Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Zacchaeus

zachaeus_in_tree
Zacchaeus is no longer in our pasture.  The decision was made to take him to sale. A friend bought him – a long story. 

No, we aren’t into slavery, we have a very small herd of low-line Angus cattle and Zacchaeus is what Second Daughter named the bull when we bought him because he reminded her of a verse from a children’s activity song:
Zacchaeus was a wee little man, A wee little man was he.
(use hands to show the size of a very little man)
He climbed up in the sycomore tree, for the Lord he want to see.
(use both hands as though climbing a tree)

If you look on a map, Jericho is slightly west of the Jordan River.  The Bible first mentions it in Numbers 22:1. We read about it again in Joshua, the story of Rahab and the taking of the city. Lots of history in the Bible about Jericho, including:

And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the LORD, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it. (Joshua 6:26 KJV)

Yet, it stands as a city today, as it did two thousand years ago when:

… Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. (Luke 19:1-2 KJV)

We know Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and climbed the sycomore tree.  No, that’s not a misspelling of sycamore – though sycamores make great climbing trees. Sycomore is a type of fig tree, and although it will not soar as the sycamore, it would have allowed Zacchaeus the height necessary to see Jesus over the crowd.

Unnecessary, though, for Jesus had a message specifically for Zacchaeus:

And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house. (Luke 19:5 KJV)

That didn’t sit well with the crowd:

And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. (Luke 19:7 KJV)

Apparently they thought they weren’t sinners!! I hope they were listening a little later, after Zacchaeus sought to make amends for his sins, when Jesus said:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

Possibly not.  The message is ignored today, too, by people who want a portion of what Jesus offered, but reject the personalization of His message.  People still follow what He said, when it makes them comfortable, but when it becomes uncomfortable, He will be denied.

Which portion of what is given to us in the Bible about Jesus should be rejected?  Which part of His message does not apply to our lives? To the lives of those around us?  What do we like, and what do we dislike?

Why?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Appearances

Thors_Well
Off an Oregon coast is Thor’s Well. Lovely to look at, but dangerous. When the tide is right, it appears that the ocean could eventually run into the hole, though we know the sink hole couldn’t hold it.  Then the tide backs off and the appearance changes completely.  From the shore it appears a bunch of rock along the shore, a regular tidal pool.

Sometimes we feel as though there is such a hole in our lives.  One that just keeps taking in the ebb and flow of our lives, never releasing, never filling.  David must have felt this when he wrote:

Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. (Psalms 69:1 KJV)

How well we know that feeling of being overwhelmed.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. (Psalms 69:2 KJV)

The loss of a loved one creates such a hole in our souls, one that can take in the endless tides of the ocean, yet never being filled.

I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. (Psalms 69:3 KJV)

Wait. For how long? Each day seems eternal, as we wait. Without knowing for what it is we wait. Release?  Filling?  It is not only our eyes, it is our heart that fails.

David continues in this psalm, listing those things that overwhelmed him – they are not the same as the ones we face, but the waiting, the solution and the prayer could be:

But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. (Psalms 69:13 KJV)

In His time, in the truth of His salvation, is our wait and our promise.

Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me. (Psalms 69:15 KJV)

Those fears remain in mankind now, in each of us, individually, alone. Later, David tells us what is better than burnt offerings to the Lord:

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. (Psalms 69:30-31 KJV)

Please note that at this point, God has not answered David’s plea. David remained hunted, surrounded by enemies, living in a world far different from the one he lost.  Yet, he could praise God with thanksgiving.
Can we do the same as we are overwhelmed?  How do we appear?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bottled

Tears
Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? (Psalms 56:8 KJV)

I read those words last night.  In fact, I was listening to my Bible reading (thank you, You Version, for the free audio Bible!!).  I stopped the reading and returned to that one verse, imagining the bottle that God would make to hold our tears. Then I remembered a photo in my collection.  I do not know the source, but found it appropriate.

I gave no thought to the blog that would accompany the verse and the photo.  As with all of these, they simply come together.  This one did with an e-mail this morning from a dear cousin who wrote:
“While I was driving home, I had to pull off the road because I was crying so much.”
She wrote about why she was crying – over loved ones and specific events in lives.  The same reasons most of us cry.  For lost dreams, plans, hopes and lives.  For those we love and cannot help.  For ourselves, and cannot help, either.

This particular Psalm was written by David before he was crowned King, while Saul remained alive and searching to slay him.  Twice David had opportunity to kill Saul, but could not bring himself to slay the man anointed by God to be Israel’s first king. David has lost his home, his place in the palace, his first wife and is surrounded by “distressed, discontented debtors”, as written in Samuel 22:1-3.

God not only collects our tears and writes a book about us, He is compassionate and will provide comfort.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

That does not mean all of our prayers will be answered when and how we expect.  Jesus prayed to God that the cup of pain and sorrow, sin offering and death, might pass, yet He ended that prayer as we should, too:  “Thy will be done.”

True peace comes when we know our lives are in God’s hand, we’ve kept close to him in prayer – both asking and praising – and we’ve heeded His plans for our lives, responding to His will.

