Word Pictures

 

The last time Mama took a picture was using my iPhone camera to take a picture of me after I had taken a picture of her. Mom’s uncle gave her a box camera when she was 13 years old and she still had all of those pictures when she died.

When she was about 85 years old, she quit taking pictures. In fact, even before then, she often told us girls to take the pictures for her. I bought her at least two cameras that she gave back to me. Both were point-and-click 35mm film cameras that took great pictures, but she just “passed the torch” on to us.

I’ve been looking through lots of old pictures the last few months. I have most of her pictures, and every time I come home from her house, I bring more pictures. My dining table is full of shoe boxes and plastic bags full of photos.

Mom had one pet peeve. If she turned a photo over, she expected the names to be written on the back. And now I am so glad she did that, especially if the photo is someone I don’t know.

I have often wondered why our family is so attached to photos, but I’ve decided it’s because photos are memory joggers.

The authors of the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—drew word pictures of the events in Jesus’ life. They were able to show us, in words, the way Jesus lived His life, from birth till death, involving the plan God laid out for our salvation. Even those Old Testament writers used word pictures to reveal God’s plans to us.

God knew that we would grow forgetful about the things in our life that were vitally important for us, so He made sure that those things were revealed to us in His word, and then He told us how to remember, since we couldn’t take a photograph of them.

“Always remember what is written in that book of law. Speak about that book and study it day and night. Then you can be sure to obey what is written there. If you do this, you will be wise and successful in everything you do.” Joshua 1:8 ERV.

 

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The Best Thing

What do you believe is the best thing that can happen to you this year? Winning the lottery? Falling in love with Mr. Right?  Graduating? Moving into that special Dream House? Having a baby? Lose Weight? Get out of debt? “If I could just have _____, I would be happy.”
We all have hopes and dreams, longings to be fulfilled which we hope will bring happiness. We believe that if this or that happens, we can finally be happy. The word ‘happiness’ and the word ‘happening’ both come from the same root word. These words indicate that circumstances determine how we feel. We expect to find happiness based on our circumstances.
However, God steps into the midst of what is happening when we pray “Father, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. And that changes everything.
This is one of the most powerful prayers, because you are handing the whole thing over to God. When you pray this way, you are telling God, “I trust you to give me the very best thing for me, the thing that maybe I wouldn’t pick out for myself. I trust you, Father, to know more about me and this situation than I do, so I will leave it all up to you. Lord, let it be unto me according to your will, your word.”
I choose to be happy, right here, right now, this very moment. Happiness is a choice. In spite of the circumstances, I can love my spouse. In spite of troubles, I can have joy. In the midst of war, I can have peace.
This is the best thing that could ever happen to me, not just this year, but the next, and the one after that, and the one after that, until the day I die.
I choose God’s will and then I choose to be happy.
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Lot’s Wife

Have you ever wondered why Lot’s wife turned and looked back after she had been told not to?

She isn’t mentioned in Genesis until after Abram and Lot went their separate ways because they each had so many cattle that they were having a hard time feeding them all. Abram gave Lot his choice of the land and Lot chose the Jordan Valley, because it was well watered. So Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.

The next time we hear of Lot he had been taken captive by some foreign kings and Abram had to rescue him. But he went right back to Sodom because when we next read of him, Lot is there at the city gate, when the angels of the Lord show up.

By this time, Lot is married and has two virgin daughters and two sons-in-law who were engaged to the daughters. He must have married a woman from Sodom.

She was probably born in Sodom. Her mother and father, brothers and sisters, all her earthly possessions, were there in Sodom. I can hear her now. “Why are you making me leave my family? What about my mother’s china and crystal, and the embroidered tapestries that hang in my home? What about my lovely garden with roses and sweet vegetables?”
“Well, I don’t want to live like Abraham and Sarah, in a dusty tent, drinking out of goatskins. Why do we have to leave it all right now? I’ve got it all fixed up just the way I like it. Well, I might have to go, Lot, but I don’t have to like it.”
I can just hear her griping to Lot as they and their daughters leave Sodom. Then just as they got far enough away from the city to be safe, Lot’s wife just had to look back one more time. Yes, she heard the angels just as Lot did, but surely the angels didn’t mean her. Surely what they said didn’t apply to her. She didn’t intend to go back, she only wanted to see her home one more time but that final look back cost her life.

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
Mark 8:36 NIV.

She loved it all too much. She paid with her life.
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No Monsters

Do you enjoy monster movies? Not me. I used to hide my face at the scariest scenes when I went to the movies with my husband, but now that we watch most of our movies at home, I just go in the other room and let him watch them alone. We now have 3 TVs in our house, so I can watch the news while cooking supper and watch what I want when he is watching some monster movie.

