October 24

            When I was a child, one of my favorite pastimes was putting jigsaw puzzles together with my grandfather. Once I got started helping put it together, it was hard for me to stop and do other necessary things, such as eating. I still am that way when I put puzzles together.
When you buy a jigsaw puzzle, the box top always shows the picture of what the puzzle eventually will look like. But with a thousand pieces or more, it’s hard to imagine that the puzzle will look like the picture when it’s completed. Yet it does. Each piece has its own designated place. By itself, it doesn’t look like much; but in its proper place, it becomes part of a beautiful design.

Life itself is like a jigsaw puzzle; the only difference is that there’s no box top picture to show us what it’s supposed to look like. But not just individual lives are like that. Life as God created it is like a puzzle. Each of us has his or her own spot in the grand picture. We may not think we amount to much individually, but once we realize that we are all members of the body of Christ – each person with his or her own talents and gifts to bring to the mix – Life can be a thing of exquisite beauty. May God grant us all the ability to contribute willingly to His creation.

October 17

There are numerous times hope is mentioned throughout the Bible. Hope is an important part of our faith. Here are some of my favorite “Hope” scriptures:

Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. 
“The Message” translation: We who have run…to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline…right to the very presence of God.
How powerful is it to think we are anchored to that spiritual lifeline, to the very presence of God? 

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “The Message” translation: I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
We can all find comfort in knowing that God has an unique plan for each one of us.

Isaiah 40:31
…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. “The Message” translation: But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
When we feel weak, we can turn to God for strength. Have you ever felt that “fresh” strength? 

Hope is very powerful and we need to never lose sight of it, even during our darkest times. 

Dear Lord,
Help us to turn to You when we are feeling weary or hopeless. In You we truly can find strength to carry on and do Your will. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

October 10

A few weeks ago, a special woman died unexpectedly. She was a wonderful Sunday School teacher for many years. She touched many lives both as a teacher and as a volunteer at church. The children she taught were blessed to have had her as their teacher. Those people who were in the hospital or in rehab center, were blessed by her notes of encouragement. She shared God’s love in her interactions with both children and adults. May we follow her example of living as a Christian in our daily life.

October 3

            There is a window I look out through from time to time. During those hot sticky days of summer, the view did not impress me. It is a view with plenty of foliage, some flowers, a baseball diamond in the distance.  But all of this looked strangely muted and uninviting in the heavy air of those 100 degree days.  I had no compulsion to go out there.

            Then, one day in September, when a front had passed through and all the stale, polluted, over-heated air was gone, I happened to look out there from that window! The leaves were so green. All images within my sight stood out in clear contrast. Nothing looked hazy or dull, but sharp and crisp.  It all looked inviting and I was full of compulsion to go out there and be in the midst of it all.

            In this world of strife, suspicion, name calling, political nastiness, terrorism, suffering—there is so much haze of a different, but no less off-putting sort filling the scenes of life. It all seems so uninviting. I confess my mental mood during some of those hot summer days matched my physical mood in response to the heavy polluted air enveloping that scene beyond my window.

            But when the fresh air of God’s love got to me it changed what I saw in the world. When the dust and fall-out of our human struggles are blown away so that we can clearly see the love of God at work, what a remarkable difference it makes! I remember one particular Sunday morning---9/11 Sunday, in fact---that happened to me.  The service focused on ways God’s saving love worked in human lives to lift and clear the dust, tears, agonies and struggles of that day.  And I gave thanks for a world at the heart of which are not the explosions and hatreds of war, but the redeeming power of God’s love at work.

            I share with you the prayer the writer of the letter to the Ephesians offers for us all: “I pray that you may have power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)