Unfortunately, we have not heeded nor responded to all He has asked of us and there are consequences for those errors when we decided our happiness or a few moments of pleasure were more important than His words. Those consequences are painful, and tears flow.

Thank God that He is there, collecting those tears, able to return us to the solid footing of the path He lights for us.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105 KJV)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mum’s The World Over

Emmah-ActofJochebed
I hope you’ll take time to visit Emmah’s site in Nairobi, Kenya.  Start with one of her recent posts about her children greeting their Mum at their gate. She paints a portrait that working mothers all over the world see  – their children greeting them, seeking a bit of treat.

She continues the thought into our daily lives as we greet our Father, and ends with this message from her lesson:

She comes to the heart of why we seek God.  Scientists in the world today acknowledge there is – and are seeking proof of – a part of human beings that seek God.  Even atheists state that they have not found Him nor proof of Him, indicating they’ve taken part in the search.

Why seek Him if we do not believe He is the provider?  Because we want what we believe He provides.

We want the provisions.  Some churches promise material gifts, simply name and claim such in faith and God will provide.  We know He can, for He’s told us so – yet he tells us it’s not important:

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27 KJV)

We would all prefer Solomon’s wealth – but do we seek Solomon’s wisdom that he wrote down in Proverbs?  Do we pay attention to the vanities and snares he teaches in Ecclesiastes?

Solomon, as his father, made some errors later in his life, but none making his request known to God:

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (1 Kings 3:9 KJV)

Although that’s all he asked, God gave him more. Why did God give him more? The Bible tells us:

And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; (1 Kings 3:11 KJV)

Asking for what we need to do God’s will – which Solomon asked – gives us the provider.  He will take care of any provisions we need to accomplish His will.

Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. (1 Kings 3:12-13 KJV)

Do we have the faith to seek the provider and ignore the provisions?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Symbols

Icthus
A friend shared a site that shows each of the United States’ symbols. Of course, I had to check out the one for Texas!  Go ahead, take time to look at your states – maybe where you currently live, or the state where you were born, or your parents?

Each of those symbols were chosen specifically for their meaning within the state, commonalities among the people who live there.

The above symbol, though it contains a Greek word, should be familiar to any Christian.

Jesus. Christ. Son of God. Savior.

The name, the title, the descendency, the work are all summed up in the acronym, confirmed by the symbol. For me, this fish symbol, even without the cross, gives the gospel message. This is what the New Testament described.


Jesus is revealed as the child of Mary and Joseph, descendants of King David, as promised in prophecy. (Matthew 1 and Luke 3)


Christ is revealed as the Hebrew word, Messiah, sent from God to Jew and to gentile, as promised in prophecy. (John 4:25-26)


Son of God is revealed as being God. (John 1:1-4)


Savior is scripture revealed, too. (Isaiah 53:3, 1 Peter 2:24)

Those are but a single instance of applicable verses.  A good study Bible will take you from each of those references and follow the train of thought through book after book after book. Each reading will provide foundation and additional studies, and build faith in God and His plan for mankind.  My suggestion is to feed upon it daily, as you do breakfast, lunch and dinner, or starve.

But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.  (Luke 11:28 KJV)

Oh, I will still wear my cross, as a statement of faith.  I will continue to look to church steeples, carrying my eyes upward to acknowledge God’s presence and I will appreciate the other symbols that speak to Christianity.

But, I really like this one with its gospel message.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It’s Awful

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I’m standing over the sink brushing my teeth and a thought comes to mind, along with a Bible verse, and I think,”Oh, that’s what I need!” And, I want to share it.  But, by the time I finish up, wipe up, put things away and get to the laptop – it’s gone.  The whole thought.

It makes me sad – that my memory is slipping, but sadder that I can’t share that fleeting moment where I understood what God was telling me.  I can’t track how I apply it to my life, give myself gold stars for being so good and telling others about it.

Then I understand why.  That glimpse of understanding was for me. It applies to my life, to this one situation.  It has no meaning, no bearing on anyone else at this moment and it is not for sharing.

Oh, I may witness to it – I’m giving testimony about it right now – but that small grain of truth, that beautiful enlightenment, it was for me.

I can tell you of its warmth, its glow, the wonderful feeling of peace that came into my heart, but that has to meaning for you from that same opening, the same understanding. It was for me.

Some of you reading this will recognize and understand because God has given you what you need, too.  You’ve had those, “Thank you, God,” moments, too, when He has enlightened you.  When you can see down the path He wants you to go, when His plan has unfolded. You’ve recognized you are where you should be, doing what He has for you to do and know you are blessed by His presence.

If you haven’t, I’m sorry.  And, I’m praying that you will come to know Him and His capabilities – which are limitless.

Perhaps you think they are not since you lack those God-filled moments.  Unfortunately, the lack is within ourselves.  We lack faith, or we could move mountains or walk on water:

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? (Matthew 14:31 KJV)

Remember that one?  Peter was ready and willing to walk out upon the sea to meet Jesus – until he noticed where he was.  He took his eye off the Lord and gave his thoughts over to the reality around him. His focus changed and he began to sink.

