Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
One thing that makes the Smoky Mountains special is that just about anywhere you hike you will find streams and creeks. When you are in the mountains you are surrounded by water even in winter when the streams become beautiful ice sculptures. When I read these familiar words of Paul I think that this is what he means when he tells his friends to pray continually - to surround ourselves with God. Even in cold and icy times we can walk in his presence rejoicing and giving thanks for the water and its beauty.
Thank you for promise of your presence even in cold and hard times. Show us your beauty this day.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
This one-way road is one of my favorite roads in the mountains. When you pull off for a view you don’t have to wonder which way to turn you just have to follow the road. The road ahead is narrow and moves out of sight and it ends in a different place from where it starts. It is filled with beauty all along the way. All you have to do is follow the road.
Jesus’s call to Simon Peter and Andrew was as straightforward as driving on this one-way road, “Come, follow me.” They didn’t know where it would end but they did know who they were following. Jesus called them from where they were and told them that he would make them into different kind of fishermen. Following Jesus begins where you are now. You only must decide to follow the road he lays out for you. You won’t always see the road in front of you. You must trust Jesus to lead the way.
Give us the courage to follow you this day. Remake us into what you would have us be.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart
The sailboat waits at the dock for its owner to come and help it fulfill its purpose. The name, “Endurance,” made me wonder why the owner gave the boat this name. I wonder what he or she has had to endure in the past or is enduring now. When I think about endurance I think about waiting., which may be the hardest part of endurance. The sailboat cannot sail without its master so it must wait. We can endure because we wait for a Master who is faithful and true. In him we find the courage and strength to endure. When we wait for him we find our purpose.
Lord and Master
We wait for you. Show us your purpose for you this day.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;
The plant has made it through the winter and soon the bud will become a beautiful white trillium. Many people will come to the mountains in the spring to see the trilliums in bloom. It will be a new creation out of something old. Only when we have weathered the dark and trusted God to carry us through are we able to sing a new song. The new song we sing won’t be our song, it will be his song. It is when we sing his song that we bring the promise of new life to all those we meet.
Open our hearts to your song and give us a new song of praise to sing for you have made us new.
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
For years I didn’t know about Sparks Lane. I just stayed on the loop road around Cades Cove and never thought about going on a gravel road that I didn't know where it ended. Then one day I decided to take a chance and take this gravel road and oh what I found. Now it calls me every time I go to the cove to discover its beauty. When you follow its call, no matter the weather, it leads you to beauty. God calls us to follow him. The way he calls is not always clear; it can be foggy and a little scary not knowing where the road leads. He promises us to take hold of our hand for he has a purpose for us. He calls us to be a light for others who sit in darkness.
Our God and King
Take our hands and lead us to be a light for those in darkness.
This is what God the Lord says--
The heavens definitely stretched out before us this day. We had stopped for lunch at Branbury State Park in Vermont to enjoy the small lake, the beautiful blue skies, and bright sunny day. The clouds seemed to change all at once and we could see the rain clouds coming. The houses and boats along the shore were now dwarfed underneath those skies. It is hard to explain the feeling that I had watching the clouds come in a way that I have never seen before. I took this picture right before we made a run for our car. The clouds and rain moved on as quickly as they came.
God comes to us sometimes like the clouds that day. We are going about out daily work and then something causes us to look to the heavens and remember the God who spread them out before us. Take time this day to go outside, even if it is raining, and look to the heavens and worship the God who gives us life.
Creator of the Heavens
We bow in worship at the beautiful world you have given us, its majestic skies and all that it is in it.
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
I didn’t expect to see very many people on Cadillac Mountain for sunrise that morning. The temperatures were below freezing and the skies were clear so the possibility of beautiful color in the sky was very low. When we got to the top of the mountain more than an hour before sunrise I couldn’t believe what I saw. Instead of the few photographers I thought would see, there were tour buses full of people. Based on the buses and the cars there were at least a thousand people on that mountain top. While I knew that this spot in Acadia National Park was the first place in America to see the sun rise over the horizon I was surprised that so many people would make the effort to get here. Even more surprising was the reaction when the first sliver of light appeared on the horizon - there was applause.
In our world today despair is rampant and darkness seems to have won the day. People are desperate for that sliver of light, wondering if it will ever come. If we follow Christ we know that the Light of the World has come. Praise the Lord who brings light and maybe clap your hands with joy. Arise and shine and share the light of Christ with all you see this day. Make the effort to be the smile, the kind word, the comforting hand for there are thousands upon thousands looking for the light.
Give us an overwhelming sense of your light this day and the courage to arise and shine.
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