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Archive for November, 2012

  Movement One ~
When day’s first light brightens the morn
     And shade of night from dawn is shorn,
When morning birds across the earth
     Celebrate the new day’s birth,
Lift up your heart in praise to God
     Who has Himself walked on our sod.
Open wide gates of your heart
      That His Word He may impart.

 Movement Two ~
When noonday sun climbs high the sky,
     And joy and hope are running high,
When sorrows seem to disappear
     Our hearts o’erflow with praise to share.
Be sure the praise is made God’s Own
     Who knit the flesh upon your bone.
The Lord of Light the Maker is;
     Awesome splendor is solely His.

 Movement Three ~
When mists and fog of sorrow swirl,
      And hail of hate at us is hurled,
When dismal disappointments rise
     And wounding words cut down to size
Hope and joy, our delight in life,
     We praise Him Who knows well our strife,
For He remains the Lord of love,
     And rules from mighty throne above.

 Movement Four ~
When crimson rays spread like fingers,
      And golden sun barely lingers,
When stars first start their glimmerings,
     And moon its silver shimmerings,
Lift your heart to God in praise,
     To Him your hallelujahs raise.
Listen with ears of faith and love,
     And know you’re watched by One above.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Hopefully, we’ve all had opportunity to reflect, since Thanksgiving Day, on the appropriateness of entering the season of Christmas with an attitude of thanksgiving. The benefits for us are countless especially because we tend today to consider ourselves deprived whenever we realize that there is someone who has something that we don’t have.

The opportunity to pause and reflect on the fact that there are things in our lives for which we may be thankful can begin the soothing work of calming our frantic nerves and helps to open the door for those spiritual blessings promised by God to those who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. Those things for instance which we, may pause to consider during the ensuing Christmas season (e.g., hope, peace, love, and joy) suddenly find that “room at the inn” has been made by the cleansing work of gratitude.

And the fact that there is truly a deserving recipient of our thanksgiving, namely God, reminds us that there is One, greater than ourselves, Who is in control of our history even as it continues to unfold before our very eyes. Our gratitude causes us to recognize that He is actively at work today in spite of our pride and inclination for selfishness: at work in the world… and at work in our individual lives.

Our hope is not in a presidential administration. Nor is it in an improving economy. It isn’t in military prowess or in technology or even in universal healthcare (even if it works). Our hope is in God.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation” (Psalm 42:1-2a, 5 ESV).

Throughout the ages, men and women have discovered that there is hope in only Jesus Christ. It remains crystal clear that even in our changing world we desperately need hope.

“Ron” was sure that he could find fulfillment in his work, and always gunned for bigger and better jobs. But then he lost his job through a layoff. During this time of feeling like a failure and in this season of worry for his family’s needs, a neighbor told him that God could give him hope and proof of it was that Jesus died for his sin. “Ron” placed his faith in Jesus and found his hopelessness turned into an irrepressible certainty that God was in control. After a few months of trusting that God’s time was best, a door was opened for him at a new company… one in which his needs were met and also one in which he could share with others what he had found in Jesus Christ.

“Tami” discovered that the unconditional love and acceptance for which she had been searching in an endless string of rocky relationships couldn’t be found in a man. One after another, the relationships resulted in her being betrayed and broken. She lost all sense of personal worth and had no hope left. But then she hit a website that talked about filling up the emptiness inside with hope… the kind of hope that Jesus gave to a woman at a well in Samaria nearly two thousand years ago. She learned that Jesus was crucified in her place, showing an unconditional love that even death cannot suffocate or defeat. “Tami” bowed her head right then, admitting that she had sinned and seeking His forgiveness. She gave Him her heart and found that she was both precious and beautiful to Him. With this new start she quit racing from relationship to relationship and eventually found a man who also belonged to the Lord and with whom she truly belonged.

Let’s not mistakenly assume, however, that trusting Jesus is a guarantee that our temporal wants and desires, even those things we need in the short term, are going to be granted us.  We may find that they are not, especially those things that may in the long run conflict with our Lord’s eternal goal of making us holy vessels in whom He dwells.  Some people trust God, but find that they must still labor in grueling ways to see food put on the table.  Others find that turning to Jesus does not cure them of cancer or take away their struggles with addiction or remove them from a war zone.  What it does do, however, is set their eyes on a goal beyond the reach of our temporary trials and troubles.  It gives them a sense of purpose and victory that their circumstances cannot touch.

