Proverbs 6:6: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!”

Let’s check out ants!

A couple of things come to mind as we study the fascinating behavior patterns of tiny little ants: one is collaboration, the other is separation.

  • Collaboration: It’s astonishing to see how millions of ants can work together so seamlessly. The successful team work is based on its communication skills. Ants communicate with each other using chemical signals, called pheromones. Like other insects, ants perceive smells with their long, thin, and mobile antennae. Since most ants live on the ground, they use the soil surface to leave pheromone trails behind that can be followed by other ants. Ever seen a long ant trail going all the way to your kitchen counter? One smart ant detected a food source in your kitchen and successfully communicated that to the gang.
  • Separation: Ants stay together to support their colony, however, to grow beyond one colony some ants must find new territory. Here is where wings come in handy! Only males and queens have wings, so it’s their responsibility to spread its kind, and for that very reason they have to desert their home base when the time arrives.

While collaboration and separation seem mutually exclusive, they do go hand in hand. For obvious reasons we need each other – and yet, there will also be times in our life when we have to separate. Separation is necessary to branch out and embark on the good things God has planned for each of us individually a long time ago.

You may have discovered that neither collaboration nor separation is an easy thing to do. It can be very difficult to stick together and get on the same page. In order to be a successful team, we have to invest a lot of time improving our social skills, learning to respect each other, working things out in crisis situations, and the list goes on and on. On the other hand, we all know how tough it can be to leave what we know behind. Leaving our childhood home marks the beginning of a new season, but this will not be the last time we transition into a new season of our lives. Changes occur all the time. Nothing really stays the same. It is important to understand these changes when they are happening. When God gives us wings to fly, let’s not dig our heels in the ground. It’s time to move on. Most importantly, God has given each of us something specific to do, and that might entail taking a big risk.

Be encouraged to follow God’s directions when He beckons you. Don’t be shy – spread your wings and fly! Embrace the change, and let your little light shine in the world. And don’t forget your friends along the way.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Posted in Ant

1 Samuel 10:26: “When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a band of men whose hearts the Lord had touched became his constant companions.”

God touched the hearts of a few contemporaries of Saul, and they would eventually become his close companions, a much-needed support for transitioning into a completely new government: Saul became the very first king of Israel. We can see God at work here as He touched the hearts of a group of men to help promote a change. As God moves human hearts so He moves human history.

God still touches hearts today – that’s one of His finest attributes – and He stirs us on a deeper level than any other touch we could experience.

It is an interesting fact that on a subatomic level two objects don’t actually meet. Even in special cases like in a collision where electrons co-mingle, the nuclei are not actually touching. They are simply sharing, with infinitely small space left between the atomic parts. So, while we can sense the human touch, separation on a subatomic level still remains; not so with God, however. His love reaches out with a touch defying the subatomic level. He is closer to you and me than a best friend could ever be.

This is how we know that God is real: the Holy Spirit is constantly at work, a still small voice that can be drowned out by the noise of everyday life, but is perceptible if we allow ourselves to settle down and hear what God has to say. As God spoke life over a troubled universe at the dawn of creation, so He can speak life over our troubled souls today. His Word has the power to revive and profoundly change us.

God deserves the full credit for a transformed human heart; incidentally, that’s the way God chooses to change the world: one human heart at a time!

God’s love is ultimately responsible for anything good happening. His love is the heartbeat of the universe. His love is the change agent that softens our hearts; and His love is the reason why humanity is still here. Unfortunately for us, we happen to be our own worst enemy. One can say that humanity has self-destructive tendencies when we look at the way we treat our planet and how we continue with ongoing armed conflicts all around the world. Looking into God’s history with mankind, we can see how He has intervened numerous times to protect us from ourselves.

Whether or not God’s activities go unnoticed, we all have experienced His love one way or another. His love is the real deal – if God says He loves you (and He does), you can take that to the bank. He means it. He is dead-serious about it. It’s a far cry from the fake love you might have experienced from someone who previously hurt you. God’s love is true. It’s authentic and beyond anything you can imagine. His love truly is the greatest love of all!

“He touched me, and suddenly nothing is the same” (BARBRA STREISAND)

1 Corinthians 16:7: “For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.”

When I thought I would lose my Dad to Cancer, I sat down and wrote a song to process my grief. It turned out, however, that he bravely fought through the disease, and by the grace of God he is still alive and well at the time of this writing. Time is a precious commodity, in a different way than our Western philosophy understands it, which is quite business oriented: “Time is money” is a common byword here; it goes without saying that waste of time is perceived as a waste of money.

