White As Snow

Winter 3 I woke up the other day to our first, freshly fallen snow of the season. It wasn’t much, just enough to cover the roofs and the ground, but it was wonderful blanket of crisp, gleaming white. From the balcony of our 5th floor condo, it was a beautiful sight and an exciting preview of things to come. I always get excited for the change of seasons here in Minnesota but those first few snowfalls are always a special treat and, perhaps, my favorite of all.

It may be hard for those unaccustomed to living so far from the equator to grasp, but there’s nothing quite like the incomparable beauty of seeing everything covered in a bright, glowing tapestry of pure white. Especially after the beautiful fall colors have faded away and left us surrounded by a dreadful, lifeless brown and gray. For by then the days have grown short, the temperatures have dropped, and things have started to feel rather gloomy and bleak. But then one morning, we wake up to that first, freshly fallen snow and it’s like new life has been breathed into our whole environment!

And the cycle repeats itself throughout the winter months. Snow falls, bringing its refreshing newness to the land, only to fade to a brownish gray as repeated exposure to sun, wind, and dust takes its toll. And then more snow falls, once again delivering its sparkling rebirth to the landscape. My favorite snowfalls are those where the snow sticks to everything, coating the tree branches in a glistening white powder that sparkles and shimmers and brightens the day. You forget the harshness of the cold as you revel in the splendor and beauty before you.

Such is the effect of freshly fallen snow. Not everyone I know enjoys the bitter cold the way I often do, but few deny the beauty winter brings. And I think the revitalizing effect that freshly fallen snow has on the landscape is a perfect metaphor for the cleansing effect God’s grace has on our souls.

One of my very favorite verses is Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”  The colors scarlet and crimson reflect the darkness of sin, the hopelessness of guilt. Depravity and perversity pull people down and create a chasm from which we cannot escape on our own.

But Isaiah uses the white associated with snow and wool to portray the opposite of sin: forgiveness, mercy, cleanliness, new life. And he acknowledges that it is only God who can bring us from one to the other, only God can bring us from guilt to grace. And David does the same in his psalm of repentance where he asks the Lord to “purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)

It doesn’t matter how far we’ve fallen, or how deep the crevasse our human condition has cast us into, God can and will get us out.  Paul teaches us in Galatians that “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.” (Galatians 1:4) And again in Galatians 3:13: “But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.” So we can be confident that whatever we have done, whatever darkness surrounds us, no matter the stain of our sin, God, through Jesus, can and will lift us up and wash us clean and give us new life. Just like the freshly fallen snow brings new life to the scenery around us.

But how do we avail ourselves of this? First, we must repent. We read in Matthew 4:17, “From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This truly is the first step we take. It really means, in its most simple form, that we come to agreement with God that we truly are sinful. (And if you think you are not sinful, just ask your spouse or your parents or someone else intimately close to you and you will learn the truth!) We accept what the Bible says, that “we all have sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). Then we ask for His forgiveness and place our faith in Him.

Romans 10:9-11: “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

Romans 3:22: “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.”

Galatians 3:11: “So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

1 John 1:9: “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

So, if you haven’t already, please avail yourself of God’s great and endless mercy. Let Him make you as clean as the freshly fallen snow, that you might sparkle in the newness of life that comes by faith in Christ. And if you have already made that decision, but feel you sometimes still struggle, know that just like the snow refreshes itself throughout a winter season, God will bring constant refreshing to your soul as you abide in Him.

If you are lucky enough to live where the snow falls, may you enjoy this winter season. And if you live closer to the equator, let me suggest a visit to a wintry destination soon!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

His Grace Is Sufficient

All Too Human 4   There are those out there who will tell you becoming a Christian means having your “best life now”, that all your problems will disappear, that you will have happiness beyond your imagination. Health and wealth will be yours and trials a thing of the past. Still others may suggest that once you become a Christian you will live in sinless bliss; your life will be one of perfect obedience, free of all wrongdoing. Yes, there are those who make such wild promises about the Christian life.

I wish I could tell you that they are right. I wish I could tell you that becoming a Christian means an immediate end to all manner of struggle and that you can skip through life with increasing health, wealth, and happiness. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you that. Certainly there may be a rare minority that experience such things, but for the vast majority of us, we continue to struggle with all the ordinary trials life puts forth. Both those external and those within. Even after our conversion, we are still existing here in a fallen world, after all.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul is candid about one of his personal struggles, describing it as a “thorn in his flesh.” We do not know specifically what this is, some speculate it may have been some form of demonic hindrance to his ministry in Corinth, but whatever it was, Paul makes it clear it was enough of a burden he was desperate to be rid of it. He writes: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

Indeed, God’s grace is sufficient. For all of us.

One of my favorite passages in all of Scripture is Romans 8:1: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” This verse immediately follows Paul’s description of his continuing struggle with sin in Romans 7:14-25, which I feel is worth repeating here: “The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Picture the scenario if you will. Paul, a Christian by direct, personal revelation from Jesus Christ Himself; the very man through whom the Holy Spirit wrote most of the New Testament, surely a Christian among Christians, describes for us his personal struggle with ongoing sin. And it is this passage, perhaps more than any other in Scripture, with which I can personally relate. I feel my course has been one of steady improvement since my conversion, and surely some of the most vile of my sins remain behind me, but I am still quite surprised at the velocity and frequency with which I can fall into sin. “Oh, what a miserable person I am” indeed.

In the Bible, Paul is not alone in his ongoing struggle with sin. Scripture is replete with men of faith who experience personal failure. Witness David and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba or Peter and his thrice denial of Jesus. Space doesn’t allow me to dive deep into all the Bible characters and their specific circumstances, but I know I am not alone in my struggle. And I hope you know you are not alone, either. Whether you are struggling with external circumstances, or your own ongoing battle with bad habits, you are not alone. And you are not left to contend on your own. God gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 1:13) to help us recognize when we fail, and to learn and grow from our experiences.

Once we become Christians, we start the journey of sanctification. That is, we start growing in Christlikeness. With rare exception, this is a process of steady growth over all the remaining years of our lives. We can take certain steps to help the process; such as regular Bible reading and prayer, church membership, and interaction with other Christians. Intentional participation in activities such as Bible study small groups can really help us. At least, that has been my experience.

Always remember that Christians aren’t perfect. We’re just forgiven. And if you have not yet found a relationship with Jesus Christ, I hope you will consider taking that step now. It won’t make your life instantly better, but it will make you instantly forgiven!

May God bless you richly! Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

A House in Heaven

The Other Side 5 Having previously written about the rapture of the church (click here to read that piece) hopefully we can agree that, even though we do not know the exact date or the hour, the signs tell us that time is growing short. Too short to mince words! I am going to speak this time about heaven. Because heaven is where we all want to go, and where I sincerely pray you are going. So I shall not mince words; if you haven’t already, now is the time to get right with God by accepting the free gift of grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. As we shall see, it is the only way you will one day dwell in heaven.

And heaven is a place you definitely want to be. How do I know? Well, the Bible tells us much about heaven, and it is all good. Better than good, actually! But rather than try to say this in my own words, I will let God’s Word do the talking. Here are some key points about heaven and the verses that inform us:

There will be no more death:

He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The Lord has spoken! In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the Lord, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” (Isaiah 25:8-9)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. (Revelation 21:4)

There will be no more hunger, thirst, or pain:

They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:16-17)

All things will be new:

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 21:5-6)

We will no longer be under the curse of sin:

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. (Revelation 22:3)

God will be our light and we will see His face:

And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:4-5)

In heaven we will have new bodies:

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. (2 Corinthians 5:1-3)

“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

We will be like the angels:

For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matthew 22:30)

The normal order of things, as we know it on Earth, will be reversed:

And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. (Luke 13:29-30)

God has a place in heaven prepared for those who believe:

There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:2-3)

Whether it is through death or rapture, when our lives on Earth end, we are instantly with the Lord:

Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

Heaven is a place we want to think about frequently:

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Finally, there is only one way to get there:

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

The Bible helps us understand what an amazing and incredible place heaven is, and what a wonderful life we will have there. But to get there you will find no shortcuts, no workarounds, no gimmicks. You can’t get there by being a good person, because none of us can be good enough (and I am convinced that deep down inside, we all instinctively know this). We can only get there by repenting of our wrongs and trusting in Jesus Christ. If you haven’t already, won’t you please do this right now, before it is too late?

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

To Be Counted Among The Wise

Wise Guy 1  Solomon succeeded David as king of Israel about 970 B.C. We do not know with certainty his exact age when he became King, but a study of Scripture suggests he was born around 990 B.C. which would make him about twenty years old when he took the throne. Think about any twenty-year-old you know right now, and you can imagine that becoming the ruler of a nation at that young age would present certain challenges. Solomon saw this, too, and described himself as “being like a little child” in his conversation with God in 1 Kings 3.

I do not think many twenty-something young men these days are too quick to see their own fallibility, so I think it is a safe assumption that it was an act of great humility for a man so young to recognize the limitations of his youthfulness. And as we shall see, the Lord agreed. Let’s look at Solomon’s conversation with God in its entirety; which is found in 1 Kings 3:5-14.

‘That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!  And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

Solomon knew what to ask for but maybe even more importantly, he also knew who to ask! And the result was that he became the wisest mortal person to ever live! These days, we have self-professed “gurus” seemingly on every corner. From our own friends and family, to talk-show hosts and Hollywood celebrities, to authors and motivational speakers, we are inundated with advice. Some might be good, some is clearly bad, and most of it, perhaps, is just what our itching ears want to hear.  The  Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:3: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” And the prophet, Jeremiah, warned us: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Because we really can’t trust ourselves to always discern correctly between good advice and bad, we need a source that has been proven trustworthy; and that source, as Solomon so famously knew, is the Word of God. When Solomon asked God for wisdom, he got more than he ever imagined and his wisdom became legendary. The Bible says “God gave Solomon very great wisdom and understanding, and knowledge as vast as the sands of the seashore.” And that “kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon.” (1 Kings 4:29,34)

Fortunately for us, we have the entire Bible to turn to when we need wisdom. The Bible has this to say about itself: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16) James wrote this, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5) And in the book of Job, “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” (Job 12:13)

I simply cannot say it better than God, so I think it more sufficient to simply share a few of my favorite verses on wisdom:

O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures. (Psalm 104:24)

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever! (Psalm 111:10)

Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:2-6)

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. (Proverbs 3:7,13,14)

Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth. (Proverbs 17:24)

No human wisdom or understanding or plan can stand against the Lord. (Proverbs 21:30)

The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is a wonderful teacher, and he gives the farmer great wisdom. (Isaiah 28:29)

He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. (Daniel 2:20)

But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it. (Luke 7:35)

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

In him (Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colassians 2:3)

It is our prayer you will grow in understanding as you turn to the one true source of wisdom, the Word of God. For those who are saved, God also gave us the Holy Spirit to help us with understanding and discernment. When we pray first, and read his Word daily, we find that God will transform us into new people by changing the way we think. (Romans 12:2) And if you do not yet know Christ as your Lord and Savior, now is the perfect time to seek him. For all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. For more information, please click this link:

KnowGod.org

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

In the Shadow of the Almighty

Protector2  In today’s world, there are many situations that are difficult to face or that leave us feeling distraught, alone, and hopeless. It could be the health of a loved one, our financial situation, the loss of our employment, or any number of personal dilemmas. For some of us it could be where our next meal is coming from or whether or not we will have somewhere to sleep tonight. Still others among us might see the crumbling moral and social environment around us and experience fear over speaking Biblical truth. Still others face severe persecution just for worshipping our Lord and Savior.

Whatever situation you are in at the moment, if you are a followers of Jesus Christ, then God is at your side through it all. As human beings, we like to think of God’s protection as a magic force field that keeps us from all harm, but we must remember that we live in a fallen world where people have free will and sometimes God works in ways that we do not understand. The protection God promises us sometimes comes in the form of His peace in the midst of difficulty; other times we may feel His peace and strength as an ending because God sees things on the horizon that we cannot see.

You can rest assured, as a believer in Jesus Christ, that our new life is promised to come with His protection and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. So no matter what hardship you face, God is your provider and protector. I know well and good that there are plenty of times we are in the midst of crisis and do not immediately feel His nearness, but I am confident that we can find comfort in His Word and I want to share some verses in particular that can serve to remind us that God is with us:

2 Thessalonians 3:3But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Psalm 5:11 – But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

Psalm 12:5 – The Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor. Now I will rise up to rescue them, as they have longed for me to do.”

Psalm 23:4 – Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Psalm 34:19 – The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 57:1 – Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.

Psalm 91:1-6 – Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Psalm 121:1-4 – I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.

Psalm 138:7 – Though I am surrounded by troubles, you will protect me from the anger of my enemies. You reach out your hand, and the power of your right hand saves me.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 – We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

2 Samuel 22:3-4 – My God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. He is my refuge, my savior, the one who saves me from violence. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies.

John 10:28-30 – I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.

These are but a handful of the verses you may choose to read during difficult times or you may wish to memorize. The Bible is rich with God’s assurances and the truth of his love for us, from which the believer can never be separated. And if you have not come to faith in Jesus yet, perhaps this is the perfect time to turn to Him, to trust in His great love for you. Find a Bible and immerse yourself in His Word, start with the Gospel of John and I am confident you will begin to feel His love wash over you.

May God bless you and keep you in good times and in bad.

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

The Big Picture

The Big Picture 1  We often hear people talk about “the big picture.” Presumably they are referring to the greater outcome, the one that achieves the end goal or affects the greatest number of people, or some other result or direction beyond the routine. We do find that having the big picture in view can often help us find direction and purpose and that such insight can propel us along the often arduous path of reaching our goals.

Can it be possible, though, that we often miss the small things that alter our path in more subtle ways? Is not a large ship steered by a small rudder? Perhaps the little course corrections that occur in our day to day lives even turn us towards outcomes for which we had no prior vision. Similarly, do we tend to see God’s bigger picture but miss the small ways he affects the course of our journey on a daily basis?

To answer this, let’s look at 1 Samuel 9:3: “One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.” This seemingly innocuous occurrence would likely be a commonplace happening in the lives of donkey owners. A “little thing” if you will. But what of this specific little thing? To explore this further, I’d like to share this commentary from my Charles Spurgeon Study Bible:

“Observe how the hand of God’s providence uses the little things. This man, Saul, must be placed in the path of the prophet Samuel. How will a meeting be brought about? Poor beasts of burden will be the means. The donkeys wander off, and Saul’s father tells him to take a servant and seek them. In the course of their wanderings, the animals might have gone north, south, east, or west – for who will account for the wild will of runaway donkeys? But so it happened, as people say, that they strayed, or were thought to have strayed, in such a direction that eventually Saul found himself near Ramah, where Samuel was ready to anoint him. On how small an incident the greatest events may hinge!”

God had chosen Saul to be Israel’s first king and revealed such only to Samuel. Samuel did not yet know who God had chosen, a piece of information God would ultimately reveal to him but first the meeting had to be arranged. God did so via wandering donkeys. Who would have guessed, right?!  But if we are studious in our Bibles, we see similar things happening all the time. But how about in our own lives? Do we see God at work in the little things?

The Spurgeon commentary goes on to say, “Had we but sufficiently powerful perceptive faculties, we would see God’s hand as clearly in each stone on our pathway as in the revolution of the earth.” I do not know about you, but I frequently find myself stumbling about my life seemingly unaware of the way our Lord might be directing the smallest of my steps. That old friend I bumped into at just such a time might seem completely random but how might God be working in it? How might he have directed it? Might that last minute phone call I took from a customer altered my timing just so?

And it is with this in mind that I set forth this reminder – that we try to maintain an acute awareness of how God might be moving not just in the big picture, but in the seemingly unimportant or unremarkable. That we look closely at even the smallest little things in our lives and we consider how God might be directing them, either for our benefit or that of someone else, maybe even someone we do not yet know or may never know. Scripture tells us God has interest in the smallest details of our lives, ie: Matthew 10:30 – “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”

And He definitely has a bigger picture in mind, one we cannot yet see or perceive. But we know we can trust him; as the psalmist wrote: “Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.” (Psalm 36:5) And in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” So trust God might be at work in the small things. Perhaps it really wasn’t by random chance that waiter was assigned to your table or that you ended up in that particular line in the supermarket. Perhaps your smile will be the little light that changes the big picture for someone who just needed a little kindness today.

When we live daily in God’s grace, even the smallest things can make the biggest of differences!

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Spurgeon commentary notes: CSB Spurgeon Study Bible copyright 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

We Are Family

we are family 3  From the very time of his birth, Jacob’s life was set to be a tapestry of trial. His very name means “supplanter” or “deceitful”. He was a twin, born grasping his brother Esau’s heel in what seems to be a fight to be first. Of course, being first born in ancient Hebrew culture had very significant meaning and carried with it certain birthrights. But Jacob did not come out first. Making him, even if by only a few seconds, the younger brother.

But when opportunity came, Jacob took the advantage and conned Esau out of his birthright; though it seems Esau did not take his birthright seriously at this point in his life. Jacob and Esau are, perhaps, the classic example of sibling rivalry. Esau being the outdoorsy, sportsman type while Jacob was mild-mannered and more domestic. Their parents, Isaac and Rebekah, didn’t help matters much, as Isaac clearly favored the more traditionally manly Esau, while Rebekah had preference for Jacob, her baby.

The Bible doesn’t go into great detail about their family life but, we can probably imagine Isaac and Esau spending time together outdoors – hunting, fishing, camping, and so on while Jacob stayed home spending time with his mother around the house. Perhaps we get our best glimpse of parental favoritism when Isaac becomes old and nears the end of his life. That is when he instructs Esau to embark on a hunt so he can make some wild game stew, Isaac’s favorite, and a meal after which Isaac will pronounce his blessing on Esau.

Rebekah, desperate to secure the patriarchal blessing for Jacob, overhears the conversation and launches a plot to deceive her own husband into blessing the younger brother. She hatches her deceptive plan with Jacob’s obvious consent and, while Esau is still away hunting, they make a goat stew, form an elaborate disguise for Jacob, and send him in, pretending to be Esau. Isaac suspects a problem, but instead of coming clean with the deception, Jacob navigates his way through his father’s inquiries, completing the con job. Isaac, being too old to see for himself, is convinced and offers his blessing to Jacob.

Of course, Esau eventually comes home with the wild game, only to uncover the web of deception that occurred in his absence and cost him his birthright. I do not quite understand how the blessing works, but it is apparent that once given it cannot be revoked, and though given in deceit it still had force of law. Esau wept bitterly and experienced great sorrow. Eventually, Esau’s sorrow festered into deep resentment and he began to launch a plan to kill his younger brother, but Rebekah sends Jacob away to his uncle Laban.

Those of you familiar with the story know the family dysfunction did not end there. Jacob goes to the land of Laban, falls deeply in love with Rachel at first sight, and seeks to make her his wife. He asks his uncle the price for her hand in marriage and agrees to work seven years for Laban so he can marry Rachel. After the seven years pass by, Laban throws a marriage feast, after which he gives his daughter to Jacob to be his wife. There must have been some alcohol involved, because Jacob apparently doesn’t notice (or perhaps in a drunken stupor loses the ability to care) that it is Laban’s older daughter Leah that he sleeps with.

After confronting Laban over his trickery, Jacob ultimately takes Rachel also as his wife and agrees to work for Laban another seven years. At this point, I’d like to say the pattern of destructive behavior finally came to an end, but it would continue, seemingly ad infinitum. Leah and Rachel experienced sibling rivalry of their own, ultimately leading to even more sexual sin as they both have Jacob sleep with the personal servants. And the twelve children that result from this cavalcade of corruption find their own sibling rivalries that ultimately see their brother Joseph sold into slavery. And this family dysfunction ultimately leads to the entire Hebrew nation becoming slaves in Egypt. Talk about far-reaching consequences!

But perhaps young Joseph ultimately sums it up best when he tells his older brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” (Genesis 50:20) And the point of me recounting all of this is simply to point out that, at one time or another, all of us have experienced some amount of dysfunction in our families. We live in a fallen world and such chaos must be expected. As painful as conflict with our loved ones can be, we can be confident God is present within us and able to carry us forward. In fact, as Christians, we can bring the light of Christ to our family situations.

You can read about Isaac & Rebekah and their descendants starting in Genesis 24. Most people think the Bible is a book about perfect people but it is anything but that. It tells the stories of imperfect people and how God interacts with them. Imperfect people just like you and I; and our imperfect families and friends. So if you find yourself struggling with dysfunction in your personal relationships, remember that when we are weak, when we struggle, often that is when God’s work in our lives becomes the most profound. As the psalmist wrote, “He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:23)

And as Isaiah wrote: “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!” (Isaiah 53:4) And the Lord told Paul, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

It is our sincerest prayer that you will find the sustaining power and love of our Lord Jesus in all areas of your life and especially in your trials. For His love endures forever!

Here at Reign Drops, we’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop us an email at: ReignDropsBlog@gmail.com

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.