I have been intrigued by the letter “H” this week. It started when studying Abram and God changing his name to Abraham….a letter H added in. It was the same with Sarai ----adding an H to change her name to Sarah. They were both very Human but also Heavenly Heros, people of Hope.
So, I have been thinking about all the words that start with H. The Herd of deer I saw. All the Hats in my collection. The year I met Kristi after hitchhiking to Iowa. Jesus as my Head, my Hero. He takes me to Higher ground. Humility as a core value. The Holy Spirit as Helper. Hebrew as the language of the Old Testament. Jesus as my source of Happiness.
Kristi and I are really Happy this week, with the birth of our first grandson to Colter and Jordana. They named Him Jonah…..ends with an H. My favorite picture is the one with his little hand over the H in the Diehl name on Colter’s T-shirt, covering up the H.
Maybe he’s saying, why is that H is our name anyway?
Maybe he is just touching the Heart of his father.
The picture sure touches MY heart. It reminds me when Colter was born. The miracle of a baby, new life, fresh HOPE. It was his birth that sparked a renewed interest in getting to know the Heart of our Heavenly Father.
So I was reading Jonah in the Bible this week. A great story.
“From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said: ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'” (Jonah 2:1-4)
I hope you find encouragement in those words. The story of Jonah is fascinating. From the belly of a fish to the place in the Hands of the Father. “Fish” ends with an “h”. Jonah ends with an “h”, but Jonah’s life moved beyond the “h” of Himself, moved to the place of heavenly hope.
I trust that God is Helping you this week as you call out to him. And that the Heavenly Hope of our Heavenly Father’s Heart is stirring you to reach out for HIS HAND today.
Encouraging one another!
I’ve been camping out in Psalm 1 this week….sort-of pitched a tent in the trees by streams of fresh water. I love the words of Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water….”
There is a great principle there in verse 1…..there is tremendous blessing in avoiding bad influences.
We got rid of cable TV awhile back and I found I had more time to read. Just last week I was reading the words of a speaker who noted that Iowa is known for two main things…..the Caucuses and the movie, “Field of Dreams.” I went to my first Caucus ever this year, even though I try to avoid politics, it’s not my passion area. And not having TV means I get to miss all the political adds….some bad influences there.
As for field of dreams, I love to dream and catch God’s dreams, and a key word that fuels that for me is Psalm 1:2------DELIGHT in the word of God. I’ve been thinking a lot about that word, “delight.” What does it look like to “delight” in the Bible?
I looked up synonyms for delight----enjoyment, pleasure, happiness, blessing, joy, glee, amusement.
Amusement? That is an interesting word. Is there “amusement” in the Bible? I find myself amused sometimes when I try to walk in obedience and don’t get it just right in a funny way. Or when I read a Psalm and burst out in a worship tune and do a little dance around the kitchen when nobody is watching.
There are a few stories in the Bible that amuse me, like in Acts 20 where Eutychus was listening to Paul, sitting in window he fell asleep and fell to his death. Am I the only one who finds that story amusing? It is a good story because it has a delightful ending-----he was raised from the dead. If I were Eutychus I would be amused telling that story, “Yup, the sermon was so long I fell asleep and fell out the window and died. Won’t do that again.”
The Bible is never boring. It doesn’t put me to sleep but enables me to sleep well and stay alive and capture new dreams. The result of avoiding bad influences and delighting in the Bible……we are like trees planted by streams of water.
Refreshed. Never alone.
I hope the Bible is your delight today. I hope that your reading of it is a source of joy, amusement, and glee. I hope that your love for the Word of God is contagious. I hope that de-lights are getting turned on for you as you read and ponder and pray.
I hope that the Bible is a FIELD OF DREAMS for you….enabling you to dream God’s dreams….because He has great plans for you. Be encouraged!
We have been seeing Robins this week! The Robins are back in Iowa. They tell me that is a sign. A sign of spring. Lots of other signs of spring…warmer air, snow is gone, signs of new life.
There are lots of signs around us if we watch for them.
Some signs we need to watch for. Stop signs, yield signs, warning signs, exit signs, mile markers….some we see, some we miss due to visual overload. Signs mark our travels and highlight the journey.
Sometimes we miss important signs. Like the speed limit signs that are for everyone else, right?
Sometimes signs carry critical warnings. “Game Crossing.” Is the game aware of a sign marking their travels?
“Watch for Fallen Rock.” Who is Fallen Rock?
“Bridges may be icy.” There are slippery spots on the journey of life.