Nevertheless, once we lose a loved one or getting close to it we will be confronted with the reality that the time we share in each other’s presence is finite. We all die. At some point we won’t have the opportunity to see this person we love. All we have are memories – if we had the presence of mind to make the most of our time by investing it in people, especially in the people we love.

We cannot purchase time once it’s gone – that’s why we need to do the best we can to spend our time wisely.

Time

Time – a quite elusive thing it is!  There’s nothing one can do to redeem a moment passed once it’s gone.  Days and years try to measure the time we spent.  And looking back I’m glad I spent time with you.

Time takes its toll on each of us.  Sometimes we seem to forget how fleeting life can be. Yet your acts of kindness have left an indelible mark. Seeing the world through Jesus’ eyes has touched more than one heart.

 If today there’s a chance to love, love. If today there’s a need, don’t walk on by!

Time a precious thing to give!  As long as there’s today there’s a chance to give of your time. It’s a token of love, and may brighten someone’s day.  And looking back I’m glad I spent time with you.

There’s ageless eternity, a freedom we can’t fathom.  Jesus made a home for you, a home you’ll never leave. Heaven is forever. It’s comforting to know: today’s goodbye soon will be hello; today’s goodbye soon will be hello!

(Song lyrics by Bill and Evelyn Snyder)

 

Psalm 45:1: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

Helpless babes remind us how we used to be. We were very needy little boys and girls when we cried for food and for a change of diaper. Little children are that way. They cannot survive without a caregiver.

However, time moves on, and as we mature into adulthood we find ourselves perhaps reluctant to acknowledge a need.  Meanwhile we’ve been taught how to depend on ourselves. Maybe on top of that we ran into some unreliable people, and now we will try even harder to become more and more self-sufficient. So, we work hard, we get insured, we save money, and spend a lot of time developing various systems designed to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Good luck with that one! Ever noticed that even the best systems have its limitations? In the end, self-reliant people are doomed to get disappointed and very frustrated.

Entering God into the equation of life is like a breath of fresh air. We are so much better off realizing our need for God. A shift of our world view happens as soon as we start relying on God. A follower of Jesus, whose name is John, wrote about reliance on God’s love in one of his letters (1 John 4:16):

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

We all need God’s love. Similar to little children who need their parents, we cannot live without Him. His absence promotes dysfunction in literally every area of our lives. On the other hand, His presence will definitely pull us through our darkest hours – we only need to open up to Him and let Him in. When we are down and out and reach out to God He will become our refuge and strength. His love will encourage us; His Spirit will lead us. And maybe at a later time, when we are privileged to be on the mountain top of success we will remember how we got there in the first place. You guessed it: by the grace of God. It’s a great thing to realize, isn’t it? Humility rocks!

By the way, humility is a crown best worn on mentioned mountain top, and here is why: it helps us stay grounded. All mountain tops will eventually pass. Just around the corner new experiences and unknown challenges are waiting for us; and armed with humility we will have a better chance of negotiating the rough territory of life’s crazy surprises.

Realizing that we are not self-made is a God-given light bulb moment. I personally had this light bulb moment as a teenager when I asked God to introduce Himself to me. He did when I realized that He truly exists and that I am indeed His creation.

Our first step into humility is to notice that we are in fact created. Our second step is to realize that we are incomplete. God created us, and He completes us. The more this truth sinks in, the humbler we become.

A happy side-effect: a humble person will actually notice when someone is down. They are “rainy day people” who can relate because they’ve been through a rain storm or two (I am using Gordon Lightfoot’s endearing terminology here). Humility transforms us into human beings genuinely interested in other people, which is akin to God’s interest in people. And if we handle people with care God profoundly delights in us, and He will in turn bless us wherever we go.

“Rainy day lovers don’t lie when they tell you,

They’ve been down like you.

Rainy day people don’t mind

If you’re cryin’ a tear or two.” (Gordon Lightfoot)

 

Jeremiah 33:2-3: “‘This is what the Lord says—the Lord who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the Lord: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.’”

How does it feel when you are talking to someone, and you might as well talk to a wall, that’s how well your words are received? Isn’t it the toughest thing to feel isolated like that? We are born to communicate, and communication consists of sending off a signal to someone and someone picking up on it.

Welcome to God’s world! He’s been sending signals our way ever since He made human beings. Only trouble is, not everybody picks up on it. And the reason has nothing to do with our IQ. Understanding what God has to say is not a battle of the brains. It’s perhaps a battle with our pride or life’s circumstances, but it’s certainly not a lack of intelligence. In the book of Psalms it says so appropriately (Psalm 119:130):

“The teaching of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.”