In the end, if our eyes are on anything other than God, darkness infects our sight and causes us to either despair or to be swooned into the short-lived delusion that we can find happiness and wholesomeness in ourselves or in some sort of substitute for God. But the gloom of humanity’s hopelessness is shattered by the piercing light of God’s presence. The rays of His love brings new life to hearts and souls withered by life’s unfulfilled promises, scorching hatreds, and parching Godlessness.

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.  When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever” (Psalm 146:3-6 ESV).

Remember that this season is a celebration of hope… hope that is only found in God’s gift of His Son. This season is all about the hope we can find in Jesus Christ.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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It’s an odd time of year.  Officially, as we head into the holiday season, we have high expectations for good feelings that somehow are supposed to be evoked by traditions and family gatherings.  We wax eloquent on the virtues of giving and urge one another on to works of charity and sacrifice.  As well we should.  Yet the onset of the holiday season seems all too readily a backdrop for greed, selfishness, and despair.  One could get swamped in this wealth of irony and become disillusioned with the whole thing. 

But I pause for a moment in my reflections of the Christmas season to consider that the “season” of Christmas begins with Thanksgiving.  Yes, I realize that commercialism has been a strong influence on the attitude of our culture as companies urge for both an earlier start to the Christmas shopping season and for shoppers to indulge in a Christmas that is “bigger and better than ever before” (meaning, “more stuff is bigger and more expensive is better”). 

Be that as it may, no matter who pushed for it or why, it seems to me that “thanksgiving” is an appropriate mindset for entering into an occasion in which many Americans are just a bit more interested in the spiritual and perhaps a bit more open to the touch of God’s grace.

And why would that be so?  Well, people across the land are being robbed right and left… plundered perhaps not of material possessions, but of the much more elusive but infinitely more valuable commodity that we call “joy”.  It’s not really that anyone can steal happiness per se, but people can allow themselves to be lured into attitudes and subsequent behaviors that leave them feeling cheated, slighted, or frustrated.  Not quite finding a lasting joy as a result of whatever lifestyle they may have adopted, they continue to chase the phantoms of false promises that abound in a world of fakes and phonies. 

Will a better job make him happy?  Could a nicer house satisfy her?  How about a new car or some new clothes?  Or even a new husband or a new wife?  Does it seem that I’m taking it to a ridiculous extreme?  I don’t think so.  I think that the signs of the times prove my point.  The fact is that no matter what we may have, we obsessively look for something bigger and better.  As a result, we are perilously close to having no capacity for contentment.  And if we can’t be content with what we’ve been blessed, there can’t be any real sense of thanksgiving “seasoning the soup” of our fellowship with God. 

After all, how can we simply “rest” in God’s loving presence when all we can think about is what we don’t have?  How can we reside in an attitude of worship of our God when our hearts and minds are elsewhere?  There is no adoration where the heart is distracted by preoccupation.  So let us not waste God’s time by telling either Him or ourselves that we’re worshiping Him when our affections have been set on substitutes.  When we do this, we ourselves are robbers for we have become accomplices in the stealing of God’s glory. 

This then is the tremendous value of having a day set aside for expressing our thankfulness to God.  If such thankfulness is genuine, it places us in the right spiritual posture before our Creator and Savior because it both professes God to be Provider as well as confesses that we are dependent upon His good will.  It is also an occasion for us to render pleasure to Him in our appreciation of the mercies and gifts that He has lavished upon us (whatever they are in whatever measure He grants them). 

If the Christmas season follows such attitudes and expressions of gratitude, then the reflective and celebratory tone of the holidays can truly be meaningful.  In other words, if we will practice the discipline of thanking God for what we have and being content with that with which He has blessed us, we can gaze upon the coming of Jesus into the world as Savior and truly adore Him.  We can adore Him and thank Him for His having thought of us and cared for us.  We can humbly bow and praise Him for His having lived and died for us.  Thankfulness widens the door of fellowship with God that faith in His atoning work on the cross of Christ opened for us. 

So be thankful for that which God has blessed you, either in the giving to you or in the refusing to give to you.  Be thankful for His provision for your life and set your eyes on His Son, not buying into the lie that you don’t have enough or that you need something more than the love that He has bequeathed to you through His Son.  Don’t allow anyone or anything to break into the secret place of your heart and steal the joy and peace that God alone supplies. 

“…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through Him Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11b-13 ESV).

