“OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD”: HOPE AND CALM ASSURANCE

Below is a poem that has been meaningful to me for several decades. It still reminds me to have hope and calm assurance. The poet used a conversation overheard in an orchard between the robin and the sparrow to express a powerful truth about God’s care for His creations — both birds and humans. Just as He takes care of birds, He takes care of His children.

God’s children who trust and obey Him do not have to be weighted down by worry nor overcome by anxiety. Instead we can live by faith because our heavenly Father is with us always and because He cares for us. Such faith and trust gives hope for daily life and results in calm assurance.

OVERHEARD IN AN ORCHARD

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no Heavenly Father
Such as cares for you and me.”
(Elizabeth Cheney)

Today’s world has brought pandemic fears, financial strains, racial unrest, and uncertainties regarding nearly every aspect of the life we used to know. We need hope. We need calm assurance that we have a heavenly Father Who cares for us.

Consider the robin’s observation and the sparrow’s conclusion in the little poem by Elizabeth Cheney (1857-1940). Trust the One Who takes care of the birds. He loves you even more and longs to have a relationship with you. He is able and willing to give you hope and calm assurance.

Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”  (Matthew 6: 26)

“Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”  (Psalm 55: 22)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow
of the Almighty.”  (Psalm 91: 1)

“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”  (Psalm 121: 1-8)

GOD’S NATURE: JOY & HOPE

Have you ever pondered God’s nature? I believe it is a lofty theme and good for us to ponder. We need to realize that God’s ways are higher than our ways. He is infinite while we are finite. We have earthly limitations now, but when we get to heaven we will have a more clear understanding and appreciation of His nature. This glorious thought gives me joy and hope.

“Your Nature” is a Christian song by Kari Jobe and others describing God’s nature. It was inspired by verses from Isaiah 54 that were the focus of a previous blogpost (10/20/21).

The song relates  joy and hope to
attributes of our awesome God. Its lyrics address God: “You bring joy to the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it. God, it’s Your nature.” Read below, then  listen, ponder GOD’S nature, and be blessed.

YOUR NATURE

You bring life
To the barren places,
Light to the darkest spaces.
God, it’s Your nature.

You bring joy
To the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it.
God, it’s Your nature.

There is no desert
That Your streams can’t run to.
There are no ruins
That Your love won’t make new.
You tell the wasteland
That it will bloom again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You will restore the years
That shame has stolen.
You keep the promises
That You have spoken.
I know this wasteland
Will be whole again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You bring peace
To the war inside us.
Speak and all fear is silenced.
God, it’s Your nature.

You bring joy to the broken hearted,
hope to the ones who’ve lost it.
God, it’s Your nature.

There is no desert
That Your streams can’t run to.
There are no ruins
That Your love won’t make new.
You tell the wasteland
That it will bloom again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

You will restore the years
That shame has stolen.
You keep the promises
That You have spoken.
I know this wasteland
Will be whole again,
‘Cause it’s Your nature.

Sing out, oh barren woman.
Sing out, oh broken man.
Stretch out your hands believing
This is your promise land.
Break out of disappointment,
Break out of hopelessness.
Stretch out your hands
Believing this is your promise land.

(Writers: Kari Jobe Carnes, Hank Bentley, Charles Starling, Jacob Sooter)

 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor 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.”  (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

ISAIAH 54: HOPE & BLESSINGS

The Old Testament book of Isaiah gives me hope. According to Isaiah 54, if I believe and trust God, then I am promised these blessings. I will know His faithfulness, experience His love and peace, and enjoy His restoration. I am thankful for my Redeemer Who has compassion on me.

“‘Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child; Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed; For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,’ says the LORD.

‘Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

‘Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more. For your husband is your Maker, Whose name is the LORD of hosts; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Who is called the God of all the earth. For the LORD has called you like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,’ says your God.

‘For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,’ says the LORD your Redeemer.

‘For this is like the days of Noah to Me when I swore that the waters of Noah would not flood the earth again; So I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you. For the mountains may be removed, and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the LORD who has compassion on you.

