Thought for the Day: The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3 (NKJV). He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:23 (NKJV)
Pondering recent events taking place in our society, I began remembering those men and women woven into the timeless stories of the Bible who stood unwavering in the face of overwhelming trials of their day. Take for instance, John the Baptist, the first cousin of Jesus. John was designated as the forerunner of Jesus. He was to prepare those who heard him preach there would be one coming after him that was greater. John was predicted by Isaiah the prophet to be the one who would be crying in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Seems to be a somewhat strange prediction, crying in the wilderness?
However, John was a different individual. He is described as wearing a camel's hair garment with a leather girdle about his loins, similar to the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. John had nothing whatsoever to do with the kingdom of this world and the worldly pleasures around him, his only focus was on the kingdom of heaven and the very King who was about to appear. He had nothing to do with wealth or eloquent soft clothing or elaborate meals. His food was the food of the poorest in the land, he ate locusts which were gathered in the desert, and wild honey which was scooped out of the hollow part of trees. He never cut his hair and never drank wine. Water was his main drink. He was completely devoted to his task.
"And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey." - Matthew 3:4 (As referenced from Bible History)
John’s voice was used mightily of God to prepare people for His Son and the message of salvation.
Esther, a Jewish young woman, was brought into the King’s palace and made his Queen. Although he had no idea this beautiful woman was of Jewish heritage, she was given the opportunity to save her people from total destruction by death. But she had to go before the King without being summoned and that fact alone could have cost her life. When she entered the place where the King held court, upon seeing her, the King immediately allowed her entrance.
On the third day, Esther put on her royal attire and stood in the inner courtyard of the palace in front of the king’s quarters. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the throne room, opposite the entrance to the building. When the king saw Queen Esther standing in the courtyard, she won his favor, and the king extended to Esther the gold scepter that he was holding. Esther approached and touched the top of the scepter. The king asked her, “What do you want, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even if it’s half of the kingdom, it will be given to you.” Esther 5:1-3
Esther’s voice was heard by God and used to save the lives of countless Jewish people.
Moses, Abraham, Joshua, Job, Daniel, Rahab, Ruth and countless others were anointed with God’s protection as they used their voices to stand strong among the tsunami of opinions that were not aligned with God’s truth. Can one voice make a difference? Undergirded with the power of the Holy Spirit, yes, one voice can be heard and will be used by Almighty God to protect our hope, trust, mission and testimony of an unfailing, unrelenting Lord who lives and exists today. Never underestimate the power of ONE VOICE…yours!
Father, watch over us as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. Aid us as we maneuver the tide of unpopular opinion, and with the sword of the Word of God, fill us with love, kindness and wisdom to answer countless opinions and questions that will be posed. May our answers point others to Christ without screams, chants, or anger, but with truth that cannot be denied. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
This weekend is our annual celebration of Father's Day. A day to honor and remember our dads. To honor the memory of my dad who passed away seven years ago, I'd like to tell you a bit about him.
My dad was born in 1925, December the 29th. In fact, we always tried to make his birthday special because, as most people who have a birthday around the holidays have experienced, Christmas gifts often get combined with birthday gifts! But fortunately many of those birthdays were shared with Daddy due to going "home" to Virginia for the holiday.
One of the many attributes I remember was Dad's ability to fix anything, make most anything and never hired out for work to be done in the yard or house. He was just amazing in all those categories. For instance, Mama would see a Christmas decoration made out of wood that she would like to own; Dad would come home and make it. I once started painting birdhouses and Dad decided he would make the birdhouses and then paint a few himself! (All the grandchildren got one of those, by the way). And then there was one night Daddy wanted cake to eat, so he got in the kitchen and made a cake!
I especially remember the day he took me out to the garage and showed me how to change a tire on my car. He said he didn't want me in a position where I needed to wait for assistance because women needed to know these things!
Daddy never readily said he loved me when I was growing up. I don't know why, but when I got married it all changed. I've never lived close to my parents from the day I married, but each time I came home and got ready to leave, Daddy had tears in his eyes. From that point on, he hugged me and told me he loved me when I'd leave.
