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Showers of Blessing

“The crops look good.” Farmers agree and nod to each other over coffee or after worship in the church foyer.  The fields do look good.

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We’ve had rain, blessed rain at critical times in crop development:

when the corn germinated,

as dark green, leafy fingers reached high,

when ears were pollinating,

and the kernels were forming,

and as the soybeans plumped fat in their pods.

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The grain bins in our part of the Midwest will probably be full to overflowing this fall. The saying in agricultural circles is “Rain makes grain.”

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The rain falling on our corn and soybean fields is part of the great water cycle on earth.  Water evaporates from the oceans and is blown inland.  Then the moisture condenses into clouds, falls as rain or snow, and tumbles downhill into streams and rivers and back to the sea.

As I walked around the yard and farmstead after a storm, while the grass and flowers were still studded with raindrop jewels and the sky painted with God’s palette, I remembered an old hymn, “Showers of Blessing.”  Perhaps you still sing it during your worship service, but  I hadn’t heard it for a while and could only remember the refrain:

Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

I had to check the internet for the verses, and I found the lyrics had been written in 1883 by D.W. Little.  He wrote the words to about two hundred hymns and was an evangelist and Bible teacher.  He described his war-time conversion:

     When the Civil War broke out, I left my home in New England and came to Virginia as lieutenant of a company in a Massachusetts regiment. My dear mother was a devout Christian, and parted from me with many a tear, and followed me with many a prayer. She had placed a New Testament in a pocket of the haversack that she arranged for me.

. . . in one of the battles I was knocked out, and that night my arm was amputated above the elbow. As I grew better, having a desire for something to read, I felt in my haversack, . . . and found the little Testament my mother had placed there.

I read right through the book—Matthew, Mark, Luke, to Revelation. Every part was interesting to me; and I found to my surprise that I could understand it in a way that I never had before.  . . .  And so for days I continued reading, and with continued interest; and still with no thought of becoming a Christian, I saw clearly from what I read the way of salvation through Christ.

While in this state of mind, yet still with no purpose or plan to repent and accept the Saviour, I was awakened one midnight by the nurse, who said: ‘There is a boy in the other end of the ward, one of your men, who is dying. He has been begging me for the past hour to pray for him, or to get someone to pray for him, and I can’t stand it. I am a wicked man, and can’t pray, and I have come to get you.’

‘Why,’ said I, ‘I can’t pray. I never prayed in my life. I am just as wicked as you are.’ ‘Can’t pray!’ said the nurse; ‘why, I thought sure from seeing you read the Testament that you were a praying man.  . . .  I can’t go back there alone. Won’t you get up and come and see him at any rate?’

Moved by his appeal, I arose from my cot, and went with him to the far comer of the room. A fair-haired boy of seventeen or eighteen lay there dying. There was a look of intense agony upon his face, as he fastened his eyes upon me and said:

‘Oh, pray for me! Pray for me! I am dying. I was a good boy at home  . . . But since I became a soldier I have learned to be wicked.  . . .  And now I am dying, and I am not fit to die! Oh, ask God to forgive me! Pray for me. Ask Christ to save me!’

As I stood there and heard these pleadings, God said to my soul by His Spirit, just as plainly as if He had spoken in audible tones, ‘You know the way of salvation. Get right down on your knees and accept Christ, and pray for this boy.’

I dropped upon my knees and held the boy’s hand in mine, as in a few broken words I confessed my sins, and asked God for Christ’s sake to forgive me. I believed right there that He did forgive me, and that I was Christ’s child; I then prayed earnestly for the boy. He became quiet, and pressed my hand as I pleaded the promises. When I arose from my knees he was dead. A look of peace was upon his face, and I can but believe that God, who used him to bring me to my Saviour, used me to get his attention fixed upon Christ and to lead him to trust in His precious blood. I hope to meet him in Heaven.

Many years have passed since that night in the Richmond Hospital, and I am still trusting and confessing the Lord Jesus Christ, and purpose by God’s grace to continue doing so until He calls me Home.

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Whether we have a bin-buster crop or lose it all, “the shower of blessing” that we desperately need is the rain of God’s love, the mercy drops of His grace.  The tender kindness that began in the great ocean of His love lifts up over the dry earth of our lives and falls down, pure and refreshing on our hearts.  There is more than enough rain for us, the rest slides off, and runs to the creek.  We love others, and they extend God’s loving kindness to even more people. We are part of the “water cycle” of God’s love.