This is the time of year that thoughts turn to monsters. For some people, Halloween is their favorite time of year. They love to decorate their house with fall leaves and pumpkins, fake spider webs and black paper bats. They set out bowls of candy for the children who come trick-or-treating.

I always have candy to give out and delight in seeing  the trick-or-treaters in their costumes. When my children were little, my sister and I spent hours making costumes—angels, Superman, Chew Baca from Star Wars, Indian maidens, but we never dressed our kids up as monsters.

Sometimes when my grandsons used to spend the night, I had to tell them, “There are no monsters at Mimi’s house. No such things as monsters. No monsters under the bed, no monsters in the closet, and no monsters in the darkness.”
There are no monsters, but there is evil, pure evil. Satan is evil and the father of evil. He is out to get you. He wants to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (See John 10:10.)

There are evil spirits and evil people in the world, but not monsters. And I pray away those evil spirits and evil people, by the power of the Holy (good) Spirit and the Word of God. Satan is no match for the goodness and power of God.

 “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.” 
Psalms 91:10-11 KJV.

My angels are always watching over me.
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Daniel Repented for his Nation

Daniel was one of four of the most prominent Jews in Babylon. He and the three Hebrew children–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–obeyed the law even in a foreign country where they had been carried captive. Through the lions’ den and the fiery furnace, they prevailed and were promoted by the king, with Daniel rising in rank right under the king himself.

Daniel stayed loyal to his faith, yet served the king faithfully for many years. He kept the commandments of God, followed the guidelines of his religion, and studied the Torah and prophets.

One day while Daniel was reading the scroll of the prophet Jeremiah, he discovered that Jeremiah had foretold the captivity of the Jews in Babylon and had predicted right down to the very year when the captivity would be over, which was very soon. Then Daniel did the only thing he knew to do—he prayed.

“We have sinned.  We have not obeyed Your voice. All Israel has transgressed Your law.”  Daniel identified himself with his people. Although he was probably the godliest man in the whole nation of Israel, he repented.  He repented for himself and for all of Israel as their representative.  Then he called on the God’s mercy.

“O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” Daniel 9:18 NKJV

That is not the typical Christian’s prayer these days. What do we pray? “Lord, do you see those heathens who are killing unborn babies and promoting sex and violence? What are you going to do about it? We want justice. Get’ em, God.””

No, let’s take a lesson from Daniel. Let’s repent for our nation including ourselves, even if we are not personally guilty of the sins that have been committed.

Father, have mercy on the United States. Forgive us for we have sinned.

 

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Crickets in the House

 

We have a cricket in the house. Most of the time we don’t even notice it, but when the TV is turned off and it gets quiet, we hear that single cricket calling for his girlfriend.  He calls over and over, but never gets an answer, because he’s the only cricket inside the house.

The Chinese have kept crickets as pets since the 12th century and build tiny houses for their pet crickets. They don’t live very long, just a few months. The Chinese used to have cricket fights, with betting and fierce competition.

The cricket in my house is not my pet. In fact, today I wondered if he’s passed away, since I haven’t heard him. I’m pretty sure he didn’t find his girlfriend cricket either. My cat frequently sees an insect and chases it around the house, so maybe she chased him until she caught him and ate him.

Lots of people in foreign countries eat bugs, but that’s one thing I’ve never had any interest in eating. No chocolate-covered ants for me. No salted caterpillars. No grub worms. And absolutely no crickets or grasshoppers.

Crickets are only spoken of in the Bible in one place, and that is to say that crickets are okay to eat, approved by God. “Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.” Leviticus 11:22 NIV.  One version interprets this to say, “But you can eat some of these, namely, those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground: all locusts, katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers.” The Message Bible.

God is interested in our diet, what we eat, what is good for us, and what is not good. God watches over us, and tells us, “If you have to, you can eat a locust, katydid, cricket, or grasshoppers—they are all okay to eat, but dark chocolate is good for you too, so it’s alright if you just skip the insects, and eat the chocolate.”

Lavon Hightower Lewis

 

 

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The River

Years ago, I went to San Antonio to a telephone company school for 2 weeks. That weekend while I was there, several of the students who were from the area invited us who were from out of state to go downtown to The River.

We parked on the street, which was almost totally deserted and walked down the stairs to where shops and cafés lined the river on both sides. The river was packed with people, walking on the banks, shopping, and riding in flat-bottom boats on the river.

When I saw the famous “River,” I was astonished. “You call this a river? It’s no bigger than Bull Creek in Vinita, Oklahoma,” I told them. “I’ll bet I could wade across that river and it would never reach my waist. We have the Grand River in northeast Oklahoma, and what about the Mississippi River? Now those are rivers.” But of course, those San Antonians were proud of their river, as they should be, so no offense.