How do we get the faith necessary to glimpse what God has  in store?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

We all can live without faith.  But we cannot please God without faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

I believed and found the Rewarder.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Years Passed

temp
Maybe that should read “years past.” This bracelet was made in 2009 for the girls in our Sunday School class. I wrote about it in a blog back then, quoting from the card we made that went with their bracelet:

Today each is given
a bracelet of symbols,
To be worn as a reminder
of several truths:
You are a child of the King,
You may reflect His glory,
as the crystals of His throne,
You may be pure and white,
a pearl of great price
Your price may be far above rubies,
You may be refined as silver.
The choices are yours.

Tuesday I received a message from one of the girls in that particular class.  She had dropped out of church after moving into the High School class, as well as dropping out of school.  I’ve prayed for her, dropped her notes and was blessed when she wrote that she found the bracelet in her jewelry box.

She wanted to know what the beads stood for.  I wrote back and gave her the verse for the ‘far above rubies’:

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (Proverbs 31:10 KJV)

And, the verses for their being a ‘pearl of great price’:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 KJV)

David knew the Lord was capable of cleansing sin.  He called upon the Lord after his sins for Bathsheba:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (Psalms 51:1-2 KJV)

We err, we regret grieving the Lord and He forgives. We wish that didn’t happen often – we try hard for it not to – and we are ever so grateful for His lovingkindness.  Just as David was:

Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. (Psalms 17:7 KJV)  

Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. (Psalms 63:3 KJV)


I pray she understands that, without ceasing. The choice remains hers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Qualified

Qualified
I ran across this on Facebook and Shared it on my page.  As I looked over the list of those above, I thought of one who felt he was qualified.

Usually, the Bible tells us of people who state their lack of qualifications, but one comes to mind who thought God had make a good choice, and he was ready to step right in.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. (Genesis 37:5-7 KJV)

Not only the son of the favorite of four wives, Joseph was also the favorite of twelve sons.  Not even young Benjamin was held as close to Jacob’s heart was this first of Rachel’s son. Now, he dreams of his brothers bowing down to him.

This is not designed to win friends nor influence people, but Joseph may have thought they’d jump right in and support these dreams.  Instead, he is destined for a pit in Dothan.  If it were not for Reuben’s words, Joseph could have been buried there.

As a slave in Egypt, he quickly showed his qualifications to Potiphar, only to be struck back again by a false accusation. Prison doesn’t seem to be the best qualifier for the next step in Joseph’s story, but for him it worked out to be the leap into second place over Egypt.

Now, finally, he was qualified to save his family, all of his father’s descendants. One man to save a nation.  One man to provide for many – among them, the line to the Messiah.

At times we may feel fully qualified to accomplish what we believe God has in store for us.  God may see that we need to hone our qualifications before we can be of His best service.  It’s not for us to decide, but to listen to His will, His plan and allow Him to place us where we need to be – whether it is a pit in Dothan, a prison or a throne in Egypt.

Remember, it could be any one of those.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guilt!

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They had just sat down and finished a meal of bread and fish (that combination sounds good, doesn’t it?) Satisfied and comfortable – can you picture this?  When our church has it’s annual Fathers Day Fish Fry, I think of this scene.  But it was what happened afterward that went through my mind last night.

You see, I was feeling guilty, so it was the next verse that came to mind.

This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (John 21:14-15 KJV)

No, there’s no guilt shown here – but do you think Peter might have had a fleeting moment or two?  What about the time Jesus said:

But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23 KJV)

I don’t believe I’d ever want our Lord to say that I was an offense to Him!!  Peter had a way of saying the wrong thing.

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. (Matthew 17:4 KJV)

Peter focused on the people and the event, not on the spiritual, the divinity of Christ.  Still again, Peter was half a bubble off.  Then came the trial.

Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:37-38 KJV)

Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:74-75 KJV)

Did Jesus say “Peter, as soon as you get your act together …” or, “Peter, as soon as you do penance …” or, “Peter, after you’ve served your time …” or, the worst, “Peter, you failed and cannot be forgiven”? 

Nope.  He said:

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 KJV)

I serve a loving, sacrificing, risen, forgiving Lord.  When I accept, love and serve Him, there is no need for guilt.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

“Deep and Wide”

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Words from a favorite hymn, along with a quote:
"Nobody ever outgrows scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years." - C.H. Spurgeon
The photo of Victoria Falls reminds me of both. The river isn’t really deep, but the drop is, and it’s beautiful.

We had a couple of meals today.  Sometimes we’ll have three, sometimes two, sometimes a snack will be thrown in – but we eat every day.  We don’t outgrow our need for, and our desire for, a good meal.

The scriptures fulfills similar needs and desires for God’s word.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

It also calls to me Christ’s words to Peter, over and over again in John 21:15, 16, 17 – “Feed my sheep.” OK, there was one of you who looked up the reference and realized that different words were used. For those of you who missed it, check it out.

