I Love a Parade

By Cheri Cowell –

I love a parade. I love the excitement that builds as you wait along the parade route for the police car’s sirens signaling the start of the big event. I love the clowns, the floats, the antique cars, the equestrian units, and of course, the bands.

For many people the bands are the highlight of the parade, but for me the highlight has to be the children. There is something magical about a parade to a child. With every passing band, float, or clown a child’s eyes fill with wonder and awe.

That same childlike awe and wonder is what the prophet Isaiah was trying to stir in us as he wrote about Christ’s coming. When you hear these words does your spine tingle and your eyes fill with wonder and awe at the thought of such a spectacle?

In studying this passage, it is interesting to note the darkness and gloominess of chapter 59 that gives way to the Light in chapter 60. In this chapter Isaiah calls on the people of Israel to “look up” from their sad situations and “see” the Light piercing the darkness. What a great image for those of us in the midst of our own “sad situation.” This implies that even though the Light is currently filling the earth some of us could actually miss it if our eyes are cast downward.

Where are your eyes focused today? Are they focused down on all that is wrong, or up where God’s light pierces the darkness?

PRAYER: Lord, God, how I long for Your return. Excitedly I await the trumpet sounds signaling Your entry, and ask that in the meantime You help me to keep my eyes lifted up away from everyday struggles and toward You and Your kingdom. I wait for the beginning of the Grand Parade.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:1-2 NIV).

Skywriters

April 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

I have always enjoyed watching skywriting planes. How many of us have stopped in the middle of an important errand to watch one of these planes in action? We are in awe of the skill the pilot must have, and admire the years of training this must take. We are curious as to how this is done and what kind of person would go into this type of a job. But most of all, we just want to know what the sky-writer is going to say. Is it an advertisement, a political comment, or possibly a proposal? We want to know, so we stand there with our eyes squinting to block out the sun, staring into the sky waiting for the plane to write enough of the letters that we can figure it out.

The Pharisees were looking for a sign from heaven to tell them that this man, Jesus, was really the Messiah. The problem was that all the letters had been spelled out for them and they still didn’t get it.

Jesus had just performed one of his greatest miracles, the feeding of the five thousand. I love Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ request: He sighed deeply. You can just imagine how dumbfounded He must have been at their lack of vision. His rhetorical question is one that still applies to our generation as well. How many of us want a sign from God before we will fully surrender? How many of us are still staring into the sky long after all of the letters J – E – S – U – S – has been spelled out?

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for giving me eyes to see You in ways that are difficult for others. Forgive me for sometimes needing more before I am willing to take steps of faith. Help me see more fully the ways in which You are writing in my life.

“The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.” Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side” (Mark 8:11-13 NIV).

Oooo, Ahhhh

March 29, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Worship

By Cheri Cowell –

I love fireworks! One Fourth of July I had the privilege of viewing them from the bow of a boat anchored in the river. With each burst of color the water surrounding me reflected the beauty that filled the sky. As I watched the dazzling show above and around me I became as a little child, filled with awe and emotion. I beamed from ear to ear, and spontaneously commented with each boom on the majesty displayed in the sky.

On the return home after the fireworks I thought about how glorious it will be when Christ comes again to take His throne. It will be more glorious than any fireworks show can ever be, and my heart will soar more than it ever could while viewing anything man-made. For such a time as this we were created: to fall in adoration at the spectacle of our Lord taking His rightful place as the sovereign power ruling over all the earth. Won’t that be a magnificent day?

Some scholars believe Daniel’s visions prophesy the fall of the kingdoms of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Still others label this as a second coming prophesy. Either way, the clear message is that God (the Ancient of Days) sits on the throne, overseeing a judgment (court) with books that detail the sins of those who oppose Him. At His will, He will destroy these men and women with their own boastfulness. Then the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) will take His place as ruler over all. All the people, of every tribe and nation, will worship our Lord forever! Won’t that be a magnificent day?

PRAYER: Dear God, penetrate me deeply today with the vision and reality of Your great return. Help me prepare for Your second and final coming. To You be the glory, forever and ever.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV).

The $1,500 House

March 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

While on vacation in Georgia, Randy and I toured the Habitat For Humanity Global Village & Discovery Center in Americus. If you have not done this, it is worth the trip. The self-guided tour first took us through a typical third-world slum. Shanty after shanty showed us how millions of people around the world live. We couldn’t help but be moved by what we saw. Following this display were examples of Habitat houses from around the world- New Guinea, Africa, Asia, Mexico. Outside each little house a sign told us how much that house cost to build- $1500-$3500 was all it took to move a family from the slums to a home of their own.

How many families could we rescue if each family in the U.S. sponsored one home?

God definitely views our wealth differently than we do.

The Bible has a lot to say about accumulating wealth. And, not all of it is negative. How we use our wealth is the point of most of Jesus’ teachings.

Planning for retirement is big business in the U.S. All of us should be planning for our later years, but Jesus is saying it is about more than just gathering assets. Yes, we should take care of our families and our own needs, but hoarding wealth is not what makes us rich. When we take the blessings we’ve been given and share with those who are in need––perhaps building a $1,500 house––then we are truly wealthy.

“And he told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ ‘But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” ‘This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God’ (Luke 12:16-21 NIV).

PRAYER: God, I praise You for the surplus in my life. Help me see my wealth as an opportunity to bless others in the name of Jesus Christ.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity Global Village visit http://www.habitat.org

Daddy, Daddy, I want to See

March 2, 2021 by  
Filed under Daily Devotions, Life Topics

By Cheri Cowell –

Don’t you just love to see the joy on a child’s face as he is lifted up on his daddy’s shoulders? As he rides safe and secure on his father’s back, he can see things he was unable to see before. “Daddy, Daddy, pick me up. I want to see,” the child pleads until her father lifts her high over his head and onto his strong shoulders. Often the dads will point out things of importance as they walk along together. There is beauty in watching their relationship grow. The child is completely dependent on his father for his security. What a wonderful picture of what we can have when we say to our Heavenly Father, “Daddy, Daddy, lift me up high so I can see.”

When we ask, He will give us what we desire.

Luke shares the story of the beggar, who was a societal outcast in Jesus’ day. When Jesus came near the blind beggar, he boldly cried out to Him. Jesus said it was the man’s faith that allowed him to see, that allowed Jesus to lift him up.

We, too, can cry out to Jesus to lift us up when we are down, to give us eyes to see the world as He does, and to see those who are in need of God’s touch. When Jesus lifts us up, our focus is lifted from the earthly things to the things that really matter: people easily overlooked, creation too magnificent to miss, relationships that need mending, needs we can meet, and so many things we can pray for.

God is waiting for each of us to say today, “Daddy, daddy, lift me up high so I can see.”

PRAYER: Thank You, God, for hearing the cries of Your children and for lifting me up high on Your strong shoulders so I can see the things You want me to see.

“And he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ He said, ‘Lord, let me recover my sight.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Recover your sight; your faith has made you well’ (Luke 18:35-43 ESV).

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