By Donna McCrary –
I walked out on the balcony to listen to the sounds of the ocean and watch the skyline morph from darkness to light. The swollen clouds reflected the last glimmer of moon light. With each passing moment the orange fire ball ascended up behind the clouds. The sky began to dance with hues of soft crimson, amber, sapphire and lavender. The brighter the skyline appeared the darker the clouds turned. Sun rays streaked the blue sky like high beams on a car as their light pierced through the morning. My eyes were captivated by the power of the sun as it surrounded the darkness of the cloud’s shadow. It was a breathtaking site.
The next morning I got up early anticipating the same awe-inspiring painting outside my window. I stepped through the door and was disappointed by the plain blue sky dotted with a big orange ball. As my husband joined me he said, “It is just not as pretty without the clouds. You have to have the clouds.”
You have to have clouds! That was a spiritual truth that penetrated deep into my heart that morning. This year has been filled with many clouds.
The words cancer, no job, leukemia, divorce, death, debt, car wrecks, broken bones seem to constantly consume my thoughts and prayers lately. Like so many others, my family and friends have experienced many worries, trials and struggles. Each of us seem to be facing problems that have no quick solutions, health issues that have no easy cures, financial burdens that seem to grow instead of shrink. Even though I have been praying about these issues they, at times, feel heavy, overwhelming and exhausting. Even to the point that I have cried out to the Son, “Why?” even sarcastically screamed, “Really?”
I took some time that morning to reflect on the dark clouds over the past year and discovered the many ways the clouds have painted a beautiful picture of God’s grace, mercy, healing power, strength and love in my life. I looked up at the plain blue sky, smiled and started praising God for the clouds.
Just like the magnificent sunrise needed the dark clouds to paint a beautiful picture in the sky, our lives need the dark clouds of burdens and trials so the Son can shine around us and captivate the eyes of others.
PRAYER: God, today bring on the clouds! May my heart and mind be willing to experience the clouds so Your glory can shine around me. Help me find my strength and peace in You during the trials.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:6-7).
By Donna McCrary –
“It is time to go.” My Dad would whisper. I rubbed my eyes under the dim light of the stars still shining through the window. A surge of excitement catapulted me out of bed. I knew time was ticking, and if I waited too long, he would leave without me. I would quietly race down the hill to catch up with him as he completed his final trip to the dock, loaded down with the necessary tackle for a great day of fishing. I proudly claimed my seat in the back of the boat as we set out on our adventure.
I loved fishing! But I never caught a fish that opened its mouth and spit out a coin. No, never did.
But Simon Peter did.
Jesus told Peter, “Go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and catch the first fish that comes up. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin” (Matthew 17:27).
As I read this story in Matthew, I just laughed. Can you imagine Jesus telling Peter, a skilled fisherman, to go fishing for money? Crazy! Even silly! Why would Jesus, the man who healed the sick, cast out demons, turned water to wine, made the blind see, tell Peter to go fishing for money
I would have laughed at my dad like he was crazy if he told me to drop my hook in the water because I was going to catch a fish with a coin in its mouth.
Any little girl can tell you money does not grow on trees. And fish don’t burp coins!
Peter was obedient and went faith fishing. He trusted Jesus would provide even in the craziest way. He also did his part to receive the coin.
Having faith and taking action are two simple steps for a great blessing.
If I was Peter, would I have gone fishing? Would I have trusted Jesus to provide through a fish, or would I ask for a simpler way? Would I be obedient and dig out my fishing tackle, go to the ocean, and cast my line? Or would I just go home? Would I be willing to stand on the shore and wait on the fish to bite or would I give up on God’s timing?
Sometimes God tells us to go fishing. It is up to us to take it from there.
PRAYER: “Lord, help me to know Your voice and grow my faith so I will take action, even when it sounds like the craziest thing to do!”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB).
By Donna McCrary –
If Jesus had a Facebook page or Twitter account would you be His friend or follow His tweets?
Can you imagine Jesus “tweeting”?
• Just healed another one.
• Going for a walk across the lake this evening.
• HMMMM feels like rain.
• Hungry – Got fish?
• I saw that….yes, I am talking to you!