That’s all I really hope for – that being here will spur someone to pick up a Bible and read it.  I believe God is to be found in there, and His son:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

The search, though it take you deep and wide, is worth the time and effort.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What Do We Fight?

WhatsTheFight
Can’t find where I first ran across this photo.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it? Lovely gold, bright and dark, and the young boy in the lower right.

What do you think he’s trying to do?  Is he attacking the single branch, or is he taking on the tree as a whole?  Just how did he pick his fight?

If he’s taking on the tree as a whole, he’s certainly over estimated his abilities, or has no clue that only half of the tree is visible.

It made me think of our wrestling with God, or even the concept of God. We have no idea the size of the issue, much less of what we will do next.

Gamaliel understood this, though he did not understand (or believe in) Jesus as the promised Messiah:

And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. (Acts 5:38-39 KJV)

God is sovereign.  We exist because that is His desire, His plan. There are battles we cannot possibly understand, hidden from us just as the roots of this tree are hidden from the child struggling with that one branch.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV)

Oh, yes, how He knows us!  He’s told us how much we have to answer for:

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Matthew 12:36 KJV)

In that same judgment, we are also justified by words:

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:37 KJV)

Jesus had more to say about our words:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

That thought is expanded upon by Paul:

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 10:10-11 KJV)

Don’t fight against God.  Accept that there are things we will not understand in this life, and accept the eternity of life that He offers.

Friday, January 20, 2012

That’s Me

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Come April of this year you can join us at our church on a Saturday night for a concert or Sunday morning to join in singing with The Rochester Family and their gospel music! The schedule on their site just goes through February, and I don’t have the church calendar at hand, but will get the date posted here in the future.

I hear them whenever I want to because we have almost all of their albums – we’ll be getting their newest in April. Carried on my iPhone, I hear my favorites any time.  One of them is “That’s Him.” It reminds me that there are places in the Bible where I can shout out, “That’s Me!”

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  (John 1:3 KJV)

That’s me – I was made by Him! However, that’s not the best cause for rejoicing.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

That’s me, too. From the time I didn’t know better until today, I have too many times fallen short by ignoring Him and His will for my life. He took care of that, though.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

Whosoever” – the Greek πᾶς defined as:
Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole: - all (manner of, means) alway (-s), any (one), X daily, + ever, every (one, way), as many as, + no (-thing), X throughly, whatsoever, whole, whosoever.
Oh, yes!! That’s me!! The Lord told how this was to be achieved:

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. (John 14:6-7 KJV)

The apostles continued to spread that gospel, answering the jailer’s question, which is the same we should be asking today:

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)

That jailer is me, too, asking the question and receiving the answer – then following in belief.  Then comes the greatest miracle.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

That’s me. Oh, you may not see it every day in everything I do or say, and my body may be wearing out – but I’m new, I promise you! God has seen to it.  For all my own efforts are but vapors.  The miracle of newness is His.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

Oh, yes – THAT’S ME!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Stand Still A While

Jack
We have one white donkey named Silver, though some call him Jack. Kish, a Benjamite had many more and was considered a mighty man of power.  Odd, though, since the Bible uses the phrase “mighty man of valour” more often.  Kish’s animals disappeared and he sent his son, Saul, to find them. The story begins in 1 Samuel 9:1.  But I want to fast forward toward the end of the chapter:

And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God. (1 Samuel 9:27 KJV)

There are so many times I wish I could stand still for a while and let someone show me things from God’s word.  The preacher does for less than 30 minutes on Sunday, so I look further, reading, researching, questioning. Wishing I could join Mary, sitting at His feet, hearing the word from His lips.

Saul listened for a while, but didn’t take it seriously.  Just a while before they stood together, Saul had said:

And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me? (1 Samuel 9:21 KJV)

I know that answer very well.  I’ve used it myself.  What can one person do?  What is the use of continually reading, writing, speaking about His word when so few read or hear? Where is the value of spending time and energy this way?

For me, it’s His promises.  I read them in His word – and I read over and over again how He kept them.  I read of how little is truly required and that one of the least of all the families can be of service in His kingdom. 

I once had a boss who earned the reputation of being ready to do anything she asked of her employees.  Our Lord was perfection in providing that example when He completed Abraham’s prophecy:

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: (Genesis 22:8a KJV)

God himself came as that perfect lamb, fulfilling the required sin offering.  How can I stop reading of such?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Replacing?

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And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. (1 Samuel 4:7 KJV)

The tribes of Israel and the Philistines were at war. The Israelites had lost the first skirmish and had sent for the Ark of the Lord. It was brought from its home in Shiloh in order to “save us out of the hand of our enemies.”

Solomon had not written about there being nothing new under the sun.  If he had, perhaps the Philistines would have remembered Jericho and the ark being carried into battle. The Israelites remembered how powerful the Ark appeared to be:

And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. (1 Samuel 4:5 KJV)

They were ready to battle! So, the second skirmish began, and was finished:

And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. (1 Samuel 4:10-11 KJV)

Remember those guys?