‘O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and your foundations I will lay in sapphires. Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies and your gates of crystal and your entire wall of precious stones. All your sons will be taught of the LORD; And the well-being of your sons will be great. In righteousness you will be established; You will be far from oppression for you will not fear; And from terror for it will not come near you. If anyone fiercely assails you, it will not be from Me. Whoever assails you will fall because of you. Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals and brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin. No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the LORD.”
(Isaiah 54: 1 – 17)

When the Lord God speaks, I need to listen with my heart not just my ears. When I read verses such as these in Isaiah 54, it blesses my heart. Its message gives hope from a God Who promises lovingkindness and peace.  When I fail to read Scriptures, I miss out on blessings that I need daily such as strength to live in this world.

GRANDCHILD’S BIRTH: HOPE AND NEW LIFE

Some days are more memorable than others. A day may have been so extraordinary and so wonderful that it remains in our hearts and minds. Such is a day of a grandchild’s birth. Few blessings in life are as memorable as this event.

Children and grandchildren are precious gifts. Life is a precious gift — a miracle — and only God gives life. Only He forms the tiny baby that blesses parents and grandparents as nothing else.

Psalm 139 has long been one of my favorite psalms. David, the writer, had an understanding of our God Who created babies, the tiny gifts that bless our lives like no others. This psalm is worth pondering whether considering your own life, a child’s life, a grandchild’s life, or any other life.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with You.”
(Psalm 139: 13 – 18)

Twelve years ago today was memorable for our family. We received a precious gift, a tiny bundle of joy, that instantly filled our hearts with love. October 13, 2009, brought hope and new life for which I was — and still am — very thankful.

Happy twelfth birthday to our beloved granddaughter!

“THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR THE BLOOD”:  GLORY & HOPE

Charity Gayle recorded and co-wrote a song, “Thank You, Jesus, for the Blood.

It says — because of Jesus —  “For the first time I had hope and gives glory to His name. Also she has written “Amen,” “Enter In (Psalm 100),” “Written Down in Glory,” “Cleansed,” and other songs as well.

Charity has been involved in church worship and ministry since she was a child. Today she and her husband, Ryan Kennedy, lead worship together and minister in the US and other countries as well.

Like Charity, I have hope because of Jesus Christ, and I, too, give glory to His name. Find and listen to the song that is presented below. May it give you hope, and may you give glory to the name of Jesus. May you also be able to say as the song says, “For I have been transformed by the blood of the lamb.”

THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR THE BLOOD

I was a wretch;
I remember who I was.
I was lost, I was blind.
I was running out of time.

Sin separated.
The breach was far too wide,
But from the far side of the chasm
You held me in your sight.

So You made a way
Across the great divide;
Left behind
Heavens throne
To build it here inside.

And there at the cross
You paid the debt I owed,
Broke my chains,
Freed my soul.
For the first time I had hope.

Thank you, Jesus, for the blood applied.
Thank you, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank you, Jesus, You have saved my life;
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

You took my place
Laid inside my tomb of sin.
You were buried for three days,
And then You walked right out again.

And now death has no sting,
And life has no end
For I have been transformed
By the blood of the lamb.

Thank You, Jesus, for the blood applied (thank You Jesus).
Thank You, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank You, Jesus, You have saved my life;
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

There is nothing stronger
Than the wonder-working power of the blood,
The blood that calls us sons and daughters.
We are ransomed by our Father through the blood, the blood.

There is nothing stronger
Than the wonder-working power of the blood,
The blood that calls us sons and daughters.
We are ransomed by the Father through the blood,
The blood.

Thank You, Jesus for the blood applied.
Thank You, Jesus, it has washed me white.
Thank You, Jesus, You have saved my life,
Brought me from the darkness into glorious light.

Glory to His name.
Glory to His name.
There to my heart was the blood applied.
Glory to His name.”

(Written by Charity Gayle,  David Gentiles, Ryan Kennedy, Bryan McCleery, Steven Musso)

 

“And on that day you will say, ‘Give thanks to the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.’ Praise the LORD in song for He has done glorious things; let this be known throughout the earth.” 

(Isaiah 12: 4 – 5)

FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT:  CHOICE & HOPE

Today’s post focuses on the fruit of the Spirit as taught in Scripture.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
(Galatians 5: 22 – 25)

When believers share the fruit of the Spirit by their lives, I think the world gets a glimpse of hope. I consider that living the fruit of the Spirit results from a choice. While choosing may be simple, living it may be less simple and can be done only by Spirit-filled believers in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Today I must answer the following questions….