With today’s modern technology it is nothing to accumulate over 500 “friends” via Facebook. It takes two seconds to click the “like” icon on someone’s post. It takes a few more minutes to type a comment. Two clicks and you have sent a happy face to a “friend” who is struggling. We might be “connected” to a lot of “friends” yet these relationships are emotionally void. In other words, we know the status of a lot of “friends” but we are a far cry from BFF’s.
I read this quote by Dr. Greg Fizzel, “No one’s relationship with Christ will ever rise above the level of his or her praying. Put simply, if your prayer life is inconsistent and weak, so will be your relationship with God.” It made me question my own prayer life. Is my relationship with Jesus any stronger than my relationships with my Facebook friends? Am I a fan who just follows His tweets? Do I really spend T-I-M-E with Him?
What I discovered is that I often treat my prayer life with God like my Facebook status. I login and update how I feel periodically from time to time throughout my week. I express my feelings, desires, frustrations, funny experiences, and then log out. I don’t log back in until I have a few extra minutes in my busy day or maybe a struggle that needs posting for some prayer.
I don’t want to be just a person who read the tweets and smiles. I want to be a friend that experiences an intimate relationship with an Amazing-All-Knowing-All-Powerful-God.
Being a friend to Jesus starts with a devoted prayer life where we read His word, give thanks, ask for help, pray for others, and simply enjoy His presence. This type of prayer life requires commitment and time.
What about you do you need to log in and update your prayer status?
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).
By Donna McCrary –
“Get out your Hymnals and turn to page 52 and let’s sing Victory in Jesus,” the man at the front of the crowd announced. His comment was met with a quiet chuckle as everyone in their Sunday best gathered around the side of the river bank for their spring baptism. In unison the crowd’s voices harmonized the lyrics of the song. Without missing a word, I quietly joined the crowd. This song was a favorite in the church that I grew up in. The quaint church I was visiting is very similar to the one from my childhood, wooden pews, hymnals, family oriented, traditional.
As each believer waded into the chilly water proclaiming their new life in Christ I was moved to tears by their heart and passion. From young to old they were sharing their excitement and freedom in Christ. I looked at my husband and whispered, “Unified”. He responded with a smiled and a quiet, “Yes”.
Unified was the name of the band that just rocked the house at our current church. By rocked, I mean flashing lights, thumping drums, smoke machines and a crowd jumping as they raised their hands in praise. The music is not the only difference in the two methods of worship, but one word continued to invade my thoughts – unified.
God’s Word says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” We are unified as the body of Christ – the church.
We are united by our faith in Jesus Christ birth, life and death on the cross. We are united by the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us. We are united by an eternal destination in heaven. There are so many things that unite us as a body of believers.
Would the world see the church in a different light if we started living as a unified body of Christ followers?
PRAYER: “Thank you God for Your Spirit. May a deep passion and desire begin in me to stand united in the truth of Your Word with other believers so others will know You. ”
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23 NIV).
By Donna McCrary –
A good soldier has endured the training, gained vast knowledge and skills for combat on the battlefield. At a moment’s notice he is called on to strike down the enemy with deadly force. A good soldier knows, understands, and respects the power he has been given. He does not use his power and knowledge to harm but to protect. A good soldier must always be true to the objective of his mission. Anytime a soldier becomes prideful, deceitful or corrupt he will destroy the very lives he is charged to protect. A good soldier learns that the greatest knowledge and skill he has to guide him is love. If a good soldier chooses love he will always accomplish his mission.
Timothy’s church in Ephesus was a church full of good soldiers who endured, labored, tested, and tolerated many issues in their time. In the end their works proved their hate of evil things. In other words, they were known as soldiers who engaged the enemy on the battlefield and fought for truth at all cost (Revelation 2:2-3).
The soldiers at Ephesus were hardcore in their beliefs; however, as they endured they forgot the main purpose of their mission. They lost sight of the ultimate goal – to love (Revelation 2:4-5).
As we learn to be always faithful we must never forget the responsibility of a good soldier. Even though we possess vast knowledge and skills, we must always remember that Jesus’ love conquers. So as we enter into the battle, we must first chose love.
AUTHOR QUOTE: “It is a sad to realize that Christians today are known more for what they are against than what they stand for.”
“If I speak the language of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing and if I donated all my goods to feed the poor and if I give my body to be burned but do not have love I gain nothing. Love is patient love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful is not conceited does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth; bears all things; believes all things; hopes all things; Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 HCSB).