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:12 KJV)

Doesn’t sound right, does it?  Eli was a priest – how could his children not know the Lord?  They knew of Him, but they did not love, trust nor obey Him. They did not understand Him nor did they seek Him.  They abused their privileges. 

For me, it appears they placed great store in the physical connections to the Lord.  They took offerings meant for Him, they placed confidence in the Ark instead of in His omniscience.  They did not believe there was a God. Unfortunately, there are such today, abusing their position as ‘men of God’ yet not knowing the Lord.

There are church members, too, who place their faith in the physical, without knowing God. Non-believers seem to see them more than they do the faithful. I, on the other hand, am blessed by knowing so many of His servants who speak with Him daily, acknowledge His blessings, put Him first in their lives – and I pray to be more like the examples He has given us in His word and in His world.

As Jesus said:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33a KJV)

And Isaiah:

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)

We should never find ourselves replacing God.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

They Wanted Change

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The Israelites had left Egypt, spent forty years in the wilderness due to their lack of faith, conquered some of the land, lived under judges, going about their own business:

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25 KJV)

Didn’t work out too well for them.  Eli, judge and priest, raised Samuel to do God’s work because his own two sons – Hophni and Phineas -- were corrupt and were slain after misusing the Ark of the Covenant. Samuel’s sons – Joel and Abiah -- were no better.

And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.  (1 Samuel 8:3 KJV)

Sound like any authorities we might have known?

So, the people wanted change. Others around them had kings. Others were doing better, shouldn’t their examples be followed?  Isn’t a total change, a new direction much better than remaining in the status quo or fixing what might be wrong?

Did Israel forget that God raised up judges that led the people correctly when they followed Him?  When the people sought God’s help, they received good leadership.  Then, they forgot.

Now, they wanted a king.  Everybody else had one.  Samuel tried to explain:

And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. (1 Samuel 8:11 KJV)

That’s just the beginning.  Samuel’s explanation runs through verse 18.

And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:18 KJV)

Ooops. There are no ‘overs’. Choices made have consequences that will inexorably follow.  No matter what consequences, people make their choices.

Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8:19-20 KJV)

This year we will elect a leader in our country, just as we have every four years for more than two centuries.  That’s not a very long time, and we’ve made some very, very poor selections in the past.

My suggestion is that over the next few months, determine personal convictions. Read party platforms – all the platforms (maybe even a decade back) and determine where personal convictions fit into those platforms.  Determine which candidates support those convictions – local, state and national levels – and vote accordingly.

Oddly enough, I made that suggestion several years ago to someone who followed them.  Then told responded that she couldn’t – voting for the party was expected in her family and in her community, even though their platform did not match her convictions.

Do ours?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Few Days Gone

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(No, that is NOT the color of my car!)
During our services Wednesday, Pastor covered Proverbs 7.  I found an absolutely applicable verse for our next few days:

For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: (Proverbs 7:19 KJV)

Of course, this is taken completely out of context.  In the chapter, it was a harlot luring a young man into her bed promising him that her husband was gone on a long journey, so they would not be found out.

In our case, we’re traveling together to visit family.  It has been my husband and his brother’s habit to travel for each other’s birthday.  Beloved Husband’s is Friday, so his brother should have been coming here.  Health concerns are keeping him at home.  Instead of traveling, he’ll be undergoing a bronchial scoping and biopsy of his lung.

There will be many things to do, family gatherings, a birthday party and I get lunch with one of the neatest ladies I’ve met in a long, long time!  So, we’re hitting the road, leaving our livestock in Second Daughter’s capable hands.

There was much more in that seventh chapter, though, and this verse also spoke to my heart:

Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart. (Proverbs 7:2-3 KJV)

That’s where we need to keep God’s commandments – physically and spiritually with us at all times.  Spend some time with His word.  And a little prayer along with that reading, asking for God’s guidance in understanding His message.

For the next few days, I’ll be doing some Bible listening – I have an audio Bible on my iPhone and some chapters set up to listen to on the road. I think it will feed through the radio as the iPod does – we’ll see.

Postings may or may not occur, depending on connectivity and schedules.  If not before, I’ll be posting within a week, and I’ll be checking in on my friends, too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Walk

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We crawled before we learned to walk, but do we really (even now) pay attention when we walk?  WALK was the message at our Ladies Meeting.  First one this year, with so many more activities to come.  Each time there will be scriptures given, lessons to be shared.