“East fork of the Medicine Hat River.” That is one of my favorite signs. It makes me hungry to see signs about eating utensils, medicine, and food, like, “North Fork of the South Spoon in the Knife Mountains by the Big Bowl plateau.” Or something.
God’s word is full of markers, warnings, mileposts, and important signs on the roadmap of life’s journey. Some are very informative, some keep me very alert, some identify where I am, some contain great warnings. God’s signs are alive, rich, moving, active, signs to help me “get there” well, before I reach the spot.
My favorite sign is one that God made.
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Gen 9:13-14)
Exodus 3:12----And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain." Fascinating that worship was a SIGN.
Isaiah 7:14---- “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Matt 12:39-40---people were asking for a sign, but Jesus said only the sign of the prophet Jonah…..3 days and nights in the belly of a huge fish, a sign of Jesus 3 days in the heart of the earth. Luke says that as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the son of Man be. JONAH is a sign for me. Points back to the cross. But a sign of the miraculous, new life.
Matt 24:3---- Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" Jesus revealed a bunch of yield signs and mile markers and warning signs about the end of days.
The signs of the Bible are not just words on a page. They come alive as I walk them out in the journey of following Jesus. Because God is always with us, always present, always giving signs of his presence if we are watchful.
So whether we call them God-sightings or God-incidents or Divine moments or Experiencing God…..He gives us signs that He is there. Tune in and be encouraged.
Boy does it ever rain in Iowa. Sometimes a lot. It did this week.
So I was reading in Isaiah 55 this morning starting with verse 10…. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes from my mouth; It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
It’s really cool that the comparison is set up of rain and snow falling and the Bible, the Word of God. So I thought about that comparison for a while.
The rain and snow are expected, somewhat predictable, we can sort of forecast it.
There is no stopping it. The law of gravity accents it. What comes down stays down and what goes up is plant life and growth.
Without rain and snow there is drought. Life is dependent on it.
Sometimes it comes as a slow drizzle, other times a downpour. We really experienced that in Iowa this week.
The natural cycle of rain and snow points to supernatural origins.
Combine rain with sunshine and you get a rainbow. A sign of God’s covenant promises.
What about the Word of God, the Bible?
Like the rainfall we can expect God to speak. We can predict that He will when we read the Bible. It is the only book in the universe where the author is always present when you read it. God is a speaking God and He uses His Word.
There is no stopping it. His word will go forth. People can hide under an umbrella…..or….take a walk in the rain and soak in His Word.
Without time in His word we will become dry and parched. Our lives are dependent the living waters that flow from His Word.
God speaks sometimes in a very steady drizzle of a whisper but sometimes in a downpour.
The rainfall of His Words are supernatural. Living and active.
The rainbow is a reminder of the promises that come as we nourish our souls with His Word.
The context of Isaiah is set by the first verse…… “Come all you are thirsty, come to the waters…..”
And there is great promise that comes as we soak in His Word, expressed in Isaiah 55:12….. “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!”
Wow….be encouraged by that image in His Word and take a walk in a washing rain today!
I’ve really been enjoying the church prayer path, and I was thinking about the joy of staying on the path and being careful to not get off track into the thistles and nettles and poison ivy. I was thinking about borders as I read Psalm 147.
“He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.” (Psalm 147:13-14)
There is blessing within those borders, peace and provision within the boundaries.
We took a Sunday afternoon drive last weekend. The Loess hills scenic tour. Beautiful drive. While driving on the 2 lane road we had a little conversation about driving on the highway 55 miles an hour with cars driving almost straight at you the same speed, and the only thing separating you is a yellow line.
To cross over that yellow line could be fatal. You could die, and cause serious harm to other people.
Or even drifting off the other direction, the tires could go off the road and you can lose control and even flip into the ditch and that can be painful---even fatal.
There is peace, protection, joy, and provision within the borders.
The first part of Psalm 147 points to the sovereignty of God and sets the stage for the concept of borders.
“Praise the Lord” (v1)…..a great way to start a road trip….. “How good it is to sing praises”….singing praises can help you stay on the road
“The Lord builds up Jerusalem…..” (V2) He has a blueprint
“He heals up the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds”…..It is His compassion that fuels some of the borders that keep us safe. God’s sovereign rein comes with protective boundaries and borders because He cares about us. The Bible is not just a rule book, it is much more than that. It really gets to the heart of a right relationship with a holy God through faith in Jesus Christ. But every relationship needs to be protected by boundaries, right?
“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise, make music to our God….” (v7) Music wouldn’t be so great if we sing out of bounds in another key, another lane of traffic
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love….” (V11)…..we experience the best of His provision and his pleasure when we stay on the road
And here is a key verse, verse 15…… “He sends his command to the earth, his word runs swiftly.” The Bible is our roadmap. It shows us the yellow lines on one side, the shoulder on the other, the potholes to watch for and the ditches to avoid.