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Let our hearts be open and soft to the healing touch of God’s forgiveness and grace. Let us “drink in” the amazing and wonderful truth that God is good and let our gift to Him be the gift of thankfulness!

The key to real thanksgiving, particularly when one wonders about what one has for which he or she should be thankful, is a good dose of reality. On the one hand, I could rehearse the fact that I am beset by my own human nature, a nature that is in fact inclined to revel in sin (disobedience to God). I might even be tempted to despair over the fact that, “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:2-3 ESV). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV).

These are difficult facts to digest, I grant you, but they are important ones nonetheless for just on the other side of the grim truth of these, there are awaiting us beautiful and amazing treasures that cannot be ours if we cannot see what it cost for us to possess them. And let’s not kid ourselves. Who do you know that is really perfect? You might know someone who seems to be so, but were you to look in their hearts, you’d see that they struggle as even you and I do.

But in spite of the fact that we are loaded with sin (even if only in the depths of our hearts) and in spite of the fact that there is no righteousness that we might earn or purchase that will satisfy the holy perfection of God, and that “…by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin…” (Romans 3:20), we may yet be set free from sin’s awful condemnation and stand in God’s favor through faith in God’s work of salvation. “…the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it – the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe… and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:21-22, 24-25a ESV).

What a tremendous truth! What an amazing treasure for which to be thankful! Although I really deserve judgment, because of Jesus’ willing death on the Cross, I can be given forgiveness if I’ll truly turn to Him in faith! Although I really deserve punishment, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I am given grace if I’ll truly believe in His name! And although I really deserve to simply reap the consequences of my sin, along with all the rest of humanity, I am given a new future, a new life, and a new identity if I’ll simply forsake my old ways and follow Him!

“Jesus Himself bore our sins in His body on the ‘tree’, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds we have been healed. For we were like sheep going astray, but now we have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls” (from 1 Peter 2:24-25).

So… any favor that God chooses to bestow upon me is already far and away beyond my deserved allotment and infinitely more than I have any right, in of myself and apart from Christ, to expect. What a good God!

If you’ll trust Him as your Savior and Lord, you’ll find no surer a foundation on which to build your life than is the simple truth that He is good. “Taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” (Psalm 34:8 ESV).

He is good when the sun shines and flowers bloom, but He is just as good when it is raining and our skies are gray. He is good when there is food on the table and we’ve a nice full feeling after a meal, but He is just as good when our cupboards are bare and we’re not sure from where our next meal will come. God is good when we’re happy and a song of joy is in our hearts, but He is also good when our sorrow threatens to swallow us up like a strangling grave. He is good when we are strong and our feet fall sure and steady along the walk of life, and He is good when our strength has faded and we fall to our knees in weariness. He is good when we’re surrounded by supporters and well-wishers, but He’s just as good when we are surrounded by enemies who are bent on hurting and destroying us. God is good.

Let us be thankful then that God Almighty is greater than our problems: we can depend on His strength and wisdom to lead us through them victoriously. Let us be thankful that the Everlasting Father (see Isaiah 9:6) is full of grace and mercy without end: we can depend on His promises to forgive those who will truly place their faith in Him and that He will meet them with forgiveness and the gift of eternal life (see Romans 6:23). Let us be thankful that He is strong and well able to support, encourage, and guide those who become His children through faith in Christ Jesus: we can depend on His strength and faithfulness even when our own blinded sensibilities deny them (see Psalm 27:5). God is good… and He’s good ALL the time!

Let us begin the holiday season with revisiting this heavenly “reality check”. Let our hearts be open and soft to the healing touch of God’s forgiveness and grace. Let us “drink in” the amazing and wonderful truth that God is good and let our gift to Him be the gift of thankfulness!

“For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.  Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen Yo my plea for grace.  In the day of my trouble I call upon You, for you answer me” (Psalm 86:7 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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As you perhaps settle down for a hefty Thanksgiving feast, preparing to afterwards sink comfortably into the folds of a sofa someplace to watch football, to travel across the countryside to enjoy visits with friends and/or family, or perhaps to venture from store to store to get ahead on your Christmas shopping, pause for a moment and let your imaginiation take you on a little trip instead.

Visualize for a moment that you are crammed into a dank, dark space, hardly larger than your living room, with one hundred and two other passengers. The curved wooden walls around you are partly screened by barrels and crates of food, tools, and various other supplies. By your elbow a pair of chickens are squawking loudly, and your ears catch the sounds of some dog whining and in a far off corner of the hold, someone sounds very sick.