Tuesday’s was ‘Walking With Jesus.’
Who is our guide?
Allow God to lead.
Learn from each step.
Know God’s way is best.
Our pastor’s wife gave the lesson and I liked the first verse she selected – not one I usually use:

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalms 16:11 KJV)

Yes, He is our guide, He is worthy to be followed, He will show us the right paths, where we will learn the most and His way provides us joy for evermore.  Our walk with Him is filled with promises, and I trust His ability to fulfill them.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)

No – that’s not one of the verses she gave us.  That’s one of my own favorites from Paul because it stresses how I feel about God’s ability to keep His promises.  I have returned the life He gave me into His care, though there is much I do not know:

Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:2-3 KJV)

Paul understood this:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)

I have faith in God and His grace.  Want some, too?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Then continue your WALK by having your soul restored as He leads.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalms 23:3 KJV)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Darkness vs Light

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See the white outline?  That’s North Korea.  How obvious it is from space that these people are living in darkness. It brought to mind:

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12:46 KJV)

Matthew quotes Isaiah 9:2:

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Matthew 4:16 KJV)

We know that light to be the Messiah, Jesus. The Bible says He told people so:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)

Jesus also said:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14 KJV)

Obviously, we are not bringing His light to all, but we’re trying.  I know of a radio personality who has worked toward getting Bibles into North Korea.  Not an easy task. Last year the focus was on getting Bibles into Africa.

Decades ago, in Girls Auxiliary, we memorized:

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1 KJV)

That’s the source of the biblical light – God’s glory.  The same glory that shown around the angels announcing Jesus’ birth. The same that filled the temple and that Moses saw in the wilderness. The Children of Israel carried word of that light, eventually to all mankind.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:2-3 KJV)

So, we have been tasked.  Have we fulfilled?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 KJV)

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Good News From A Witness

LACO
“Only eternity will truly tell the wisest decision we
made for following JESUS in this life.”

Last June I wrote a blog about Love in Action Christian Outreach, a program in the Philippines, and Maria Elena Escasiñas, who shares the story on at least two Facebook pages. Today’s quote comes from a posting she made and should give us pause for reflection.

Both of us hold to the faith in Jesus, the Messiah promised by the eternal God, that He has plans for our lives and that our souls are eternal. We believe that upon our earthly death, we will continue to live with, and serve, Him.  We believe this because the Bible tells us so, and we’ve seen His love in other people.

The Bible also tells us there is but one revelation of good news to mankind:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8 KJV)

Therefore, I write only of the gospel of the Bible.  Paul feared that others would come preaching a different set of good news:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4 KJV)

The gospel, the good news, is the center of the New Testament. Ninety-eight verses refer to that word. Many out of Christ’s mouth.  He knew the good news would cover the whole world:

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. (Mark 14:9 KJV)

Those who do not believe are condemned by their own unbelief, nothing else:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)

They say we’re wrong. ‘Lena is right – only eternity will confirm whether the choice we’ve made to follow the word of God as we see it is correct.  Our faith in His grace tells us now that it is.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

Written by a man who saw Him following His resurrection and who also put God’s love into Christian action.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Revisiting Shame



And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 KJV)

Shame was not the original focus of that morning’s Bible readings, but it caught my eye in the verse above. Sometimes we should be ashamed, and admonished.

There was a time mankind walked with God and felt no shame as to their appearance. Then they came to know good and evil, and were ashamed, recognizing they dishonored God and they knew fear (Genesis 3:7-10).

Our country has spent a great deal of time and energy schooling children to ignore feelings of unworthiness or improper conduct. In some instances schools have removed awards in order for children to retain their self-esteem by not losing to another.

Our children are taught in school that there is no shame in personal relationships that our Bible teaches are sinful. In a reversal, to speak out against such sin is now considered shameful.

Feeling ashamed is feeling regret. Today’s society denies a need for regret. Make a mistake? Acknowledge it didn’t work, then move on. That applies to no-fault insurance just as well as it does to divorce. In today’s society couples feel no shame in living together without wedding vows. Today’s headlines requiring marriage be allowed are for those who do not fit into marriage as defined in the Bible.

These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; (Acts 17:6 KJV)
That’s what we need to do. We need to turn today’s world upside down by obeying God, not being ashamed of His word. We’ve been told what to expect if we are ashamed of Him:

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38 KJV)
How not to be ashamed? Also answered:

For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 10:11 KJV)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28 KJV)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cafeteria Benefits?

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Cafeteria Benefits are offered to allow employees to pick the benefits that best provide for their needs.

How does religion fit into the subject of cafeteria benefits?  That’s the way some people make choices regarding their religion – fitting portions into their lives, opting out of what they dislike.  Sort of the same way Thomas Jefferson edited his dislikes out of the New Testament. He described his efforts to John Adams in a 1813 letter:
We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select, even from them, the very words only of Jesus, paring off the amphibologisms into which they have been led, by forgetting often, or not understanding, what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves.
I don’t know about you, but I had to look up ‘amphibologisms’: ambiguous grammatical construction.  Basically, Jefferson took out what he didn’t like, didn’t understand or was subject to controversy.  He looked upon the New Testament as a cafeteria’s buffet and made his own choices.

Should we do that in our own religious beliefs?  Or do we study the whole -- what is written, what is taught, what is stated by our religious leaders?

I believe the scriptures are to be studied -- in depth.  Paul thought so, too, when writing to teach Timothy their importance:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

For Christians, the Jewish scriptures led toward the Messiah. Jesus told us they lead to His death:

But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Matthew 26:54 KJV)

It is from scripture that we obtain doctrine, our set of beliefs.  A young man told me once that he took pride in having no doctrine, but he was wrong. Simply by professing a set of religious beliefs, he had doctrine.  What he didn’t have was dogma, he had no authority that supported an absolute truth.