I will always remember when Gary and I married and moved to Idaho, Daddy helped box a lot of my things. One of the items was a ceramic Christmas tree that I display each year. When I opened the box (in April) there was a big note that said, "I love you...Dad". I sat in the living room and cried my eyes out. I so missed home at that very moment and having Dad's availability just down the road.
There were countless hours spent on Mom and Dad's screened in porch each morning drinking coffee. In fact, it often went into lunchtime while we sat and talked about life. Often we spoke about the things of Christ and living the Christian life and anytime I had a question or came up on a particular bump in the road, I would ask his opinion. He never disappointed with food for thought. In fact, when it came time to choose a cover for my second devotional book, Daddy picked out the cover and added why it would be his choice. It instantly made sense to me because I considered my Dad a wise man.
Gospel music, wow how Daddy loved gospel quartet music! Each Sunday morning he'd be in the bathroom shaving, getting ready for church and be whistling those gospel tunes. He loved to sing and sang in several gospel quartets. He even wrote a song that was recorded when sung at his funeral. I can hear his voice in my mind when certain songs are played and/or sung in church.
I'm not saying Daddy was perfect. He was opinionated and during a discussion he'd give you a run for your money with the reasons why his idea or opinion was the best. However, I saw him mellow through the years. I heard him apologize for past mistakes, tell me many times the things he wished he'd done for Gary and our family when we were struggling with two little ones.
But Daddy loved us; my mother, whom he wouldn't hardly let out of his sight; us kids and especially all the grandchildren. I can still see Daddy swinging on the porch with Nicholas by his side just talking. I have no idea what they talked about, but they would spend hours out there. And all those times Kimberly sat on his lap...even as she became a young woman. As one person commented, "You're never too old to sit on Papa's lap." From the time she was a little thing, she would crawl up in Papa's lap and just be close to him.
He always tried to impart his knowledge to us, the things only time and experience can teach, but the one thing I will always remember is listening to Daddy pray with Mama every morning. Daddy would pray for each one of us, calling us by name and asking God to lead us all to the foot of the Cross. He would name whatever struggle we had shared and ask the Lord to show us how to handle it. My dad was a child of God and I know in my heart that he is rejoicing this Father's Day with our heavenly Father God.
I love you, Dad and I miss you. I could use some of that experienced wisdom. As Mama said to you when the Lord led you home, "Don't walk too fast because I'm coming." I'll meet you at the gate of heaven, Daddy, where we'll sing forever in the heavenly choir! Happy Father's Day, Love "Miss Cook"!
Lord, thank you for dads who are trying their best to live for you and be the best fathers they can be this side of heaven. The sacrifices made, the love extended unconditionally, the faith shown and deeds done for Jesus Christ, may prayers that have been lifted bring honor to our Lord. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Today has been a wonderful day of celebration for me as I enter into another year of living, laughing, teaching, writing, loving and praising my Lord and Savior. I do not take for granted the privilege of being alive and well and I pray I will use each and every day given to me to make Jesus proud!
Many thanks for the countless individuals who took a few minutes out of their day to wish me a happy birthday. I am simply honored and amazed at your kindness and generous words.
One of my objectives for my birthday this year was to be with my mother. As you know my mom is blind, has dementia and is living in a nursing home. With the Covid 19 this year, I have not been in the same room with her since late February/early March. It's been really difficult on both of us. Although visitors and family members are still not permitted into the facility, it was my hope to at least see mom through a window and communicate with her by phone.
After deciding to make the trip to Lynchburg, hubby and I decided to hit the road!
With the help of a wonderful staff member, I have gotten to talk with mom for the past two days using this mode of communication. Today she was dressed up and helped sing Happy Birthday to me. It was a treasure and something I will always ponder in my heart.
Life is filled with surprises and blessings. I am fortunate to have been able visit with loved ones and celebrate this day with a heart that is full. Below is a bit of my blessings!
I press on through this pandemic to find various ways in which to teach using social media. With my son's guidance, I now have a YouTube channel for The Sounding Board Ministry. I will be posting each week through the month of June as I teach from the Book of James. James is full of practical lessons for us as believers to incorporate into our daily lives.
Hopefully, if you are not attending corporate worship currently you will enjoy delving into this book with me.
God bless, my friends!