The little ship, the belly of which you’ve been living in for nearly two months, is having a bad time of it. You can feel the ship rolling back and forth, tossed about by angry walls of water, as howling winds spin the tiny vessel about it in a maelstrom of fear. Then there is strange sound… a creaking, tearing, and then a loud pop. But the tempest still rages on mercilessly and you’re forced to continue to simply ride out the storm… literally. Then the winds seem quieter and the tiny ship doesn’t teeter as wildly. The teetering slows even further until it is nothing more than a gentle rocking. The hatch above opens and you can barely make out that it is the captain who struggles to climb down into the hold. There is no light to speak of, lanterns clearly being too dangerous to light in such a storm, so you can only hear the worried tone of the captain as he explains that the main mast was cracked in the storm. You don’t need to see his face to know that there is a great weight of anxiety upon him. With no mast, how can you go on? How can your little band do anything but drift about in the wide waters of the Atlantic? You can hear the captain quietly ask some of the men who lead your group to pray. He then climbs back up, forces open the hatch, and is gone.

You can hear your leaders, John Carver, William Bradford, and William Brewster. You can hear their whispered voices each, in turn, thank God for the safe journey thus far, and then an appeal to Him to reveal His glory and achieve His purposes for His people. Then the voices cease and a near silence follows. But William Brewster, a lay minister, suddenly speaks up excitedly. You can almost make out what he is saying to the other two men. Something about his printing press. You’re puzzled, wondering what on earth a printing press has to do with a broken mast, but then you hear someone climb up and throw open the hatch. A faint gray light illuminates the face of John Carver who quickly disappears onto the deck. He returns very soon, accompanied by the captain and another sailor. Leaving the hatch open this time, they all climb down and carefully step through the crowded hold, with a hundred sets of eyes fastened upon them. They make their way towards you until they stand by your side. Producing a heavy iron bar, the sailor begins to pry the lid off of a crate next to you. William Brewster steps up and shoves the lid aside. He begins to dig through the straw, pulling out various parts of the large printing press he had intended to set up and use at the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. Finally, he gives an exclamation of joy and produces a large iron screw. He holds it out triumphantly towards the captain who mutters something about hoping that the Pilgrim prayers had reached the ears of God. He takes the screw and hurries again to the top of the ship, followed by the sailor and the three Pilgrim leaders, Carver, Brewster, and Bradford.

God has a plan for your life that is a whole lot bigger than human dreams and ambitions. He has a dream for you that, as you seek to walk closely with Him, will keep your feet where they need to be, your hands doing what they need to be doing, and your voice saying and singing what needs to be said and sung.

You can hear the whisperings of others around you who are as puzzled and nervous as are you. Someone near you remarks that here is a strange turn of events. After all, the sailors had cruelly mocked Brewster’s insistence on bringing his printing press. They had said that it would be nearly as useless as the Bible the Pilgrims so dearly loved and greatly venerated. They had laughed at the idea and only grudgingly agreed to pack it into the ship’s hold. You remember well the surly glances they threw at Brewster as they labored to bring it on the ship in the harbor of Southampton, England.

As you sit and wait, the sound of sailors shouting instructions to each other filters down to your ears. Then there is a long and painful pause. And then there is a joyful shout. Carver, Bradford, and Brewster climb excitedly back down to you and your companions. They share that the part that they had taken from the printing press was exactly what was needed to fix the support beams that hold the main mast upright. The mast is restored and the sails are unfurled. The wind is moving and you are nearing the end of your destination.

Now… come back to the present. I’ve not met many people who’ve heard the account of Brewster’s printing press and it being the means by which God saves the Mayflower’s mast (and hence, the Pilgrims), but it is an incredible example of God’s faithfulness to a people who had forsaken all to follow Him.

“I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations.  For Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let Your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalm 108:3-5 ESV).

Maybe you’re not settling comfortably into your couch this Thanksgiving weekend. Maybe you do not have family and friends with whom you can spend a little time. And perhaps zipping from store to store for you looks like nothing more than plain and simple “window shopping” because your bank account is defunct.