 We love because he first loved us.    1 John 4:19   NIV

Liquid love flooded out of a mother’s breaking heart.

She placed a New Testament in her son’s bag and sent him off to fight in the Civil War, not knowing if she would ever see him again.

Love steamed off the furnace-hot events of war.

A young man’s arm was amputated, and he read the books:  Matthew through Revelation.

Love pelted down hard and fast on unbelieving souls, and

two soldier hearts were softened and healed.

Love-washed lyrics poured out of a redeemed life,

words that echoed in church rafters.

Love-wrapped rain gently trickled down the years

and streamed into a grateful pool that is my heart,

which now overflows in a shower of blessing

from me to you.

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 Showers of Blessing

There shall be showers of blessing:
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.

Refrain:
Showers of blessing,
Showers of blessing we need:
Mercy-drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

2 There shall be showers of blessing,
Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
Sound of abundance of rain. [Refrain]

3 There shall be showers of blessing;
Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing,
Come, and now honor Thy Word. [Refrain]

4 There shall be showers of blessing:
Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing,
Now as on Jesus we call! [Refrain]

5 There shall be showers of blessing,
If we but trust and obey;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
If we let God have His way. [Refrain]

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I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.   Ezekiel 34:26

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Linking with

PhotoFridayButton_MG_7389-Edit.jpg http://www.dianewbailey.net Jennifer Dukes Lee Laura Boggess

He Stinketh

Four days ago, two fast-moving lines of thunderstorms dumped nearly five inches of rain on our part of the state in less than twenty-four hours.

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Basements flooded, languid streams turned to torrents, and rivers surged out of their banks.

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Homeowners have pumped out their basements and piled ruined, sodden belongings on the curb, waiting for garbage trucks.  Creeks (the first to flood and first to fall) have resumed their normal path, leaving behind muddied soybean and corn fields.  The large river closest to us is still rising, forcing the closure of the main highway there.

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In a few days (if we don’t receive any more heavy rain), the flood waters will recede. The river will drop below flood stage, leaving orphaned pools of water, which will eventually begin to smell–and not in a good way.

I usually read a more modern translation of the Bible,  but the King James version’s story of Lazarus really captures this idea of an unpleasant odor.  The Revised Standard Version merely warns of “an odor,” and the Good News Version cautions about a “bad smell.”

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

John 11:39   KJV

How do I describe the olfactory assault from the stagnant water left from the flood?  It stinketh!

So do I at times.  I choke the flow of Living Water when I neglect prayer and Bible study

–an unpleasant odor.

When I get too busy for fellowship and quiet meditation, I begin to stagnate

–a bad smell.

I fail to grow and thrive as a Christian

–the stench of death.

I can become

stale, at best, and foul, at worst,

close-minded to God’s leading in new directions,

irritable and hard to live with

–I stinketh.

But–glory to God!–Jesus’ resurrection-giving Living Water can clean me up and make me sweet-smelling again.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

John 7:38    NIV

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Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ.  Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance.   Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation–an aroma redolent with life.

2 Corinthians 2:15,16   MSG

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   linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

 

 

linking with Holley Gerth

 

Essential Fridays Linkup

 

 

linking with Essential Thing Devotions

 

Words Like Rain

Water is life.  We could only survive a few days without drinking water, and, of course, crops must have water to live and grow. 

We have been blessed to have showers this week in my part of the Midwest, and now the rivers run full, and the thirsty corn and bean fields have soaked up the rain.

God has been good to provide for our need for water.

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He covers the sky with clouds;

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he supplies the earth with rain

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and makes grass grow on the hills.   Psalm 147:8   NIV

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And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
    the mother of ice and frost?
You don’t for a minute imagine
    these marvels of weather just happen, do you?

Job 38:28-30   MSG

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In Deuteronomy 32 we read that Moses knew he wasn’t going to live much longer and was getting his “affairs in order.”  He had written down the Law and had passed leadership to Joshua. Moses also wanted to teach a song to the children of Israel.

Despite the clear choice that had been put before Israel,

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life .  .  .    Deuteronomy 30:19, 20   NIV

Moses knew the people would stray.  He wanted them to learn the song by heart, so that when the day came that they turned away from God, the words of the song would be a witness against them.  It begins:

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
    hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.