As I walked on the trail this morning, I couldn't help but take a photo of the beauty surrounding me. As I looked up and saw this incredibly blue sky and the green of the leaves of these trees, I was extremely thankful. Why, you might ask, with this coronavirus still a major concern in our lives with no present cure for our bodies, am I thankful?
Well, that is an easy answer for me. I'm blessed. After months of staying home and traveling to the grocery store and only an occasional trip to check on my mother-in-law, I've not been many places. So, again, why be thankful? Because we have been given all we needed to thrive. My husband and I have had food on our table, a warm house in the winter, social media to stay in touch with friends and family, a safe place to walk daily and, to top it off, we are being allowed starting this weekend to move around in our communities due to the decrease in virus cases.
So, yes, I am blessed, and to add to the excitement I'm getting my hair cut this weekend! Talk about a blessing!! What a minor gift, but one I hope I never take for granted along with all the other liberties I have enjoyed my entire life!
Why don't you join me in being thankful today? Put aside all the troubles and trials of life and simply breathe. Breathe in the fresh air, the life, the love and the protection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have a great day!
Scripture Thought: “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” I Kings 19:11-13
Elijah, the prophet of God, is hiding in a cave to escape the evil Queen Jezebel’s edict to kill him for proclaiming the message of God. To be perfectly honest, I would have been right beside him. It’s not easy standing up proclaiming words from scripture when the tide of political correctness is against you. In verse 9 of I Kings 19, the Lord came to Elijah and asked what he was doing in the cave? Have you had those moments when you’ve hidden from your current situation and questioned the Creator of heaven and earth wondering if deliverance was on the horizon? Evidently, we aren’t alone; Elijah shared those feelings and took up residence in a cave.
God’s desire is to bring us out of despair; therefore He instructs Elijah to head to the mouth of the cave and stand on the mountain in His presence and watch as He passed by. Tremendous acts of nature explode, but it appears Elijah is stuck in the cave of doubt not appreciating the three displays of majesty taking place within his reach. First, God sends a great and powerful wind; so powerful that the mountains are torn apart and the rocks are shattered! Don’t you think you might be peeping from behind your laced crossed fingers?
Those the turbulent wind funnels were followed by the second display of majesty; an earthquake, but Elijah remains clinging to the side of his cave, fingers embedded in those dirt walls. Finally, a fire erupts. In all honesty, if these three events happened on the heels of one another, I’d probably be so far back in the cave seeking shelter it would have taken a week to find me or the entrance. However, scripture notes the fire gave way to a gentle whisper. It was then Elijah proceeded to the entrance of the cave to commune with God.
Although numerous lessons pour from these verses, a main point to be emphasized is God deals with each of us in differently. Just as we have varying personalities and spiritual gifts, so are our personal situations God uses to teach and mold us. He might speak in a turbulent encounter as demonstrated by the wind which tore apart mountains and shattered rocks, or an earthquake occurrence which breaks our stubborn will; while another walks through an all consuming fire of intense trials. Whatever the circumstance or event, if we quiet our activities and our multitasking lifestyles, God will speak in a gentle whisper. Why a whisper, you ask? Maybe it's during those times when we finally realize there is nothing humanly possible we can do to change our status or situation, we decide to quiet our hearts and minds and simply listen. Our Creator, our Father in Heaven will guide us through those challenging and arduous times to the quiet shores of His waiting arms.
Lord, train our ears to hear your voice and never delay coming when you call. When faced with opposition, doubts and worry assist us with courage and wisdom to follow your direction. Only when we are fully immersed in your Word will we be strengthened to face our foes. Use us to bring honor and glory to the Kingdom of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen!
My sincere thanks to those of you who have followed me these past five weeks as we have walked the journey of a pandemic that kept us close at home! May we continue to pray for those who have been infected and those still being quarantined during this time. Let's pray that soon God will send a cure that can be taken by all ages and rid our nation and our world of this virus.
I don't believe I have much to share on this blog today (my viewers did not offer a lot in the way of recipes, book titles or conversation!). I will be taking down this particular blog and replacing it with devotionals very soon.
But once again, thank you for allowing me into your iPhones and computers to rattle on and keep you company! God bless!