Will I choose Love?

Will I choose Joy?

Will I choose Peace?

Will I choose  Patience?

Will I choose Kindness?

Will I choose Goodness?

Will I choose Faithfulness?

Will I choose Gentleness?

Will I choose Self-Control?

I think intentionally choosing to live by the fruit of the Spirit and yielding to the Holy Spirit will result in those traits becoming evident in my life.  In such days of unrest as we experience all around us, this is worth pondering.  I believe it is God’s will for every believer to share this fruit:

Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. 

I want to remember that walking in the Spirit is a daily choice. The good news is I will not be struggling on my own in this worthwhile quest. God’s Holy Spirit will lead and empower me. With His help and strength, may I share hope by demonstrating in my life the fruit of the Spirit:  Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.

“WHAT A FRIEND”: GRACE & HOPE

Matt Maher is a contemporary Christian singer, musician, songwriter, and worship leader. He has written hundreds of songs and co–authored others that have blessed me by sharing hope.

A five-time GRAMMY nominee, Maher has written and recorded songs that have blessed many including “Lord, I Need You,” “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “All The People Said Amen” and “Your Grace Is Enough.”

One song Maher co-wrote  that has blessed me is What A Friend. This song reminds us of God’s grace, and that gives me hope. Thanks, Matt Maher, Adam Palmer, Matthew Hein, and Abbie Parker for sharing its truth. Thank You, God, for the truth of its lyrics and for Your grace.

If you need a true best friend forever, read the lyrics below then find and listen to this song. Be touched by grace and hope.

WHAT A FRIEND

Everybody has trials and temptations.
Everybody knows heart break, isolation.
But we can lay our burdens down (our burdens down),
Lay our burdens down.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

Everybody has fears; everybody got worries.
Everybody knows sorrow, devastation.
But we can lay our burdens down (our burdens down),
Lay our burdens down.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

No more betrayal for He is faithful.
He fills me up, and my cup runneth over.
No more betrayal for He is faithful.
How He has proven it over and over.

No more betrayal for He is faithful.
He fills me up, and my cup runneth over.
No more betrayal for He is faithful.
How He has proven it over and over, over and over.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

What a friend we have in Jesus.
East to west my sins are gone, yeah.
I see grace on every horizon,
And forever and ever His heart is my home.

Forever and ever His heart is my home.”
(Written by Maher, Palmer, Hein, and Parker)

What better friend can I find than the One Who brings grace and hope to my heart? He is the One Who forever and ever His heart is my home!

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
(Psalm 103: 12)

“A man of too many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
(Proverbs 18: 24)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John 1: 14)

being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
(Romans 3: 24)

And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.'”
(2 Corinthians 12: 9)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope  completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(1 Peter 1: 13)

 

WESLEY’S FAITH: COMFORT & HOPE

There is a quote by John Wesley that reveals his strong faith and trust in the Lord God:  “I have never known more than fifteen minutes of anxiety or fear. Whenever I feel fearful emotions overtaking me, I just close my eyes and thank God that He is still on the throne reigning over everything, and I take comfort in His control over the affairs of my life.”  (John Wesley, 1703-1791)

Wesley’s faith and trust gave him comfort.  When I live by faith and trust in the Sovereign Lord, it gives me comfort and hope. Wesley’s life of successfully walking with God makes me want to follow his example of always trusting the One Who is on His throne. It is important to remember it is His throne not mine or yours.

Anxiety and fear are very prevalent in our world today. No one wants to live beneath the weight of fear or anxiety. I believe that Wesley’s faith is the solution to those problems and will work for any of God’s children. The key is to know that I am His child then make a conscious decision to trust Him and exercise faith with which He gifted me.

If one wants to replace fear and anxiety with  comfort and hope, then follow Wesley’s example. Accept God’s salvation through Jesus Christ to be born again into God’s family and experience His forgiveness. Receive His Holy Spirit Who will give comfort and hope. Life here will be better, and a heavenly home in the life-to-come will be so glorious that we can only imagine!