I remember lying on a quilt in the back of the station wagon in the dark, listening to Daddy and Granddad talk in hushed voices while they fished off the bank of some river all night. It was probably Grand River, below the dam at Langley.

There’s another river that I love to think about, but I’ve never been there. It’s been described several places by different people, but my favorite description is in Revelation.

“And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb….. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.” Revelation 22:1, 5 NKJV.

I can just imagine Daddy and Granddad sitting on the banks of the River of Life in heaven, pure and clear, fishing and enjoying their new life, but they won’t be fishing in the dark. No, the Lord Himself is the Light.
Lavon Hightower Lewis

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Building an Altar

The dearest place on earth to my heart for many years was the old wooden altar where I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was 7 years old. And I frequently knelt there in that same tear-stained spot at my end of the altar to meet my Lord in prayer.

Years later, at a different altar, I rededicated my life to Jesus and then put my 3-year-old son on the altar to dedicate him to the Lord. That same altar was where I was married the second time and where I dedicated my daughter when she was two weeks old. I found my place there at the end of that altar too, where I shed many tears in prayer over the years.

Abraham built an altar at Bethel, which means “House of God,” in Genesis 12. Then he built an altar in Hebron, which means “Friend of God.”

Abraham’s last altar was on Mount Moriah, where Abraham made the ultimate sacrifice, his only son Isaac, but God stopped the sacrifice and provided a ram caught in the thicket to take Isaac’s place. This was symbolic of God providing His own sacrifice, His only Son Jesus. Abraham named that altar Jehovahjireh, “God, my provider.”

From Bethel the “House of God,” to Hebron “Friend of God,” to Jehovah Jireh “God my Provider,” the names he gave the altars suggest he was getting closer to God as he traveled on his journey.

Can you point back to the altar where you gave your heart to Jesus? In your journey through life, have you moved from worshiping at the House of God, to being a friend of God, to knowing that God is your Provider?

Hebrews 10:19, 22 NKJV, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, ….let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”

God always hears our prayers, no matter the position of our bodies, as long as our hearts are knelt in prayer before Him.

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Called by Name

We have an indoor cat named Sassy, but she doesn’t know her name. In fact, most of the time we just call her “kitty,” as in “here, kitty, kitty, kitty,” so I guess her name is really Kitty.
We used to feed 5 or 6 cats outside. That practice got started innocently enough. A couple of cute little kittens wandered up, so hubby felt sorry for them and started feeding them. After a while, he wanted to quit feeding them, but it was winter, so I asked him to keep putting out food till spring. Then it was almost winter again and the cats had more kittens.
The outside cats didn’t have names and they scattered when the back door was opened. If you tried to call them, they ran out of the yard. Since hubby fed them, you would think he could get close to them, but they were too wild. They should have been named, held, touched, petted, and talked to when they were babies, like we did with our indoor cat.
Jesus said in John 10:3-4,14 “The sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name. . . And the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
 
Just like my indoor cat has become familiar with my voice by being around me, I have become familiar with Jesus’ voice, by hearing Him speak through His Word, the Bible. A non-Christian might think this is strange, that I can say, “I hear Jesus speak and I know His voice,” but I have been listening for His voice since I was a baby Christian, just like my indoor cat listens for my voice.
Spending time reading the Bible and talking to the Lord gives me a relationship with Him. When He speaks through His Word, I hear Him. When I speak to Him, His ear is open to my prayer and He pays attention.
Jesus is my Good Shepherd and He calls me by my name.
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The Harvest is Ready

Fall is truly upon us. The hay is in, the pumpkins are almost ready for harvest, and we are getting ready for winter.
This time of year, the farmer walks the fields, checking the harvest. The machines are repaired, oiled and gassed up, and ready to go. All the harvesting supplies are made ready.  Everything that has been done all through the year has lead up to this point. From the plowing, planting, fertilizing, right through the irrigating or praying for rain, the farmer has been preparing for this moment when the crops are gathered in.
God has given us the good fruit of the earth another year, just like He promised in Gen. 8:22. “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night shall not cease.”
 
God has been preparing us all our lives for the harvest. One plows, another plants, one fertilizes, another waters, but God gives the increase.
The church has been planting and watering a long time. Most churches are full of people who have been prepared for harvest time through the teaching of the Word of God. Many faithful workers in the church are now being prepared to be harvesters in the fields.
Spiritually, too, the harvest time is nearly upon us. God has oiled and gassed us up, repaired what need fixed, and now we are getting ready to go. God is walking the fields, checking the heads of wheat, looking at the clouds, gauging the season. He knows it is just about time. Any time now, the harvesters will be heading into the fields to gather in the precious grain of the Lord—the people.
Jesus Himself spoke of this moment when the last great harvest would take place at just the right time. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.John 4:35.
The call of God is going out. “Prepare for the harvest.”
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