Fortunately, God has a plan for your life that is a whole lot bigger than human dreams and ambitions. He has a dream for you that, as you seek to walk closely with Him, will keep your feet where they need to be, your hands doing what they need to be doing, and your voice saying and singing what needs to be said and sung. Where are you in your walk with Him these days? Are you earnestly seeking Him with all your heart? If you are, then you can count on His power and love to uphold you during difficult times. And if you trust Him wholeheartedly, even trivial things will take on a huge new dimension, and God will work “behind the scenes” to help you do His will. The bottom line, however, is that God is in control and that He has both the power and the desire to help His people. Therefore, no matter what may be going on in your life right now, trust His ability to bless you. Obey His leading in your life and the impressions that He makes on your heart. Above all, learn His Word and be able to personally take ownership of what He’s showing you as you seek to obey Him.

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Years ago, when I was still a campus minister and spent “office hours” talking with students in local college coffee shops, I bumped into a casual acquaintance that I knew through a mutual friend.  I had heard that he had, some months before, placed his faith in Christ and had experienced a radical transformation in his life.  He was evidently now a serious student of God’s Word, a passionate sharer of the Good News that had changed his life, and an active exhorter for other Believers. 

Envision Jesus waiting for you, a soul for whom He died, as you busily live a life built around your own plans, agendas, and dreams.

The power and wonder that had entered his life were amazing and profoundly impacted his character.  He had already been a “good” student and respected athlete, but his focus and passion had been placed solely on his personal goals for success, popularity, and pleasure.  Then, when he met Christ (through trusting Him as his Savior), he took on an entirely new focus:  that of pleasing his God and walking in fellowship with Him. 

On the occasion of our meeting each other that morning, we struck up a conversation wherein we discussed some of the new turns his life had taken and the new treasures of the Word that he had discovered.  When our talk turned to what he was doing that morning, he mentioned that he was there to meet with another student who had just come to Christ a few days before; they were to read the Bible together, pray, and talk about how to turn life over more fully to God and to apply their lives more fully to the truth of His Word. 

At one point, a look of irritation crossed his face and he looked over at the door.  I asked him what was wrong and he replied, “We were to meet ten minutes ago; he’s late.  I’m not sure that I want to meet with him if he’s not going to take it seriously.” 

I looked at him and thought for a moment.  Then, politely and with an effort to not sound condescending, I asked him, “Aren’t you glad that Jesus hasn’t dealt with us that way?” 

“What do you mean?” he asked. 

“Well, I can honestly say that there have been times in my life when I haven’t taken God as seriously as I should have.  And I’m fairly certain that I’m not taking Him even now as seriously as I should, even though I tend to think that I am taking Him seriously.” 

“Well,” he said thoughtfully.  “I just meant that if it isn’t important for enough for him to be on time, then it isn’t important enough for me to take the time to wait on him.” 

“I can understand that,” I answered.  “And I certainly can’t say that I know that this is a situation in which you should wait.  But how long did Christ have to ‘wait on you’ before you repented of sin and received Him as Lord?  And how long will He have to wait for you obey promptly every leading and command He entrusts to you through His Word?” 

He pondered that a moment with an inscrutable look on his face, and I was concerned that I may have said too much.  I deliberately turned the conversation to how his classes were going, about which we “small-talked” for a few minutes. 

After a little while, he excused himself and left, his appointment never having shown up.  I moved on to visit with some other students I knew, before I had to leave.  It turned out that the student for whom my acquaintance waited had simply been detained by an instructor.  He arrived, but he arrived too late for his meeting. 

In reflecting upon it, I am glad for the knowledge that God does indeed wait for us, as He instills within us the capacity to comprehend in at least a miniscule amount our desperate need for Him. 

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!  Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.  Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?  Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live…” (Isaiah 55:1-3a ESV). 

Envision Jesus waiting for you, a soul for whom He died, as you busily live a life built around your own plans, agendas, and dreams. Consider that, as He patiently waits for you, you continue to miss out on the one thing that would give your life lasting meaning and purpose, and grant you the serenity of knowing that you have a loving Shepherd Who will guide and guard you as you trust Him. 

“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7 ESV). 

It occurs to me that it is a dangerous game to play when we fail to respond to God with our trust and obedience.  We are flirting with disaster whenever we sense His Spirit’s call in our lives, but put Him off until we have time or because we simply have other things we would rather do.  I’m not suggesting a formula for interpreting what our “window of opportunity” may be in obeying Him; but I do know that we should never, ever take His grace for granted. 

While the patience of God is inexhaustible and there is no sin or blemish upon or within us that cannot be covered by the grace of Jesus’ blood, His perfect holiness and justice dictate that we respond within the season of grace.