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Let my teaching fall like rain
    and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
    like abundant rain on tender plants.

Deuteronomy 32:1,2   NIV

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To sum up Moses’ song (which continues through forty-three verses in chapter 32):

God is great.  God is good.  And you, Israel, are not.

I’m not.  We’re not.

Just as Moses knew Israel would turn away,  God knew we would stray, too, and sent Jesus because He loved us.

Water may be life, but Jesus is Life everlasting (John 11:25 and 14:6) and the Living Water (John 4:10).

Listen to His words–gentle, life-giving words–words like rain.

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Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day,  .  .  .  They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.   Deuteronomy 32:46    NIV

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  linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

linking with Laura Boggess

Essential Fridays Linkuplinking with Essential Thing Devotions

linking with Holley Gerth

Stars and Spring Rain

I was nine or ten years old, and I was lying on my back in the grass in the yard, gazing up at the stars in the velvet blackness on a summer’s night.  Even then, as a child, I was in awe of creation and believed there must be a Creator.

You have set your glory
    in the heavens.
When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
    human beings that you care for them?

Psalm 8:1,3-4   NIV

I didn’t find it hard to believe in an all-powerful God, who made the beauty around me–

dark, starry nights,

sweet, apple blossoms in spring,

wind sighing in the top of the elm tree,

soft down of newly-hatched chicks.

But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.   Romans 1:19,20

I didn’t understand at the time that other parts of God’s divine nature–His love and kindness–could be seen by looking at the sky, too.

 

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This week I watched the clouds pile up, as a cold front tumbled in from the west.

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.
Acts 14:17   NIV
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The blue overhead was quickly overtaken by steel gray cumulus, extinguishing the glorious sun’s rays.

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.
Zechariah 10:1   NIV
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  The first heavy drops of much-needed rain chased me inside, as thunder echoed in the distance.

This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.

Matthew 5:45   MSG

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Matthew 5:45   NIV

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The downpour was brief, the line of storm clouds narrow, and soon a gusty wind  swept the showers eastward.  Through the rain-splashed window, I spotted the second gift of the thunderstorm–a rainbow, the ephemeral sign of God’s eternal promise.

“He pulls water up out of the sea,
    distills it, and fills up his rain-cloud cisterns.
Then the skies open up
    and pour out soaking showers on everyone.
Does anyone have the slightest idea how this happens?
    How he arranges the clouds, how he speaks in thunder?
Just look at that lightning, his sky-filling light show
    illumining the dark depths of the sea!
These are the symbols of his sovereignty,
    his generosity, his loving care.

Job 36:27-31   MSG

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I hurried into chore boots and ran outside to capture the rainbow before the brilliant arc faded.

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

Genesis 9: 14,15   NIV

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Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
    make music to our God on the harp.

Psalm 147:7   NIV

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As the sun began to sink behind me, the last rays illumined the upper parts of the cumulonimbus.

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“Sing to the Lord with grateful praise.”

He covers the sky with clouds;
    he supplies the earth with rain
    and makes grass grow on the hills.

Psalm 147:8   NIV

 

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  linking with Laura Boggess

      linking with Jennifer Dukes Lee

Thankful 30: Day 16–Sunset Rain

I have joined Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful. — Emily

Day 16, November 16

I am grateful that I live in the country, so that I can see a sky full of glory like this.

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Late this afternoon the “scattered thundershowers” of the weather forecast coincided with the setting sun.

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The dark clouds full of heavy, splashing drops scudded past our farm.  I’m thankful I was  home and was able to watch the cumulus bloom.

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Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
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praise him in the heights above.  Psalm 148:1   NIV

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Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.   Psalm 148:4

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Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.   Psalm 148:3   NIV

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See Thankful 30 page for every day’s entry.

* name changed

Thankful 30: Day 5–Rain

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 I joined (belatedly) Emily’s* 30 Day Challenge:

I’m challenging myself to post a picture every day during the month of November (30 Days To Be Thankful For) and to add a caption as to why I am thankful.

Day 5, November 5

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the rain today–

gentle, all day,

replenish the fields,

green up the pastures,

drip off the eaves,

trickle down the pumpkins,

and splash off the leaves,

kind of rain.

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He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.  Psalm 147:8 NIV

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* name changed

Day 1, 2, & 3 Oak leaf, sunrise, shelter

Day 4 Pumpkins


linked to http://www.emilywierenga.com

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