Dogmatic has become a pejorative, though, for people who believe truth is simply relative, subject to change with the flow of history or societal changes. Yet I believe the Bible to be an authority containing absolute truth.  I believe that if we accept the truth of:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

… we must also accept the truth of:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)

Otherwise, we’re simply selecting cafeteria benefits.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ed

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Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, (Joshua 22:1 KJV)

A bit of history – these Israelite tribes requested, and were given, land to the east of Jordan, but crossed with the remaining tribes. They fought with them and when Joshua disbanded the army, he confirmed their portion of the land and sent them home to their inheritance.  He did have an admonition for them:

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Joshua 22:5 KJV)

They had promised this to Moses and at the beginning of Joshua’s campaign:

We will pass over armed before the LORD into the land of Canaan, that the possession of our inheritance on this side Jordan may be ours. (Numbers 32:32 KJV)

And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou commandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. (Joshua 1:16 KJV)

When they went home, they built an altar by the Jordan, a great altar, and they didn’t attempt to keep it secret.

Now part of the problem the Israelites encountered through the years was their not removing altars built to venerate other gods. As we read Judges, this problem will recur, again and again. Instead of looking to those erroneous altars nearby, they decided to fight over this one altar.  A living example of Jesus’ words:

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:5 KJV)

They prepared for war before even talking to their brothers.

And when the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up to war against them. (Joshua 22:12 KJV)

Fortunately, instead of starting with instruments of war, the leaders of this congregation started with words.  Explanations were given, accepted and accords were reached.  An opportunity to witness was established.

And the children of Reuben and the children of Gad called the altar Ed: for it shall be a witness between us that the LORD is God. (Joshua 22:34 KJV)

I would think this biblical example could be used by church brethren today, wouldn’t you? Do we each have our own Ed altar as a witness to all that the LORD is God?  Willing to display it openly, speak of it, defend it if necessary?  Without taking up arms against brethren?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bionic Woman

Cochlear_implant
I think the majority of Americans are too young to remember The Bionic Woman, a television series 1976-1978.  And I was so uninterested in the 2007 film that I have no knowledge of the actors or plot. But I am interested in what Wikipedia refers to as a bionic ear, or a cochlear implant.

My sweet Daughter-In-Law will become a ‘bionic woman’ next week, so we have good reason to be interested in this device and the surgery involved.  Please, lift her in prayer for the next month or so.

It’s not just the surgery, which is daunting for anyone, but the following adjustments and therapy that we will be praying for. Any surgery, in my books, requires a bit of prayer – that the surgeon’s best performance will be accomplished; that the support staff will be at their attentive best; that no germs will find their way into the operating room; that recovery will be uneventful.  Anything else will be covered by the Holy Spirit:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26 KJV)

Her life will change, drastically. She will hear things unheard since her childhood – birds, wind in the trees, traffic – things hearing people ignore, listening only for ‘important’ sounds.  She will hear things she’s never heard before – the sound of her husband saying, “I love you,” though she’s read those words on his lips a million times. She will hear the voices of her children. Things we take for granted.

She will have a new perspective on life, but that she’s done before.

You see, my DIL is a Christian. Her life changed when she turned it over to the Lord, years ago.  She saw things differently after God became a central focus in her life.  My son’s did, too, when he accepted God’s gift. Together, they have melded their lives into church and family, able to see where the Lord blesses their love for Him.

As Paul wrote, there is a newness of life:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 KJV)

Those are words our pastor used when my son was baptized, and I expect they were used for my DIL, too, as for our denomination, baptism does represent the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is an outward sign of the inward change in our lives, a way we can witness to others that we follow Him.

DIL’s hearing will not be perfect. And, early on, she will need to relearn what to listen for, how to ignore some sounds.  There is an overwhelming abundance of sounds! Beloved Husband experienced something similar with his first hearing aids.

New Christians can be overwhelmed, too. Instead of ‘physical therapy’ there’s discipleship, the assistance of older Christians to help them through the changes that occur in their lives. But – that’s a different blog!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There Are Thorns

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This screen capture is from an article I read Christmas Eve. Perrysburg, Ohio, is where my mother-in-law was born.  My husband was born just a bit down the river in Maumee. We have family there, and near there, now.  It was in Toledo where my dear sister-in-law lost her battle with a failing heart.  Lives are filled with painful thorns.