Still, we may take some comfort in knowing that God is patient with us and His patience with us, not to mention His omnipotent determination to achieve His will and plans for you and me, is untrumpable by our circumstances, which He Himself turn to good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (see Romans 8:28). 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11 ESV). 

As far as “wait-ers” go, no one can top God.  As far as “wait-ees” go, well, we leave much to be desired.  But remember that while the patience of God is inexhaustible and there is no sin or blemish upon or within us that cannot be covered by the grace of Jesus’ blood, His perfect holiness and justice dictate that we respond within the season of grace.  Let us each hasten then to turn to Him “while He may be found.”  

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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The pleasing sounds of crispy leaves crunching under each of my footsteps greet my ears every morning and evening as I come and go to attend to each day’s business. The faint but sweet scent of fall leaves, mixed with the smoky aroma of someone’s wood burning stove, accents the sense of wonder that I feel when autumn arrives. And although we have reached the end of the fiery oranges, radiant reds, and glorious yellows that have once again arrayed southern Ohio in its annual splendor, the feeling lingers on. After all, each autumn is simply the long hallway to new seasons of wonder and delight.

No less real is the wonder contained within each season of life as we pass through it. The new experiences, for example, that come with my children entering new phases of life, bring with them both sensations and emotions that are often new to me. And so there is a sense of adventure to each new day… at least if I’ll remember to trust God and look beyond what eyes of flesh may tell me are either boring or are trials to avoid.

Let’s face it: experiences, like autumn leaves, either float into our lives with a lazy fluttering or seem to be blown in on an angry wind of calamity. Experiences can glow with the glorious promise of golden opportunity while others may seem withered and devoid of any hope, painful trials that may leave us shriveling into discouragement.

But whether the leaves of our circumstances thrill us with excitement and enthusiasm or lie limply on the terrain of each new day, they both have the capacity to snare us with distraction just as leaves do that cover a forest floor, hiding the path we would tread to reach the other side of an unknown wood.

Do your feet of faith walk on the sure footing that daily obedience in Jesus can supply you? Or are you wandering far and wide, scuffling through the leaves of the distractions of life, not sure that your next step isn’t into a pit of disaster and loss?

Two enormous oak trees in my backyard stand as solemn reminders of this truth to me. While I rejoice in the first appearing of tiny leaf buds in the spring, rest in the leafy shade of their mighty canopies in the summer, and revel in the gold of their autumn greatness, I dread the morning that greets me with a knee high carpet of leaves deposited all over my backyard. In fact, if it were not for the great team of leaf rakers that my family has proven to be, I’d almost certainly despair of ever again seeing the actual ground, buried as it was under the leafy mess.

There are times in our lives when we are so dangerously overwhelmed by events, responsibilities, worries, challenges, and opportunities that we can easily lose track of our path. And of course I use the expression “path” with a very specific reference in mind. All Christians have but one Path which they must follow… Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us in John 14:6 that He is “the Way”. In practical terms, that means that we first come to grips with the fact that our identity is wrapped up in His role as Savior and Lord. He alone secures for us atonement with the Father. To Him alone has been given the keys to victory for every man, woman, and child for both this life and the life that follows the failing of our mortal frames. Faith in Him alone is the way to the Father.

The fact that He is the Way also means that every decision that we make, every goal that we set for ourselves, and every means to the accomplishing of any of our plans is subject to His approval. In other words, do our attitudes and actions reflect the fact of our roles as servants to Jesus as King? Or do we reserve for ourselves the right to “call the shots”? Are we taking each day to the altar of our God our actions and thoughts? Or are we rationalizing a daily habit of serving ourselves in our dealings, whether great or small? If so, then we have lost our Way under the cluttering leaves of earthly distractions.

While we may rest in God’s ability to “hold onto us” in regard to our salvation, what becomes vulnerable to loss is the daily fruitfulness that He desires to glean from our lives for an eternity that is only just beginning and lasts far, far longer than will this planet.

What about you? Have you found the “Path?” Do your feet walk along the “Way?” Has your future in heaven been secured the only way that it can be, by placing your faith in God’s Son as Savior?

If so, then the question is slightly different. Do your feet of faith walk on the sure footing that daily obedience in Jesus can supply you? Or are you wandering far and wide, scuffling through the leaves of the distractions of life, not sure that your next step isn’t into a pit of disaster and loss? If your feet aren’t where they ought to be, be assured that if you will return your heart to His keeping, that He’ll rake clear a path for your feet today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for your sake, who through Him are believers in God, Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter1:20-23 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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