Rumble Strips

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.' Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but under stand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:13-17 (The New American Standard Bible)

On warm summer nights, for example the night before last, when our bedroom windows are open and the breeze is from the NE, I can hear the sounds of the trucks on I-95. I can also hear the sounds of vehicles as they stray from the right hand lane onto the rumble strips in the break-down lane. Rumble strips are those corrugated strips along the edge of the driving lanes and at the approach to a turnpike toll booth. The prime purpose is to alert drivers to the fact that something is changing and that immediate action must be taken. Running over these strips produces an unmistakable sound and vibration that arouses one from the deepest lack of attention. It is nice to have these safeguards in place, and I'm certain many lives have been saved by encounters with these mini-washboards. I'm thankful this morning for the spiritual rumble strips that help to define the ways of Christian life. Obviously the encouragement is to be vigilant, making the most of our time. Yet at times we g et off the track or slumber as we travel along. In those times when the warning sounds become obvious it is important to take the necessary corrective measures and avoid the consequences.

I’m thankful for the spiritual safeguards you place along the roads we travel so that we might remain vigilant, attentive to your will for our lives.

By Carol (North Carolina, USA)

God's Surprises

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us… Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

Due to an abscess resulting from the removal of my colon, I underwent three surgeries in just two weeks. Following the surgeries, I experienced the frightening onset of delirium. I’ll never forget the tortuous nightmares. As I emerged from my two-week delirium, I noticed that my hospital room was full of surprises. Pictures of my loved ones lined the walls of the bleak hospital room. Since it was Christmastime, the warm glow of a little Christmas tree lit up the room. Next to the tree were other familiar objects that had special meaning such as a stuffed animal and a silk flower arrangement of little rosebuds. I felt wrapped in a blanket of comfort. My children searched the internet for delirium and learned that the patient’s room should be decorated with happy, familiar objects. This outpouring of their uncanny display of love continues to be a gift to me months after the delirium. It reminds me of God’s surprises and the fact that He delights in showering me with goo d things that warm my heart and draw me near to Him.

Thank You for the heart-warming surprises You shower upon us. Help us to cultivate our awareness of them.

By Jackie (Tennessee, USA)

Redeeming Life’s Frustrations

Bible Verse:
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NASB)

Text:
Like a lot of drivers, I can get frustrated if I keep catching red lights. I want to get where I am going and they only slow me down. And it especially makes me crazy if I get too many of them in a row. Then I was thinking about how I might use red lights for God’s glory instead of a source of frustration. Since each red light lasts at least 30 seconds that gives me an opportunity to pray for someone. What might have been a particularly annoying trip now means that more people will get prayed for. We can too easily rush through life wanting to get to where we are going and accomplish what we want to do. In all of that business we can forget to pray. Martin Luther claimed that when he had an especially busy day ahead of him he would get up even earlier so that he could spend more time in prayer. Life is full of greater frustrations than red lights. We need to learn to redeem those and use them as reminders to pray or as other means to obey God.

Ending Prayer:
Remind me throughout the day to look to You, God, and not get caught up in my business.

By Bob, New Jersey USA

The Lightbulb

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk ye as children of light…  Ephesians 5:8

Living in a rural area is great. One of the most satisfying aspects is that we can look up at night, miles and miles away from the nearest street lights, and take in all that God has placed in the dark sky. Of course some nights the sky is darker than others, depending largely upon the current phase of the moon and whether or not there are clouds blocking our view. And on those really, really dark nights when we arrive home from our daily goings about, our family relies on a single lightbulb to reveal the short familiar pathway from our van to the house.

Every so often, however, that single bulb will burn out and we have no light. And of course this always happens when we are expecting company, so our guests risk stumbling as they trek the unfamiliar winding sidewalk and the few steps that must be taken to and from our doorway. This single lightbulb that so faithfully brightens my family's walk night after night, seemingly fails when really needed to help others. But not to worry! We simply go find a flashlight and shine the path for the visitors to safely make their way.

Just as this lightbulb, I often continue weeks and months casting a glow around my wife and children, helping to keep them on the designated pathway, and granting myself a sense of satisfaction that I am performing my duty as a Christian husband and father. And then comes a "burnout" and my light disappears just as I would hope to reach out to friends and neighbors. And I fail miserably.

But not to worry! Our gracious Father has a plan. When we inevitably fail, He places a "flashlight" nearby to relieve our failings and shine a new light on the darkened pathway. This flashlight may not show up quickly enough from our perspective, but our plan may not line up with His perfect plan. All we need to do is seek out this new source of light.

And ultimately we can use this "flashlight" to help us make our way through the darkness and change our burnt out bulb so we can resume our faithfulness in shining His light to those around us.

Thank you Father for granting us your "flashlights" to help brighten our paths when we fail. Keep us in the center of Your plan so that our "lightbulbs" may shine forever. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Hold Please

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13 (KJV)

On the phone, trying to get through, pay a bill, talk to a customer service representative, trying to get information, and what do you hear: "Can you please hold?" Not trying to be mean or rude, but I didn’t call to be placed on hold, or to standby, or to wait! 

Sometimes though, we have to do just that! Sometimes, we have to be patient and wait. Sometimes we have to stand still, and hold still. Sometimes.

