How I need you, Lord. I’m dependent upon your great grace that reaches down to touch the point of my need. I give you my praise today. There is none like you. Only you take that which is empty and cause it to be full to overflowing. Will you do that in my heart right now? I ask that you would cause great joy to bubble up—not circumstantial happiness, but rather the rich, resonating inner wholeness that comes as the result of Jesus’s abundant love living in me. Amen.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Psalm 16:11a (NIV)
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:6-10 (NIV)
The Long, Hard Journey of Faith
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
When I became a Christian, I thought all my problems would go away, and God would take care of everything with a snap of His fingers.
The truth is, my life fell apart within weeks of being baptized. Suffice it to say, accepting Jesus and asking Him to be Lord of my life didn’t obliterate the garbage I’d pressed down in the compactor of my heart.
In His mercy and grace, God didn’t bring up all my sins, sinful habits and sinful ways of thinking at one time. I’d have likely despaired if He had.
Instead, He opened my eyes over time. Through His Holy Spirit, I saw the painful truth. I agreed with God about my sins. Even before I was a Christian, I knew when I did wrong. My conscience told me. But the heart is deceitful, and the mind can rationalize and justify any behavior. And we tend to surround ourselves with like-thinkers. I can’t cast blame. Wrongs are done to us by others, but that never excuses us from doing wrong ourselves.
Thankfully, God created us as His masterpiece — His work of art — and He has destined us to accomplish great things in our lifetimes: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10). God knows who and what we are. He offers one way to be saved for all eternity: Accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. No other way. While seeing and acknowledging the truth about myself, I also experienced the amazing grace and love of God.
Coming to Jesus opened my eyes to who I am. I am a sinner. I am human. I am weak. I stumble and fall, even now that I am saved. I am also a daughter of the King. I am loved by God. And He is strong. He is faithful. He keeps His Word. He will never abandon me. He helps me stand again. He gives me the will to keep walking in the steps of Jesus.
But honestly, it can be very hard, working out our salvation. By working, I mean living it, not earning it. As the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:12b, we are to “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (NLT)
Friends, the faith journey isn’t easy. Believing is only the first step onto the narrow pathway. The next steps put a believer on the road of trial and blessing as we walk out a new life as a disciple of Christ. We must stick close to Jesus, read His Word, lean in and listen. We need to obey, even when it means personal, painful sacrifice. That’s the long, hard journey of transformation. That’s the kind of faith that impacts the world.
The Power of Trusting the Lord with All Your Heart
By Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.org
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”Proverbs 3:5-6
If the future feels uncertain right now, and worry keeps occupying too much room in your heart, in your mind, remember this: God is already in all of our tomorrows. He knows our way, and He has a plan. And we can be assured it’s always the best one for us.
God never asks us to figure it all out on our own. He just asks us to trust Him, to recognize His leadership and Sovereignty in our lives. And He promises to make our pathways straight.
– “Trust (be confident in, be bold, be secure)
– in the Lord with all your heart (seat of emotions, inclinations, mind, soul),
– and do not lean (trust, support)
– on your own understanding (discernment).
– In all your ways acknowledge Him (know, recognize),
– and He will make your paths straight (pleasing, right, smooth).” Proverbs 3:5-6
We may not always see what’s ahead, but He does.
There’s great power in trusting Him. For it clears the way for our security to be based solely on Him, not on our circumstances, or other people, not on ourselves, or our own ways of thinking.
He is faithful to lead us and He sees the big picture. He brings clarity and light through foggy times. He knows what’s around the other side of the bend where we can’t fully see. His timing is perfect even when we start to feel like we’ve been forgotten. No matter how we feel or what our current situation may be, we can be confident that God’s Presence will go before us, paving out pathways, guiding and guarding our steps.
Keep choosing trust. Let go of worry, hold on to Him.
Streams in the Desert – July 7
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
He hath made me a polished shaft (Isa. 49:2).
There is a very famous “Pebble Beach” at Pescadero, on the California coast. The long line of white surf comes up with its everlasting roar, and rattles and thunders among the stones on the shore. They are caught in the arms of the pitiless waves, and tossed and rolled, and rubbed together, and ground against the sharp-grained cliffs. Day and night forever the ceaseless attrition goes on–never any rest. And the result?
Tourists from all the world flock thither to gather the round and beautiful stones. They are laid up in cabinets; they ornament the parlor mantels. But go yonder, around the point of the cliff that breaks off the force of the sea; and up in that quiet cove, sheltered from the storms, and lying ever in the sun, you shall find abundance of pebbles that have never been chosen by the traveler.
Why are these left all the years through unsought? For the simple reason that they have escaped all the turmoil and attrition of the waves, and the quiet and peace have left them as they found them, rough and angular and devoid of beauty. Polish comes through trouble.
Since God knows what niche we are to fill, let us trust Him to shape us to it. Since He knows what work we are to do, let us trust Him to drill us to the proper preparation.
O blows that smite! O hurts that pierce
This shrinking heart of mine!
What are ye but the Master’s tools
Forming a work Divine?
Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears.