Wednesday, August 29, 2012

God's Blessings from 1 Peter 1

God painted a picture in my mind as I read 1 Peter 1 during my devotions. Being no graphic artist, this is a close as I can come to what I saw as I meditated on this chapter. Through the precious lifeblood of Christ, the spotless Lamb of God, we are given all these amazing gifts: Boundless Mercy, Special Favor, Wonderful Peace, Wonderful Expectation, Priceless Inheritance, Glorious Joy, Gracious Salvation, Special Blessings, Sincere Love, and New Life. What a incredibly loving God we serve!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

God, the Sculpture

FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP. . . Ephesians 2:10
“God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 1:6 (GNV)

In the surreal light of early morning my husband and I gazed open-mouthed at the powerful, breathtaking beauty of the red rock formations of Sedona, Arizona—Bell Rock, The Coffeepot, and Cathedral Rock.  Too awestruck to be satisfied with merely a glimpse from our car window, we stopped at a conveniently placed lookout.

Leaning against the hood of the car, I soaked in the splendor illuminated by the rising sun.  Sedona’s striking, giant monoliths declared to the entire world their Creator’s unequaled handiwork.

As the sun highlighted the massive burnished boulders surrounding me, I considered the power that it must have taken to shape this stunning sandstone. In Ephesians 1:18-20 God reveals that that same transforming power is right now at work in all who believe!  God is in the process of sculpting us by His great might and He will complete the good work that He has begun.  Like the glorious red rocks of Sedona, we, too, declare our Creator’s handiwork!

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Youth Mission Trip 2012

For ever since the world was created,
people have seen the earth and sky.
Through everything God made,
they can clearly see his invisible qualities—
His eternal power and divine nature.
So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
Romans 1:20

I took a hiatus from blogging this past week to serve as a cook/cabin chaperone/babysitter for our church’s youth mission trip. We lodged at Central Oak Heights, a beautiful former UMC Conference camp nestled in the Susquehanna River Valley.

During our week there I enjoyed the privilege of babysitting for our youth pastor and his wife who brought their two-year-old son along. Micah and I spent a good bit of time traversing the trails and walkways of the campground. His favorite spot was the Tabernacle, a lovely, open-air sanctuary that allowed us to drink in the beauty of God's handiwork --a beauty that far surpassed any man-made cathedral! Micah dubbed it "Big Church". After he chose seats for us, we would sing a few Sunday school choruses and then mosey back to our camp site.

Like a couple of naturalists, Micah and I constantly kept our eyes peeled for a glimpse of wildlife. In a secluded part of the campground we discovered Sylvan Chapel. As we sat on the benches listening to the Red-Tail Hawks answering one another and watching the squirrels gather acorns, I took a deep breath and allowed the peace of God that passes all understanding to permeate my soul.

photo by Bridget Riordan
We also captured quite a few toads of varying sizes in the girls’ bathhouse. We examined their bumps and tiny webbed feet from every angle--such an intricate and useful design God created. Though Micah was reluctant to touch their super soft bellies, he took note of their eyes and mouth. Then we returned them to a wooded area so they wouldn’t accidentally get trampled.

One morning Micah stopped short on the trail and pointed to a brilliant yellow caterpillar slowly creeping its way across the stones and sticks. We crouched down and took a long look at the creature. I later learned it was a Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillar. We were both fascinated by its unusual markings and bright color. God certainly has a vivid imagination.

At Camp

Though not a typical mission trip experience, I found my week to be quite an inspirational way to reconnect with God—through the eyes of a two-year-old.

©2012 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Inspiration of Youth

Recently a friend and I helped a tenth grader set up a blog for a business. Yes! You read that right—a BUSINESS—which this young person started TWO YEARS AGO!!!  And, under whose ingenuity and reliability, it is flourishing!

I found myself inspired. This young adult (I can hardly call a businessperson a child!) not only has ambition, but admits when help is needed and expresses thanks when it is received. My young friend treats people of all ages with respect, listens attentively, speaks with kindness, and, to top it off, acts on faith and serves others.

In short, he/she exemplifies I Timothy 4:12: “Let no one make little of you because you are young, but be an example to the church in word, in behavior, in love, in faith, in holy living.”

My youthful fellow blogger displays a truly Christ-like attitude in a world where rudeness and immaturity is often commonplace—among all ages. And there are always excuses--excuses for not getting involved at church, for not getting a job, for being grumpy, tired and impatient. We would think that a sophomore in high school, who swims on a team, is an active member of the youth group, maintains good grades, and is involved in a myriad of other commitments, would have a ready list of reasons NOT to have their own business.

How motivating to spend a few hours with one who lives Philippians 4:13: "I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need."


©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Friends of God

“Some friends are closer than brothers.”
Proverbs 18:24 
In the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Frodo sets out on a quest. Despite Frodo’s order to his best friend Sam not to go along with him, Sam follows Frodo from a distance and when he is needed, Sam guards, guides, provides for and encourages Frodo. Ultimately, as Frodo’s strength to continue the quest wanes, Sam carries him.

The story of Sam and Frodo’s friendship is one that Solomon might have used as an example of Proverbs 18:24, “Some friends are closer than brothers.” A true friend can be more loyal, more helpful, more in tune with us than a member of our own family—kind of like the little bird protecting the mouse in the picture I chose for Foto Friday.

When we see a friend heading for trouble, what should we do? Proverbs 12: 26 tells us that a righteous man guides his friend. When a friend messes up, Proverbs 17:17 advises us to show love and share trouble.

 Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reminds us that when the road is hard, two are better than one. Tasks get accomplished quicker with two people working on them. Challenges can be faced when a friend stands by us.

Interestingly, Proverbs 27:6 says that a friend means well even when he hurts us. Have you ever been in a situation where, in order to do what’s best for a friend, you had to risk hurting them? Being honest, breaking a promise of silence, or telling a friend “No”, can hurt them initially, but it just might keep them from making further mistakes and save them in the long run.

 In John 15:13 Jesus tells us that the greatest love a friend can show is to lay down his life for his friend. Although we are rarely called to physically give up our lives, sometimes true friendship requires us to lay aside our own wants and feelings. We may have to put up with hurtful comments from others because of a friendship. We might need to give up what we have planned in order to help a friend. At times we may have to stand with our friend even when others are making disparaging remarks about them.

In John 15:15, Jesus calls us friends. But, how is it possible to be friends with God? It’s possible because Jesus doesn’t just talk the talk—He walks the walk! In Romans 5:10 we learn that when Jesus gave his life on the cross, he tore down the barriers of sin separating us from him. When we believe that truth and trust in him, we gain the awesome privilege of becoming friends with Jesus! Woo Hoo!

One of my absolute favorite songs is “Friend of God”. I first heard this at a Women of Faith event with some of my very best girl friends. Give it a listen and let me know what you think. Doesn’t it just put your feet to dancin’?

©2012 Pamela D. Williams