One of the hardest things for me to do, to learn to do, to practice doing, is to wait. Sometimes, God calls on me, on us, to wait. Sometimes God doesn’t want us to move to our left or to our right. He doesn’t want us to try and fix it ourselves. He doesn’t want us to try and change the outcome of a thing. He wants us to wait.

Waiting is not easy! Waiting is not fun! Waiting is sometimes the hardest of all the options that we have. Waiting is often-times exactly what we do not want to do. But God, sometimes, will still call on us to do just that. 

In the scripture above, we are called on to do what we are supposed to do, and after that, we are told to stand. Stand still and wait on God to come and do what you need Him to do. Stand still and wait on God to answer the question that has kept you awake the last few nights. Stand still and ask God to heal, to bless financially, to provide food and shelter, to display his love for us as He always has. 

I am not sure what you are waiting on. It could be money, it could be a job offer, and it could be a clean bill of health. For me, it is the health of a loved one. I don’t even know that it matters what it is we are waiting on. I only pray that you wait on God to speak. I hope that you wait on Him to answer. I hope that you trust Him enough to stand still. I hope the same things for myself.

Father, we thank you for hearing our prayers. We thank you for answering our prayers. We pray that you would bless us with the faith and the courage to wait on You, and to trust You enough to deliver us from whatever it is that is weighing heavily on our minds. We thank You for the opportunity to stand before You, and pray that You bless us and keep us. Amen.

Are You in the Club?

Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world . . .  Ephesians 2:11-12 (KJV)

Picture this: ten young men (twenty-something) are standing in line at the drug store around 10:00 PM. The young men are brimming with excitement, because they are headed to a local club to dance, meet people, and have a good time. Every young man in line has a bottle of alcohol, except the last. He has a bottle of Hawaiian Punch! His friends laugh and tease him while in line, offering him a bib (as if he were a baby), and asking him if he is “old enough to hang out with adults!” 

You might have guessed, the young man with the fruit punch was me. I stood my ground, and took my ribbing like a man, but it was tough. I would be less than honest if I told you that I hadn’t considered grabbing a beer so that I could fit in with the fellas! (And you thought peer pressure was only for teenagers!)

Why do I bring this up? Well, for a variety of reasons. I could talk about how important it is to embrace the new person at work. I could encourage you to stay on the path that God set before you, and not to give in to temptation or the pressure of others. I could even tell you that as Christians, you are to be peculiar, because the Bible says that we are to be a peculiar people. Rather, I’d like for you to think about this the next time you enter you’re church for morning service.

One day, if it hasn’t happened already, somebody will come into church not dressed like you, not talking like you, not thinking like you, and maybe not even smelling like you. It is your (and my) responsibility to embrace them into the family of God. One day, someone new to the church will sit in the seat that you occupy every Sunday, and you (and I) have to make sure that it is okay. One day, someone may wander into Sunday school or Bible class whom you have never seen before. It is up to us to welcome them. 

In the scripture above, Paul reminds the Gentiles at the church of Ephesus that they were once “outsiders.” He reminds them that people used to look at them as second-class citizens, and that they have to make sure that they remember that feeling, and vow to make sure that no one else ever feels that way because of them. He cautions the church to remember what it was/is like to not fit in, and challenges us to make sure, to the best of our ability, that we make no one feel that way. 

There are no outsiders in the family of God. There is no one thing that may have been done in your life or mine that God cannot forgive. There is nothing wrong with wearing your best to church, even if your best is not my best. For those of you reading this who feel like you are on the outside, know that we all once felt that way, and it is okay. For those of you on the inside, open the door of the building and of your heart, and embrace those who are new to the fold. And remember that yesterday, last week, last month, last year, that the one on the outside, was you!

Lord, I thank you, for making me a part of your family. I thank you for accepting my best, and helping me to do better. I pray that you would give me the spirit of unity, and a mind that seeks to tear down walls, rather than build them up. I pray that you would help to give me a mind to treat everyone the same way that you treat me. Amen.

Making the Most of Your Time

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Eph 5:15-17 (NASB)

As my children grew up I began to feel that I was walking through this life without direction, wondering what God's will was for me. In time, I realized that God was calling me to write for Him, but I knew I wasn't getting anywhere fast. Day after day beckoning lists of never ending chores easily distracted me. All these things were necessary, but where did writing fit into the list of "must do's?" Most days writing didn't even make the list. 

Then a few months ago, as I read the book of Ephesians during my morning quiet time with the Lord, Ephesians 5:15-17 lit up on the page like a beacon meant to guide me in the way I should go. Studying the verse that morning, I understood something anew about the wise use of time: I realized that I had been foolish by letting the daily needs of this world - rather than the leading of God - guide how I was living my life. Because the days are evil our time here is limited, so we need to make the most of it. Why was I letting temporary concerns take preeminence over my time? I bowed my head and prayed that I would align my will with His and truly make the most of my time here on Earth by making God's priorities my priorities. 

Oh Lord, in these evil days let us walk in a way that is wise, which is Your will.

Thought for the Day
When time is over we will live throughout eternity with the harvest of how we used our time.