God communicates with every living thing, and not just with the human race. His ways to communicate are manifold, but the message filtering through is the same. His interactions with His creation show how God cares. Following are a few examples:

  • He charges His angels (Psalm 91: 11-12): “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
  • He gives assignments to the animals (Jonah 1:17): “Then God assigned a huge fish to swallow Jonah. Jonah was in the fish’s belly three days and nights.”
  • He dresses the flowers (Matthew 6:28-30): “[Jesus said in His sermon on the Mount] ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?’”
  • He commands the rocks (Numbers 20:8): “[The Lord spoke to Moses] ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’”
  • He commands the winds (Exodus 10:19):And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt.”

And the list goes on and on. Suffice to say, the Lord can speak to anybody and anything at any time He pleases, and His words don’t go unheard in the universe.

If we don’t hear from God, we can always ask Him to speak to us; we can ask Him anything! And since He speaks the languages of birds and angels, of wales and rocks – don’t you think He can also speak the language of your heart?

“Love in any language straight from the heart pulls us all together never apart.” (by John Mohr and John Mays)

1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

When God created humankind, He created them in His own image.  One of God’s trademarks is His creativity. Mankind, too, was born to create, not the least of which is to procreate. But besides procreation God wired men with an innate curiosity to discover, invent, develop, and bring something new to the table. How else could you explain all the discoveries and inventions in the history of mankind? The creative spark inside of us pushes us forward.

However, unfortunately, besides the upward trend of progress there’s also a noticeable self-destructive downward spiral, coming with Adam and Eve’s emancipation from God. Here is the key encounter leading to a very bad decision (Genesis 3:5):

“The serpent said to the woman, ‘you most assuredly won’t die! For God knows that when you eat of it [the forbidden fruit], your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Mankind’s emancipation from God was based on the delusional promise that our eyes will be opened. Our innate curiosity got the better of us when we decided to go for the unknown while leaving our innocence behind. And so it happened that we don’t see eye to eye with our Creator anymore. Prophet Isaiah put it this way (Isaiah 55:8):

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”

We are mistaken to assume that God wants to hold us back and does not have our best interest at heart. That big fat lie originated in the Garden of Eden and is still alive and well today. Quite the opposite is true though: God has good plans for us. He is for us, not against us. His thoughts and inclinations are for our benefit, not to make things worse. While God has all eternity to work things out, we are stuck in the here and now and have no way of understanding the extent of God’s redemptive power. We need an X-ray to check out our skeleton, and we definitely are no mind readers, however, God is able to see what is going on inside any human being, physically, mentally, and emotionally. God’s perspective easily trumps ours.

If we connect to our Creator, we have a better chance of judging a situation correctly and making sane decisions. It all starts with trusting Him that He got this – whatever it is we’re struggling with: God has us covered! Let’s keep that in mind, especially when we seem to be running against closed doors. God may have already opened another door, and we just don’t see it. When in doubt, we can do what Adam and Eve failed to do: All we have to do is ask.

Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.”

Obeying God blindly reveals that we trust Him infinitely. This is also called: stepping out in faith. Abraham is a prime example. He left his home turf and everything that was familiar to him to go on a journey with unknown destination. Here is what God told Abraham (Genesis 12:1):

“Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

Leaving our home and migrating to completely unknown territory is a great challenge for everyone, and so it was for Abraham. God challenged Abraham more than once in his lifetime, and he responded to whatever God called him to do, which is why he is called the Father of Faith today.

Have you ever challenged someone to do something that seemed quite daunting to the other person, and yet, you knew, this person is going to finish the task and grow in the process? It could be a scenario at work; it could be a parenting situation. Here is the deal: Would you ever belittle the outcome of the person who went to work for you, tackled the issue, and the result was less than perfect? Probably not! Maybe you would offer some constructive criticism, but all in all you would encourage the person who just jumped into cold water for you.

In the same manner, whenever God challenges His children to do something, He is not expecting perfection. Jesus had Peter’s back when He challenged him to get out of the boat, as we read in Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 14:29-31):

“Come,” he [Jesus] said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

If we obey God we can rest assured He has our backs. Maybe it’s nerve-racking, but we won’t regret following through with whatever God puts on our minds and hearts to do. James strongly supports this idea in his letter (James 1:22):

“Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

Believing shows its true colors when we actually do what we profess – we walk the talk. It’s an awesome thing to be challenged by God and live to see the outcome of our blind obedience. But even if we don’t live to see it, we will leave a legacy. Steps of faith always leave footprints stirring up love, stirring up hope, and creating something new, something beautiful.

God highly values our faith in Him, in fact, it seems that every time He beckons us to go out on a limb and we follow through, we grow a little closer to Him. So, why don’t you believe God, and step out in faith today? You’ll be amazed to find His heart in the process!

“I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step, You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days” (Rich Mullins)