I’m on holiday in Queensland at the moment and it’s been pretty wet since we arrived. That can be a bit of a downer if you’re a tourist, but if you’re a farmer the rain is great. Practically everything you eat and drink relies on the rain. You also don’t get rainforests without rain. So rain can be a good thing - it depends on your point of view or attitude.
Life can be a bit like that - if we change our point of view and see challenges as opportunities for growth, we will be less upset by them. We will also learn valuable life lessons like patience, resilience and persistence, like Paul pointed out in Romans 5. It's hard to learn these lessons in the sunshine - we need to go through a few challenges.
I enjoy a bit of amateur photography and am especially captivated by reflections. It reminds me that we are meant to reflect God's character and love in our lives. A reflection is a likeness of the real thing. The full verse of 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. We are meant to reflect God's character, his love, patience, kindness, peace, self-control, gentleness, holiness, generosity, glory etc. Does your life reflect popular culture or God? The good news is that we don't have to do this on our own. The Holy Spirit, who lives in those who believe, helps us.
Challenge: What area of your life needs remodelling to reflect God's character and not the world's? Next time you see a reflection remember that you were designed to reflect God's glory.
I've had this cactus for about 40 years. I love that it is impossible to kill. In summer it gets very little water and in winter it gets saturated with rain but it just keeps on going and growing. It's what we call resilient.
There will be difficult days and even difficult seasons in life. The good news is that God helps us in the tough times - we don't have to do it alone. The apostle Paul encountered some hardships in his life - he was put in prison multiple times for preaching the Good News. In 2 Timothy 3:11 says, You know all that happened to me ... the terrible persecutions I endured! But the Lord rescued me from them all.
How does God help us?
Emperor Penguins are intriguing animals. They have to endure some of the harshest conditions on earth with wind chills as cols as minus 60 degrees Celsius. In the winter the male Emperor Penguins look after the eggs while the females hunt. They huddle in groups and take turns moving towards the inside of the pack where it is warmer. The Bible talks a lot about Christians gathering together and working together. It's impossible to do life alone - you need family, friends and mentors to help you through.
I recently visited the beautiful Karijini National Park in the north of Western Australia for a couple of days and had an enforced digital detox due to the lack of a phone signal or wi-fi. It was kind of isolating at first but it's good for the soul to put down our devices and get out in nature. It's also an apt reminder that there are places on this vast planet that you can not get a phone signal, but you are never out of range of God. Psalm 139:7-10 says,
Your Spirit is everywhere I go.
I cannot escape your presence.
If I go up to heaven, you will be there.
If I go down to the place of death, you will be there.
If I go east where the sun rises
or go to live in the west beyond the sea,
even there you will take my hand and lead me.
Your strong right hand will protect me
We are like the moon - it has no light or its own but it reflects the light of the sun. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. This basically means that we reflect God's glory when we become like Christ, just like the moon reflects the light of the sun. And what was Christ like? He was full of love, kindness and compassion.
Kangaroos are one of the few animals that can not move backwards easily. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians, But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. Sometimes we get stuck in the past, feeling bitter about someone who hurt us, dwelling on a relationship that has ended, feeling guilty about a mistake we've made. We need to forget what is behind us and focus on the present.
When wolves hunt alone they catch small animals such as squirrels and rabbits but when they hunt in a pack they are capable of bringing down a moose. We are capable of much more when we work together. The Bible tells us that when we pray together God can accomplish great things. Matthew 18:19-20 If two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.
When salmon are ready to lay their eggs they swim upstream to the place they were born. Swimming with the current requires very little effort but swimming against it requires a lot, especially when there are waterfalls and rapids to jump up as well. Matthew 7:13-14 says Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Conforming and fitting in is often easy, but we were called to conform to the image of Christ, not this world - to choose love instead of hate, purity instead of promiscuity, humility instead of vanity, peace instead of conflict...
Psalms 18:32-33 says, "It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and causes me to stand on the heights." Deer are very graceful and sure-footed animals, that is, they do not stumble often. I am not graceful and sure-footed by nature - physically, mentally or spiritually. But God makes me sure-footed so I don't stumble over every obstacle that life throws my way whether it be a physical obstacle like a rock, a mental obstacle like a stressful time such as exams, or a spiritual obstacle such as a dry spot in my Bible reading.
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.