 

But I have trusted in Your faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” 
(Psalm 13:5)

“The LORD has established 

His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” 
(Psalm 103:19)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
(Romans 15:13)

“For our citizenship is in heaven from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His
glorious body, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
(Philippians 3:20-21)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5:23)

"I can only imagine 
when that day comes,
When I find myself 
standing in the Son.
I can only imagine 
when all I would do 
is forever,
Forever worship You.
I can only imagine,
I can only imagine." 
(from the song,"I 
Can Only Imagine," 
written by Bart 
Millard and recorded 
by MercyMe)

REMEMBER SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: THERE IS HOPE

Today marks the twenty-year anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil that took the lives of thousands and changed the lives of the rest of us. We remember September 11, 2001, one of the darkest days in the history of the United States. It was a day when intentional violence and death was inflicted against fellow human beings that left hurting and broken hearts throughout our nation and among our allies around the world.

For Americans who experienced that day, we remember 9/11/2001, as an emotional time marked by fear, sadness, despair, anger… even hatred because of the huge loss of innocent lives. Some may have lost hope, but in the midst of such suffering, still there is hope if one knows in Whom to trust.

On that day and days following we witnessed innumerable  examples of heroism, patriotism, bravery, and compassion. The best of the human spirit shone forth after evidence of the worst of the human spirit. Lives were saved that can only be explained by the grace and providence of a loving Sovereign God. Feelings of peace to gradually comfort the deep personal sorrow of those who lost loved ones became real to many. Hope brings healing and is found when God’s people look to Him for help even in the midst of the worst storms — and continues even after twenty years. Surely remembering experiences rooted in hope is  better than harboring roots of bitterness.

What caused the evil that deliberately struck America on that tragic day? It was ultimately caused by demonic forces that rule rebellious hearts of sinful humans. I believe our nation is right to defend and protect, but humans who war even for right reasons must also act in righteousness. War is necessary to stand against terrorists — forces of darkness — which must be stopped.

Light is the only effective weapon against the darkness of evil. If America is led by the Light and the Glory of God upon which it was founded, we will stand as the land of the free. If we continue to replace godly principles with ungodly living, then we will not.

Judgment is real when God’s people ignore His warnings. Today we risk losing everything we hold dear. Will America heed God’s warnings and know His forgiveness and healing or be condemned to fall amid future tragedies?

Lest anyone considers this to be a hopeless message, realize there is hope always if we repent and follow Biblical instructions. God’s promises are found throughout Scriptures, including 2 Chronicles 7:14:  “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

 

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” 
(Hebrews 12:15)

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness but will have the Light of life.”  (John 8:12)

OUR GREATEST ADVOCATE:  OUR ONLY HOPE

Many of us are praying for covid patients all around the world as well as for those much closer to home. Many have prayed during recuperation of a loved one and some perhaps even at the time he or she passed from this life into the Savior’s presence.

It is then that the Holy Spirit surely intercedes and prays for that which is needed. We pray for healing and then trust that prayers are always answered according to God’s purpose.

Sometimes our loved ones receive ultimate healing — no more sickness, no more pain, no more weakness, no more infection… ever again. Everything God does — including healing — is for His glory and for our ultimate good.

When passed into heaven our loved one becomes perfectly whole and well — and waiting for a reunion with loved ones. This may come soon as Time seems to be winding down toward the Lord’s return.

May God’s comfort, peace, and strength help grieving families through times of huge loss, and may joy of precious memories and thankfulness of times shared gradually overtake the deep pain and overwhelming grief. May anticipation of a future reunion become a greater reality in hearts and minds.

Everything God does has purpose, and He wants His children to trust Him in all things — even loss of loved ones.

There is an essential condition for a future reunion. We must be adopted as God’s children, joint heirs with Jesus Christ. Be sure you are God’s child, that you have accepted His free gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ, and be sure your loved ones have the opportunity to choose that relationship with Him.

For those who have suffered loss, I pray for your needs: peace, comfort, strength, perseverance to keep praying, healing of a broken heart, faith to trust God. Whatever comes into our lives may we continue to pray and trust God, Who is our greatest advocate  and our only hope.

 

“…But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
(Romans 8: 11)

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He Who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8: 26 – 28)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”  (Romans 8: 31)

“that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  (Romans 10: 9, 10)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works so that no one may boast.”  (Ephesians 2: 8, 9)

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”  (1 John 5: 13)

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.'” 
(Horatio Spafford)