The Psalm ends with these words, “He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws.” He has given us His word, He reveals His heart as we read it, He shows us the protective borders and the peace and provision and joy of staying on the road. NOT knowing the Bible and not obeying the Scriptures can be fatal.
SO…..Psalm 147 encourages me to stay on the road, keep my hands on the wheel, enjoy the peace and joyful provision of staying in the right lane, and helping others learn how to drive too! See you down the road!
WORDS....they can make a difference. Or not.
My YouVersion Bible app verse of the day is Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
That reminded me of one of my favorite verses in the Bible, Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their need.”
I am thinking about words today. Words are powerful. Words can bring blessing and encouragement or words can bring discouragement and even curses.
I had to replant some grass in the back yard the other day. Last winter with snow on the ground I cleaned my oil painting brushes in this spot. I learned from Mr. happy trees, Bob Ross, a fun way to clean your brushes----soak them in paint thinner and then beat them on something.
What I didn’t realize is that paint thinner kills grass. It went down through the snow and into the soil and killed the area.
Words can do that.
I know that I have used words in the past that were like hitting somebody with a brush that had poison on it. I regret that. And my kids have had to forgive me for things I said that killed the green growth in their young hearts. I am so thankful for forgiveness and grace.
I pray that God will enable me and empower me to use words that are full of grace, planting seeds of new growth in fresh soil in hearts of people around me.
Words are powerful.
As an internal processor, sometimes I can be a man of few words and brevity rules the day. My friends have coached me, “use your words, Steve.”
May I encourage you? Use your words. And may they be full of grace, seasoned with salt, bringing blessings and encouragement into hearts around you today.
Here is my verse for the day-----Psalm 25:21----- “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”
Mosquitoes. Little things with a big bite. We discovered in the tropics those tiny bugs carry malaria and dengue fever and all kinds of nasty things.
It is the little things that can kill you.
It is the little things that can also poison your integrity.
I was reading about a pastor who moved to Houston Texas, and shortly after arriving he took a bus to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much change.
As he considered what to do, his first thought was, “you better give the quarter back, it would be wrong to keep it.” What would you do?
He thought to himself, “Well, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about such a little amount? Anyway, the bus company already has fares that are too high and they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from God and keep quiet.”
When his stop came, the pastor paused at the door and then handed the quarter to the driver and informed him he had given him too much change.
The driver smiled and replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town? I have been thinking lately about going to worship somewhere. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change.”
As the story goes, the pastor stepped off the bus, grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, “O God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”
It is often the little things we do that demonstrate integrity and faithfulness.
Little things can become big things that rob our joy and hope.
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because our hope is in Christ.
Little Big Noise
“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people, the praise of all his saints………”
I am fascinated by that phrase, “raised up a horn for his people.” A symbol of power. The power of praise. The power of a joyful noise.
I heard a beautiful songbird recently that had quite a loud tune. I figured it must be a big bird by the sound it was making. It took a long time to locate him in the trees. I was amazed at how small he was. A tiny little bird with a very big voice, like he was declaring the glory of God, singing his praises through a tiny beak of a horn.
Sometimes the smallest of praises bring the greatest of God’s glory.
Proverbs 30:24 mentions four things on earth that are small but extremely wise: Ants, coneys, locusts, and lizards. Even small creatures are significant in their ability to reveal God’s glory. You and I may sometimes feel small and insignificant, but “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) is a very big tune.
HE has raised up a horn for His people.
Another kind of horn comes to mind for me. We were driving in rural area of the Philippines once, and heard a very loud truck horn, blasting like a fog horn. It was a bit alarming and irritating. I looked in the mirrors trying to locate where the big rig was. I was certain it was a large Semi truck trying to position himself to pass me or coming from a side road somewhere. Then I noticed that we were being passed by a little 3-wheeled motorcycle moped thing that barely showed up in the review mirror. On the small mechanism was a very small man. Once ahead of us, he honked again as though to say thanks. It was a dramatic contrast, such a large sound coming from a small thing.
The smallest of complaints can be like that, an irritating noise.
I think I’d rather be in the camp of the songbird, letting my voice be thankful. Using my small voice to praise God rather than complaining. Encouraging rather than bringing others down.
When God puts even a small praise on our hearts, it’s like a horn of celebration He provides to make a very big sound to his glory. I’m going to watch for little things today that might be big reasons to be thankful. I sure hope you are encouraged to do the same and let your life sing.