Paul wrote of his own thorn, though he never described what it was:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 KJV)

Matt Hammett’s feelings are understood by all of us:
They also didn't know how to deal with a flood of emotions — the anger, the doubt, the feeling of being alone.
Instead of keeping those feelings within himself, he shared them in music:
The songs were meant to comfort his family while they searched for answers and sought to understand God's role during the months before and after the baby's birth that were filled with surgeries and life-threatening complications.
You see, we don’t understand God’s role when things go terribly wrong. But, we do know that denying Him, or pushing Him away is not constructive. For me, Matt Hammett’s putting his cries to God into music follows the excellent example of David.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God. (Psalms 69:2-3 KJV)

As Christians, when we are overflown by sorrow, we know what effect that may have on people around us:

Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. (Psalms 69:6 KJV)

Yet we have to deal with our own sorrows, our own losses, our own lack of understanding when we are weary of crying.
The song from "Every Falling Tear" that means the most to Hammitt is "Trust," a worship song that reminds people not to lose faith "even in the darkness, even in the questions, even when the hardest times of life are at hand."
That’s faithfulness. To place all of the pain, sorrow, doubt into God’s will, and know that:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

Even when the thorns of life prick us and we bleed.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where?

RoadSign
My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? (Psalms 42:3 KJV)

This is not described as one of David’s songs, but it sure could be one of mine.  Usually it’s not a question, but a statement, “Your God does not exist,” if it’s not “Show me results of what God has done.”

Refer to answered prayers where someone was safe, and comments are returned: “So, that person was saved and the others weren’t good enough?” or “Didn’t God put them in that situation in the first place?”
Speak about how we feel placed in a specific place for a specific reason and it’s put down to luck and we are seeking myths for comfort in a comfortless world. "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes" – they really do see religion as an opium for the people, and want no part of it.

When I hear their words, I think of Joash confronting those who would kill Gideon for tearing down Baal’s altar:

And Joash said unto all that stood against him, Will ye plead for Baal? will ye save him? he that will plead for him, let him be put to death whilst it is yet morning: if he be a god, let him plead for himself, because one hath cast down his altar. (Judges 6:31 KJV)

That’s the very argument we’re hearing now – “If there is a God, let him plead for himself.” And, they have a valid point.

Which is one reason I won’t do apologetics. I won’t defend God nor my belief in Him – I will simply state what I believe, and why. What I say (or write) won’t change anyone’s mind.

What they read and think about might, though. Thinking, searching, asking, seeking, they prepare their hearts for God’s answer.

Rehoboam failed, and the Bible tells us why:

And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the LORD. (2 Chronicles 12:14 KJV)

By doing that thinking, searching, asking, seeking, we prepare our hearts not only to seek the Lord, but to find Him.  It’s not important whether someone believes when they start seeking.  What is important that their heart is prepared. They may not know where God is, but He knows where they are and if they are prepared for Him.

I’m reminded when writing this of the 100th Lamb. She describes herself as, "A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience," she's the author of  "Blest Atheist" and "A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God." (Theophanic?? Θεοφάνεια, Τheophaneia, meaning "appearance of God".)

Seek earnestly, and be prepared in your heart for answers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

No Religion, Too

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A kerfuffle over Cee Lo Green (no, I had never heard of him before) singing John Lennon's "Imagine" was written up on MSNBC. Cee Lo changed three words in one line:
Instead of singing "Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too," Green instead sang, "Nothing to kill or die for, and all religion’s true."
Green was also criticized for his display of wealth:
He was also criticized by some for singing the song, which includes the lyrics "imagine no posessions" [sic] and "no need for greed or hunger" while dressed in a full-length fur coat and jewels.
If wealthy possessions were to delete the message, it never would have rolled off Lennon’s pen. (And, if the editor had done what he is paid to do, I would not have to add [sic] !)

Later in the article, the song is described as "an enduring hymn of solace and promise," but I find no promise in this song, especially when the end result would require that my religious belief had to cease.  Lennon penned a desire that I (along with billions of others in the world) would give up believing in God.

I see no promise in this song.  It is based on a frame of mind – and our minds are all different.  Lennon saw promise in a lack of possessions – yet he possessed millions.  He did not live as he imagined.

I see promise elsewhere, and accept it:

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13 KJV)

That promise came from God, to those who obey the will of God.

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35-36 KJV)

Peter wrote of the promise, too:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)

But, I like John’s even better:

And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. (1 John 2:25 KJV)

Trade that for John Lennon’s imagination?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I Wasn’t There

Times_Square_NYC
I wasn’t in Times Square this year or any other year, but it is the iconic scene of New Years celebrations in the US. Brilliant glass ball dropping, confetti swirling down, masses of people pressed together participating in a mob memory – nope, haven’t done that.

Most years we didn’t make it until midnight. Some years we did, but those don’t stand out.  What does come to mind are the friends who shared those eves and the activities the following day.

This year I’m going to like much better.  Based on age and experience, we were home before 10:30, after an evening of games with friends from our church family.  We ate too many of the marvelous finger foods everyone brought, but we enjoyed every bite!

The first day of the new year will start out right. We’re headed this morning for church, and like David, we’ll say:

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Psalms 122:1 KJV)

Much later, a couple of God’s prophets mentioned going to His house, too:

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3 KJV) 

And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:2 KJV)

They were not just being repetitive – it is a very important concept, that of heading to God to learn of His ways so that we might walk in His path, following His law and His word.

That’s where we get started on the right path for any new year – come to God’s house.  Meet you there?