So Many Souls

So Many Souls

One Sunday morning the members of my Sunday school class went prayer walking.  Several small groups walked the nearby neighborhoods.  Some stopped at each intersection to pray aloud together.  My group walked silently, praying as we went. 

As my two partners and I walked our route, for me the recurring thought was “so many souls.”  I wondered:  how happy are the people in these homes?  Many, I’m sure are content.  Many have a relationship with God and a church home.  But how many souls are hurting, struggling to survive without God?  How many suffer from shattered marriages?  How many fill the spiritual void with drugs and alcohol?  How many appear happy on the outside but are miserable on the inside?  How many struggle with physical ailments or watch loved ones suffer with health problems?  I wonder how many souls along our walk lack the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  How many carry burdens that Jesus would gladly shoulder?  How many desperately need the peace that only He can provide?

When we walked, we saw evidence of children living in this neighborhood:  Swing sets, bicycles, and basketball goals.  I wondered about the children.  Are these children learning about our loving God?  Do they know about His awesome power and amazing love?  Are they growing up in homes with loving, Christian parents who teach them about Jesus and model Christian behavior?

While we walked, God opened my eyes and let me glimpse what He must see in the neighborhoods.  He doesn’t see elegant homes, shiny cars, or stylish clothing, nor does He see broken shacks, rusted junkers, or raggedy clothes.  He sees deep into our souls.  He sees pain and disappointment.  He sees spiritual hunger.  He sees souls lost without Him.

We who know Christ have a responsibility to pray for those who do not.  We may not know the conditions of their souls, but that should not prevent us from praying.  There are so many souls in our neighborhoods who have not accepted the saving grace of our Lord—so many who need His peace and joy. 

Thank you, God, for this glimpse into the souls who are lost and hurting.  May they develop a thirst for You.  Lord, there are so many souls; keep them on my heart and keep me praying for them—so many souls, Lord, so many souls.

Matthew 9:37-38 “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

Walnuts for the Squirrels

            As I walked the dirt path through the woods, I heard a soft “plop”. About a foot in front of me, a walnut had dropped from a nearby tree. Just a few feet farther down the path, I saw dozens of walnuts littering the trail. I wondered how long it would be before the squirrels would come out of hiding and capture these nuts for their winter storage. I could picture them scurrying about, grabbing the nuts from the ground, and running along the tree branches, capturing more nuts before scampering to their homes to store their food. God has indeed provided the squirrels with a bounty of food for the winter.

            For some reason, thinking about the squirrels gathering their winter food had me remembering times from years ago, when my now grown children were very young. Money was tight, and I stretched every dollar as far as it could go. I made my children’s clothes with fabric from the remnant piles, and I made all our meals from scratch. We often ate potato soup or pancakes and eggs for dinner in order to save money.

            By the time we paid the rent, utilities, and health insurance, there wasn’t much left in the budget to stretch. One winter, it was especially bad. I had canned two bushels of peaches and frozen dozens of ears of corn, yet it seemed there wasn’t enough money left to feed my kids.

            Fortunately, God provides for his children, just as he provides walnuts for the squirrels.

            Just when I was having doubts about where the next week’s meals would come from, God sent two special gifts. First, my brother called. He and his wife had an opportunity to purchase half a beef, but they didn’t have a freezer to store it. If we would store the meat for them, they would pay their “locker rent” to us in beef. The next day, my husband came home with a dozen or more packages of meat. One of his co-workers, whose husband was a butcher, just happened to “clean out her freezer.” She gifted us with all that meat. We were doubly blessed.

            Almost like the walnuts that dropped on the path, we had plenty of meat “dropped” in our path. Since we didn’t have to buy meat, we had enough money for the rest of the groceries. In spite of my worries, God provided ample food for our growing family. He sent us double blessings.

            Precious Father, thank you for providing for my every need, even when I worry or doubt.

Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Hunger and Thirst

How often do you get hungry or thirsty?  My guess is you get hungry and thirsty several times a day, every day.

Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matt. 5:6).  We long for food and water, but Jesus speaks of hungering and thirsting for righteousness!  How do we do that? Isaiah 51:1:  helps us understand:  Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD:  Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn.  When we seek God, we find righteousness too.  How do we seek God?  We seek Him in church, hearing messages from music and the pulpit.  We seek God when we read, study and meditate on scripture.  We seek Him in prayer, talking to Him and listening to His still, quiet voice.  We seek Him whenever we enjoy the beauty of His creation.

If we need to eat and drink several times a day to satisfy the hunger and thirst of our bodies, wouldn’t the same be true of our spiritual hunger and thirst?

Father God, thank you for giving us physical hunger and thirst so we may understand spiritual hunger and thirst.  Teach us to seek You and your righteousness so that you may continually satisfy our spiritual longings. 

Mountains and Valleys

“We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.”
― Oswald Chambers

Thank you, Lord, for the mountains that inspire, and the valleys that give us stamina and strength.

A Thunderous Voice

The bible tells us that God speaks in a still, small voice.  But sometimes when I enter a still, small state, His voice shouts and thunders:  How can my people be so blind?  How can you be so deaf?  Open your eyes!  Open your ears!  My glory is all around you and you ignore it.

Look!  Behold my glory in the sky:  The brightness of the sun, the vastness of the blue dome overhead.  The moon and the host of stars glow at night; all these reveal my glory.  Open your eyes to see Me.  The majestic, snow-topped mountains and the heaving waters of the oceans, their waves crashing against the shore, are all shouting out my greatness.  The brilliant bolt of lightning electrifies the night sky.  How can you not see Me?  Look in the eyes of an infant, in the caress of a loved one. Look at your own skin and hair.   My glory is everywhere.  See it, and glorify my name.

Listen!  Everywhere you hear testaments of my greatness:  The rumbling thunder in the midst of a storm.  The early morning songs of the birds and the rushing waters of a mountain stream proclaim My majesty.  Listen!  You will hear my voice.  Listen to the laughter of a child.  Listen to the wind in the trees.  Listen to music: the piano, guitar, violin, and saxophone all sing of my glory.  Hear the voices of those who love you.  Listen to your heartbeat.  Hear your breathing.  All these provide testimonies of my greatness.  Open your ears; glorify my name.

O my people, how can you be so blind?  O people, how can you be so deaf?  Open your eyes; open your ears.  My glory resides all around you!  See it.  Hear it.  After you finally see it and hear it, do not be mute.  Tell others how great I am.  Open your mouth and glorify Me.

Father, forgive me.  Forgive me for the countless times I fail to notice your glory all around me.  Forgive me for not listening for your voice.  Keep my eyes and ears open that I may behold your glory.  Let my mouth open in praise of my almighty God.

Job 37:2-5 “Listen!  Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.  He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heavens and sends it to the ends of the earth.  After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice.  When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back.  God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.”

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Romans 8: 38, 39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thank you, Lord, for your ever-present love and your faithfulness through all generations.