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In a Dry Place

I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. (Isaiah 41:18)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Cape Code Sand Dunes, which I’d visited many years ago. The dunes covered miles of land with no water in sight. I suppose if we’d walked far enough we would’ve come to the ocean. As refreshing as the “big lake” would’ve appeared, it wouldn’t have quenched our thirst. A dip in salt water may sooth a sweaty body. However, it does nothing to comfort a dehydrated body.

We didn’t walk the width of the dunes the day I visited, but we did walk miles and carried canteens of water to prevent dehydration. While we explored, the blazing sun burned our backs through our shirts. The sizzling sand scourged our feet through our sneakers. The glare from both the sun and sand stung our eyes. Yet, we plodded on, searching, digging, and sifting. No one forced us to endure the heat. We chose our own course all for the thrill of unearthing a piece of glass.

That excursion was the closest I’ve ever come to trudging across a physical desert. Nevertheless, I have spent plenty of time in spiritual deserts. I moped and struggled for years for lack of productivity, wondering why here and why now. And where exactly was “here?” How do I escape? My soul cried out with the Psalmists who penned, “How long, oh Lord? Why are You silent? Have You forgotten me forever? Turn Your face toward Your child and rescue me?” Although He seemed distant and far too quiet, the Lord had purpose in leading me through that parched land.

Here are a few things I learned during that “desert experience:”

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Next week:

We’ll be starting a study on Rocks. Yes, Rocks! When mentioned in the Bible, Rocks can be metaphoric and quiet enlightening. Our first Rock is found in Genesis 49:22-26.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

Fueling Optimism

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” (Ezekiel 37:9)

Wayne's Trout 4 webDo you remember the commercial for a carpet cleaner in which the lady kept saying, “It’s okay” in a sickening sweet voice every time someone yelled, “Johnny just spilled … ?” I wanted to slap that lady silly while screaming, “It’s NOT okay. Teach that kid some manners. Sit him on a seat at the table where he belongs.” And then at the end, the lady’s friend, apparently the mother of the klutzy kid, chimes in with her own gotta-brush-my-teeth-to-avoid-cavities sweet tone, “It’s okay!”

That kind of “Pollyanna” attitude cleans the carpet about as well as it helps cope with daily stressors. Tough stains take knuckle-scrappin’, elbow-bendin’, muscle-tautin’ work to remove. And whether daily stressors or huge disasters threaten our tranquility, relief comes through more effort than a cheery “It’s okay.”

Fueling optimism involves a more solid conviction than merely reciting “positive” quotes and Scripture verses.

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How about you? How do you fuel optimism to get through these trying times?

Next Week:

We’ll consider the power of water. Please prepare by studying John 4:7-15

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

Good Deeds—Spiritual Weapons

 “You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14 and 16).

Who has not looked at the sky in admiration and wonderment of its vastness and beauty?

Who has not looked at the sky in admiration and wonderment of its vastness and beauty?

Light is amazing, don’t you think? Without it, we’d all be like moles running around in a dark world, bumping into everything, and mindlessly tunneling in endless circles.

Not only that, nothing could grow. And there’d be no color. What a bleak picture!

Yet, God, in His infinite wisdom, created light as part of His first day’s work. Then, He separated the light from the darkness. But He didn’t stop there. The fourth day, He fashioned the sun, moon, and stars to govern the seasons and tides on the earth. How marvelous is His passion for His creation!

As though all that light wasn’t enough, He sent the Light of the world, His Son Jesus Christ, so we wouldn’t have to live in spiritual darkness. It gets even better. Jesus, in turn, imputed His light in every believer that we may shine in the darkness like the sun. With the Light of Jesus Christ, our spirits grow and produce an array of color for the world to see, enjoy, and even crave. The Light dissipates darkness and sends the enemy running.

How do we let our light shine for Jesus?

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Next week:

We’ll talk about fueling optimism. Prepare by studying Ezekiel 37:1-3.

See you in a twinkling,

Brenda K. Hendricks

 

 

Adoption vs Foster Care

 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:16-17)

Jesus Cares for MeWhen my daughter and her husband adopted two teens, those children received the same provisions, the same shelter, and the same protection as our biological grandactives. The adopted children’s school photos were added to our family photo wall. We celebrated their victories and offered assistance during their struggles. Actually, they received all the benefits of being part of the family long before the paperwork made it official.

Although they had no choice when they entered the Walter household, when it came time for those papers to be signed, both teens were given a choice. They could have chosen to remain in foster care and still received all the necessities of life and the love, care, and nurturing. Even their pictures would’ve remained on the wall. So why opt for adoption?

It boiled down to security, knowing they belonged, knowing they always had a place to go to—a place to call home.

Entering the Kingdom of God is much the same.

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Next Week:

About being sifted like wheat at the enemy’s hand. Prepare by studying Luke 22:28-34

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Dead but Now Alive

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

God's Not DeadA few years ago while Gene was at work, I discovered a small water snake cheerfully sunned himself on our driveway. I wasn’t about to give the creep-crawly the opportunity to take up residence in our garage or under our front deck, so I grabbed a garden hoe and chopped at it. It took several good blows before its head was severed from its body enough to suit me. However, the stupid creature would NOT stop wiggling. I knew it was dead, but the snake refused to acknowledge the fact and continued to squirm. I became so unnerved by the sight of it, I ran to the neighbor for help. He laughed, picked up the snake, and dropped it in the burn barrel. I was relieved to see it gone from my sight.

That wiggly, dead snake bears a strange resemblance to sin and our flesh.

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Next week:

We’ll talk about sonship. Please reread Romans 8:9-17 in preparation.

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Fine China Breaks Easily–The Past Not So Much

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

 Every family seems to have at least one person who is directed to the sturdiest chair in the house and given a paper plate for his/her meal, while everyone else is eating off of fine China. Some people have a knack for breaking things. They’re the reason plastic was invented, I’m sure of it.

If only the past could be broken as easily as fine China. We’d all line up, eager to hand our past to these I-break-everything-I-get-my-hands-on people. They’d be commended for their special gift and mostly likely well paid.

At least, I’d be glad and grateful to paid someone to break my past for me.

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Next week:

We’ll discuss being alive in Christ. Prepare by studying Romans 8:9-17

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendrick

Follow Me!

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Follow Me!

Follow Me!

Follow me on Facebook. Those words have become commonplace in our society. When we meet someone, whether an old acquaintance or a new friend, our departing words are often follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Good Reads or a half-dozen other social media sites. Social media has gotten so big, businesses entice us to follow them by offering discounts on their products if not free merchandise.

To some Jesus’ call to “Follow Me” sounds as inviting as following a business on Facebook. He offers rest (Matthew 11:28), the light of life (John 8:12), and peace (John 14:27). Ah, yes, let’s rush over to His page and click the follow button before the offer expires. We accept the deal with great expectations of a life of ease. We treat Jesus’ call the same way we treat 99% of the people we follow on social media. Sure we read His posts … occasionally … when Bible verses pop up on Twitter … if it’s a convenient time. We even like and share Scripture on Facebook, along with those catchy little sayings that make our spirits say, “Yes and amen.”

That’s all fine and good—except when we get right down to it

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Next week:

We’ll look at breaking with the past. Please prepare by studying Ephesians 4:17-32.

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks